“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Is the LORD’s hand shortened? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.’” (Exodus 11:23)
On the journey to Canaan, God’s promised land, the Israelites had many opportunities to witness God’s provision. At the beginning of their journey, they saw Him lead with cloud and fire. They watched Him part the Red Sea and drown the Egyptians in it. They witnessed Him bring water out of a rock and rain bread from Heaven. One would think that after all this, they would understand that God is a mighty God. But that was not the case.
After a while, the Israelites began to get tired of manna. It was the same thing every day, and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. Their mouths watered as they thought of the fish and the fruits of Egypt, remembering how wonderful life had been then. At least there, they hadn’t had to worry about starving to death. They yearned for meat, cursing Moses because all they had was manna.
All of this complaining made Moses rather angry. He brought his own complaints before God, insisting that a quick death would be preferable to leading this band of malcontents. It wasn’t his fault that they were hungry; after all, where was he supposed to get meat? They were in the middle of the wilderness! And there were so many of them! How could any flock or herd be sufficient to feed the entire nation?
Yet that is exactly what God promised. “‘You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days,’” He said, “‘but for a whole month.’” (Numbers 11:19-20a) By the time the meat came to an end, the people would be sick of it, just as they were of the manna. God would do this, and they would know once again that He is the Almighty God, the God Who provides what He promises.
When we read about the Israelites, it’s easy to become frustrated with them. We turn back a few pages in our Bibles and remind them how God provided food for them. We show them where He brought water out of a rock, where He delivered them from their enemies. How could they have forgotten all this in such a short time? But then comes an uncomfortable conviction: How many of God’s provisions have we forgotten? When is the last time we stopped to consider all the blessings He has already given us? Are we, like the Israelites, complaining over something we already have?
God provides. This is evident in the entire Bible, from the beginning of creation to the end of the world. Wherever there is a need, He will meet it. His hand is not shortened; He has all the power in the world, and He knows when and how to use it. But our human, sinful minds tend to forget that. We thank God for our blessings when we receive them, but after a week, we’ve already forgotten. We’re back to complaining about how unsatisfactory everything is. But how foolish that is! The God Who provided then can and will do it again. He knows what we need, and when the time is right, He will give it to us. But if we’re so caught up in our complaints, we’ll miss the blessing. It will be right in front of us, but we’ll pass it by. The Israelites forgot God’s provision and so missed the blessing of growing in their relationship with Him. How far are we from doing the same?