Water in the Desert

While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came on Elisha and he said, “This is what the Lord says: I will fill this valley with pools of water. For this is what the Lord says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; he will also deliver Moab into your hands. You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones.” 

The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water.

2 Kings 2:15-20

As I mentioned in my last post, the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom were going to war against Moab. But on their journey, they find themselves in the desert without any water. So they ask Elisha to give them some guidance from the Lord.

Reluctantly, Elisha seeks a word from the Lord and he gets one. What God does is absolutely incredible!

God declares that right in the middle of an arid desert He is going to create pools of water. He tells them that He plans on filling the whole valley with water. In hearing this, the kings may have thought that God meant that He would bring the rains. Every so often, desert regions do have sporadic, torrential rains. Yet, as if He knows what they are thinking, God corrects their assumption before they have a chance to verbalize it. This flood of water will not come from a storm. They will not see any wind nor any rain. They will simply watch as the desert becomes a river. The icing on the cake is that God reminds them that this impossible thing is “easy” for Him to do.

We need this reminder more than ever in the midst of this pandemic. Many people are thinking about the economic repercussions of shutting down so many of the businesses for such an extended period of time. Many people are worrying, “How can small businesses survive? How will we recover economically as a nation?” We–like the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom–are faced not only with an enemy army (COVID-19), but also a desert in which to fight it (economic recession).

As we cry out to the Lord about our finances and the economy, we need to remember that it’s not hard for God to turn a desert into a river. And God doesn’t need to do it in the conventional ways (like rain and wind). God can bring the waters of refreshment in ways that don’t make any sense to us. He can bring flowing waters from a source that we wouldn’t have expected.

Oh, and as if it is an afterthought, God tells them that they will defeat Moab their enemy.

God is our warrior who fights for us in battle, and He is also our provider. So as we pray for the defeat of COVID-19, let’s also pray that a river of economic provision would come pouring into every place in our economy that is drying up. And let’s have eyes to see that it might not come from the normal sources of water but from a brand new and unexpected source.

Produce of the Land

On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan.

Joshua 5:10-12

If we are in a desert season–a season of trial, testing, development and dependency–God will drop manna from heaven. He will bring His provision to us. He will often encounter us despite our pursuit (or lack thereof) of Him.

Yet, when we begin to step into the promises of God for our life, the manna will stop. The expectation from God is that, now that we are in the good land, we will learn to cultivate that which will sustain us. We will eat food that is produced by the land.

This is why some people talk about how close to God they felt when they were going through a hard time, yet when things got better, they lost that intimacy with God. Why would that happen?

Essentially, people expect to live off of manna in the Promised Land. And when the manna stops, they don’t know what to do. Just because the manna stopped doesn’t mean the sustenance has to stop. It doesn’t mean intimacy has to stop. It just means the intimacy that was once pure gift now has to be pursued. It has to be cultivated.

Practically speaking, this means that while God’s presence felt so close during that hard season without you having to do anything, when you step into the promise God has for you, you may have to get up early to spend time with Him. The Presence is still there. The intimacy is still there. But you may have to be more intentional about cultivating time with Him in order to experience it. You may have to engage with God in ways that remind you that you are just as dependent on Him as before, even if the immediate crisis has passed.

People sense that the manna has stopped and think God is now distant. Not true. The manna stopping is an invitation toward cultivation. It is an invitation to maturity. It is an invitation to move beyond desert living and into a life of stewarding God’s provision and promises in your life.

We must learn to live in the desert and in the Promised Land. We have to learn how to do both. The apostle Paul put it this way:

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

Did you feel God so near in a crisis but now it seems as if the manna has stopped? What can you do now to cultivate intimacy with Him? What does it look like for you to eat the produce of the land?