33. Life Structures – Individual, Family, Church, Community

Posted Jul 29, 2007 by Adrian Ebens in Return of Elijah Hits: 12,096

A. Life/Blessing flow through the Individual Channel

Eze 14:14  Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness," says the Lord God.

People are saved as individuals and the ultimate responsibility for a person’s salvation is themselves. The channel of blessing for the individual comes through personal prayer and Bible study. Through this process a person receives spiritual life directly from God and is blessed and guided. In terms of receiving instruction the only authority that the conscience can completely submit to is the Bible and the Bible alone. We may receive Biblical instruction from family and the church but all of this must be tested against the word of God by the individual.

The capacity to be connected to the individual channel is heavily dependent on the nuclear family and church family structures. Children seeded and nurtured into the fundamentals of the faith, prayer and reading the Bible from their parents. Those not brought up in a Christian home as spiritual children are seeded and nurtured with these principles in the church family. So the foundations of the individual channel are developed in the family and or church channels of blessings, but it is ultimately the individual channel that is the basis of salvation.

B. Life/Blessing flow through the Family Channel Structure

In the previous chapter we observed that spiritual life flows most powerfully through family structures. The death and life contained in the mouth of a father as a seeding agent and in the mouth of the mother as a nurturing agent, will lay the spiritual foundation of their children.

We also noticed that the headship of the father in the home is vital to preserving this spiritual life flow in the family. In this sense the father is the tangible spring for each family. This is why Ellen White states:

“All members of the family center in the father.” AH 213

We also noticed in the story of Abraham that God blessed Abraham in order that all families of the earth would be blessed through him. Here we see a complete irrigation system for spiritual life to flow through communities. This life flow is protected by the law which causes a person to be planted by the rivers of water (Psalms 1:1-4).

God created this spiritual irrigation system so that we would not only be relationally focused through our relationship to God but also relationally focused through our relationships with each other. As the Scripture says:

Rom 14:7  For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

If we only needed to maintain a relationship with God and obtain life in all its aspects (physical, mental and spiritual) from Him, we would not need each other and we gravitate towards isolation rather than community.

The life flow through human structures protects the relational system of  society and the reflection of God’s Kingdom.[2]

As a child grows there can develop a spiritual paradox between the conscience of the individual and the authority of the family structure. As children, we are commanded to honour and obey our parents. This is an authority that must be respected. But is matters of faith we must regard the Word of God as a higher authority. Notice the paradox

Exo 20:12  "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

Mat 10:37  He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

When there is disagreement on what we understand truth to mean, we must both honour our parents and follow our conscience. This can be extremely difficult to do if your family ask you to do things directly contrary to the Bible. In such cases, the higher authority of the Word of God must decide the decision, but this does not mean that we cease to respect or disown our parents. To cease to respect our parents would cut a God ordained channel of blessing.

C. Church and Community Churches Depend on Family Structure

A failure in family structure would lead to a community like Sodom and Gomorrah, which God had to destroy because they had so perverted the family structure that the spiritual life flow system could no longer operate in that society. This is why God warned Abraham in Genesis 18:

Gen 18:17-18  And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

We see here a direct connection between God destroying Sodom and the ability of Abraham to become a great nation. If Abraham did not command his family and children after him, then he also would have his heritage destroyed like Sodom. So when God says “Will I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” He is indicating that Abraham learn the lesson of Sodom and makes sure his family structure is preserved.

The other point we would make about the blessing on Abraham flowing to all the families of the earth, is that it is the Spirit of Christ in Abraham that is passed to his descendents through the blessing. The Spirit of Christ is preserved in the remnant of Israel through the family structure. Here is the reason for Satan’s venom against the family.

The family then is the key building block for the church, community and nation. Notice:

“Society is composed of families, and is what the heads of families make it. Out of the heart are "the issues of life"; and the heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household. The well-being of society, the success of the church, the prosperity of the nation, depend upon home influences.” Adventist Home p. 15.

“God designs that the families of earth shall be a symbol of the family in heaven. Christian homes, established and conducted in accordance with God's plan, are among His most effective agencies for the formation of Christian character and for the advancement of His work.” Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 430.

“If we will open our hearts and homes to the divine principles of life, we shall become channels for currents of life-giving power. From our homes will flow streams of healing, bringing life, and beauty, and fruitfulness where now are barrenness and dearth.” The Ministry of Healing, p. 355.

“Christ designs that heaven's order, heaven's plan of government, heaven's divine harmony, shall be represented in His church on earth.” DA 680

The family is also the primary key to the making of the individual. The individual life channel is built from a platform of the nuclear family or if needed the church family.

