While my mind is on the topic of Exodus 16:1-15, I want to add to the concept that manna from heaven is knowledge from God, which is securely attached to the words written and the translations thereof in the books of the Holy Bible (and more books that are not officially part of that holy collection). It has to deal with what was not read in Proper 20, verses 16c-20, which states:
“Every man gathered as much [manna] as he should eat. Moses said to them, “Let no man leave any of it until morning.” But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.”
This is then a statement about not taking just what one needs to eat, but taking a double share. Since manna is the knowledge of God shared from heaven to encourage His chosen people to follow His instructions willingly, why then would extra knowledge go bad?
The answer is simple. It is the root cause of today’s church of Christianity has “bred worms and become foul.” By that I mean Christianity has become a cult of personality, where most Christians depend on someone else’s knowledge of Biblical matters.
I remember a man who led Bible Studies at our church, who rarely explained the Scripture read on Sunday morning from his own understanding. He loved to tell the group what Bonhoeffer had written. I do not know who Bonhoeffer was, much less what he wrote; but this man would regularly try to say what Bonhoeffer wrote. Regularly, he would forget what Bonhoeffer said and end up saying, “Well, you should read what he wrote because it really makes this clear.”
Clear as mud, maybe. I was more interested in what the man thought about the Scripture, not someone who was not at the table with us. His flubbing up what Bonhoeffer’s opinion made me think, “If it is that complex for him to remember, I don’t want to read it.”
The manna of Bonhoeffer had turned foul, because it was a second helping.
There was also a priest at a church I attended – perhaps the most holy priest I have found in a church – who offered an evening class on the philosophies of great theologians. Since I minored in philosophy in school, I looked forward to the class. The priest was so knowledgeable is scholastic matters – he had learned Biblical Hebrew and Greek (somewhat) AND he had read all of the works of the theologians we studied, in great detail. He knew their manna as his own.
His manna was daily collected by his deep studies of what God sent to him to gather. However, when he brought that which so enlightened him to share with others, it became extra portions that were spoiled on brains that ache at the thought of deep thinking. What worked for him was good; but it did not reheat well. Our opinions all sounded to the priest like spoiled manna, as none of the students were ancient theologians with high reputations as thinkers.
Finally, at a Bible study I attended in the past, there was a retired Methodist minister who enjoyed joining with us Episcopalians. One Sunday morning I pronounced my belief that the Gospel of John indicated John was a child, even likely to have been the son of Jesus. This Methodist minister almost screamed out loud, “WHERE did you read that?” As a man in his late 80’s, who was well versed in theological writings, he had never heard such poppycock.
I calmly said, “Well, for one, when John ran with Peter to the open tomb of Jesus, he ran faster than Peter – a sign of his youth – and he waited outside until asked to come in the tomb – a sign of his not being an adult.” I added that there were many other indicators in the Scriptures that he was a boy, not a man; but nothing can be found Scripturally that clearly states, “John, the boy, son of Jesus.”
The point I want to make is Scripture is your manna. It is for you to consume and digest, so you develop thoughts on the daily topics gathered. Then, as a way of sharing that as quail (meat) with others, over dinner, you add your thoughts to the thoughts of others. You might have missed something, or you might had grasped something someone else missed. This shows God that you are following His instructions and passing His tests.
I didn’t ask what someone else’s favorite color was!
When you prefer not voicing your opinions with others, because you have been one of those who gathered less (because you had less of a daily need), you have a role to play is supporting your fellow Christians. Of course, if you dine with Bonhoeffer and Augustine each evening, you can share your two cents with them. But, trying to memorize someone else’s opinions and philosophies will always end up spoiling a good thing.
If you are a parent of children, then your religious knowledge will have much greater impact when you teach your family what you believe. The family is a church. By listening to your family’s questions and hearing their opinions, you will gain greater insight. While you may gain from reading one of those non-Bible books, everything depends on you having an opinion that is yours.