The Manna Ceased

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Joshua 5:12 has always struck me as a helpful verse addressing transition, and BBC has entered a transition of sorts. Listen to these words concerning the nation of Israel as they stood on the verge of entering Canaan: “And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year” (Joshua 5:12). Though the manna had ceased, God’s people nevertheless would be sustained. No more manna did not mean no more meals.

The manna signified a unique period in Israel’s history. God sustained the nation for forty years through unusual meals each day, with a double portion on the sixth day. But the time had now come when the manna would cease. Yet—and that should be a big yet—the Lord would continue to feed them in the days, months, and years to come. The difference would be, now that they were entering Canaan, that they would plant their crops and harvest their own grain for meals. God would continue to care for his people. He would continue to feed them by enabling them to feed themselves. The times were changing and so would the means by which the Lord would physically sustain his people. In fact, this was necessary for their spiritual maturity. They would, in a sense, need to fend for themselves. The previous unique times called for a unique ministry. Now that things were back to a new normal, well, common sustenance was now called for. Just like in these days.

For about six months the elders have sent out devotional articles six days a week. In these very strange and trying times, we were persuaded of the importance of doing something “abnormal” to try and feed and care for the flock of BBC. Generally, the feedback we have received (thank you!) has been encouraging and it has affirmed that this writing ministry has been a means the Lord has used to help sustain us in our “wilderness” experience. Many have been fed by this ministry and strengthened to face another day, another week, another month in lockdown.

But with the easing of restrictions, and with life returning to something of a new normal, it is probably time for the “manna”—that is, the unusual—to “cease.” Now that we can gather for worship and mutual edification, we believe the Lord will sustain us through these more normal means. And God’s normal is better for us in the long run (Numbers 21:4–5).

From a personal perspective, this is my one hundredth article since commencement of lockdown. I have enjoyed the challenge of engaging in practical theology as I have sought to think through and apply scriptural principles. I have learned much. (If you have been reading carefully, you will have detected that I am often preaching to myself!) But with life becoming somewhat normal, I don’t have as much time to devote to this. Each article requires significant time—sometimes two hours or more—to write and edit and rewrite (sometimes many rewrites!). Now that we are (hopefully) on the edge of Canaan, attention and effort need to be turned elsewhere. Therefore, this unusual ministry, though not stopping completely, will be curtailed.

The elders and elder candidates will aim to contribute articles/devotionals along the path of our new normal. But each church member, we hope, is in a healthy condition to sow and harvest the “fruit” of their own devotional “land.” Though we will continue to provide some “produce” along the way (and I hope Stuart will continue to take us through the Psalms), it won’t be as frequent. So please, when you don’t receive an article early some morning, don’t contact Stuart asking him if he has forgotten to post! He hasn’t. (Well, probably not.)

Brothers and sisters, when the manna ceased in Joshua’s day, the march and the maturity and the miracles continued. May it be so for BBC as well.

Continuing to be sustained with you,

Doug