God’s Provision: Part I.

By Daniel Valles, 09/08/2012

 

Psalm 37:23-26 "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.  He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed."

What we will looking into God's Word for today is to examine if we are the good man walking the steps that are ordered by the Lord.  That criteria is paramount to the claiming of promises of the Lord's provision.  We will also be looking at several diverse means by which the Lord provided.

The Lord provides us daily bread.  He is a Light to our feet.  He orders our steps.  Notice that in each of those references, God gives direction in small amounts.  He does not give out the complete map or trail.  His commands are for the moment.  He gives us just what we need, and we trust Him that He will lead as we follow one step at a time.  As we follow Him, we are "in his way."  When we do the commands that He commands us, then we are truly in the Will of God.  Many people expect God to give them the complete blueprint to their life in some sort of vision that will lay out whether they are in the 'Will of God.'  Being in the Will and Desire of God is simply following what He tells us to do!  When Psalms 119:105 says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path", it is describing how we have just enough light for the area near our feet, but in the long run, it has illuminated our whole path. 

The good man not only knows what the steps are that he is to take, but he delights in following them.  It is not enough just to read about what Christians are to do, and perhaps let out an hearty 'Amen' or two, if we do not obey them!  James 1:25 reminds us, "But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed."  Are we a doer of His Word?  The Psalmist described a 'good man'.  The Hebrew words have the idea of strong man, warrior, with an emphasis on the strength or ability to fight.  Are you a wet noodle Christian, just along for the spiritual fuzzy feelings that you get out of your shallow church?  Or are you a Christian, who, knowing what God commands, takes the initiative to boldly carry it out with zeal?  2 Corinthians 7:11 is a stark example where the Apostle describes Christians who are strong in following the steps of God.  "For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter."

Many 'Christians' have the idea that God is some sort of security net that can fix the problems in their careless and carefree living.  Many may even know somewhat about prophecy and mentally assert that God will 'provide'.  But will He?  If you study through the Psalms, God upholds those that follow in His steps.  The Psalmist readily admits, in our verses, that even the godly go through hard times.  "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. " (vs. 24)  It is not implying falling as falling into sin, but falling as being overwhelmed and overthrown.  In our modern vernacular, we may say that we are at a 'low point in our life.'

In Psalm 56:11-13, the Psalmist alludes this when he says, "In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.  Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.
For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?"
  Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says, "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?" 

When we walk with the Lord, we fellowship with Him, and are at His right hand when He can help us when we go through troubling times.  Psalm 80:17-18 recalls, "Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.  So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name."

Hosea 14:9  "Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein."

"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."  This is an amazing testimony to God's provision.  However, I have met Christians who think that this verse applies to every Christian.  It does not.  Who does the verse specify as not having been forsaken?  The righteous.  Even a Christian can be defined as righteous or wicked.  I have seen Christians, engaged in ministry work, who lives with the world, sipping from its dregs, who have the audacity to murmur that the Lord does not meet their needs when they do not walk in His steps, spoiling their children, watching unwholesome movies, buying entertainment centers, eating out - and then saying that they 'have seen His seed begging bread' when things get tight. 

God is not an insurance policy against poor stewardship!  He is not there to erase our problems when we fall because we were not following by His side!  Ephesians 4:17-19 states, "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."  Walking apart from God tenders a darkening of the understanding, and a blinding of the heart.  Worldly lusts and desires creep in and take over because you are not following close to Christ.  We get into the most trouble when we walk "in the vanity" of our own mind.  We get to the point where we think that we can handle things, and that we have matured in our naive wisdom to the point where we can guide our life solely by our wit and intellect.  Galatians 5:16 reminds us, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."  II Corinthians 5:7, "For we walk by faith, not by sight."

That brings us to the second half of this study.  Do we as Christians who see the times bearing down on our world worry and fret because we do not have everything worked out?  We absolutely need to work with prudence and discretion; but is our foundationary faith during these times resting solely on how well we have provided for ourselves, or the fact that without God's help and ultimate provision and wisdom, we would fall?  If you have read my other article, Tempting God: The Errors of Presumed Protection, you know that there is great error in not taking adequate prudent precautions.  Yet, at the same time, you can make many 'prudent' precautions and be walking in your own wisdom.  Isaiah 5:21 warns, "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!"  That whole chapter talks about the wicked.  When we are not seeking the Lord's face for our wisdom and direction in life, we are setting ourselves up for disaster, even though we think we are acting wisely!  Remember the symptoms of those who walk in the vanity of the Gentiles, following the world?  Their understanding is darkened!