But in terms of groups of people, the church, community and nation need a structure that reflects the seed and nurture principles of the family. This is the guarantee of God’s relationship based kingdom principles.

The connection between family and church authority is clearly expressed in the words of Ellen White when she states:

“"Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."  Parents are entitled to a degree of love and respect which is due to no other person. God Himself, who has placed upon them a responsibility for the souls committed to their charge, has ordained that during the earlier years of life, parents shall stand in the place of God to their children. And he who rejects the rightful authority of his parents is rejecting the authority of God. The fifth commandment requires children not only to yield respect, submission, and obedience to their parents, but also to give them love and tenderness, to lighten their cares, to guard their reputation, and to succor and comfort them in old age. It also enjoins respect for ministers and rulers and for all others to whom God has delegated authority.”  PP 308 

For ministers and rulers to be included in the 5th commandment, church and community structures must clearly be extensions of a family government structure. The connection to receiving life through submission to established in the next paragraph:

This, says the apostle, "is the first commandment with promise." Ephesians 6:2. To Israel, expecting soon to enter Canaan, it was a pledge to the obedient, of long life in that good land; but it has a wider meaning, including all the Israel of God, and promising eternal life upon the earth when it shall be freed from the curse of sin.  PP 308

The principles of life flow through the headship of the church to it members is vividly portrayed in the story of Moses in Exodus 17:8-13.[3]

Exo 17:8-13  Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Using performance-based-thinking we might say that Moses was a coward to send Joshua to fight while he, his brother and Hur went and had a little prayer meeting. But here the channel is clearly portrayed. The success of Joshua and the soldiers depended on Moses’ prayers. When Moses prayed, Joshua and the soldiers would gain the upper hand, but when he didn’t the Amalekites would. We see Aaron and Hur assisting Moses to keep praying. As elders they played their part in keeping the channel of blessing operating.

One might ask, if Moses was tired, why couldn’t Aaron or Hur take his place and start praying? If that had occurred it would have broken the important lesson of blessing flow through the authority structure.

When Joshua and the army placed themselves under the leadership of Moses and the elders, they were blessed in their warfare. What a lesson for leaders this is! If Moses had not faithfully prayed, many mothers and children would have had no father that night. 

Jesus demonstrated this same principle in the New Testament with the feeding of the 5000. Jesus was the source who distributed the bread and flesh to the disciples and then to the multitude. The life-sustaining food was distributed through a structure of blessing. After the feeding of the 5000 Jesus declares Himself the ‘Bread of Life’.[4] He is the one that flows through the channel in the form of the Comforter. The point is there needs to be a structure for this system to work correctly.

D. Blessing Received Through Submission to Headship

It is exactly on this point where many people fail to receive a blessing. When as church members, we see leaders doing the wrong thing, we usually forget the position of authority they hold and present our complaints in the spirit of accusation and defiance. Such lack of submission to authority places members outside of the channel of blessing and evil will always result. At this present time we see our church is terribly fractured with in-fighting and disunity. I believe much of this disunity could have been avoided if both leadership and membership had more fully understood their respective roles of seed and nurture. If we are to have a remnant of believers that are in unity and love together, we must recognise that church structures of authority must be recognised and followed.

This is especially true in regard to the contention over the issue of the Godhead. Amongst non-Trinitarians there is a prevalent spirit of disrespect for authority and lack of submission. Such lack of submission often completely negates the effect of whatever they are trying to say and sad to say it completely negates the principle of submission we see demonstrated in the life of Jesus. I would appeal to all that while we surrender of conscience to no man, it is vital to work with God’s established structures to receive a full blessing.

But what if a leader is clearly doing the wrong thing? The key is to remind such a leader, through the submission process, that he is a source of blessing to the church and we urgently need the blessing that he has been granted power to bestow. Through the process of submission we remind our leader of his obligation to care for the flock. A spirit of defiance and rebellion will only create the possibility to stir up frustration or anger in our leader and guarantee we will not obtain what we are seeking.

As church members we must pray for our leaders. They are instruments of God to bless us, they are the spring of the church to give it life in an orderly fashion.

1Th 5:12-13  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Do we esteem our leaders highly in love? Do we pray for them or do we murmur and complain and spread reports about their faults and weaknesses? As a church we must come to terms with this issue.

Performance-based-thinking with its emphasis on the self-powered individual, feels no need nor can ever grasp the importance of such a structure. Structures are for exploiting for our own advancement, and become a means of control rather than blessing.

