Understanding God’s Ways

Exodus 15:22-24 – "So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?"

Psalm 145:17 – "The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works."

Some of the best theology is in the Psalms. Here the Psalmist says that God is too loving to be unkind. He is "righteous" or "just" in everything that He does – God’s actions are completely above reproach. The Lord is also "holy in all His works." The term "holy" as we find here would be better translated as "merciful." This turns out to another example of Hebrew parallelism: He is just in His behavior and merciful in His dealings. Some will stand up and protest at this point and say, "What about when God allows a hurricane, a tornado, or an earthquake?" or "Why do good people die or suffer injury?" or "Why, then, has my spouse left me?" At certain points in history and in our current lives, we can think of God as less than just and kind in what He allows to occur.

The Israelites found themselves at one of these points. They had gone without food or water for three days. Certainly, the Israelites were not used to this. They had become accustomed to the eternal waters of the Nile and the constant provision of the fertile valley. They longed for the black earth of the Nile Valley, which made them able to provide for themselves. Instead, they are following this big pillar of smoke and fire, which is nothing other than the Very Presence of the Lord. This same Lord has led them into a place lacking food or water. The hundreds of thousands couldn’t live on their provisions forever, and they have run out. They murmured. They questioned God. They have seen and been through so much, and now are they going to die by starvation?! To be delivered from the most powerful army in the world is useless if they are going to starve in this strange place. What was God thinking?

Sometimes, we are lead into a strange place by the Hand of God. Things can look impossible and terrible and we question what God is doing in our lives. The actions of God are high and mysterious to us. The complexity and size of His grand eternal plan totally drowns our small minds with wonder and bewilderment. We cannot know God’s motives. This has led many thinkers to regard man as a pawn in the hand of a cruel and capricious God. We are not pawns and our Lord is not capricious, but affectionate and discerning. He is interested in us. But He is not man. His logic is as evasive as the most distant quasar observed by our telescopes. Though we may lose our homes, health, and families, He can never be unkind. He never allows terrible events for some hideous fancy. We must never think that God is unkind. So what is God trying to do?

We cannot answer that question. But, we do know God’s primary motive. His ultimate goal regarding the universe and everything within it is to bring glory to the Lord's monumental name. This was God's largest goal in the wilderness. But could not have He been just as glorified if Israel was able to walk two weeks and arrive at empty cities in Canaan? For some strange and high reason, He marched them into this Wilderness of Sinai. One of the reasons was that it was totally different than the land the Hebrews had just left. The Wilderness was an unnerving place for this new nation. The children of Israel have just spent four centuries learning the ways of the Egyptians. Egypt typifies the elevation of man to god. This man-god is embodied to its fullest extent in Pharaoh, who is self-sufficient and confident, providing for and sustaining himself. This false thinking was enforced by the fact that Egypt lasted so long because that river never stopped flowing and flooding. Life in the desert, of the other hand, was marginal and sparse. To settle in one spot meant death. God sent Moses to the same desert from the courts of Pharaoh. After forty years of exile, Moses was no longer a man of the court, but a rugged nomad. The Lord is now doing the same to Israel on a much larger scale and in a much grander way. They were going to have every trace of Egypt erased though forty years of wandering dependency.

How the Lord wishes to do the same in our lives! He wants to erase carnal and earthly thinking from our sinful minds. He has made us strangers to this world – we are in a wilderness wandering, depending on the Lord (or we should be). Whether we like or not, as Born Again Believers in Jesus the Savior, we are in a desert. We can either rebel and suffer drought or gladly rely on Him and receive food from Heaven and water from rocks – an endless and boundless supply of the everlasting Grace of our Eternal Father. As humans, we are creative in finding challenges to a simple faith that God requires. The "Adult" view offered by the "wise" of this day says that the cosmos cannot be reduced to a single principle – to do so is Mediaeval and Puritanical – rather, our complicated universe demands a more realistic and materialistic position. Nothing could be more fallacious. Philosophy’s job, put in simple terms, is to explain everything. Therefore, our philosophy is this: Glorify God, because that’s the purpose of everything. And as desert pilgrims, we glorify God through utter dependency upon His Hand of Provision and Guidance.

John 13:7 – "Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." Christ was washing His disciple’s feet and they were bewildered at His humiliation and servitude. They were uncomfortable. Yet, the Lord comforted with these words. They would not understand the significance of the feet washing until Christ had died for their sins. The Nation of the Wilderness did not understand the action of Jehovah until they reached the Promised Land. We may not ever say: "What shall we drink?" Yet, we do say things like: "How am I going to retire with no savings?" or "How can get my teenage son interested in the Things of God?" or "How am I going to pay my bills now that I’ve lost my job?" To understand an experience fully, we must go through to the end. We must have the faith to trust that He knows what He is doing and have the patience to wait for the full revelation of God’s will to our eyes.


"The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works."