What should our response be?  Ezra 8:21,31 is a classic example.  "Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.  ...Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way."  When we get to the point in our lives where we realize tough times are just ahead, that our family may be in mortal danger, that our goods are in jeopardy, what do we do?  Do we have a meeting with like-minded individuals as to 'prudent' steps to take?  Eventfully, perhaps, but not first!  The fleshing out takes place as we follow the steps God wants us to take, down His path.  Ezra realized that if they were to have any safety on their journey if would not come from the king's soldiers, it would ultimately come from God.  They did not have a planning meeting first and then ask God to bless their plans.  It was asking God first, and then moving forward.

As Christians, we should not get the idea that a matter or trial is so great that God will have to intervene supernaturally somehow, and that there is nothing that we can do for ourselves.  In Esther 4:13-14, Mordecai straightens out the young Esther and gives her the proper perspective in light of the looming annihilation of their people.  "Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.  For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"  He was telling Esther that ignoring a problem does not make it go away. 

God makes provision if people act upon the circumstances that He has provided.  God provided the way for the Jew's salvation from Haman's plot.  God had provided the way without Esther even knowing about it.  When Mordecai suggested that she was probably the one that was set up by God to intervene, she was probably shocked!  It had not occurred to her!  We can see it in her own wisdom when she tries to talk Mordecai out of it (vs.11)!  It is when Mordecai reminds her that ultimate deliverance comes from God and not our own doings that she was able to get the strength to take the steps necessary when she said, "if I perish, I perish."  She was saying that my earthly wisdom sees no end in sight to these actions, but my faith sees a God who can deliver in any circumstances - I will, therefore, do what He wants. 

Furthermore, as Christians, the absolute next step after you realize that your wisdom is worthless without God, is the absolute availing of yourself of God's providence and wisdom.  In verse 16, she says, "Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish."  As we face our soon-to-come trials and calamities in this world, we need to be like Ezra, Mordecai, and Esther, beseeching our Lord "to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance."  Solomon was granted one wish by the Lord, and he asked for wisdom.  We as Christians need to cry out to God for it as well.  Esther and Mordecai's prayers were not some little ditty that they said around the dinner table, or rote out during family devotions.  They were serious with God!  They gathered a prayer meeting like no other, cried out to God for three days straight praying for guidance and strength!  They fully grasped what was going to happen in several months.  They had eleven months before evil times were coming.  They did not live life to the fullest and hope for the best later, they acted prudently and drew nigh to God!   Waiting till disaster strikes is not the time to check how far away you wandered from God!  Esther knew what principles should be followed from God's Word - preserving life and the innocent.  What she did not know of herself was the steps to accomplish it.  Reading your Bible will give you many of the general directions that we need to head in life.  God, however, gives us the daily steps to take.

As we read the Bible, we find a general direction in 1 Timothy 5:8.  "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."  Obviously, as Christians, we should have a better concern and diligence for our family's well-being than our unsaved neighbors.  It is in the implementation of this direction that many turn to their own wisdom, or the wisdom from the world.  Some store up food, some move to rural locations, some get firearms, etc. etc.  However, there is not a silver bullet plan that will work for every Christian.  Why?  The Bible shows by example that God provides for families, even in similar circumstances, differently.  Each family in the Bible that we will look at was provided for in a different way when they followed the steps that God gave them.  The steps He gave them did not work for their neighbors, and in some instances, no one else.  That is why it is so vital that you get on your knees, and ask God for your daily bread, and for the steps that you are to take.  God may not want you to do what your friend is doing with his family.  He will provide for you the way that you need to go, if you follow Him.

Let us now look at several examples in the Old Testament.  All of these five examples deal with the provision of basic food and needs.  Even though all of these occur near the same time period (Elijah - Elisha), they are all to completely different types of individuals, and in completely different ways.

Our first example is of an individual - Elijah.  God provides for single people as well as for families.  This provision lasted probably for just a few months at the most.  I Kings 17:6 says, "And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook."  We are all familiar with the story.  God told Elijah to go hide out in a place where God provided.  At that particular place, God supernaturally provided food and gave Elijah his own private water supply.  Elijah had to be listening to the Lord, and willing to move when he was directed to, and obedience to where he was supposed to go.

The second example is the widow of Zarephath.  This provision might have lasted two years.  It is interesting in that Zarephath is between Tyre and Sidon - it is a Canannite city.  It is also hometown area of Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31).  God provides in anyplace, providing that the individual obeys His commands.  He can also provide in areas where we would least expect it.
I Kings 17:14-16 says,  "For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah."  We see the daily bread concept wrapped up with faith.  Every day they, by faith, reached into the meal barrel for just what they needed.  Each time was an act of obedience and faith in what God had specifically told them.