I am often asked but what happens if after you follow the process of submission, a leader continues to follow a course contrary to Scripture? We must remain in the channel of blessing and plead for patience, until the Lord addresses the issue either by correction or removal. It’s easy to pray for the latter but if we truly love the brethren we must pray for the former and let God decide what will occur.

What if we have been removed from the church by leadership that have erred? Firstly examine our hearts to see if our faults and weaknesses contributed to the discipline. Ask God to show us where we can go to find a structure of authority to continue to be blessed. This is a difficult issue and requires much prayer and wisdom, but God will not remove from us the channel of blessing if we are humble in heart and seek to preserve the principles of God’s kingdom.

E. When Leaders Fail

But what if a leader is clearly doing the wrong thing? The key is to remind such a leader, through the submission process, that he is a source of blessing to the church and we urgently need the blessing that he has been granted power to bestow. Through the process of submission we remind our leader of his obligation to care for the flock. A spirit of defiance and rebellion will only create the possibility to stir up frustration or anger in our leader and guarantee we will not obtain what we are seeking. The principle of submission to God’s delegated leaders will create a desire to pray for our leaders rather than immediately reject their authority and act on our own authority.

This principle is very difficult to carry out because all of us are stamped with the lie “You not surely die” It is natural that when someone in authority over us seems to contradict the Scriptures that we should immediately act independently off them so that we are free to do as we believe is right. But recognition of Biblical authority through channels of blessing remember that a leader has been granted the power to bless and that we who are under such authority must do everything we can to ask God to open that channel again through that leader.

As church members we must pray for our leaders. They are instruments of God to bless us, they are the spring of the church to give it life in an orderly fashion.

1Th 5:12-13  And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Do we esteem our leaders highly in love? Do we pray for them or do we murmur and complain and spread reports about their faults and weaknesses? As a church we must come to terms with this issue.

Performance-based-thinking with its emphasis on the self-powered individual, feels no need nor can ever grasp the importance of such a structure. Structures are for exploiting for our own advancement, and become a means of control rather than blessing.

I am often asked but what happens if after you follow the process of submission, a leader continues to follow a course contrary to Scripture? Firstly, it must be determined if God still regards the channel structure or institution that is being appealed to. If this is clear then, we must remain in the channel of blessing and plead for patience, until the Lord addresses the issue either by correction or removal. It’s easy to pray for the latter but if we truly love the brethren we must pray for the former and let God decide what will occur.

We spoke earlier about the paradox of the family and the individual. This paradox is widened between the individual and the church. No man can be conscience for another nor can any church leader be responsible for the salvation of another. No person can allow another person to decide what they read and believe, who they associate with and where a person worships. These are all matters of conscience. At the same time we must submit our findings in Scripture God’s appointed leaders and pray that God will bless their counsel to us.. Holding this paradox requires a lot of wisdom and patience and most of all trust in our Heavenly Father.

Sadly, some believers will take the principles of submission of authority to an extreme and choose to remain quiet and say nothing for fear of loss of reputation or standing in the church. Submission principles do not mean silence, they mean appeal for a Biblical explanation and a continual and earnest prayer to be blessed through God’s appointed channel. On the other hand, others take the individual element of the paradox to extreme and leave the church, thinking only of their individual channel and ignoring the family connection they have with the church. Leaving the church without regard for church family considerations is the same as a wife divorcing a husband she no longer agrees with nor can convince of her position.

Coming back to the paradox of individuality and submission, look at the following apparent contradiction:

Mat 23:9  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

Compare that with this verse

1Ti 5:1  Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

1Co 4:15-17  For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.  (16)  Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.  (17)  For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

In Matthew Jesus is addressing the abuse of power by leadership and in that context, we should not implicitly trust any leader and trust their judgment without reference to the word of God. In contrast Paul is asking younger men to love and cherish the agencies of truth that God sends to them in the same way a son would love and respect a father. There is no discord here.

F. When We are Released From the Authority of Established Leadership

What about the examples in the Bible where people have defied the commands of leaders and continued in what they believe to be right? Notice an example

Act 4:18-20  And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.  (19)  But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.  (20)  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

The Jewish leadership tried to silence the apostles from speaking in the name of Christ and proclaiming Him as God’s Son. This is quite a relevant example for many who have come to see Christ as God’s only Son. Is it not right for such people to quote this verse and go right ahead and present their views without regard to the current leaders of the church? This is a fair question and one that must be addressed.

