Thursday, April 19, 2018


We tend to regard the Prophets and Apostles as spiritual giants. However, they struggled as we do:

·       Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:17-18)

It also seems that they had issues with God. For a while, Elijah’s presence brought blessing upon a widow of Zeraphath and her son, but her son suddenly died. Elijah, therefore, accused God:

·       “O LORD my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?” (1 Kings 17:20)

Nevertheless, the Lord healed the son through Elijah.

The Prophet Jonah’s issues with God were even more antagonistic. He rejected God’s calling to preach to Nineveh and fled. It even seems that he preferred death rather than service. Nevertheless, after being swallowed by a great fish, Jonah agreed to preach to Nineveh. However, the very thing that Jonah had feared came to pass. They repented and God relented from His promise to destroy Nineveh.

However, instead of rejoicing with the Lord, Jonah became angry (Jonah 4:1) and wanted to die, but God tried to teach him that he was his own worst enemy:

·       “Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” (Jonah 4:3-4)

Of course, Jonah’s anger wasn’t serving him well. However, God didn’t give up on Jonah and continued to provide object lessons to expose his anger and rebellion for what they were. Overnight, He provided Jonah with a plant to shade him from the intense sun. God then destroyed the plant, and Jonah foolishly became angry at it – another teachable moment:

·       When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:8-11)

God reasoned with Jonah to win his heart through his mind. Without any clear resolution, the Book of Jonah ends abruptly with these verses. Did Jonah learn God’s lessons? Did he repent of his anger, his self-centered worldview, and his rebellion against the Word of God? We are not told. However, we do see the patience and graciousness of God on his behalf. Despite, Jonah’s rebellion, God remained faithful to His Prophet.

To win the mind is also to win the heart. Our faithfulness to our Savior must be secured by reason through our minds. This is the place of real transformation (Romans 12:2). We too have our issues with God, and He also has to instruct and humble us.

However, we tend to think that we are miles away from the example of Elijah, who had raised the dead child. However, it is evident that this child was healed not because of Elijah’s great faith, but because of God’s faithfulness.

We despair of having faith like Elijah who had prayed for a drought, and there was drought, and who prayed for rain, and there was rain. However, we often fail to see that Elijah had accomplished what he did not by virtue of His great faith, but in accordance with the Word, the instructions of God (1 Kings 17:1, 9; 18:1, 36). He merely did what God had told him to do:

·       And at the time of the offering of the oblation [in his confrontation with the priests of Baal], Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. (1 Kings 18:36)

Instead, we wrongly conceive of great faith as a matter of intense effort to rid from our minds any doubts or feelings that might betray a lack of confidence. Instead, servants are required to be faithful to the Word of their master no matter what internal conflicts His Word might provoke. Only in this resolve does our strength rest. To go beyond His will and Word is to proceed alone.

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