It is most amazing when Jesus Himself later mentions in Luke 4:26, "But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.  And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian."  The way God provided for those two people worked only for them.  Many Christians expect that the circumstances to come will uniquely warrant God's supernatural provision for everybody.  Jesus shows that even when whole regions were full of starving widows, only one received this supernatural provision.  It is not even repeated in Scripture.  The closest occurrence would be Christ's own feeding of the thousands with bread and fishes - and for all we know, He did that only twice.  Jesus also mentioned that out of the many lepers that were living at the time, only Naaman got special treatment.  It is interesting that he (and the widow) were Gentile.  But, they obeyed by faith the words that the Lord delivered to them by His prophet.

The third example is what we might call a preacher's wife - "a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets."  She had suddenly become a widow.  They owed debts apparently, and the creditors were coming to tear the family apart.  A modern situation may be likened to social services coming to take one's children away because they do not appear to have the means to provide for them.  In this instance, Elisha, the prophet who took the place of Elijah, told her the steps that she needed to take.  II Kings 4:1-4  "...he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.  And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full."  This supernatural provision lasted only a couple of hours.  It was therefore critical that she obeyed the specifics exactly.  Just like Elijah needed to go exactly where the Lord told him to go, this widow needed to go as far as she could when she was told to.  Once she started pouring, there was no going around the neighborhood for more pots.  She had to prepare, in a sense, before the provision came.

I have heard testimony from Christians imprisoned in Soviet Russia who were given very little food.  They prayed that God would take away their hunger, and He did!  While others were filled with hunger pains, God met their needs by not giving them anything and taking the hunger pains away!   Again, a unique provision.

Our fourth example is the city of Samaria.  This one-time provision provided for several days and weeks.  This is interesting and different from the ones we looked at before.  In the first three we looked at, food was created and expanded.  Here, God did not act in the same 'supernatural' way.  This time He brought about events to where existing food was brought to them.  II Kings 7:1  "Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria."  If you are familiar with the story, a whole army came and besieged the city, but God scared them away, and they left enough provision for a whole army behind!

If you have never read the life of George Muller, and how God miraculously provided food and resources for his orphanages in many unique ways, I highly encourage you to.  It will greatly embolden your faith and prayer life.

Our final example is unique again.  In this instance, nothing was given, no food appeared, no food was brought to their door.  But, God provided the way.  This provision for the Shunammite woman, in effect, lasted seven years - the longest period of all our examples.  In II Kings 8:1, it says, "Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years."  There is much that we as Christians living today can learn from this example.  She was given prophecy of what was going to happen really soon.  She was given an idea of how bad things would be - seven years of famine without respite.  She was given the direction that she should go - get out of this area, it is going to be really bad here, really soon. 

It is interesting that she was not told a specific place to go.  All she was told was to go "wheresoever thou canst sojourn."  However, obedience to what the Lord commanded saved her and her family years of heartache and possible death.  It is also interesting that she went to the land of the Philistines (vs. 3), which were much further south near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.  The Bible does not mention why she chose that location.  However, she probably went someplace that she knew would have a good supply of food outside of that region.  Perhaps she chose one of the Philistine port cities.  Speculation.  What is important to note is in verse two, it says, "And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God."  There was no hesitancy in her actions.  As soon as the words were out of the prophet's mouth, she was up off the sofa to get moving boxes.  The way the Lord provided for her was different than He provided for others.  It appears that Gehazi and Elisha stayed in the land during that time (vs. 4).  The way God provided for them was different than the way provided for her.

Christian, we have seen five completely different examples of unique and singled-out provision.  We have seen the steps of obedience that were boldly taken in response to His Word.  We have seen the absolute necessity to being close to Him where we can walk in His steps.  I do not know what the Lord wants you to specifically do concerning your family and your circumstances.  God knows that.  I want to point you in the direction you need to go.  We need to cleanse our hands and hearts and beseech God for the direction and steps that He would have us go.  If God wants you to move, then do not let family, friends, or job hold you back from getting the moving boxes.  If God wants you to stay, then ask God what steps He would have you take in your situation.  Even if your are a single parent, widow, or a single individual, God has a way to provide for those that follow Him with all of their heart.  Are you one who delights in following Christ, or do you need to get closer to Him?  Perhaps you have fallen in sin, and you need Him to pull you up to where you should be.  Psalm 40:2-4 reminds us, "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.  Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies."

Psalm 37:23-26 "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.  I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.  He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed."

 

 

 

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