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The Prepositions of Providence

Deuteronomy 1:1 & 3
These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. … In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him in commandment to them.

Alas, we’ve reached the final scroll of Moses’ Pentateuch, a scroll that begins with a thorough review of all the highlights and lowlights from their storied journey thus far, yet it also contains new insights as well, previously unheard lines of dialogue that offer deeper insight behind-the- scenes: little details missing from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers that only the sanctified gaze of hindsight can produce.

But notice that this opening paragraph is a tidal wave of prepositional phrases. “Beyond the Jordan,” “in the wilderness,” “in the Araba opposite Suph,” “between Paran,” “in the fortieth year,” “on the first day.” My wife has recently been teaching our son, Micah, various English grammar lessons, and he gave me this definition of a prepositional clause when I quizzed him on it before work one morning: “A prepositional phrase adds details to what’s happening; it gives us more information.” Yes, so when we encounter a mound of prepositions like these in the Scriptures, it should tell us something wonderful about our LORD’s working in our lives of faith. It tells us that the where and the when of God’s sanctifying ministry is just as important to our testimony as the how and the why. Think about it: Moses doesn’t simply record for the people what God said, as if God’s quoted words are the only translatable, timeless elements to retain along the journey, but he relays precisely where the people were when God said them, at exactly what stage in their advance, at precisely the stretch of highway down to the very mile- marker, because the timing and placement of God’s provision is as important as the substance of it.

Friend, consider that the landscape of your present, perhaps even mundane life—the historical context for God’s Word—is no triviality. In fact, it’s pivotal to your soul’s advance to glory. Think of those prepositional phrases you’re swimming in right now, and perhaps drowning in, as waves of grace.