There is a very interesting and important verse in Joshua 5:12, where it is recorded, “And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land” (ESV).
Leading up to this, the Israelites had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and had been taken care of by God. He fed them with food from Heaven; He made it to where their clothes did not wear out (Deut. 8:4); and He led them by day and night in smoke and fire. What a wonder in the wandering!
Now that infant Israel had been birthed into existence and had gone through a maturation process, coming to a layer of the promise given to Abraham, they no longer need the manna from Heaven.
When the Church was in its infant stage, many wonders were done through the apostles in order to give a witness to the power of the resurrected Lord. Did these miraculous, spiritual gifts cease? Yes, they did. 1 Corinthians 13 indicates that there was a ceasing of miraculous, spiritual gifts. This does not mean miracles ceased, as “miracle” is a larger category. However, miraculous, spiritual gifts as done through men have ceased. Men cannot heal or speak in tongues as they did in the first century? Why is that?
The manna ceased because God had fulfilled His promise. This does not mean that He abandoned His people though. What it means is that the manna was no longer necessary. In the same way, God does not abandon His people today (John 14), but we no longer need the gifts that the first century Christians had. Their purpose has ceased.
The prophetic gifts were attested to right up to around A.D. 150 (Dialogue with Trypho, Justin Martyr, 82.1). Shortly thereafter, it seems that they stopped, and rather abruptly at that. Interestingly, this is around the same time that the Word of God in its fullness was being disseminated in the Church. Prophecy was no longer needed because the full prophecy had been given (the Bible). It would make sense as to why prophecy would still be needed in the infant Church where there was no Scripture in its entirety, but after it was disseminated, prophecy no longer had a purpose.
As the maturation of the Church occurred, the miraculous, spiritual gifts went away. We do not need to speak in tongues today, nor heal, nor prophecy, as we have what we need to grow and be a strong Kingdom for God. God is still with us today, but due to the maturity that God has called us to, He has removed the manna falling from the Heavens.
Greg Ryan is the Youth Minister for the Central Church of Christ in Johnson City, TN. He is a graduate of the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions (now Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies) in Knoxville, TN and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Biblical Languages Degree from Faulkner University. He is married and has one daughter.