I’m reposting this essay originally published in June 2014 in hopes that it will encourage.
There are so many powerful moments in the bible. Where does one begin? Genesis 1, God creates everything, are verses that are awesome to ponder. The resurrection, when Jesus emerged from the tomb alive. God is all-powerful.
There are thunderous moments too. When Mt Sinai trembles, when God was in the earthquake, when He split the ground under Korah and closed it back up again. God is to be feared.
But there are tender moments too. The God of thunder and wrath and all-power is so tender!! I’m not one of these who believes the wrathful God is the Old Testament turned into the sensitive (“boyfriend”) Jesus of the New Testament. Read Revelation and you see it is the same God of wrath and anger against unrighteousness and sin. In the Old Testament (as well as the New), there are very tender moments which show us our Holy God is everything. He is simply everything good- including tenderness.
In Genesis 21:15-19, slave girl Hagar had been misused by Sarah (and Abraham). She and her son Ismael ran away to the wilderness, and there, thirsty, alone, and weak, they prepared to die.
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the child under one of the bushes. 16Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, “Let me not look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
“God heard“, “The Angel of God” [Jesus] called to her from heaven. He assured her. He made promises to her. He opened her eyes so she could drink. What direct, intimate ministration from Holy God in heaven!
In 1 Kings 19:4-8, we see tender ministrations again. Poor Elijah, downcast, alone, and fearing for his life. He, like Hagar, ran to the desert and wanted to die.
|Elijah in the wilderness, by Washington Allston, 1817|
But did God let Elijah stay that way? No
|Ferdinandus Bol, 1660, Elijah Fed By An Angel|
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.
The angel touched Elijah! He had prepared food for Elijah! He comforted Elijah, and gave him direction and hope. God is so good to us. He does that for us today.
In Matthew 4 we read that Jesus was in the desert 40 days and nights, alone, fasting, and tempted by satan. At the end of the trial, it says in Matthew 4:11,
“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
One might say, ‘Well, of course God would send angels to minister to His Son!’ but perhaps the ministering angels who ministered to Jesus are also some of the same ones who minister to us? Just think on it! Overall, it is to His glory that he is so involved with His people, that ministration is a regular part of His interaction with us!
His ministration with sinful man began at the Garden after the Fall. He personally covered Adam and Eve
Genesis 3:21 says, “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
The God who had just made the Universe, and upholds it by power of His will and His voice, personally made garments for his rebellious children, and wrapped them. I picture a child throwing a tantrum, and saying all sorts of things to his father, including, “No! I don’t wanna! I hate you!” But after the storm is over and the timeout is finished, the father gives the boy a bath, wipes his tear-stained face, and wraps him in a towel. He holds him close to herself, his sniffles diminishing as the very heartbeat of the one who created him him and feeds him and cares for him saturates the boy’s heart and mind, and eventually his brow unfurrows and his face becomes angelic, and he drifts off to sleep, still in his father’s arms.
That is our God. Holy and Fearful, but a caring Father, holding us in His arms until the storm passes by and our rebellion subsides. He is tender. One day, there will be no more tantrums, and no more rebellion. We will love our Father perfectly and completely, just as He loves us now. What a day that will be.