When Manna Turns To Worms!
When Manna Turns To Worms
By Rodney W. Francis
One does not have to look too far today to see that our world, societies and cultures are being devastated by all kinds of religious practices and traditions. Everywhere we look there are religious uprisings by people who are convinced that “their belief” is the right belief. Sadly, some of these belief systems actually started out originally as a revelation from God. Most of our Christian denominations were founded on a revelation of a certain aspect of Scripture, and that revelation caused them to rise to prominence. However, as time has gone on, that revelation has become more of “a religious bondage,” rather than a release, to many.
The ways of God are that we be free to obey Him! Christianity is a daily relationship with the Living Jesus, Who is alive from the dead. The Living Jesus speaks! Christianity is knowing Jesus! (John 17:3). It is personal, and it is serving Him on a day-to-day basis. To serve someone means we have to get to know that person sufficiently enough to recognize his/her voice in order to carry out their instructions. Serving is fulfilling someone else’s desires. Christianity is all about serving the desires of Jesus in and through our lives. Once we get away from that simplicity of faith and trust, we then tend to drift into a state of religiosity. We do things habitually, and then traditionally. The life, power and joy of walking with Jesus disappear, and we then find ourselves bound into a set of beliefs that take us nowhere. We become entrenched.
That is why it is so important that we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Voice of God within us, to lead and guide us into all truth (which is Jesus), so we can freely and joyfully fulfil the pleasure of God. That’s how New Testament Christianity commenced: simple believers filled with the Holy Spirit and in love with Jesus Christ ~ “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). That’s how it started for us, too, but tragically, it is not how it is finishing for many. We can experience a revelation of God, but if we do not follow the instructions that revelation brings with it, then it can turn into a “snare and a curse” to us. The heavenly manna turns to worms!
In Exodus 16 God provided the Israelites with manna from heaven. It was called “the bread which God has given you to eat” (v. 15). That manna was given to sustain them for that day. Fresh manna was provided by God on a daily basis. But what did the people do? They tried to store it up, to horde it, to find some other security in knowing that there was “sufficient for tomorrow,” etc. But the manna of God was not for storing up purposes; it was to be eaten on a daily basis. When they got away from the simple commands of God, they soon discovered that “the manna from heaven” very quickly degenerated into a stink ~ “it bred worms and stank” (v. 20). We would ask, “How could it be that such a gift from God could be turned so quickly into something we would reject because of the way it turned out?” We find it hard to equate that something from heaven could become worm-ridden and carry such an awful stench. Yet, unfortunately, that is the way it can be. God wants us to live in such a way that our relationship with Him is a daily relationship, where He supplies us with that“bread from heaven” (revelation) of what He is wanting of us at this very present point in time. We have to know His voice to live like that.
In Deuteronomy 8, God tells us the reason why He sent manna from heaven to His people:“So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (v. 3, 16 ~ but read whole chapter).
Nehemiah 9:20 declares: “You also gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, and did not withhold Your manna from their mouth.”
Psalm 78:23-25 records: “Yet He had commanded the clouds above, and opened the doors of heaven, had rained down manna on them to eat, and given them of the bread of heaven. Men ate angel’s food; He sent them food to the full.”
MANNA WAS MIRACULOUS PROVISION FROM HEAVEN
The manna was a new thing. Their fathers knew nothing of that kind of provision. It was miraculous provision from heaven. God has always desired a people who would learn to trust Him, His ability and His provision. But they did not learn the lesson. They did not obey Him, and the heavenly manna turned to worms!
He longs for our lives to be a living testimony of the fact that a Living God lives within us! That way is learning to “live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.” But we seem to always want to “do it our way.” We keep reverting to rules and regulations . . . legalism ~ and those things do not change lives!
When that disobedience happens, the revelation of God falls into disrespect and disrepute. Those with the “decaying” revelation do not close down their operations. No, they press on, believing that the revelation is right, no matter what! They do not recognize when “the smell,” and then “the worms,” take over! Then we wonder why the world looks at our organizations and smell a stench. Our disobedience bred worms, and worms breed a stench.
When Jesus was teaching the people He boldly stated that the Israelites did not get the benefits of why God provided them with manna from heaven. He said: “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.” Then He taught that the word He shared with the people was the bread that comes down from heaven today: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever . . . As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven ~ not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever” (see John 6:28-71).
It is a very sobering thought to know that even though we may receive something from heaven, that unless we appropriate and respond in the proper way, that it is possible for that life-giving revelation to become a death experience inside of us. What did Peter, James and John want to do on the Mount of Transfiguration when they were experiencing a revelation of Jesus and heavenly things? They wanted to build monuments to the occasion! (Matthew 17:1-13). Fortunately God over ruled them! Otherwise the “manna” of that wonderful occasion would have turned to worms!
