Tuesday, June 23, 2009

God provided

by John D Ramsey
I drove past a church sign on my way to work this morning. It read, “GOD WILL PROVIDE — GENESIS 22:13.” I don’t like church signs because they say so little while inviting the reader to infer so much. I inferred from this sign that its intent abused the passage of Scripture it offered as a proof text. Now certainly I believe that God provides. James 1:17 says, “Every good portion and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the lights, of whom there is no alteration or shaded circuit.” (AB)
All that I have is provided by God. I would not dispute that God provides. Nevertheless, to attest that God will provide seems presumptuous. What will God provide? I wondered to myself. Had the sign read, “GOD PROVIDES,” it probably would not have struck me as dubious. To say that God provides implies God gives me what I need. To say that God will provide, implies that somehow, what I lack, God will remunerate to me. Can I determine what God will provide?
Having received a magnanimous gift from the Philippians, Paul blessed them saying, “And my God will fill all your need, according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (AB) Likewise Jesus said, “Your father knows of what you have need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8 (AB)
Had the sign read, “GOD PROVIDES WHAT YOU NEED,” I would not have reacted with displeasure. Because the proclamation was so open-ended, it brought Hosea’s prophecy to mind, specifically the attitude of the people, who declared,
And we shall know,
and shall pursue to know the LORD.
As dawn readied,
we shall find him;
and he shall come to us
as rain early and late to the earth.
Hosea 6:3 (AB)
Of course, Hosea prophesied and Israel endured God’s judgment rather than the blessing they expected Him to provide. Israel believed that God was predicable. They had believed that even though God was harsh sometimes, He would eventually cool off and give them what they wanted.
What disturbed me most about the sign was the Scripture reference, Genesis 22:13. When one contemplates the passage one realizes that God provided, but to use this passage as a proof that God provides, without saying what God provided to Abraham and Isaac, totally misses the glory of the passage.
God provided a sacrifice. Abraham took Isaac, his son, to the top of the mountain to offer him as a sacrifice. God saw Abraham’s faith and provided instead a ram as a substitution for Isaac. The ram, offered in Isaac’s place, becomes a type of the Christ who presented his own blood in atonement for the sins of the whole world.
In both cases, God intervened to save the ones condemned to die. If I were asked to assemble a church sign using Genesis 22:13 as the proof text, I would have it say,
Genesis 22:13 & 1 John 4:10

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