For over three years Jesus prayed for and reached out to the Jewish leadership. At any point he could have taken their position and removed them but He did not. He continued to tell the people to report to the priest’s when healed, He commended the woman for putting her two mites into the plate and he still attended their religious gathers and feasts while on earth. After His death he gave the leaders a little more time to acknowledge his death and resurrection. They had fifty days.

Before Jesus went back to heaven, He gave this important instruction.

Act 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

The cue for the disciples to go forward and act upon their commission was a signal manifestation of the power of God as a stamp of approval and authority for their mission, independent from the previous human authority which God had ordained but had turned from using this position correctly and rejected the truth.

When the day of Pentecost came, the disciples had been praying and fasting for the power to proclaim Jesus as the true Son of God. There had been divisions among the disciples and disharmony, all this was confessed and forsaken. Then after ten days God demonstrated His power through Pentecost and the outpouring of the Spirit. The signal manifestation of the power of God was the green light to present Christ regardless of established authority.

After this Peter and the apostles began to proclaim boldly the name of Christ. Miracles also attended their preaching as well as the gift of prophecy. All of these evidences indicated that God was leading them directly.

What about the case of Jones and Waggoner. The old guard did not want their message presented. They even had a letter from Ellen White telling Jones and Waggoner that they were out of line by presenting their views without consulting their elder brethren.

After 1888 Jones, Waggoner and Prescott went everywhere presenting this most precious message. The fact was that they had the authority of a prophet attending them. Ellen White endorsed the message and eagerly tried to help move it forward. It was the authority of the prophet that allowed them to move as they did.

Without the direct authority of a prophet or a clear manifestation of God upon His people through revival or divine manifestation, God’s people have no authority to reject established leadership. The authority of the Adventist church was clearly validated by God and set up through the midnight cry revival of 1844, the prophetic gift of Ellen White and the experience of miracles in many cases in conjunction with the large revelation of Biblical truth. There is no indication that this organization has yet been rejected by God and therefore we have no right to act independently of it. It is God who decides when and if such an event should take place not man. I must concede that from the information presented in this manuscript, it is evident that the church has moved away from the platform given to us and that the fruit of this is manifested in many sad and terrible happenings in the church, but the Lord is long suffering to towards His church even as it was with Israel in the time of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Though the leaders had turned to false gods, there was a period of time given to Israel to repent and turn back to the true God. I believe that we are in this time and this is a test for those who wish to see change now.

The tarrying time ensures that God’s people wait for His direction. If every man felt at liberty to present to the church what he felt was the truth, there would be a perfect Babylon. Such a spirit of independence, self sufficiency and resistance is in complete contradiction to the person of Christ who is the complete example of submission and dependence upon His Father. Christ does nothing but what the Father directs. We would do well to do likewise. Many people ask, but why are things being revealed to many people. I would answer, so that we can submit them to our leaders and pray for them. The gift of truth is a test for the one who receives it. The temptation is to act independently and not follow through on the duty to appeal to our leaders and prayerfully ask for them to open the channel of blessing. Those who fail to wait and pray are in great danger of falling into error and rejecting the very heart of what Christ teaches us – a person under authority.

If we step out from under an established authority structure in a spirit of defiance and anger towards leadership, we will carry this spirit into any organization we become a part of. This spirit is then passed onto everyone that comes under its influence. Secondly, if we step out without the direct blessing of the Lord we become susceptible to a spirit of self-justification for our existence which manifests in proving the organization we have left is in apostasy. This process leads to self righteousness – “we are better than you” While it may never be intended, it will always be the inevitable result. We do well to remember the psalm which says

Psa 127:1  Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

The Lord must build the house and lay the foundation in leadership that understands the vital principle of submission, love for leadership and the appeal process. Without these things “they labour in vain that build it.

G. A Suggested Process for Church Members

If after our appeals have not met with scriptural answers and we have given sufficient time to listen and make sure we are not in error and we are engaged in a process of fervent prayer and love for our leaders, then it must be considered fair to declare our position, not by trying to win people to our view, but by stating the leadership that our conscience is bound by the Word of God and we cannot forsake it. It is my suggestion that those who hold membership advise the leadership of their position and that appeal be made to the leaders to act in the best interest of the congregation.

This appeal is an invitation for leadership to make sure they are right by praying and carefully rereading your proposals. It is also a submission to them that if they wish to use their god given authority to dismiss you then you will accept it as God’s will.

