“Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go.”
In uncertain times, there is One Who is constant, One on Whom we can and should depend. That One is the LORD Jesus Christ.
The verse above is from a particular time in the history of Israel. Because of their idolatry, the LORD had scattered them to the nations around them. After 70 years, they returned to the Promised Land. The book of Nehemiah recounts part of the story of those who returned. In a prayer of confession to the LORD, the priests told the history of the nation from when they left Egypt up to their present day.
This verse is the second part of a sentence, the first part of which tells that Israel worshipped the golden calf. Up to that verse, the priests told of God’s myriad blessings in bringing them out of Egypt, and His provision to meet their needs on the journey.
Given God’s blessings, and Israel’s turning away from God’s commands, one might suspect that God would reject them. On a human level, if we did many kind things for somebody, and they refused or rejected us, we would be inclined to stop our kindnesses, and perhaps count that person as our enemy. Would God do the same in the case of Israel? Who would blame Him if He did?
But the verse above tells that God continued His blessings to the Israelites. In spite of their having disobeyed Him, He provided continued guidance in their travels, by the pillars of cloud by day and fire by night. He did not forsake them! The next verses after this tell that He continued to provide them with food and water during 40 years of travels, and maintained their clothing and shoes, so that they did not wear out!
Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, are sinners. Because of this, many worry about their status before God. In the prayer recorded in Nehemiah 9 we see that in spite of their neglect of God’s commands, He continued to maintain Israel and care for them. In spite of their behavior, He did not forsake them. So, for the true believer in Jesus Christ, this example from the Old Testament reveals something about God. He said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5). But let us never forget Who it is that we hold to. He will never forsake us, but also tells us, “Go, and sin no more.” Praise His name we are forgiven through Jesus Christ. We must seek to honor Him with our lives.
Events of life cause us to worry, and can cause us to doubt. But God has never lost control, neither is He surprised. In Matthew 6:31-33 Jesus is quoted as saying, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Admittedly, the context is food, drink, and raiment (just like the Israelites, described in Nehemiah 9), but the phrase to note is, “your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things.” He knows us thoroughly. He knows that we need food, drink, and covering. He knows what is necessary for our health. Not even a virus can invade us without His knowledge, or affect us outside of His will. And when, in His will, our time comes to die, He promises to never forsake us.
Sadly, many do not believe on the LORD Jesus Christ as their Savior. For them, there is no assurance like what has been described thus far. As Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:18, “He that believeth on (the Son) is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” At the time of Israel’s early history, many other nations were not blessed by God like they were. Egypt suffered God’s wrath. So it is with many people to this day. They ignore Him and His ways, yet expect that He will bless them anyway. We all will have to answer to God. If He is not your Savior and LORD, you are “condemned already.” Let the uncertainties of these days cause you to turn to the LORD Jesus Christ.
I sing of the love of my Father,
Who chose me, — I cannot tell why;
He might have condemned me,
but rather He sent His Beloved to die.
O wonderful, wonderful love of my God
Redeeming my soul at the cost of the blood!
I cannot conceive it, but O I believe it ?
This wonderful love of my God!
I sing of the love of my Savior,
Who left heaven?s glory to be
A ransom for sin, that God?s favor
Might justly be given to me.
I sing of the love of the Spirit,
My Comforter, Teacher and Guide,
By whose gracious pow?r I inherit
The blessings Christ bought when He died.
I sing of God?s love ? O receive it!
God loves the whole world, He loves you!
For you Jesus died, — O believe it!
This wonderful love is for you.
Chorus (W. R. Newell)