Here are some lessons from the history of Israel about being the covenant people of God:
- He prospered them (12): I take great encouragement from this verse that the growth of the church is in the Lord’s Hands. It’s not that we have nothing to do but ”…God…makes things grow.” (1 Cor.3:8). We know that this tiny group was to become a great nation. God can take the ”few indeed” and make them many. (Just recently I heard about a small group of Christians meeting in a home. They have now grown to be more than 60 people and hire a church building for their Sunday evening services. This is a wonderful story of growth in our day. Jesus is the builder of His church, and we should not despise the day of small things.)
- He protected them (14, 15; Gen.35:5): Even when they made serious errors of judgment God took care of them (Gen.12:10-20; 20:1-18; 26:1-11). Note, by the way, that Abraham was the first person in the Bible to be called a prophet (15; see Gen.20:7)
- He provided for them (16-22): However, God’s protection did not mean that they were always shielded from hard times. A famine came into the land of Canaan (Gen.41:56, 57). Times were hard and the situation they faced was deathly serious (16). But God’s providence meant that He ”sent a man before them” into Egypt (17). It was, someone said, an ”anticipatory providence’ ‘At first things didn’t look good for Joseph (17, 18). But Joseph had a divine gift to interpret dreams accurately. In God’s timing, that ability was his ticket out of prison. In an astounding reversal he was raised to high office in the land, becoming second only to Pharaoh. He was lifted from jail to serve God’s purposes. Effectively he was authorised to rule, and he saved the people. God’s man suffered terribly, but the Lord was working in grace and mercy to have a ruler in Egypt to welcome and feed His needy people. (When you look at Joseph’s story closely you see that there are remarkable parallels to the life of Jesus, who came to be the Saviour of the world in an even deeper and more meaningful way).
”The Lord not only holds sway over all the earth (7) but executively ordains earth’s events (16). Again we face a mystery, for we cannot trace the paths and patterns of divine providence. But where we cannot understand why this or that experience has been called down, or why necessities of life have been withdrawn from us (16), we can be sure that he is still on the throne…and that he has made a provision for our future…” J.A.Motyer: New Bible Commentary, pp.554, 555
Today you may feel that your feet are bruised, and that in some real way you are in chains. But there is a ”till” in the purposes of God, and at the right time He will bring you out. Trust Him. He is able to do far abundantly above all you can ask or imagine.
Prayer: Help me to believe that in your good timing Lord, a light will shine in every dark place in my life.