All the while you will be praying for a blessing through the leaders, pleading that God will bless you through those that you have come to love so dearly through your prayers for them. I believe that this places us in the best position for God to act on our behalf. If God’s appointed leaders refuse to bless us while we are asking for a blessing from God, then our dear Father in heaven will certainly intervene. Either the leadership will respond to the Spirit and their eyes will be opened to the truth or God will remove them. Failing this if the leaders do remove you from membership, then they will have aroused the wrath of God and will face judgment for mishandling their flock. I would fear for any leader in that position and would pray that God have mercy on them. I personally believe that a process of submission will actually hasten a change in the current church situation. If we remain submissive to leadership and pray for a blessing, the need for leadership reform or change comes more powerfully before the Lord. But if we remove ourselves from the established channel and begin our own work then no pressure is brought to bear on the leadership and God’s arm cannot be raised to act.

I believe that if we follow this procedure then if the time comes where we are forced into being in a different group, it will avoid bringing to the believers a spirit of self-sufficiency and rebellion and as the proverb states:

Pro 24:13-14  My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:  (14)  So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.

If we cling to the principles of God’s government, the sweet taste of honey which is found in the law of God will be ours. His blessing will remain upon us and our expectation will not be cut off.

For those who have left the church in disappointment and bitterness, I would appeal to you to consider that these feelings are seed that will be passed onto all that you teach and influence. As far as I can see the only cure is to ask for forgiveness of church leadership for any wrong attitudes manifested. This process itself opens a chance for potential dialog. It is very hard for a leader to dismiss a person who is gracious and submissive. It allows the spirit of Christ to speak to them in the night season. I would also ask those who have left the church to renew your prayers for the church leadership. Pray for them in love and pray for their families that God will be merciful to them. This spirit of love and grace protects the soul from pride and self-sufficiency. I would also strongly appeal to any in this case not to hand out material to members on church property or seek people out to present your view. If people ask what you believe you have a right to answer, but seek to be transparent with church leadership in all matters.

This is a difficult issue and requires much prayer and wisdom, but God will not remove from us the channel of blessing if we are humble in heart and seek to preserve the principles of God’s kingdom.

H. The Former Rain Rebuilds Family/Community Structures to Prepare for Latter Rain

With all these things in mind, the preparation for the Latter Rain involves the restoring of the irrigation system within families which then flows to churches and the community – such a restoration needs the coming of a teacher of righteousness (the former rain) to turn the hearts of family members into the correct family structure – a structure that reflects the image of God.

When our family structures are restored to the image of the structure of the Godhead by the removal of mountains and valleys by Elijah – then a highway will be made for our God, the irrigation system repaired and love will flow in its fullness and God will be revealed in the Latter Rain (Isa 40:1-12).

Preparation for the latter rain therefore is a response to the teacher of righteousness that does the following:

  1. Teaches us that Christ has reclaimed our sonship through His baptism and victory in the wilderness.
  2. Once in sonship we can fully appreciate the gift of God’s beloved Son on the cross for us.
  3. This gift shows our centre or heart treasure has moved from ourselves to the fountain of life – our heavenly Father.
  4. We are then correctly instructed in the law, the law which restores the true identity of both God and ourselves and re-establishes the life flow system.
  5. A correct view of God and His structure for the flow of life impacts our structures as we are made in His image and begins the restoration of the family unity.
  6. All this work is part of the Elijah message. Elijah pointed people back to the law of God and exposed their false worship of God.
  7. When our family structures are restored, the blessings will flow into our families and churches and remove the mountains of pride and the valleys of depression.
  8. Then we will be prepared for the outpouring of the Latter Rain that will prepare us for translation.    

Will we heed the voice of Elijah and turn our hearts to the fathers and fathers turn your hearts to your children? Will we seek to clarify the God we worship and see whether that God is built on a performance-base or on a relational-base?

My prayer is that you will prayerfully consider these things, take them to the Lord and prove all things, rightly dividing the word of God on a correct value system and life source view that is free from the serpent’s lie – “You shall not surely die.”

Like the prodigal will we come to the Father determined to be accepted back as a hired servant or will we under the blessing of the investigative judgment, allow the Word to penetrate our performance-thinking and truly believe the Word of God that says to us:

“You are my beloved son whom I love” (Matt 3:17).


[1] “As in the natural, so in the spiritual world. Human life is preserved, moment by moment, by divine power; yet it is not sustained by a direct miracle, but through the use of blessings placed within our reach.” 3SP 418

[2] God desired to bring all peoples under His merciful rule. He desired that the earth should be filled with joy and peace. He created man for happiness, and He longs to fill human hearts with the peace of heaven. He desires that the families below shall be a symbol of the great family above.  COL 290

[3] For a more in-depth presentation on this, download the sermon “A Leader’s Prayer” from www.maranathamedia.com

[4] Psa 78:20  Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?