“Manna in the Wilderness” Journey Week 5

 

Toronto – April 27, 2008

  1. Last week, the bitter waters of Marah, a temptation about on truth.
    1. Human states typified by saying to ourselves, “I don’t know what to do!” – a failure of truth, a lack of knowledge about the path to follow.
    2. when truth is bitter, unpleasant.
      1. Represented by thirst.
    3. Made “sweet” or palatable by the tree, usefulness
    4. This week, the state that follows, a temptation as to good.
      1. Represented by hunger.
    5. Again, after having seen all the previous miracles of Jehovah, the children of Israel still cry out in despair when they are hungry.
      1. How hard would it be to feed them compared to all the other things Jehovah has done for them? But still, they murmur and complain.
      2. Another is Elijah running away from Jezebel after his victory over the 400 prophets of Baal. He had just literally called down fire from heaven – and he runs away because of some angry words? (1KI 18)
      3. The 12 Disciples did it too: we read in our second lesson (Mat 16) that Jesus wants to teach about the leaven of the Pharisees. They don’t know what He’s talking about, so they think they are being reprimanded for not bringing enough bread along and He reminds them that He has just fed 9000 people with miraculous bread!
        1. This kind of thing wouldn’t be such a common theme in the Word if it wasn’t a problem that we need to address. We need to look to ourselves and see how often we do this very same thing – doubt that the Lord can do something simple even when we know as certainly as we know our own names that the Lord has the power to solve it.
  2. While last week’s temptation was focussed on spiritual thirst, this week we’re looking at the next stage in temptation represented by hunger
    1. Hunger for food = need for good from the Lord
    2. Wilderness = temptation
      1. This is a temptation as to good (in contrast to the temptation as to truth at Marah).
    3. Important teachings about temptation
      1. Temptations are not given or permitted just to annoy you, like some initiation hazing before being found worthy to join a club.
        1. Like it or not, from birth we are all inclined to evils of every kind. We love them, and unless we do something about them, they will drag us down into hell.
        2. Temptations, trials, are the tools that the Lord provides us to remove evils.
          1. Let’s say you’re eating a meal outside on a lovely summer evening. Just as you’re about to start, a big bug lands in your salad. Would you a) remove it, or b) quickly cover it with salad dressing and then go on as if nothing had happened?
          2. Unless you first remove the evil (bug) adding good (salad dressing) will not make the salad good.
          3. Unless you first remove evil through temptation, all the good deeds in the world will not prepare you for heaven.
          4. And you can’t remove an evil which you love without some pain. That pain is what we call “temptation.”
      2. AC 8403 [2] People uninformed about human regeneration suppose that a person can be regenerated without temptation, and some that he has been regenerated after he has undergone a single temptation. But let it be known that no one can be regenerated without temptation, and that he suffers very many temptations, following one after another.
      3. The reason for this is that regeneration takes place to the end that the life of the old man may die and a new, heavenly life may be instilled.
      4. From this one may recognize that conflict is altogether inevitable; for the life of the old man stands its ground and refuses to be snuffed out, and the life of the new man cannot enter except where the life of the old has been snuffed out. From this it is evident that fierce conflict takes place between mutually hostile sides, since each is fighting for its life.
        1. (Not a problem for me to give up eating green peppers. Chocolate chip cookies would be another matter.)
      5. [3] Anyone thinking with enlightened reason can see and perceive from all this that a person cannot be regenerated without conflict, that is, without spiritual temptation, and also that a person is not regenerated by undergoing a single temptation, only by undergoing very many of them.
      6. For there are numerous kinds of evil that have formed the delight of the former life, that is, have constituted the old life. All those evils cannot be subdued on one occasion and all together.
      7. They cling stubbornly to the person, for they become deeply rooted in his forebears going back many centuries and are for that reason innate in him. They have also been made stronger since early childhood by the evils of his own doing. All these evils are diametrically opposed to the heavenly good that is to be instilled and that must constitute the new life.
        1. The temptation of “hunger” follows the temptation of “thirst” – a lack of truth – which we covered last week.
        2. Hunger: when you hear the unpleasant truths, you then begin to see what it is you lack, and you hunger for it.
        3. We also need to be self-reflective to see within ourselves that there are different kinds and different levels of pleasure.
          1. The natural body is from, and is of the natural world. Pain and pleasure are important tools for making judgements about whether something is safe to touch or good to eat. “Soft” “warm” and “delicious” are all words that describe what the Writings call the delights belonging to lower pleasures. When these are taken away, and you are feeling “sharp” “cold” and “hungry” you enter into temptation.
      8. AC 8413 [2] When the good of charity, which is to constitute a spiritual life, is to be installed, the delight belonging to lower pleasures, which has constituted a natural life, is taken away. And when this delight is taken away the person enters into temptation.
      9. But he does not know that when this delight in which his life has consisted is taken away the Lord instils spiritual delight and good instead; and this good is what is meant by ‘the manna’.
        1. When you take away the life that comes through natural things, what is there to fill the void? Spiritual life!
        2. When we make the effort to remove some lower level thing that is an evil, the Lord responds by implanting a higher good with its related higher delights! That in turn brings the natural life into order and provides natural delights and pleasures as well – Manna representing the spiritual delight that comes first in the morning state and selav which stands for the natural delights that follow.
    4. Manna = Hebrew for “What is it.”
      1. AC 8431:e It should be recognized that ‘manna’ means the internal or spiritual man’s good, while selav means the external or natural man’s good, which is called delight. That they have these meanings is made clear by the fact that the manna was given in the morning but the selav in the evening; and what was given in the morning means spiritual good, and what was given in the evening means natural good, or delight.
      2. The manner in which the Manna is given to them tells us about the Lord’s generosity. Manna was constantly conferred on them, without any care or aid on their part.
        1. AC 8462:e The reason therefore why the bread given to the children of Israel in the wilderness was called manna is that this bread means the good of charity which the truth of faith gives birth to, and this good remains completely unknown to a person before regeneration; not even the existence of it is known.
        2. But in actual fact that good is immensely superior to the delights belonging to self-love and love of the world.
          1. Any adult, trying to describe an adult state such as marriage to a child understands this.
            1. From being a man and woman, they become husband and wife, then mother and father. Until you experience it, it’s just words.
            2. If I describe how it feels to pilot a sail plane in a thermal that’s taking me up at over 3,000 ft per minute, no one but another pilot is going to understand.
      3. AC 8464:e …The fact that ‘manna’ in the highest sense is the Lord within us is clear from actual words used by the Lord in John, Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that anyone eating of it may not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. John 6:49-51, 58.
        1. From these words it is clearly evident that ‘the manna’ in the highest sense means the Lord. The reason why is that ‘manna’ is the good of truth; but all good comes from the Lord, so that the Lord is within good and is Himself that good.
      4. AC 8472:e Manna is heavenly food, heavenly food is goodness and truth, and goodness and truth in heaven are the Lord since they come from Him.
        1. From all this it becomes clear that these stipulations regarding the manna describe the kinds of things that occur in the communities mentioned. They describe how Divine Good which emanates from the Lord is shared with all in heaven, with all in particular and in general, but everywhere according to the capacity to receive it, for there are those who can receive only little and there are those who can receive much.
  3. Conclusion
    1. The Wilderness state is absolutely essential to our spiritual lives.
    2. Temptations are not just annoyances to take the fun out of life – they are the tools that we use to remove hereditary and actual evils from our lives.
    3. The pains of temptation are not revenge, or punishment from God; they arise from within each of us because what’s really happening is that we are struggling with our loves.
      1. In order for us to win in temptation, something that we love has to die and be removed forever – and that hurts!
    4. And when that happens, the Lord is able to flow in with Manna and selav; spiritual and natural delights that nourish and satisfy the hungry soul. Amen.

