The Hidden Manna
by Arthur Pink
"To him that overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna." Revelation 2:17
This is one of the seven promises in Revelation 2 and 3 made to the overcomers, which is one of the many designations accorded the children of God, in the Word of Truth, though probably one of those which most of these are least familiar with. The first time the word occurs in the New Testament, it is used of the Lord Jesus (Luke 11:22), where He is portrayed as the One stronger than Satan, overcoming him and dividing his spoils—a representation of what He does for His elect at their conversion, when He delivered them from the power of Satan. The next time this word is found in the New Testament, it is again in connection with Christ: "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). We are to take courage and consolation from that fact, for since He overcame the world for His people, and since they are both legally and vitally one with Him—God has ordained they shall participate in His victory. The word occurs again in connection with Christ as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," where we are told He "has prevailed [overcome] to open the book" (Revelation 5:5), perhaps the title-deeds to that Inheritance.
"To him that overcomes"—the enemies of his salvation. The Christian is a warrior, engaged in a life and death fight, and though he receives many wounds in the conflict and is often thrown down by his adversaries, yet he gets up again, renews the struggle, and in the end, comes out victorious. "Him that overcomes" is in contrast from those who are overcome—like the unbelieving Israelites who were overthrown in the wilderness, like the many of John 6:66 who were offended at Christ's doctrine and who "went back and walked no more with Him," like Demas who made a promising start and accompanied Paul for a while—but of whom he had to say, he "has forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10).
It is not enough to engage in warfare against sin and Satan, the flesh and the world; we must persevere therein unto the end. The overcomer is the one who cleaves to Christ and adheres to the Truth, who refuses to be deterred by the difficulties of the way, the assaults of his enemies, the allurements of false teachers.
Four things are necessary in order for anyone to be an overcomer:
First, he must be supernaturally regenerated, for the task involved is much too arduous for mere nature to succeed in: "For whoever is born of God overcomes the world" (1 John 5:4). It is the new nature, energized by the Holy Spirit, which qualifies for victory.
Second, he must be endowed with a supernatural principle, otherwise his native unbelief would make defeat inevitable and certain: "This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4), God's gift—but our use of it. It is by the exercise of this grace, that we obtain strength for the conflict and incentives to persevere.
Third, he must have recourse to that which will heal his wounds and prevail before God as his plea: "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 12:11). That blood gives the believer the right to claim enablement for his repelling of every attack of Satan's.
Fourth, he must "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" Hebrews 3:6).
For the encouragement of the Christian engaged in this fierce conflict, the Lord has graciously made known the reward awaiting him, and the more his faith lays hold of the same and his hope anticipatively enjoys it, the more incentive will he have to continue fighting, or (changing the figure) to "run with patience the race that is set before us" Hebrews 12:1). It was thus our great Exemplar nerved Himself: "Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" Hebrews 12:2).
In our judgment, these promises to the overcomer supply an intimation of wherein the blessedness of the heavenly state consists, such as is to be found nowhere else in the Scriptures. As they draw nearer the end of their pilgrimage the Lord's people should project their thoughts more and more unto what awaits them in Heaven. The worn-out worldling seeks satisfaction in living over again in his mind those "pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:25) which engaged him in the past—but the veteran saint will rather contemplate those "pleasures for evermore" which are at God's right hand (Psalm 16:11). A part of what those "pleasures" consist of is intimated in Revelation 2:17, "To him that overcomes, will I give to eat of the hidden manna."
The hidden manna is a part of the spiritual entertainment which Christ has provided for His friends in glory. It seems to denote three things:
First, as the manna was the food which God supplied from Heaven for His people of old, nourishing and sustaining them throughout their wilderness journey, it must be regarded as a figure of the written Word which is the Christian's spiritual staff of life. And since the Word of God "lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:23), does not the "hidden manna" (Revelation 2:17) point to the inexhaustible riches of Divine wisdom, which are stored up in it, and of which we have at present—but a fragmentary knowledge. We cannot think that any of that treasure will be lost to us—rather, do we conclude it will be made known and afford part of our delectation in Heaven.
Now we know the marvels of Divine inspiration and revelation "in part," but then shall we know them in full. 2 Corinthians 12:7 shows that Heaven is the place of "the abundance of the revelations." As the risen Christ expounded the Scriptures to His disciples and opened their understandings to understand them (Luke 24:27, 45), will not the glorified Savior do the same for us Hebrews 13:8)!
Second, the "manna" which God gave to Israel in the wilderness was also a manifest type of the incarnate Son, the "bread of life"—which is given to us, because broken for us (John 6:35, 48). Therefore, the "hidden manna" (Revelation 2:17) refers, we conclude, to "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3) in Him, of which I now have but the faintest conception, and to the "many things which Jesus did" that have not been recorded on any earthly scroll (John 21:25), and also to much that was precious about Him—which was never recognized even by His apostles. Nothing of this can be lost—all of it, we believe, will be feasted upon at the marriage supper of the Lamb, when He shall say "eat, O friends; drink, yes, drink abundantly, O beloved!" (Song 5:1).
"To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna" (Revelation 2:17). We shall hear from Christ's own lips the secrets of His life as He sojourned for thirty-three years in this world of sin, making known to us more fully the depths of humiliation into which He descended for us and the perfections He exercised—hidden from the eyes of men—as He endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself.
Third, the historical reference (Exodus 16:33,34 and compare Hebrews 9:4) shows that the literal "hidden manna" consisted of a "pot" of manna which was laid "up before the Lord" to be "kept for your generations." It was designed as a testimony and memorial of God's grace unto His people. In its anti-typical fulfillment, this points, we believe, to the unfolding of His secret providences— which the Lord will make to us in Heaven, when we shall be able to understand (with amazement, awe, and adoration) what now we only believe—namely, that all His dealings with us were ordered by perfect love and unerring wisdom; and also to the blessed workings of His grace in and through us. "Then those who feared the Lord spoke often one to another—and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for those who feared the Lord, and who thought upon his name" (Mal 3:16), and the next verse seems to more than hint that the contents of that book will be made known and enjoyed "in that day" when the Lord Almighty makes up His jewels.
We conceive that each one of the redeemed will be given the holy privilege of making his or her personal contribution to this unfolding of God's wondrous ways with us in providence and in grace—there will be no Divine restriction, "let your women keep silence in heaven," for all the consequences of the Fall will be obliterated and the sisters as well as the brethren will then be "as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:30).
This writer believes that each one of the blood-bought company will say, in turn, "Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul" (Psalm 66:16), not only in regeneration—but in all that followed. O what a testimony each of them will then bear to God's amazing grace and patience! What a witness each will give to God's unfailing faithfulness and goodness in supplying every need as he crossed the Wilderness of Sin! How blessed it will be to hear one and another relate God's wondrous answers to prayer—then there will be none of the skepticism which we fear there would be now were we to relate some of the miracles God has wrought in response to our feeble petitions. Everything which redounds to the glory of God will then be made known to the whole of His family!