Friday, September 24, 2010

Not Lacking Anything

Early on in Deuteronomy, Moses summarizes how the Israelites got to where they are through God's guidance and support as they are poised to enter the Promised Land.

Not Lacking Anything
As a good parent, part of your responsibility is making sure that your children have everything they need, even before they need it. For example, you prepare dinner for them long before they are starving to death. From God, the Heavenly Father, you might expect the same type of care to some extent.

As Moses continues in Deuteronomy 2 to retell the history of the Israelites since the Exodus, we come across a profound verse. Deuteronomy 2:7 states:
The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. NIV
Not lacking anything? That is not completely correct.

Obviously they did not have plush bedding, vineyards, and the convenience of systematic waste management. So it seems that “not lacking anything” is referring to the more essential needs of life, like food and water.

God provided food. He gave the Israelites manna. A white, coriander seed-like, resin-like substance, which was bread-like or ground up and eaten different ways, and tasted like both honey wafers and olive oil (Exodus 16:4, Exodus 16:31, Numbers 11:7-9). This is what God gave the Israelites to eat for every single meal for every single day for forty years.

So the Israelites did not lack food, but they did lack a little variety. Once, early after leaving Egypt, God gave them quails to eat. God did not offer any other variety until after the Israelites complained about their meager diet. Then God gave them quails one more time, but this time with a side of plague.

God provided water too, but on a rather limited basis. It was so limited that the Israelites complained multiple times about not having water: once shortly after leaving Egypt (Exodus 17:1-7), and two more times while they were on their forty year journey in the desert (Numbers 20:1-13, Numbers 21:4-8). In fact, in the Numbers 21:4-8 episode, God sent poisonous snakes to kill some Israelites due to complaints about not having water, among other things.

In all, the extent that the Israelites did not lack anything is dubious. It seems that God did provide enough for them to survive, but not much more than that. So if you are betting on having a luxurious, eternal, and happy afterlife, you may want to reconsider the dealer.

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