Scripture: 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.” Numbers 11:23 ESV
Observation: Having instructed Moses to appoint seventy elders to aid him in leading God’s people, the Lord further directs Moses to tell the people to consecrate themselves in preparation for a feast. For the Lord shall give them the meat they clamored to eat, and not just for a day but a month until it comes out of their nostrils and becomes loathsome to them (11:1-20). Moses, perplexed with how Yahweh will provide a month’s supply for six hundred thousand men (plus women and children) in the desert, questions how he will perform this feat (11:21-22), which leads to the Lord’s response in the above verse: “Is the Lord’s hand shortened?” Is the same God who invoked miraculous plagues on the Egyptians and delivered Israel from bondage incapable of fulfilling his promise?
Takeaway: This passage points us to two other events in the Gospels where the Son of God feeds five thousand men and their families on one occasion (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, and John 6) and four thousand plus on another (Matthew 15 and Mark 8). Like Moses, in each instance, Jesus’ disciples question the feasibility of such an undertaking. Also, like Moses, the disciples, weary from the demands of their mission, need to refresh their faith in God. And the success of a seemingly impossible outreach proved to be just the thing.
So how does the text apply to us? Lest we scoff at Moses initially waffling in his faith in God, we would do well to reflect on how often we act as if the Lord has a shortened hand. For if we fail to lean on him and take matters into our “hands,” we will “shorten” the extent of our faith-building moments. But if we join with Christ and his Holy Spirit in stepping out in faith, hungry souls await us. And, God willing, they will be satiated, and we will find spiritual refreshment.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are Yahweh-Yireh (God who provides), as evidenced by birthing and nurturing our spirits through the revelation of the Gospel. So when you call us to engage in seemingly impossible outreaches to the hungry, would you please help us step out in faith under the direction and power of your Holy Spirit and show the world that your hand is not too short? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling