"Insufficient" Resources

Have you ever faced a situation that didn’t seem possible to work out in your favor?  From your vantage point it did not appear that there were enough resources to supply your need, so perhaps it seemed futile to turn to God for a solution to the problem.  This is a scenario that repeatedly plays out in Scripture, and it highlights the folly of limiting God by our own assumptions.  Here are some examples from the first generation of Israelites freed from Egyptian bondage:

Moses’ personal inadequacy.  When God commissioned Moses to be the deliverer of His people from Egyptian slavery, Moses is overwhelmed with a sense of inadequacy (Ex 3-4).  How can one man possibly persuade the dominant world leader of his day to voluntarily forfeit his slave labor?  To Moses’ way of thinking the objective God had placed before him was undoable.  thus he balks:  “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh …?” (3: 11).  Moses fled Egypt forty years prior as a traitor and murderer, so his trepidation on this count alone is understandable. 

Further, Moses frets over his ignorance of God (3:13), the willingness of the people to listen him (4:1) and his lack of eloquence (4:10).  After Jehovah had answered all his objections, Moses just pleads for someone else to be sent on the mission (4:13).  In this exchange the Lord has given various assurances that He would guarantee Moses’ success, but Moses discounted them because he was too focused on his own inadequacies.  God had laid the groundwork over several hundred years to fulfill the first part of His promise to Abraham – that his descendants would become as numerous as the stars.  No nation or ruler would be able to prevent the second promise from being realized – that of taking ownership of the land of Canaan (cf. Ex 3:8, 17; 6:8).  Indeed, “Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people … out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.  And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (7:4-5).  Moses’ growth in faith is seen in his response to this affirmation of God:  “Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the Lord commanded them, so they did” (7:6). 

Food and water in the wilderness.  Ok, Israel is freed from captivity; now what?  A vast multitude is now entering a hostile landscape with little provision.  It wasn’t long before the water they had brought with them ran out, and then their predicament hit them full force:  “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” (Ex 15:24).  Not exactly a frivolous question given the lack of water fountains, Yeti mugs, rest areas and no Buc-ee’s in sight. 

And then the food failed :  “Then the whole congregation … murmured against Moses … ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full!  For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’” (16:3).   From our vantage point; i.e., already knowing the outcome, it is easy to scoff at these people.  But haven’t experienced similar distress when it seemed that our dilemma had no obvious solution?  Humans needs a substantial amount of nourishment on a daily basis, and this migration of around 2-3 million people needed a tremendous amount of resources with no Amazon corporation to supply it.

The aborted invasion of Canaan.  Again, our hindsight might hinder us from fully appreciating the terror that lay ahead of Israel.  A horde of refugees hampered by the elderly and babies alike – lacking a trained army and an arsenal of weapons – comes to the border of a hostile land full of giants, walled cities, kings, standing armies and local knowledge of the lay of the land.  The Israelite spies – ten of them anyway – returned from their reconnaissance of Canaan completely demoralized:  “‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’  And they gave … a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land … devours its inhabitants and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight’” (Num 13:31-33). 

This was the last straw of God’s patience with this generation, and the punishment He metes out is severe indeed:  “The carcasses of you who have murmured against Me shall fall in this wilderness … According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land … for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection.  I the Lord have spoken this; I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me.  In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die …” (Num 14:29, 34-35).

What is missing in these three examples of despondency over a lack of resources needed to survive and/or succeed?  Answer:  A lack of trust in God’s power and provision to do what He said He would do.  God had earlier condemned this generation:  “‘All the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord – because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers …” (14:22-23).  In the crisis moments of life we may find that our own resources – intellect, financial prowess, business acumen, emotional strength, etc. – are woefully inadequate.  If we have depended on these for our comfort or sense of security and success, we will panic when faced with overwhelming odds. 

To complicate matters further, we often project our own impotence upon God and assume that even He cannot resolve our dilemma.  In the exodus God had been working out the “impossible” for Israel, but they had no confidence that He would do it the next time. 

Toward the end of the OT God issues this challenge:  “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this … if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Mal 3:10).  Many episodes in the Bible teach us that God’s provisions for man are not “zero sum.”  That is, He is capable of providing whatever is needed for all His people at any time globally.  Our creator who started with nothing and created the entire cosmos out of His spoken word never runs out of resources for the need at hand.