This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man…
I. THE EFFECTIVE DISTRIBUTION OF IT IS PROVIDED FOR. The responsibilities and opportunities of the family relation, which had been touched upon in the institution of the Passover, are here touched upon again. Each head of a household had to see that the daily supply was gathered for his family. Thus God shows that he is not only attentive for that great nation which now, as a whole, is so clearly dependent on his providing, so visibly cut off from secondary grounds of confidence, but also has his eye on the under-providers. What he is to all the children of men, he expects earthly parents to be in their measure and opportunity. Earthly parents, even though evil, are yet able to give some good gifts; and God will hold them responsible thus to give what they can. The peculiar anti transcendent gifts of grace they are not able to bestow; but seeing God has constituted them the channels of certain blessings, woe be to them if they block up the channels, or in any way diminish the flow of blessings through them.
II. A SUFFICIENT SUPPLY IS PROVIDED FOR. Some gathered more and some less; but the gathering amounted to the same thing in the end. There was neither defect nor superfluity. We may take it that those who gathered more did it in a spirit of unbelief and worldly wisdom, a spirit of anxious questioning with regard to the morrow. They wanted to make sure, lest the morrow's manna did not come. God disappointed their plans, and doubtless soon altered their conduct, by reducing the quantity gathered to the stipulated omer. Thus unbelief's labour was lost. And those who gathered less did so through straitened opportunity. It may be they had less time; it may be they were feeble or aged. But we are sure that, whatever the cause of their deficiency, they must have been those who did their best; and God honoured their honest endeavours by making up the deficiency. If they had been careless, it is pretty certain they would have had to go starving. God has ever taken care of the principle that, if a man will not work, neither shall he eat. All that is required is, that we should do our best according to our opportunities; but so much, at least, assuredly is required. Remember the teaching of the parable (Matthew 20:1-16). The lord of the vineyard gave the same amount to those coming in at the eleventh hour as to those who began early in the morning. He considered pressing need to be as important a thing as actual exertion. But at the same time he had his eye on what had really been done. Those who entered at the eleventh hour had to do their best even though it was but for a short time. Thus the lord of the vineyard respected need on the one hand and disposition and embraced opportunities on the other. And so with the manna in the wilderness: every Israelite had to do his best, with a believing mind and an industrious hand. Then God took care that he should have enough; and "enough is as good as a feast."
III. GOD MADE PLAIN THAT IT WAS TO BE A DAILY SUPPLY. He did this, first of all, by diminishing the quantity gathered to the stipulated omer. Then, when the omer was secured, he made the daily character of the supply still more evident by commanding that none should be left till morning. This was but carrying the former provision - that of gathering an omer full - out to its logical conclusion. Nor must we take this to mean, of necessity, that all the manna was to be eaten up. "Leave it not till the morning" can only mean "leave it not as food." There could hardly have been an obligation on the Israelites to eat more than nature demanded or appetite desired. Let no fond, economising parent quote this regulation to a child by way of enforcing the request to eat up its food. How much harm is done by forcing children to empty the plate, lest anything be wasted! Surely it is more waste to cram a recalcitrant stomach than to throw undemanded food away, if that be the only alternative. Evidently what God meant here is, that Israel should not keep its manna for to-morrow's supply. There is more likelihood of imperilling the spirit of faith than the habit of economy. Note, too, that the efficacy of this regulation was soon exemplified when the people broke it. Indeed, it is curious to notice how, all through the passage, the regulations and the exemplification of them are mixed up. They were regulations which came into operation at once; for there was a present need, and the people learnt to meet it by paying at first the penalties of disobedience or imperfect obedience. They could put away the manna; but they could not therefore preserve it. Putting it away was only turning it into one of the treasures which moth and rust corrupt. Even if we could imagine that it had been possible to seal the manna hermetically, and keep it from the germs of corruption in the air, the result would have been the same. Whatever the precautions adopted, it would have bred worms and stunk by morning. God. is ever turning our boasted prudence into ridiculous folly; faith and obedience are the only real prudence.
IV. Not only was it a daily supply, but A MORNING SUPPLY. An early morning supply, for when the sun waxed hot the manna was melted. They were to go out and gather the manna the first thing, and then, whatever else might be lacking that day, the great temporal necessity of food was provided for. God demanded of his people that they should be trustful and satisfied In the reception of a daily supply; but that supply was brought at the very beginning of the day. It was not at their option to gather it at any time of the day they chose. The supply was at the beginning of the day, because day is the time for eating as night is for sleeping. Then, with minds free from anxiety and bodies duly supported, they could each one set about his appointed business.
V. IN HIS METHOD OF SUPPLY GOD MADE SPECIAL PROVISION FOR THE SABBATH. On the sixth day of the week, a double portion was provided, and was to be gathered in correspondence with the provision. Certainly it must be admitted that the regulation here gives no means of judging how far the Sabbath was a recognised institution in Israel, if indeed it was an institution at all. This is a matter on which we are not able to affirm; nor are we able to deny. To whatever extent there may have been a weekly Sabbath among the patriarchs, it could not have been kept up through the hardships of Egypt! Anyway, this remarkable increase of an extra omer on the sixth day - when the reason of it was explained - was the very thing to prepare the people for the exact commandment which so soon followed. Jehovah had thus more ways than one of impressing upon them the sanctity and peculiarity of the Sabbath. In Egypt they had doubtless been required to toil every day, knowing little rest, save the inevitable rest of sleep, and it would be hard to break them away from this expectation of daily drudgery. Early association and training are wanted to make one day different from others; and we may conclude that it was only the generation growing up in the wilderness and becoming habituated to the Sabbath rest that really took to it in a natural and easy way. But this regulation of the manna must have been a great help even to the elder generation. As each sixth day came round they were reminded that God himself was remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy, and therefore they should do the same. And as we think of this special provision for the weekly interval of rest, continued through forty years, we may well ask ourselves what feelings God entertains as he looks down on the world and sees the incessant, driving, suicidal toil in which many men engage, on the plea that it is necessary. They say they have no choice. Toil all day, and when evening comes utter exhaustion! and thus life is wasted in the struggle to maintain it. When we consider such struggling in the light of this sixth day's double provision, a strong suspicion rises in our minds that this plea of necessity is a delusion. Is it not probable that if men would only throw off, boldly and trustfully, many of what are reckoned social necessities, they would have a healthier piety and a happier life? At present, with only too many, when they are asked for a little more attention to the things of God and a little more interest in them, the plea comes in reply, easily urged and not easily met, that there is no time. See then what God did for his own people. He made time for them, and jealously hedged it about; a time for needed rest, holy rest and holy service. When they went out food-seeking on the morning of his day, he manifestly cursed their disobedience and unbelief. May we not be perfectly sure that if in a spirit of faith, we give all the time and effort that are necessary to cultivate personal religion and diffuse gospel truth, God will see to it that we get the manna? and if we have the manna, we need nothing more. Whatever else be left unsought and unenjoyed, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Seek these, for they bring in their train everything a Christian can lawfully enjoy. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents.
WEB: This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded: "Gather of it everyone according to his eating; an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, you shall take it, every man for those who are in his tent."