Provision by the Way
"These are the ones who will dwell on high. The rocks of the mountains will
be their fortress of safety. Food will be supplied to them, and they will
have water in abundance." Isaiah 33:16
"I thirst! O God, great Source of Love!
Infinite Life streams from above,
O give one drop and let me live!
The barren world has nothing to give:
No solace have its streams for me:
I thirst alone for heaven and thee."
When the Israelites were marching through the burning wilderness of Arabia
to the promised land, God nourished them with bread from heaven, and with
water from a smitten rock. Then he opened the doors of heaven, and rained
down manna upon them to eat, and gave them of the bread of heaven. Men ate
angels' food! He sent them food to the full. He opened the rock in the
wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. He brought
streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers.
The same is true, in a spiritual sense, of Zion's pilgrims, who are
journeying through this barren wilderness world to the happy Canaan above.
They are encircled in the same Everlasting Arms. Their needs are supplied by
the same Almighty Hand. They eat of the hidden manna, and drink of the water
of life. How beautifully is this comparison illustrated by the Christian
"When Israel by divine command
The pathless desert trod,
They found, though 'twas a barren land,
A sure resource in God.
A cloudy pillar marked their road,
And screened them from the heat;
From the hard rocks the water flowed,
And manna was their meat."
Like them we have a rest in view,
Secure from adverse powers:
Like them we pass a desert, too;
But Israel's God is ours.
Yes, in this barren wilderness,
He is to us the same,
By his appointed means of grace,
As once he was to them."
A gracious God, in the infinitude of his love, has provided ample provision
for the refreshment and support of weary pilgrims in passing through this
dark valley to the joyous realms of everlasting light. Here, he has
instituted the precious ordinances of divine grace and salvation for our joy
and happiness until we come to worship Him in His temple above. As our kind
Heavenly Father, he has given us the bread of life. Jesus Christ is the true
bread from heaven, with which the souls of believers are nourished in their
lonely pilgrimage. Says the Savior, "I am the bread of life. No one who
comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never
thirst." "Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the
wilderness, but they all died. However, the bread from heaven gives eternal
life to everyone who eats it. I am the living bread that came down out of
heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my
flesh, offered so the world may live."
The Israelites, in their wanderings in the wilderness, were fed with manna;
but we, in our journey to a better land, partake of the fullness of Jesus,
whose flesh is food indeed, and whose blood is drink indeed. Here, in this
"Jesus, the bread of life, is given
To be our daily food
We drink a wondrous stream from heaven,
'Tis water, wine, and blood.
Lord, 'tis enough, I ash no more,
These blessings are divine;
I envy not the worldling's store,
If Christ and heaven are mine."
Here, we drink of the living waters of salvation- those streams of immortal
joys, which issue from the pierced side of a blessed Redeemer, for the
refreshment of thirsty pilgrims, wandering through the deserts of life. The
perennial fountain of that river, whose streams make glad the city of our
God, is to be found in a suffering Savior; and at this precious Fountain we
may quench our thirst forever. "Everyone who drinks this water will be
thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up
to eternal life." Here is the well of endless life.
O thirsty soul, come to a bleeding Savior, and drink, and live forever! You
are earnestly invited to come to the Fountain of Life. These living waters
are freely offered to all. This is the language of redeeming love, "Is
anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your
choice of wine or milk—it's all free! Why spend your money on food that does
not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I
will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!" "To all who are
thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge!" "The
Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' Let each one who hears them say, 'Come.'
Let the thirsty ones come—anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the
water of life without charge."
When the children of Israel left the land of Egypt, the Lord guided them
through the pathless desert by a pillar of cloud and fire until they were
brought to the borders of Canaan. Thus the great Leader of his spiritual
Israel has kindled a light in this dark and dreary land to guide his chosen
people to that glorious realm on high, where it is said, "The Lord shall be
unto you an everlasting light, and your God your glory."
