In the Bible, in the history of the nation of Israel, we note two distinct phases of life and distinct ways of existence.
One, while in the wilderness, after being delivered from slavery in Egypt., and two, when they settled down in the promised land, after driving out those who lived there.
Both seasons saw them being helped and aided by the mighty and outstretched arm of God. In both, God was the Anchor of their life, the Provider and the Support of all they needed to be a nation. Be it protection, provision or preservation, He was the Shepherd and the Staff of their being a sovereign nation.
The difference between these two seasons of life was the way in which He provided for them and the manner by which He met their needs!
In the wilderness, He was their Guide and Shepherd in every sense of the word, ‘going ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night’ (Ex 13:21-22). He sought out their resting places, led them by a way they did not know and took care of their every need – providing them daily with manna from heaven, opening rocks for water, providing shade with a huge cloud by day and light for their dark nights by a pillar of fire. He caused the east wind to rain quail, sweetened their rest with fruit trees, protected them from disease and the plagues of Egypt, and saw to it that their clothes did not wear out nor their feet swell all through the years of their desert wandering!
He protected them from the marauding bands and gave them the right leaders to judge their grievances. He covenanted with them to be their God and gave them his laws, forming them into a nation with an identity, equipping them to be an army and a host with proper ranks of families and tribes, tribal leaders and even an ordered way of pitching their tents around the tabernacle!
He converted them from a ragtag band of escaped slaves into a holy nation by endowing them with a proper and disciplined way of life, a social structure and a culture of worship that would set them apart and distinguish them as His people!
When they reached the promised land, He divided the land to them and settled them in it, causing them to inherit lands, vineyards, houses and cities which they didn’t plant, build or create and gave them a safe place to prevail as a nation. He blessed all their labour, giving them rain in season, healed their disease, oversaw the whole nation with leaders to govern and prophets to warn. He did not allow strangers or any other nation to overtake or overpower them, as long as they remained loyal to Him.
God was their Source and Guide, not just in the wilderness, but also in the land of their settlement.
In both, their provision, protection and preservation depended on only one criterion – that they would be loyal to Him and exhibit their allegiance by adhering to the laws He gave them for their own good!
Wilderness is a place of simple fare, just-what-is-needed-for-the-day supply, deficient of variety and with just sufficient provision-for-the-day being the only guarantee!
It is a life of total dependency on God for everything, an exhilarating but hand-to-mouth existence if you see it the way!
Yet it was the time that the next/new generation developed strength, stamina and stability to become a warrior nation, able to hold it’s own in the new land, quite unlike their fathers who still had the namby-bamby attitude of slaves and cried when told there were giants besides the good things in the land they had to possess!
In the wilderness, monotony birthed gluttony, uncertainty gave rise to grumbling and anxiety to rebellion, all of which were an affront to the God Who carried the Israelites ‘as a father carries his son’ (Deut 1:31). In spite of the fact that He gave them a demonstration of His power at the beginning of their journey, destroying their pursuers in the Red Sea parting, they did not understand that He led them all the way in the wilderness for forty years, humbled them, causing them to hunger and then fed them with manna, which no one had known before, in order to teach them ‘that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.’ (Deut 8:2-3)!
In these COVID days and in the aftermath of the quarantine days, we have moved from a predictable cycle of life to not knowing what tomorrow brings. We have moved from certainty to uncertainty, from variety of choices to a modicum of monotony and from sedentary placidity to unexpected changes and challenges.
The call facing us today is whether we will win over the dangers of the wilderness or imitate their conduct, testing Him with our impertinence!
We will have to determine whether we will depend on Him for our needs and provision, trust Him for our sustenance and learn to live by the new standards of His Word rather than of this world, daily!
We will have to decide whether we will grumble and murmur like them or imitate the One who faced the same temptation in the same landscape and was victorious in living by His Word (Matt 4)!
Personally, my family and I know the provision and care of God beyond the natural. When we pledged our allegiance to Him long year’s ago, we went through a season of trials in the area of our finances, health and relationships. God taught us to live by faith in our finances, trust in His Word for our healing and gave us a glimpse of the glorious riches of being part of His family.
We went through a season of financial constraint and had to depend on the supernatural provision, whenever and wherever the natural fell short!
We had ample instances where we saw His care of us. Once when my dad ran out of fuel in his bike on his way home, no money in hand or a petrol bunk at hand, he just borrowed a bottle of water from a hut nearby, filled his tank with it, prayed and drove the remaining 15 km home with that as fuel in his tank!
We lived constantly in the miraculous. I remember the time when I longed for an apple, a luxury at that time and asked God as my Father to provide it. Two days later, an unexpected visitor gifted us with a whole basketful!
Nothing thrilled us more than to have such evidence of His presence and the reality of His concern for us. It helped cement our faith and trust in Him!
Our God is yesterday, today and forever the same. He has not changed nor has He abdicated as our King!
It is time to understand what stuff we are made up and gird ourselves to walk a new model of living.
It is time for us to know, understand and accept that our seasons have changed. It is time for us to trust in God for everything and not depend on our regular sources/resources, but adapt to an unusual way of life!
He will be our Source, whatever may happen and however uncertain the days ahead maybe.
It is time for us to rest secure in the immutability of His nature, the immensity of His care and the irrationality of His supernatural provision for us!
It is time for us to adjust to the new economy and learn to live under the economy and provision of God!
*Pics courtesy of unsplash.com