Does God still say, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you’ (Exodus 16:4), like He did to the Israelites? Does God still send ravens to feed people like He ordered ravens who brought Elijah ‘bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening’ (1 Kings 17:6)? Do people wake up and see ‘a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water’ (19:v6) with an angel prodding you to eat, like Elijah saw? Do people’s flour not get ‘used up’ (17:v14) and their oil ‘not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land’ (v14), as it happened to the widow of Zarephath? Does God still direct us to ‘Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin’ (Matthew 17:27), whenever we want to pay taxes, like He did to Peter? Does God still ask for our minimal lunch ‘to bring them here to me’ (14:v18) so that He can multiply them and feed five thousand men? Does God still make provisions so that for two years we can stay in our own ‘rented house’ (Acts 28:30) like Paul? Since ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8), then the same supernatural provisions He did in time past, must surely be real to us in this present age.
God’s default mode is to provide for man. He fashioned the earth in a way that provides man with food. He tells Adam, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food’ (Genesis 1:29). God provided for mankind favourable conditions so that he could work the land and get food. But when mankind disobeyed God and was cast out of the Garden of Eden, God decrees, ‘Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground’ (3:v17-19). And that is how the hustling age was welcomed. The struggle for the basics became real up until now such that, ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat’ (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Yet, ‘There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore’ (Job 28:1-2). But with the increasingly unjust, bureaucratic, and unequal world full of exploitation, favouritism, and discrimination, treasures of the earth that are meant to benefit all are hoarded by a few, who distribute them unequally and with restraint. And thus, many are denied their right to eat. Jesus even asks Simon Peter, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes – from their owns sons or from others?’ (Matthew 17:25). The answer was obvious and after Peter answers, Jesus says, ‘Then the sons are exempt’ (v26).
Jesus was not only talking about the inequality in the world system, but that in His Kingdom sons are also exempt from living as the world does, for He tells Peter to take a coin from a fish’s mouth. ‘Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours’ (v27). Jesus tells Peter to pay taxes as a by-the-way and not as a pressing issue. In fact, He tells him to pay taxes, ‘so that we may not offend them’ (v27). The Jews at that time were under Roman rule. So, at one point, when some people hypocritically asked Jesus if it is right to pay taxes or not, Jesus responds, ‘Why are you trying to trap me? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it’ (Mark 12:16). He then asks ‘Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?’ (v16). When the people answered that the portrait and inscription was ‘Caesar’s’ (v16), Jesus then says in finality. ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s’ (v17). By the time people mature physically and mentally, many people start giving to Caesar, and yet many do not give to God what is due for Him. In fact, the pursuit of the coin supersedes God’s mission, and so such rarely see supernatural provision because they choose to naturally provide for themselves. They fail to ‘go on to maturity’ (Hebrews 6:1) in their spiritual life, and instead settle for ‘acts that lead to death (useless rituals)’ (v1). What ends up happening is competition to rise the corporate ladder, stepping on other’s toes to get to the top, denying qualified persons opportunities, underpaying people, and pressure to overwork at the expense of wellbeing. Indeed, ‘the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light’ (Luke 16:8).
For a Believer, one who walks in the Light of Christ, God does not in any way discourage work, but desires that we also give Him His dues. In fact, Christians are urged to ‘Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you may have lack of nothing’ (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). But in this unequal world, most people need to work twice as harder because opportunities are not given on a silver platter. However, God calls Christians to a higher plane of living so that we can witness supernatural provision. Jesus says, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you’ (Matthew 6:33). Jesus uses ‘these things’ to refer to worldly possessions that all people seek for; food, shelter, and raiment. The other time Jesus uses this term was when He asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ (John 21:15). Peter was a man concerned about his daily bread, and when Jesus met him, he was fishing, and after Jesus resurrected, He found Peter still fishing, prompting Him to ask him three times if he loved Him more than ‘these’. Jesus then tells him, ‘Feed my sheep’ (John 21:17). Jesus was not asking Peter never to fish, but telling him to prioritize the mandate He gave to him – God’s mandate.
All Christians are called to carry out God’s mandate first. When we carry out God’s mandate, it is not for profit and so many tend to shy away from giving God what is His, because they need to make a living. Like the Israelites, we tend to ask, ‘What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?’ (Leviticus 25:20). God answers, ‘I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in’ (v21-22). In keeping with His Sabbath, God ensured that the land supernaturally produced a bounty for the Israelites. In the same way, when we prioritize God’s work and calling in our lives even amidst our busy schedules, He supernaturally provides. This could be in the form of expediting promotions. ‘For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he brings one down, he exalts another’ (Psalm 75:6-7). God’s supernatural provision could also be in the form of giving us excellence in our skills so that we stand out. Solomon writes, ‘Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men’ (Proverbs 22:29). God could also give us ideas for businesses, because ‘it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth’ (Deuteronomy 8:18).
There are myriad ways that God can supernaturally provide for our physical needs. However, supernatural provision is only possible when we are carrying out supernatural mandates as directed by God Himself. The Israelites, Elijah, the widow of Zarephath, and Paul were all carrying out God’s will for their lives at the time of their supernatural provisions. Other people who also experienced supernatural provision include Jacob whom God showed how to multiply his livestock, David and Solomon whom God granted favour and supernatural capabilities that other rulers were astounded at, and gave them wealth from their treasury, such as the King of Tyre and the Queen of Sheba. The Israelites also were provided for by God from the fortunes of the many nations they conquered, because ‘a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous’ (Proverbs 13:22). God also grants supernatural provision by enabling us to take minimal efforts to complete myriad tasks. His Spirit of Wisdom directs us on how we should do tasks for maximum output. When Peter and other disciples, for instance, had fished for a whole night and still caught nothing, Jesus tells them; ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some’ (John 21:6). And ‘when they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish’ (v6). At the end of the day, our efforts may not yield as we expect, but when we are carrying out God’s mandate, He sees to it that He ‘bless(es) all the work of your hands’ (Deuteronomy 28:12).
Although carrying out God’s will does not always mean that we wake up to millions in our accounts, God ensures that He meets our daily needs in one way or another, because ‘each day has enough trouble of its own’ (Matthew 6:34). This ensures that we put our trust in God, and not in the things He gives us. Job who was wealthy did not say to pure gold ‘you are my security’ (Job 31:24), because his only security was God. He knew that money and things are just facilitators of earthly living. Supernatural provision, however, ensures that what God gives us is lasting and impacts others, not just ourselves, because no matter what one says or thinks, ‘The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he adds no sorrow to it’ (Proverbs 10:22). But ‘People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction’ (1 Timothy 6:9). In fact, ‘Some people, eager for money, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs’ (v10). But when God provides, it is a different story. ‘Moreover, when God gives any man riches and wealth, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is the gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart’ (Ecclesiastes 5:19-20). For, ‘A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better than he. It comes without meaning, it departs in darkness, and in darkness its name is shrouded’ (6:v3-4). Indeed, ‘What a heavy burden God has laid on men!’ (1:v13), but removed on His children who are recipients of supernatural provision and everlasting prosperity.
‘And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus’ ~ Philippians 4:19
‘This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord thy God who teaches you to profit, who directs you in the way you should go’ ~ Isaiah 48:17
‘When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: ‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’ ~ Revelation 18:9-10