(Note in the lesson from Matthew that even after seeing the Lord feed 9,000 people in two different sessions, they still think that He will be angry if they forget to buy bread, and they will go hungry. Can we see the similarity to the children of Israel in the wilderness?)

First Lesson:

(Mat 16:1-12) Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. {2} He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; {3} “and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. {4} “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed. {5} Now when His disciples had come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. {6} Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” {7} And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “It is because we have taken no bread.” {8} But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? {9} “Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? {10} “Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? {11} “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?; but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” {12} Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Amen.

Second Lesson: AC 8403:2, 3

[2] People uninformed about human regeneration suppose that a person can be regenerated without temptation, and some that he has been regenerated after he has undergone a single temptation. But let it be known that no one can be regenerated without temptation, and that he suffers very many temptations, following one after another. The reason for this is that regeneration takes place to the end that the life of the old man may die and a new, heavenly life may be instilled. From this one may recognize that conflict is altogether inevitable; for the life of the old man stands its ground and refuses to be snuffed out, and the life of the new man cannot enter except where the life of the old has been snuffed out. From this it is evident that fierce conflict takes place between mutually hostile sides, since each is fighting for its life.

[3] Anyone thinking with enlightened reason can see and perceive from all this that a person cannot be regenerated without conflict, that is, without spiritual temptation, and also that a person is not regenerated by undergoing a single temptation, only by undergoing very many of them. For there are numerous kinds of evil that have formed the delight of the former life, that is, have constituted the old life. All those evils cannot be subdued on one occasion and all together. They cling stubbornly to the person, for they become deeply rooted in his forebears going back many centuries and are for that reason innate in him. They have also been made stronger since early childhood by the evils of his own doing. All these evils are diametrically opposed to the heavenly good that is to be instilled and that must constitute the new life. Amen.

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