The Providence of God Demonstrated in the Life of Israel.
Read Deut. 29:2-9
“I have led you forty years in the wilderness; your cloths have not worn out on you…in order that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”
Forty years is a long time to march in the wilderness. The land where Israel wandered was a barren wasteland, devoid of any resources. It is a land where the struggle for survival would be difficult for a Bedouin family, but impossible for a whole tribe numbering between one and half to three million people. There were no stores to purchase supplies, no Amazon to call up and have home delivery when things ran out. It was a land where daily existence would be a struggle of survival. Nevertheless, their struggle was a result of their own choices and sin. God’s purpose was to bring them into the promised land, a land “flowing with milk and honey.” But fear, rather than faith, governed their actions. Instead of trusting in God’s promise, the Israelites became fearful of the armies of the inhabitants. As a result, they refused to follow God’s command to enter the land. As a consequence of their unbelief, God disciplined them by forcing them to spend the next forty hears in a land that was just the opposite of what he had promised. Instead of a land flowing with milk and honey, they were forced to live in a land of rocks and heat, where food would be scare, water difficult to find, and survival a daily challenge.
What is most remarkable about the story is not the disciple and judgment of God but his providential care for Israel throughout their wilderness wandering. During their time in the wilderness God continue to provide for their needs. Soon after Israel left Egypt, God provided for their needs by supernaturally giving them manna for their daily provision of food. When the people became tired of the manna and grumbled against Moses and even God, God patiently and graciously provided meat for them to eat. It was not until they entered into the promised land and celebrated their first Passover and enjoyed their first meal of the produce in the land that the manna ceased (Joshua 5:10-12). For over 40 years, God had providentially provided for their needs. So caring was God for the needs of Israel, even after they had disobeyed and suffered the discipline of God, their clothes did not wear out and their shoes they wore daily showed no signs of decay.
It is one thing for God, in his providence, to care for our needs when we are walking in fellowship and obedience, it is quite another for him to care for us even when we rebel. But God’s providential care extends to all people, even when we are disobeying him. Christ reminds us of God’s providential care in the sermon on the mount, “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). God, in the wonder of his grace, sustains all people, not just the righteous.
When we are facing adversity in life, it is easy to begin to question God’s care for us, especially when our suffering is a result of our own decisions to live independent of God. We begin to question his goodness. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul refers back to the deliverance and discipline of Israel as an example to us of our own need to live in obedience to God. But it also serves as an example of God’s gracious provision even when we do not deserve it. Regardless of why we are suffering (whether it be because of our sin, the sin of others, the fact that we live in a fallen world, or because of God’s desire to display his glory) we have the assurance that God will still provide our needs. Instead of doubting God’s care when trials come your way, look for ways in which God is demonstrating his grace by providing for your needs and then thank and praise him for his providence.