Teaching 13: When We Assume God Won't Help Us

When We Assume God Won't Help Us

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Here is our scene today, from Mark 8. The setting: the disciples and Jesus just entered a boat after Jesus had miraculously fed thousands of people who had gathered to hear him teach.

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. "Be careful," Jesus warned them. "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod."

The disciples discussed this with one another, (likely wondering what Jesus meant*), and said, "It is because we have no bread."

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"

"Twelve," they replied.

"And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?"

They answered, "Seven."

He said to them, "Do you still not understand?"

*This is my, the blogger's, parenthetical insertion. Not in the actual text!

Here we are with the disciples, who just realized that even though they had seven baskets full of extra bread, that they only brought one loaf with them on the boat. How could they have forgotten to bring more of the extra bread?

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he responds in a somewhat typical fashion - with a warning and a play on words! He said, "Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees." What?

Here is some background. To the Jews, yeast was considered a metaphor for evil. The idea was that a small amount of evil in a person's soul is likely to eventually spread throughout, eventually making the person fully evil. Jesus made a play on words.  The disciples were worried about not having enough bread; and here is Jesus, giving a warning about metaphorical yeast! The disciples didn't know what to make of it.

What is the "yeast of the Pharisees?"  The commentaries for this chapter generally conclude that Jesus was referring to the fact that the Pharisees had witnessed many miracles, yet they still did not believe. The "yeast" was their hardened hearts, hearts that were predisposed to one way of thinking so that they could not accept the truth, even in the presence of miraculous evidence. Similarly, Jesus disciples had been with him for quite some time now. They had seen all his miracles thus far. They had been recipients of numerous miracles of abundant provision. Yet they still thought that they were going to go hungry for an evening? No wonder Jesus asks them, "Do you still not understand?"

Yet, the disciples didn't understand. They just assumed  that Jesus was chastising them because they forgot to bring the extra bread that he had just provided. Why were they so worried? Did they assume that because Jesus had just provided; that he would not do so again due to their foolishness? Were they thinking to themselves, "We are such idiots! Jesus just provided an abundance in bread for us; and we just left it on the shore. We forgot to bring it! It is going to waste! We are so foolish to have squandered what he provided for us! Now what are we going to do?"

The disciples didn't doubt Jesus's ability to provide.  They assumed, however, that because they had been foolish and forgetful, that Jesus would not provide for them again.  It was their fault. They messed up. Certainly they would not be rewarded with another provision, when they had wasted the provision they were just given.

Do we also feel this way sometimes? Do we secretly think, maybe without even realizing it, "Oh, God just provided for me, so I certainly shouldn't expect anything more from Him anytime soon."

Or do we believe, "God gave me that opportunity, and I missed it! I squandered it! It is my fault for not seizing the opportunity God gave me. Certainly He is not going to give me another chance or another opportunity any time soon. I really messed up!"

Can we think of some examples of when we may have thought this way? Let's complete this sentence, "Sometimes I feel like God won't provide for my needs because I _________________."

Do we assume God rations out His provisions?
Do we assume if we do something foolish that He with withhold a provision from us -- a provision of something that we really need?
Do we think God will punish us by withholding something we really need?

Never will He do that!

Think about it. Even when the Israelites were required to wander in the wilderness due to their disobedience, God still miraculously provided for their true needs through the manna, quail, and water from a rock. And to this day, He continues to meet our true needs in unexpected, but dependable ways. He meets our needs because that is His nature. He is God the Provider; One of His names is Jehovah Jirah (the Provider). God provides based on His ability and desire to provide to us (Phillipians 4:19), not because we have acted wisely.

Do we think God's economy ever suffers a recession? He owns all and is able to give and meet all our needs, regardless of what we may have squandered in the past. Each day is a new day; and if we wake up and confess and repent of our erroneous ways, He erases that past foolishness and gives us a clean slate once again. So we must throw out any false beliefs that God won't provide for us because of some dumb thing we did or because of certain sins in our past.

God is our Provider.
It is His nature to provide.
He will provide for us.

And He asks us, lovingly and questioningly,  just as Jesus asked the disciples, "Do you understand this yet?"


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