The blessed WORD OF GOD affords the Christian traveler light, comfort, joy,
and provision by the way. Says the Psalmist: "Your word is a lamp unto my
feet, and a light unto my path. This is my comfort in my affliction; for
your word has quickened me. Your statutes have been my songs in the house of
my pilgrimage. Your testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever: for they
are the rejoicing of my heart. How sweet are your words unto my taste yes,
sweeter than honey to my mouth." In the Bible there is everything provided
for the needy traveler to Zion. "It embodies all," says an eloquent living
divine (Waterbury), "that a Christian in this pilgrimage can need. It is his
only chart through this tempestuous life. In trouble, it is his consolation;
in prosperity, his monitor; in difficulty, his guide. Amid the darkness of
death, and while descending into the shadowy valley, it is the day-star that
illuminates his path, makes his dying eye bright with hope, and cheers his
soul with the prospect of immortal glory."
Ample provision is set before the pilgrim of Zion in a PREACHED GOSPEL. Here
it is that his soul is refreshed with the richest streams of divine grace.
Here, he draws living water out of the wells of salvation with joy. No
wonder, then, that the child of God loves, above all other places in this
world, the habitation of God's house. No wonder that his language is, "My
heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds
of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for
joy and giving thanks—it was the sound of a great celebration!" "How lovely
is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty. I long, yes, I faint with longing
to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will
shout joyfully to the living God."
But the most abundant provision is procured for needy pilgrims in THE LORD'S
SUPPER. This is a most precious, a most soul-ravishing ordinance of grace.
Surely, if there is a time when the Christian is permitted to lie down in
green pastures, by the still waters, in this bleak and barren world, it is
during communion seasons, when he draws around that holy table, and
meditates on the wonders of Calvary. Then it is that his weary soul is
refreshed with the abundance of God's grace, and with the goodness of his
house. Then it is that he reposes with the greatest delight under the shadow
of Jesus, who protects all his people from the burning wrath of an offended
God. "I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was
sweet to my taste."
If there is a moment this side of heaven, when the Christian traveler seems
to breathe a purer atmosphere than that of earth, it is when seated at the
table of the Lord, he takes into his hands the emblems of Immanuel's broken
body and shed blood, and, with the eye of faith turned towards Calvary,
views that immaculate Savior nailed to the accursed tree, bleeding from
every pore– in his unparalleled love, dying for rebel man, and by his
vicarious death opening the way to God and to glory.
When the believing communicant appropriates Christ and his righteousness as
freely offered in this ordinance, he feels as if his happy spirit were
fanned by the breezes of paradise. It is this appropriating act- this
feasting on Christ crucified that refreshes the weary pilgrim infinitely
more than all the enjoyments of a dying world. This rich provision satisfies
the soul as with marrow and fatness. It fills it with joy, unutterable,
indescribable and full of glory. Our poor pen cannot describe the joy and
peace which a famishing soul experiences when it eats of the hidden manna,
and drinks of the living water. It is impossible to tell how soul-reviving
it is, thus to receive a crucified Savior as ours; to have his goodness
imparted to our souls.
"How sweet the sacred joy that dwells
In souls renewed by power divine;
Where Jesus all his goodness tells:
Oh! may this joy be ever mine."
Come, then, weary pilgrim, and repose in these green pastures, and bathe in
the still waters. You will then be invigorated for treading the pathway
through the shadows of earth to that bright, happy region where you shall
forever eat of the fruit of the tree of life in the midst of the paradise of
God; and where you shall drink of that perennial fountain which issues from
the throne of the Eternal.
How happy is the condition of Zion's pilgrim even in this land of sorrow!
Their needs are all supplied out of Jesus, in whom it has pleased the Father
that all fullness should dwell. Their provisions are prepared by the God of
all grace; and they are sufficient. "They will be my sheep, grazing in green
pastures and on hills that were previously bare, and their pastures shall be
in all high places." "They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and
on hills that were previously bare. They will neither hunger nor thirst. The
searing sun and scorching desert winds will not reach them anymore. For the
Lord in his mercy will lead them beside cool waters. And I will make my
mountains into level paths for them. The highways will be raised above the
valleys. See, my people will return from far away, from lands to the north
and west, and from as far south as Egypt. Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice,
O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on them in their sorrow."
Go then, Christian traveler, on your way to the peaceful shore of glory,
singing, with a cheerful heart, the pilgrim's song of Psalm 23–
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest,
anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.