“And 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’” (Numbers 11:25 NKJV).
About a year after their deliverance from Egypt, after celebrating Passover for the second time, Israel departed from Mount Sinai to journey to Canaan. Shortly after beginning that trip they began to complain about their diet of only manna (Numbers 11:4-6). Remembering the varied diet of Egypt, they demanded meat. Moses cried out to God, who promised to feed them meet for a complete month (verses 19-20). At that incredible statement Moses asked how it could be possible. That brought about the Lord’s response, essentially, “Is my arm too short?”
The idea of a shortened arm suggests a deformity or disease. In 1 Kings 13:4 King Jeroboam’s arm “withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself.” In his conversation with Moses the Lord speaks of his arm “being shortened,” rather than having always been that way. The image projected is that of someone who is handicapped.
Such deformities are common in poorer, less developed parts of the world. It is common to see many who are crippled, blind or otherwise handicapped on the streets of Asia, Africa, or South America. When we pass them, often begging in order to provide food for themselves, we are moved with emotions ranging from pity to disdain or even contempt.
When we doubt God’s ability to solve our problems or provide for our needs we are in danger not only of doubt, but of disrespect. Has his arm become shortened so that he cannot answer prayer or fulfill promises? Is he in fact handicapped?
His answer to Moses was emphatic and specific: “Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not.” In other words, “I am fully capable of doing whatever I choose or need to do.”
God’s arm is long enough for him to do whatever he says he will do. He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2) and therefore cannot and will not fail to do what he promises. He is “not a man, that he should relent” (1 Samuel 15:29).
Throughout the Bible God’s relationship with mankind is based on “covenant,” which may be defined as “a mutual agreement between two parties which contains obligations and benefits on both sides.” Those are described on God’s part as “promises” (Romans 9:4). Just as his promise to feed meat to the Israelites in the wilderness was certain of fulfillment, so his promises of forgiveness from sin and eternal life are also certain. We can trust him implicitly, without reservation or doubt (James 1:5-6).
God is known in the Old Testament by many names or titles. One of the most frequently used is “The Almighty.” He is “all powerful” (omnipotent), with no weakness or inabilities.
The Hebrew writer defines faith, in part, as the conviction that God “is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” That is, we believe that God will do what he says and fulfill all that he has promised.
That included feeding more than six hundred thousand men, plus their families, in the wilderness. It also includes giving us “every spiritual blessing in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3), and “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). God is not deformed or handicapped. He is all powerful, all wise and all loving – fully capable of ruling over all creation until it has fulfilled its purpose. Let us trust in him.