I’ve always been fascinated by how and why words mean what they do.
I think it started in Miss McLean’s Latin Class when I was aged ten.
She would greet us all in the morning in a Lily-Tomlin-esque squeaky voice, “Ave Discipuli” (pronounced “ah-vey-dee-SKEEP-ool-ee”, meaning “Greetings, students!”
You will probably note as I did, that “discipuli” is very similar in form to “disciple” and in fact my auto-correct insists that is the spelling I should be using in English. So a “disciple” is really a “student”. Similarly, “vim” and “vigor” are the words for “life” and “lively”. Agricola is the word for farmer, so you can quickly deduce what agriculture means.
I was further drawn into the rabbit-hole of etymology — the study of words, their meanings and origins, not to be confused with entomology which is the study of insects — when I discovered that the Bible was more than a collection of stories about babies in baskets floating on rivers, floating zoos and rainbows, dens of lions, trumpets and collapsing city walls, strongmen getting haircuts from devious girlfriends, and shepherd boys fighting giants.
As fascinating as those stories are, I came to realize that the “Word of God” encapsulated “the thoughts of God” and those thoughts would have meaning in my life.
However, a little logic concludes that those original thoughts were not delivered in English, but in Hebrew (Aramaic) and Greek. Happily there are still native speakers of those languages around, so it is possible to find out how they translate those thoughts into my mother tongue.
Additionally, due to the Roman Empire, Latin was used as a medium to further archive and disseminate these precious thoughts to the population at large. Special thanks goes to Mr. Guttenberg in 1440 A.D. when his new invention made the production of books less labor intensive. The first book he printed, of course, was the Bible.
The availability of the internet makes research into words and thoughts in other languages widely available and almost trivially easy for anyone with a sincere interest.
The little ramble above was prompted by the word in my title - provision. It’s from Latin, of course, and consists of two parts: “pro” — meaning “for”, or “before”, and vision — from the verb “video”, “I see”. If I tell you that the Latin prefix “tele-“ means “far away” or “at a distance”, you can quickly work out what “television” must have meant originally!
So the “thought” or “motivation” behind providing or making provision is to see ahead of time what will be needed and putting resources in place to supply the need.
Let’s look at a few places in scripture that point out the thoughts and intentions of God in this way. (All scripture references are from the New Living Translation - NLT)
Here’s part of the famous story of Abraham’s faith in God’s provision and God’s rewarding providence. “Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together. Genesis 22:7,8
Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:13,14
God makes it possible for a whole nation to travel by night in a featureless desert: The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. Exodus 13:21
God promises a homeland, (only partially fulfilled at the current time) — And I will provide a homeland for my people Israel, planting them in a secure place where they will never be disturbed. 2 Samuel 7:10
God makes provision for His people: You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. Psalm 65:9
God enriches the resources of earth: He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures. Psalm 147:8
God makes his followers part of his provision: For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 2 Corinthians 9:10
I could have provided dozens more examples like these where God is always thinking ahead for the welfare of His people. But of course the last word should always go to Jesus, for when he speaks we are privy to the actual thoughts of God:
Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. Luke 12:22-32
Jesus here points out one of the characteristics that make his followers different than the rest of the world. Jesus followers know and believe that God already knows their needs and has already provided and made provision for them. This relieves them of the need to worry and frees them to pursue the Kingdom and righteousness.
And of course, God provided us with the greatest gift of all time with the provision of himself in the form of Jesus.
Let’s give thanks with a grateful heart every day for His Provision!
Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black
P.S. if you’d like to read previous ruminations of mine they can be found at https://www.salvationarmyconcordca.org/chronicle/?category=Bible%20Study