Back in the day when, as a lad, I used to queue for school dinners, in order to indicate to the dinner ladies how large was the portion of pudding one hoped to be served, the approved method of my classmates was to express the desired quantity in terms of something of comparable size. The effectiveness of this technique was, however, questionable since, judging by the invariably uniform size of the pieces of Australian Crunch that were actually served, the kitchen staff of Beech Grove School didn’t appreciate the differing body mass of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a flea!
I was reminded of this recently as I was considering how in the Bible, the psalmists, and others, not infrequently describe the LORD as their ‘portion’ [Psalm 16:5, 73:26, 119:57, 142:5]. ‘Portion’ refers literally to the portion of the territory in the promised land that was allocated to all the individual tribes of the people of Israel except the tribe of Levi. The Levites were not allocated any land but instead, it was said, that the Lord was their portion [Numbers 18:20].
And the same is true for us. Like the psalmists, we are sojourners on the earth [Psalm 119:19]. And just as the Levites were a reminder to the people of God that the promised land was not their final destination [Hebrews 4:1-11], so too we should remember that our eternal home is not in some geographical area of the world as we currently know it. Our God is not some tribal deity, sovereign over just a few square miles of the created order. On the contrary, as the God of the universe, he is bigger than that. Far bigger. When we finally enter our eternal rest we will fill the created order, dwelling with God as part of that ‘great multitude that no one [can] number, [drawn] from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages’ [Revelation 7:9].
For the Church is the bride of Christ [Ephesians 5:25-33] and when we see at last the new heaven and the new earth, we will be part of that holy city, the new Jerusalem, that will come down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And then a loud voice will be heard from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’ [Revelation 21:1-3]
What a day that will be and what a thought it is to comfort us on our current journey, a journey that, as it was for the Israelites in the wilderness, is, for many, very hard. Though frequently graciously bestowed upon us by our lovingly Heavenly Father from whom every good and perfect gift comes [James 1:17], the acquisition of material blessings is not what being a Christian is all about. Indeed, like Jesus himself, there is a sense in which we have nowhere to lay our head [Luke 9:59]. This is not to say we should not be concerned about the homeless and the increasing numbers who, as a result of the pandemic, are facing economic hardship. Far from it. Rather it is a reminder to us both that this world is not our home and that whatever our current circumstances we have much to rejoice over. As the prophet Habakkuk reminds us, ‘though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet [we can still] rejoice in the LORD; [we can still] take joy in the God of [our] salvation.’ [Habakkuk 3:17-18].
For our ‘flesh and [our] heart[s] may fail, but God is the strength of [our] heart[s] and [our] portion forever.’ [Psalm 73:26]
So let us affirm today that the LORD really is our portion. And let us therefore hope in him [Lamentations 3:24] and endeavour therefore to keep his words [Psalm 119:57]. To do so is to affirm that we believe that God’s promises are true, that, in Christ, God will bring us into that eternal sabbath rest spoken of by the writer to the Hebrews, and that God really is enough.
Which, of course, he is.
Because there is no portion bigger than a God sized portion.
And not even the combined efforts of all the pupils in Class 2C could result in that much Australian Crunch ever being eaten!