God’s Presence, Protection and Provision
“The first responsibility of the people of God is to trust and obey their Saviour God. He has promised to be with us, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:16-20). We have everything we need for life and godliness granted to us by divine power (2 Peter 1:3) and this is the stimulus and incentive for us to seek to live lives that please God. As God’s people we have been given the whole heavenly spiritual blessing of union with Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3.) We can be sure that in the midst of trial and temptation God is faith, strengthening us and leading us safely through (Heb. 10:13.) All this is guaranteed for us by the ascension of Jesus Christ to the Father’s right hand.
Israel too had been promised the presence, provision and protection of God — and, if they could only reflect and consider, had experienced these great gifts right through the events of the escape from Egypt and exodus into the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. Yet, whenever things looked tough (as they had in the past), it was as though they completely forgot that faithfulness of God, and completely forgot too the promises of the Lord for the future. They became grumblers about Moses, then they became quarrellers with him, until the day will come when they will be rebels against him.
Memory of God’s saving acts and promise of His coming future are given to us in the present to give us endurance and steadfastness. Forgetfulness of both memory and promise leaves us essentially bitter and disobedient. We test God, asking Him (against all that He has done) to prove that He is among us!
The patience of God with His people is amazing! Here in the wilderness He himself stands in the place (a rock at Horeb) that will be struck so that streams flow out from there through the desert to the people in the camp. Then He gives his people victory over enemies who seek to pick them off. Joshua and his militia overwhelm Amalek. After the battle, Moses builds an altar to worship the Lord, and calls the place “The LORD is my banner!” It is the presence of God, who rules past, future and present that is the protection and provision for the people of God.
We see the Lord’s patience everywhere, but we must never let that patience become a let-off clause that encourages us to not trust and obey. We must not receive the grace of the Lord Jesus in vain. We must receive His help, provision and protection with thankfulness. Paul reminds us (1 Cor. 10:1ff) that just receiving the benefit of God’s patience didn’t finally save Israel when they rebelled against Him. That was an example for us, he tells us. We must hold fast in faith and obedience to the faithfulness of God.