The Israelites of old ate bread from heaven, but died! Their heavenly experience did not change them enough to give them the benefits God wanted for them. All revelation from above is sent to enable us to grasp more of the ways of God, to lift us up out of earthly thinking and experiences into knowing that the ways of God are far different to ours. That is why we must have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, because He is God’s way of revealing Jesus and heavenly truth to us. The Holy Spirit feeds us with that manna from heaven. It comes by revelation as we listen to what He says to us today.
Here is a question that every Christian needs to answer:
The answer is that we become “programme orientated,” we set up rules and regulations to hold the people “faithfully” into what we believe (all in the name of good intentions). We become religious “in the name of Jesus,” because we believe we are doing His will by faithfully holding to “the tenets of the faith.” It all sounds good, but it does not produce that life of Jesus within which impacts the world and convicts them of their need of the Saviour! And, regardless of what the world and some theologians might try to tell us, there are not “many ways to God.” There is only ONE WAY ~ JESUS CHRIST (John 14:6). It is not the way of attending church meetings (and all that goes with that), nor even the music, emotional hype, good works, etc. (as much as we may enjoy those things). It is our simple obedience to whatever Jesus tells us that really counts (John 2:5). Jesus very clearly told us that if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:21, 23). I have learned (much more in recent years) that the sooner I obey whatever Jesus asks me, the sooner I see His promise fulfilled in and through my life.
The fact we start on this Christian journey is wonderful. But it is the way we continue unto the end that determines how real Jesus is in our lives! It is a very sad fact that many have started out well with a revelation and experience in Jesus Christ, but somewhere along the way things have happened, decisions have been made, hurtful words have been spoken, unbelief sets in, and the heavenly manna turns to worms ~ and leaves a bad stench in the nostrils!
The way we prove to God that Jesus is “Number One” in our lives is that we do what He asks us!
NO ROOM FOR EXCUSES!
So, how do we receive His instructions? Here is the crunch, the real issue of where Christianity starts and finishes. It is all about listening to Jesus, getting to know His voice, and then demonstrating our love to (and for) Him by our obedience to whatever He says! When we are committed in love to Jesus there is no room, whatever, for excuses. Excuses breed worms, and a stench. Excuses are a way of telling God that we know better than He . . . that He does not understand or know our situation, etc. The truth is He knows us all through and through, and knows exactly what He has saved us for, and desires us to accomplish while we are here on this earth. It is certainly not to be bound up in a set of religious beliefs! It is a simple life-style of receiving and enjoying God’s daily manna/provision in our lives, and our fulfilling His purposes by our practical obedience to whatever He says. Remember, Jesus taught this principle of the manna as well: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). He wants us to have a daily reliance on His provision for us. That is what keeps our relationship with Him FRESH.
For too long we have “excused” ourselves from obeying God by religiously “committing it to prayer.” When God speaks it is usually time to obey! The sooner I obey the sooner the vision/word of God is captured. Once it is captured it can begin to produce good fruit for God’s glory. Let us not make excuses, but know that we are here on earth for a certain period of time to do the Father’s will. If we do not get into the flow of simple obedience to the voice of God, our lives will soon produce worms and carry a stench that puts others off from wanting to know Jesus.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN TRYING TO HEAL A STINK
When it comes to serving God and “knowing the truth that sets us free” (John 8:31-32), it all happens for us when we receive a revelation from the heart of God right into our innermost being. That revelation is “heavenly manna.” There is only one way that we can really respond to keeping the heavenly manna fresh, and that is to OBEY whatever that revelation tells us. God knows better than us, and He always gives us simple instructions as to how He wants us to handle that which He gives us. It is always far better to OBEY GOD from the beginning than to disobey what He says, and then have to try and get the necessary “deliverance” from the worms that breed as a result of that disobedience. As we have learned in this message, the fact that we do receive a revelation from heaven (manna) is not a guarantee that that manna is always going to remain fresh within us. It all depends on how we respond to that revelation. When we try and do things our way instead of God’s way, then we will see worms and a stink starting to breed, which, in the end, actually destroys the revelation of God from bringing forth the fruit for which it was given. Most revivals come to a halt because man somehow “interferes” with the purposes of God ~ and we finish up with worms!
Let us learn the simplicity of the Christian life and message: it is simply doing whatever Jesus tells us! No more and no less. When we are committed to that simplicity of faith and life, then we will see the revelation of God coming forth to impact more and more with the reality of the Risen Christ that will transform them in time, and last throughout all eternity!
There is fresh manna from heaven for you and me every day! Fresh manna does not breed worms or carry a smell! Let us enjoy it in a God-glorifying way through our instant obedience to Him.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat . . .” (Revelation 2:17).