A Lesson for the Christian of Yehovah's Provision – Examples from the Israelite's Time in the Wilderness
In the first chapter of the book of Numbers we find Yehovah speaking to His servant Moses while He was in the Tabernacle. The Scripture testifies that it was on the first day of the second month of the second year since they had been released from their captures in Egypt. (Numbers 1:1) So this means that they had spent some time now as free men under the government of Yehovah led by His servants Moses and Aaron. On this particular occasion Yehovah commanded Moses to number the men of all the tribes of Israel who were 20 years and older, as many as were able to go forth to war. The total of the twelve tribes, which did not include the tribe of Levite (in that they were consecrated to Yehovah for an entirely different purpose) was 603,550 men. (Numbers 1:46) From this number I believe it is reasonable to estimate a conservative approximation of the total population of the Israelite people, who with their cattle were camping under God’s protection in the wilderness. (Desert) There were 603,550 men of the age of 20 and older who were able bodied, it is only reasonable to suggest that each, or nearly each of these men had a wife. Now understand that under Yehovah’s law a man can have more than one wife, which practice was very common among the Jews, but let’s suppose for the sake of our estimation that each man had only one wife. Let’s further suppose that each family had an average of five children, which is entirely likely, for among the Jews children were considered a blessing and an honor from Yehovah and were desired and not shunned. The modern advent of “birth control” with all it devices had not yet come into being, and besides that, such a mindset with it practices would have been thought completely ungodly by that generation of people. For the people of faith would have viewed such a mindset and practice as totally contrary to both the command of Yehovah to multiply and fill the earth, and contrary to every natural inclination, and the equipping of their physical persons.
So when we multiply 603,550 (The number of the men in the twelve tribes) by 6, which is to include a wife for each man and five children, we have an estimation of 3,621,300 people in the Israelite camp, plus all their cattle. Many people believe their actual number could easily have been double this figure. Why is this significant? Because they were being sustained by Yehovah while they camped in a desert where there was essentially no water and no vegetation for either themselves or their cattle. The Lord was their constant protector and provider, and this for a full forty years, which was the length of their travels through the wilderness. (Deut. 29:5)
During this time the Scripture testifies that Yehovah provided for them manna to eat. Manna was a small round thing that appeared every morning on the ground that the Israelites were to harvest daily (with the exception of the Sabbath day). It was said to be like unto a coriander seed and tasted similar to wafers made with honey. (Exodus 16:26 & 31) The Scripture further testifies that during this period of time that the people of faith did not eat any regular bread, nor drink any fruit of the vine, (wine or strong drink) for again remember that they were living in a desert. Their going without their regular style of food was the Lord’s way to teach them that He alone was their sovereign, and provider.(Deut, 29:6 & Deut. 8:3)
They had to learn to go without and to satisfy themselves with His provision alone, to be humbled and learn submission, obedience, and faithfulness. So do not be surprised O Christian when in the process of life the Lord leads you through barren and dry times where regular provision is scarce or non-existent. He is doing this to test you and prove you, whether you will look to Him or not. Also during this forty year period it is written that Yehovah’s attention to provide and protect His people was so complete that throughout this whole period of time their clothing did not wear out, nor did they experience the swelling of their feet. (Deut. 29:5) In reference to water, there were times when the people’s need was met through normal means, such as taking water from a well, or a spring, but other times their need was met supernaturally by God’s hand. Twice Yehovah caused water to flow from a rock at Moses’ command. (Exodus 17:1-7 & Numbers 20:1-13) Once He sweetened bitter water making it acceptable to the people. (Exodus 15: 22-25)
But that is not all. For during the entire time the Israelites were in the wilderness the Lord provided for this people of faith a cloud covering to protect them from the desert sun. This cloud would appear each day for forty years. At night it gave way to a covering of fire. The cloud and the fire were to protect them from the heat of the day and the cold of the night, but at the same time served as a guiding element in their traveling. So we see that they were provided a moderate climate all the while they lived in an extreme environment. (Exodus 13:21-22)
All these numerous things are an exceeding testament to the love and care of Yehovah for the people of faith in that generation, but it would be complete amiss for us not to mention that these things only came to them as a part of a much greater blessing, and that is that they were free from the bondage of Egypt, and that by a whole series of miracles that worked together to obtain their freedom. There were 10 different plagues that all worked together to obtain the freedom that the Israelites need and desired, plus after they were freed from their bondage they experienced the miracle of the water of the Red Sea parting to allow them passage through it as if they were on dry ground.
My friends, these all work together to form a picture of the salvation of the Christian. After the unspeakable riches of both the wisdom and goodness of God being display toward man to offer the means of forgiveness of sin, and reconciliation to the eternal God, then on top of all of that God does not abandon His own, but watches us intently, looking only for us to respond to Him in faith and obedience. This goodness and attention is express every aptly in this single verse, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 KJV)
So Christian, please consider this, and ask yourself, is there anything too hard for Yehovah to do? If He would do these things for the Israelites who were in their time the people of faith, is there anything too hard for Him to do in your life, and would His heart not be open to aide His people today who walk before Him in obedience and faith? If He was this kind and protective of the Israelites during their time in the Wilderness, and that in spite of their numerous short comings, would He show Himself any less kind and protective to the people of faith today? I think not, and is this not the very reason why these stories of old were preserved? (Romans 15:4) Were they not preserved for the instruction and encouragement of those of us who follow Yeshua in these last days that we might be aided in our faith? Let us remember O Christian that our God does not change. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 KJV) and, “I am the Lord, I change not……” (Malachi 3:6 KJV) and “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea,, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” (Isaiah 49:15 KJV)
Take courage therefore O Christian and be comforted for, “…the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” (Psalms 33:18-19 KJV)
An American Watchman
Gregory A DeHart