Mathematics is called the queen of sciences because of its precise and accurate nature. It is something that stays true in every place at every time and for every person. One plus one equals two holds good whether you are in Africa or Antarctica, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are erudite or ignorant, whether you are western or eastern and whether you are GenX, GenY or GenZ!
However, in the Bible we often see that when it comes to how God provides or supplies the needs of His people, mathematics and numeracy do not seem to work or fail. Constantly, His way confounds and baffles human comprehension. Consistently, His work defies and denies calculations and computations.
The God of the Bible seems to take complete pleasure in surmounting logic, vanquishing reasoning and breaking through all the precision of mathematics!
Take, for example, the case of the prophet Elijah at the time he declares a famine in the land for a space of three years. God directs him to a place of seclusion and hiding by the River Jordan, telling him that He would send ravens to feed him while the river would provide drinking water. The Bible says in I Kings 17:6 that The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Now ravens or crows (same family) by nature considered unclean birds because they feast on carrion and other rubbish. When Noah sent a dove and a raven as the first to find out if the waters had receded, the dove returned as it did not find a place to rest. The raven did not return because it found sustenance and sustainability in the aftermath of the flood. Knowing this, causes a question to rise: Couldn’t God find other birds or other means by which He could supply His prophet?
Obviously, the raven must have pilfered it from a rich person’s table for only they would have food during a dearth. To use such a bird as a means of provision seems quite illogical and irrational, to say the least! We do not know why God used a raven, but He does and Elijah doesn’t turn up his nose up at God’s way of provision. He simply receives his provision and uses it, even if he may have his own inhibitions about it!
After the brook dries up due to extended time of drought and famine, God again, contrary even to His own laws and directions, sends Elijah to Zarephath to be cared for by a widow, in the region of Sidon, traditional enemies of the people of Israel. In fact, Jesus cites this incident when His hometown rejects Him, to drive home the point that a prophet never finds acceptance among his own kith and kin.
Widows were and are part of those marginalized ones whom God instructs His people to take special care of as to their provision and upkeep. It must have been therefore really hard on the prophet to digest or accept this direction of the Lord, probably causing him to wonder at His leading. Elijah doesn’t waste time disputing God’s guidance, but implicitly follows instruction and simply obeys. God will never fit to a box of our making, but will always transcend our preconceived notions of Him!
In another case of defying and breaking natural and empirical laws, Jesus the Son of God feeds 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, garnering 12 basket full of leftovers and 4000 with 7 loaves and few fishes, with 7 baskets of leftovers. The equations that will puzzle mathematicians would be: how can such a multiplication happen and how can these satisfy our understanding of ratio and proportion? These will indeed plague those who live by economics, because here it is not a query of numbers but a question of meeting the needs of those present with what is available at hand by the power of God!
The principle operating here is not one of logic and reason, but one of the dynamics and principles of the Kingdom or rule of God. God knows how to baffle the wisdom of the world and how to delight those who trust and obey Him with His own Kingdom economics and arithmetic. After all, He created them and so, obviously as the Creator, He could overcome or surpass any limits or limitations!
Lets analyze another instance of provision in the Bible by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When His mother requests His help and intervention regarding a lack of wine at a wedding, He simply asks the servants at the place to fill 6 jars to the brim with water. He then commands them to take it for testing by the steward of the feast. The steward, astonished at the quality of the wine, congratulates the man of the house for starting something new viz., that of reserving and serving the best wine for the last, since no one but the servants knew the origin of that wine. I wonder what were the apprehensions felt by the servants in carting a cup of water for wine tasting! I am happy that they chose to obey the Lord, despite their reservations about their task.
The point is that God knows how to care and provide for His people and is not limited by any lack of sources or resources. He tells Peter to catch a fish to find a coin in its mouth for to pay the taxes. He is never at a loss in finding ways and means by which to help those who do His bidding, even if they are in a place where they must hide from the repercussions of obeying His will. His hand is not shortened that it cannot provide nor His store emptied that it cannot furnish those who trust in Him. The only issue, if at all there is one, is in accepting His modus operandi!
He can make water to come out of nowhere in a desert when three kings were stuck on battleground without water, cause food/manna rain from the sky, meat come on wings wafted by a wind, open a passage in a sea, enable water to flow from a rock or fire to fall from heaven. His provision and His methods of provision are limitless and endless!
This is not just something that happened of old, for even today, we have people reporting of finding money in their purses, healing happening in an unexplained manner, missing persons being found, storms suddenly clearing up, as well as other miracles that do not fit rhyme or reason.
God knows how to meet our need when we need, what ever maybe that need and wherever we may have that need. Whether it would be by reasonable and logical ways or by seemingly irrational and irreprehensible means is His prerogative. We must not be puzzled by it, but just simply expect it!
Why does God delight in such defying and destroying of precise methodologies that He Himself created and built as an integral part of this His created world?
I believe the answer to that lies in I Cor 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Also, v 28 of the same chapter: God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are…
Another answer as to the why of it is that God has to be allowed to be God and not be confined by our assumptions or to our conceptions and notions. God transcends human conjectures and mortal conceptualizations. He has to be so, otherwise He can’t be God, but only a figment of our imagination or a projection of our thoughts.
If we don’t allow God to be God or try to understand Him, we will only falter in faith. If we try to box or confine Him, we will only end up creating images and idols of our choice. If we get angry that He doesn’t fit or fails to live up to our expectations of Him, we will only turn away from Him and end up hurting ourselves in the bargain.
God is unpredictable and incalculable, but not fickle, erratic or volatile. He is the only sure ground and stable foundation in an uncertain, unreliable and oft-changing world. He is the one solid and steady reference point in chancy times. Trust in Him at all times in all seasons and in all locations. You will never be let down or left alone!
What can you do with and about such a God who seems to delight in being incomprehensible and interstellar?
Just enjoy Him and His provision, without resisting Him! Just take pleasure in Him and delight in His ways! Just revel in His works and take complete pleasure in being His child! Just experience the thrill and satisfaction of an adventurous ride through life with Him as your Father! Hold tight to Him and rejoice in obeying Him, totally!
A note of caution here – God can, will and may choose to break rational, reasonable and regular ways of doing things, but He will never break His principles and laws of moral standards or righteousness. He may overcome or function beyond and above the natural laws of maths, physics, chemistry and biology, but never will He work past or sideline His laws of what He has defined as right and wrong. The only predictable thing about God is His nature – holy and compassionate, outstanding in purity and love, totally other in divinity and sanctity!
Let’s not limit God by our mechanical computations or by our estimation figures and number crunching.
Let’s not tie His hands by our assessments and evaluations, but learn to marvel at His wondrous works on our behalf.
In this pandemic period, don’t try to live by economics or mechanics of calculations, for they will all fail. Seek to live by faith and trust in God, looking to Him for necessities of existence rather than luxuries of this age. He Who provides for the sparrows and cares for grass of the field, will surely take care of you and yours, even when all seems lost.
God is not limited by any circumstance or any lack of resources, but will provide or multiply what is at hand. Let’s not limit Him because He doesn’t fit into the box we have made for Him, but release Him to be the Lord of all.
Lets not be limited by our understanding or hampered by our limiting ways of thinking.
Lets just allow God to be God and simply accept His provision, not being concerned however He chooses to provide, accepting with humility His ways of working!
Just accept His provision, however it comes, with joy and wonder!