Sunday, July 27, 2014

Unbelief and Forgetfulness

I’ve recently been reading though Kings and Chronicles, and while Elisha is my favorite prophet so far I think Elijah falls a close second (beside Isaiah). One story in particular hit me hard this time through—it was the story of the widow who Elijah lived with for several years during the years of famine (read the story for yourself in 1 Kings 17:17-24).

Elijah and the widow. (Image courtesy of Picture is in the public domain.)If you’ll remember, Ahab was king of Israel at this time, and because of his wickedness God sent a famine on the land of Israel. After warning Ahab of the coming famine, Elijah escaped into the desert, by the brook Cherith. He lived there until the brook dried up, at which point the Lord told him to get to Zarephath. You’ll remember how, once arriving at Zarephath, he met a widow and lived with her and her son (on miracle food!) for quite a while. Without him going there on God’s command, that widow and her son would have died—when he arrived, she was planning their last meal!

Then, after he had settled in, the widow’s son died—a tragic loss. Especially considering the fact that this son was her only son, and with him dead it meant no income for the household (or very little, anyway—and I’m not considering the fact that there was a famine going on), and no one to continue the family name or keep the family inheritance. All her hopes for a better future were dashed. And who did she blame it on? Elijah.

What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?” (1 Kings 17:18)

One version says, “What do you have against me, man of God?” She was questioning him, almost seeming to doubt that he was there for a good reason after all. She could have been saying, “What have I done? I don’t deserve this! Have I offended your God and that’s why my son died?”

Elijah praying to God, begging for the life of the boy. (Image courtesy of Picture is in the public domain.)

Then she continues, even more accusing: “Did you come t o remind me of my sin? Did you come to kill my son?” (paraphrasing mine) She had obviously completely forgotten the fact that if Elijah had not come, both she and her son would have been dead long since. Instead of being thankful for the Almighty’s intervention in saving her and her son, she was charging Elijah with bringing more misery down on her head.

Ah, isn’t that how we are, all too often? Forgetting the wonderful gifts God has given us in the past—those times when He stepped in at the last minute to help us, having someone give us that word of encouragement that pushed us through our day, and the many other things that He does for us each day? We are so forgetful of His goodness! And so prone to believe that yes, while He did it back then He won’t be able to come through and do it now!

Surprisingly, this time Elijah didn’t blow his top like he did other times. With gentleness, he said, “Give me your son.” Picking him up, he carried the boy to his bedroom and laid him on his bed. Then he prayed, stretched himself on the boy three times, prayed again, and the boy came back to life. Picking up the child again, he brought him down and gave him to his mother saying, “See, your son is alive!

Elijah and the widow, with the boy who was brought back to life. (Image courtesy of Picture is in the public domain.)Then, utterly astonished, she replied, “Now at last I’m certain that you are a man of God, and what you say about the Lord is the truth.” (paraphrasing mine) It took the raising of her son from the dead to show her that. She didn’t take into account the oil and flour being there each day for the months since Elijah came! Oh, how soon do we forget what God has done for us!

Unbelief. Forgetfulness. They’re really the same things, all boiled down. One is not believing that something is possible and the other is completely forgetting that something ever happened. And both are terrible. Both are things that are warned against repeatedly in the Bible.

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12)

…so are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish….” (Job 8:13)

I thought this video fit with today’s topic. How forgetful we can be!

Now it’s your turn. What is one way God has helped you lately? How has He shown Himself mighty to you this last week? Was there a time in your life recently when you knew that something that had happened was something that only our Father can do?

Let us remember His goodness, and not forget.

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And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”Colossians 3:17 (NIV)