|Vol. 16 No. 8 August 2014||
The prophet Elijah was without a doubt one of God’s greatest servants. He obeyed God’s commandments to the letter. First Kings 18 is the account of perhaps Elijah’s most monumental victory over Baal. God’s power was demonstrated to the zenith in the destruction of this false god!
King Ahab of Samaria had told his wife Jezebel all that Elijah had done and also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. First Kings 19:2 records her murderous threat. “Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.’”
Elijah arose and ran for his life! He prayed that he might die; he said it was enough; he wanted God to take his life because he felt he was no better than his fathers. His desperation and feeling of hopelessness is bone chilling! What was the divine response?
On two occasions the angel of the LORD brought Elijah food and water (1 Kings 19:5-8). Then he went into a cave to spend the night, and the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword, I alone am left; and they seek to take my life’” (1 Kings 19:9b-10). God asked Elijah this same question again with his response being the same in verses 13 and 14.
God assured him it was not nearly as bad as it appeared to him. God told Elijah who He had chosen to be his allies in this fight, and there would be none to escape the sword! To further increase his faith and trust, God said, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).
Paul recounted a part of this monumental event in Romans 11:1-4. Paul asked the question if God had cast away His people. Then he exclaimed, “Certainly not!” He further declared that Elijah had pleaded with God against Israel. However, verse 4 records, “But what does the divine response say to him? ‘I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’” When the divine response is revealed to us, we must respond in thankful, submissive, trusting and obedient faith.
Job was one who thought he wanted the divine response; like Elijah, he too had wanted to die! Yet, when he got God’s response, he was brought to his knees! God spoke to Job out of the whirlwind and said, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me” (Job 38:2-3). God’s numerous questions to Job are the most dramatic scene in the book. Of the many lessons for us to learn from Job’s encounter with Deity, we had better be very careful about questioning God! His answer may be more than we ever could have possibly envisioned or contemplated! Job learned that lesson very quickly. He said in Job 42:3-6, “You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know… Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
During His public ministry, Jesus’ life was threatened constantly. On one occasion the Pharisees came to Him saying He needed to depart from there because Herod wanted to kill Him. What was the divine response? “And He said to them, ‘Go, tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected” (Luke 13:32). Jesus let them know He was not in the least concerned about Herod. Our Lord was single-minded in His goal and purpose, and neither Herod nor anyone else on earth was going to deter Him!
Before Paul was converted, Jesus had appeared to the disciple Ananias in a vision. He commanded him to go to Paul (then Saul), put his hand on him so that he might receive his sight. Ananias was afraid to go because Saul had been viciously persecuting the church. What was the divine response? “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine… For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake’” (Acts 9:15-16).
Before the Passover feast, certain Greeks had come to see Jesus. They had asked Philip who had told Andrew, and they in turn told Jesus. Jesus told them the hour had come for Him to be glorified. Jesus said in John 12:27-28a, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.’”
What was the divine response? “Then a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘I have both glorified it and will glorify it again’” (John 12:28b). Some of the people who heard God’s voice thought it had thundered. Others thought an angel had spoken to Jesus. Verse 30 says, “Jesus answered and said, ‘This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.’” Jesus had glorified God’s name by a lifetime of obedience, and He would further glorify it by His death on the cross.
These are but a sprinkling of passages that address the divine responses revealed to us. As faithful Christians, we have got to know that no matter what happens to us, there is always a divine response. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
God Is Our Father
“But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” (Isaiah 64:8). However, in today’s world, it is very difficult for children to think of their fathers as those who would mold them into something they wanted them to be. Indeed it is difficult for modern day fathers to think that way.
We have been so conditioned to believe every man is the master of his own destiny and has total rights over his own life that the idea of being putty in God’s hand is repugnant or only rarely comes to mind. As Christians, we should understand that our Father is our Creator, Master, Lord and Guide (Romans 1:18-23). As our Father, He has the responsibility of training us to be faithful children who will submit to His authority and guidance (Hebrews 12:5-11).
From our reading Old Testament Scriptures, we can more fully appreciate God as the Father of the faithful in the New Testament. He knows all about His children, even numbering the hairs on their heads (Matthew 10:30). He protects His children and rescues them when they are in trouble or need guidance (Romans 8:26-27, 34). He teaches them the way that they should go (Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:5) and supplies all of their needs (Matthew 6:33). In turn, our Heavenly Father expects honor from His children even though He does not always receive it (Isaiah 1:11-17; Acts 7:38-39). Jesus sought to instill reverence and honor in the disciples when He taught them to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9).
The writer of the Hebrew letter said it so well. “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live” (Hebrews 12:7-9)? When we agree to be baptized into God’s family, we agree to submit to the Father’s reproof, rebuke and correction as faithful children. We also agree that we will follow Him to be like Him (Ephesians 5:1-2). He uses His Scriptures to rebuke, chasten, correct and instruct us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
Another concept gleaned from Isaiah 64:8 is the idea of being clay in God’s hands. The entire verse is acknowledging the power and authority of God. The fact is that we are helpless to change ourselves to be useful tools without His divine guidance and molding through His inspired Word. Do we really want to submit to His will so that we become what He wants us to be rather than what we might desire? We must soften our will, become humble and malleable in His hand. We must pray and be willing to be made vessels fit for honorable use (Romans 9:21; 2 Timothy 2:20-21). If we humbly serve Jesus according to our Father’s will, He will honor us (John 12:26). Let’s glorify our Father together!