I have a new study Bible produced by David Jeremiah and I am really enjoying it. Because I love simply reading God’s Word so much, I decided to begin my new Bible at Genesis and read it all the way through to the end of Revelation. While the Word of God is incomparable, Dr. Jeremiah’s teaching points, historical information, footnotes, and reflections have added another layer to the insights and understandings I’m gleaning. My practice is always to pray for and intentionally look for the applications God has for me as I read, and that is a prayer God never fails to answer. Recently, as I was reading from the book of Numbers, I was convicted by a verse that records God’s response to Moses’ questioning of His abilities. God had assured Moses that He would answer the complaints of the Israelites with an ample meat supply—despite the fact that they were already receiving daily manna in their travels through the desert. Moses doubted (“Enough meat for 600,000 men, Lord? really?”), so in Numbers 11:23 God chastised him: The Lord said to Moses, “Has the LORD’S arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not” (NKJV). In the ERV it’s translated this way: But the LORD said to Moses, “Don’t limit my power! You will see that I can do what I say I can do.”
That question, Has the LORD’S arm been shortened?, is seen in other scriptures, as well. It refers to the LORD’S ability or power being limited, inadequate, or in short supply. Isaiah 50:2b records the LORD asking again, Is My hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink because there is no water, and they die of thirst (NKJV).
Moses had seen so many miracles, had been so close to God, had conversed with Him, had followed His leading by cloud in the day and by fire at night—and yet he questioned God’s ability. I thought as I read: how often am I myself fearful and lack trust, in spite of seeing God’s goodness and so many wonderful answers to prayers through the entire course of my life?
The Message offers yet another wonderful take on this verse: God answered Moses, “So, do you think I can’t take care of you? You’ll see soon enough whether what I say happens for you or not.” As we look at all these translations, note the repeated words “I say”—they are a consistent reminder that God is faithful to His Word, His promises, and His covenants. Psalm 12:6 puts it this way: The words and promises of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times over (AMPC). God cannot and will not fail to do what He says He will do.
David Jeremiah reminds us in his footnotes, Every answer to prayer should be cherished, remembered and “banked” in one’s memory so that it may be drawn on in future times of trial. “Has the LORD’S arm been shortened?” is a figure of speech, with God’s arm referring to His power. Because God had miraculously provided manna for the people, Moses should never have doubted that He could supply….
Following are the personal applications I’d like to take away from this verse. I commit to:
- Remember all the times I have seen God’s love and goodness through answered prayer.
- Remember His ability and power, because His arm is not “short” or inadequate. He is able to do more than I can imagine.
- Live in such a way that I will not limit God’s power. Pray boldly and claim His promises.
- Trust Him. He is faithful to do what He says. His Word is trustworthy.
- Rest in Him. I will be anxious for nothing.
Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You (Jeremiah 32:17).
Lord God, You are Almighty God. I trust You and believe that Your words and promises are pure words, like silver refined in an earthen furnace, purified seven times over. You will keep them and preserve them, O Lord, You will guard and keep us forever (Psalm12:6-7 AMPC). You are all-powerful and I know that You will keep every promise, word, and covenant You have made or said. I believe You can do more than I can imagine or think. I pray to You, Lord, because I know Your unfailing love and I put my trust in You. Direct my paths. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8).
In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.