Exodus 16:16-20. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’” 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.
Take a minute and look closely at what’s happening in this passage. God told the Hebrews to gather the manna that he would rain down for them into a measurement called an omer. But notice the language used. They are told to gather as much as you can eat, and according to the number of the persons in the tent. Then as they gathered, some gathered more and some less.
And then the miracle of the manna occurred – But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Even though they all gathered different amounts, they all had the same amount – an omer.
In creating the new humanity here in the wilderness, God has created a social system of complete equality. A society completely without need. It’s unlike anything humanity has ever seen. Even in the promised land Israel won’t return to this. A system (yes a miraculous one) that left everyone with exactly what they needed each day. Their “daily bread” was just enough.
Gather more than your neighbor and try to hoard it – nope. It’s just enough.
Try to save some for tomorrow and hoard it in that way – nope. It’s rotting and wormy.
No hoarding in God’s manna economics.
Life in Christ leaves no room for greed. In Christ we are called to “manna economics” – take what you need, no more, and make sure everyone has what they need.
Why? Because this way of life requires faith. It requires trusting God for everything not only today, but more importantly tomorrow. It means that if I live with just what I need for today, that God will supply what I need for tomorrow.
“Manna economics” was the foundation for Paul’s teaching on giving and sharing with those in need in the early church. In his second letter to the Corinthians, when exhorting them to give to the Jerusalem collection, he quoted Exodus 16 to them.
2 Corinthians 8:13-15. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
Paul believed that the church should look like the “manna economics” of the wilderness. Don’t gather more manna (money) than you need, and make sure everyone has as much manna (money) as they need. A system of equality through sharing and yet fairness and responsibility through hard work. Is such a thing even possible?
It was in the wilderness. It should be in the church. It will be in the new creation.
And it can be because it is rooted in the deeper realities of Christ. In Christ everyone gets what they need and everyone has enough. There is no withholding of Jesus by God. And there is no hoarding of Jesus by us. Why? Because like the manna, God only gives us the grace of Jesus one day at a time. His “mercies are new every morning.” It’s “daily bread.” “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.”
Some Christians aren’t receiving more of Christ or more of the Spirit than others. There is no “extra blessing” or “double blessing” for some of us. And there is no single day for the rest of your life where God does not meet you with the indwelling life of Christ completely available to you with all of his love, and power, and grace.
You can’t gather more of Jesus – we all get an omer.
And you can’t save up Jesus’ grace for tomorrow. Nope. You have to trust in his future grace. You have to have faith that his grace will meet you where you are in each new moment.
Any attempt to manipulate the grace of Jesus’ life, like the Hebrews did the manna, would cause it to cease being grace. The Hebrews had to learn to live in a system that was not about earning (more gathering did not earn them more manna) and yet it was partnership with God (they had to gather manna). This is exactly what the Christian life is. It’s all grace. But grace through faith.
“To live is Christ” creates a beautiful spiritual economy of equality among all those who are in Christ. We are all equally in Christ and he is equally in us. And this spiritual reality impacts how we see so much of our physical reality. Our possessions, our money, our circumstances, and of course even each other.