Date: Sun, 14 Jun 1998
From: Frank Donahue
Subject: God is Faithful - Question 1A
This is in answer to your question: "Give three examples from Scripture of instances when God remained faithful even when believers were not."
I just love the early story of Elijah; 1Kings 17:1 thru 1Kings 19:21. This guy does all that he can for the Lord. He runs all over the place, basically putting out spiritual fires. All of his work is done at a frantic pace and he doesn't ask for any help (except, of course, from the Lord). YOU can see that his work is actually doing some good; he's achieving some success. The problem is that he isn't aware of his success because he never slows down long enough to witness the fruits of his labor. No, he's off dashing to the next "fire".
While not having lost faith, Elijah had lost hope. Finally, he collapses in exhaustion and begins to pray. It is a prayer of anguish. He's frustrated, he's tired, he's lonely, and he prays, "I have had enough, Lord. Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors". (NIV) And, how does the Lord respond? No, He doesn't fill Elijah with the vigor and drive to go out and fight the good fight; and He doesn't get angry because Elijah is giving up. Instead, He sends an angel who provides warm bread, cool water, and a comforting touch. Renewed, Elijah traveled 40 days & 40 nights to the mountain of GOD, where he begs for help because others are trying to kill him. It is there that Elijah learns a mighty lesson. He learns that you don't necessarily find GOD in the "winds and fires" of life, but He's there in the "gentle whispers", giving you encouragement and direction.
This is just one of the three examples you had asked for in your question. I'll dig around and find more.
This is second of my three examples to your question, "Give three examples from Scripture of instances when God remained faithful even when believers were not."
Jonah is a prime example...You'll find his story in the book of Jonah (go figure). Jonah was a prophet who didn't necessarily want to be a prophet. When the Lord told him to go to Nineveh to preach against evil, he was appalled. It was the most loathsome place he could think of and he didn't think that the citizens of Nineveh even deserved GOD's attention. So, he ran away and got on a boat. GOD caused a terrible wind to come up and Jonah, knowing that this was GOD's doing, ran to the bowels of the ship and hid. The sailors figured that Jonah was the cause of their peril, so they questioned him. Jonah begged them to throw him overboard so he wouldn't be responsible for the deaths of the innocent sailors. They wouldn't do it at first, but as the winds grew stronger, Jonah begged GOD to have the men throw him overboard. When they finally did, Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. While in the fish, Jonah again prayed to GOD and GOD commanded the fish to vomit Jonah out onto dry land.
GOD remained faithful to Jonah even while Jonah was trying to escape the responsibilities that He had given him. Jonah ended up fulfilling his mission, but he didn't' do it graciously. Throughout his life, Jonah always questioned GOD's decisions and commands. Jonah was given great gifts from GOD, but chose not to appreciate these gifts, nor tend to them.
I think that, on occasion, we all balk at what GOD directs us to do. I think that there are times in our lives when we question GOD; even his very existence, especially after a tragedy. It is comforting to know that GOD sticks by us through these times. I am reminded of the words to one of my favorite songs, Step By Step. To paraphrase, "The road to righteousness is sometimes steep and, while I may occasionally falter, I am never out of Your reach.
I will try to dig up another example to finish answering your question.
This is the third of my examples in answer to your question, "Give three examples from scripture of instances when God remained faithful even when believers were not."
Hosea, for reasons known only to GOD, was commanded by Him to marry a women, Gomer, who would prove unfaithful to him. Despite having 3 children, Gomer gave herself to other men, much to Hosea's chagrin. Eventually they split up, however, after much prayer, Hosea chose to buy her back. (Apparently she'd sold herself either into slavery or to another man). He didn't pay a great deal to get her back, but once she returned and he'd talked to her about the pain she'd caused him, Hosea lived with her and loved her unconditionally.
GOD treats us in much the same way. No matter how far we stray, we're never out of his reach. If we genuinely seek forgiveness, He accepts us back and loves us with no memory of how we may have faltered. Like Hosea, GOD has bought us back. Unlike, Hosea, however, the price GOD paid was a dear one. He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ. Not once, however, has GOD ever regretted that sacrifice. Why? Because he genuinely wants us walking on the path of righteousness.
Abraham. Now that I've read the related sermon, I see where we're headed with this.
After telling Abram to leave his homeland, He promised to
Make of him a great nation Make his name great Bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him
Even with those promises from GOD, leaving your home, your people and everything you know must have been quite scary. Abram did it, though, and was richly rewarded. We should all be so obedient.
Before entering into Egypt, Abram asked his wife, Sarai, to pretend to be his sister. Even with GOD's assurance of protection, Abram feared for his life if the pharoah learned that she was his wife. So, while living this charade, Sarai was taken into the home of the pharoah as his wife, and Abram, the pharoah's "brother-in-law" was treated very well. GOD, on the other hand, was not amused and inflicted serious disease on pharoah's house. Now it was pharoah's turn not to be amused. He laced into Abram and tossed them out of Egypt!
Had only Abram and Sarai kept their eyes turned towards the Lord, they might have avoided this frightening episode. On life's path, there are a lot of distractions; things to fear and things to covet. If you walk a straight path with complete trust in the Lord, your salvation will be guaranteed and you will avoid a lot of heartache.
Abram asked Sarai to pretend to be his sister instead of his wife.
Of course, Abram wasn't in any danger! Refer to Genesis 12:2-3. He didn't have a thing in the world to worry about.
I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
I rest my case.
2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)
if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself
Through tragedy, or simply by being around non-Christians, we may falter in our walk with GOD at times. Our faith may be shaken to it's very foundation. GOD doesn't leave us then. We are never beyond His reach. I'm reminded of the poem, "Footprints". "It was then that I carried you."
Well, I guess this is an example of GOD's "restraining hand". I just hope to never have to be restrained in such a way.
Wow! What a story. I hadn't heard the story of Abimelech before. Let me summarize it for you. Abimelech asked to people of his city to elect him king, instead of his 70 brothers. They did & then Abimelech, with the help of the citizens of his country, killed 69 of his brothers (the youngest escaped). After 3 years GOD sent an evil spirit, Gaal, to get between Abimelech and his people. Gaal gained the confidence of the people and set about attacking Abimelech and his remaining followers. Abimelech won that battle, however, and drove Gaal out of the country. Abimelech went on a rampage and was burning down cities. When he came to Thebez, however, all of the people ran into the tower stronghold and a woman dropped a stone on Abimelech's head and broke his skull. Because he didn't want it to be said that a woman had killed him, he had one of his own men kill him. Thus GOD avenged the deaths of Abimelech's 69 brothers.
OUCH! This is just the type of story I didn't like when I was a little kid. As a very young child I'd only thought of GOD in very loving terms. Then, as I continued going to Sunday School and I'd hear stories like this one, I started to pull away from the Old Testament. As I grew older and realized that the GOD of the Old Testament and the GOD of the New Testament were one and the same, I turned to denial. "My GOD wouldn't do that." was my cry. I still don't like the notion of a vengeful GOD, so I'd better not do anything to get Him as mad as he got at Abimelech, huh?! Abimelech was duly restrained!
The obvious example of David's unfaithfulness is his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah.
David is an excellent example of GOD's infinite ability to forgive even the most grievous sins. Still, while we can rest assured of GOD's forgiveness, this does not give us blanket permission to behave in any way that we see fit. We must make an earnest effort to walk along the path of righteousness in order to be forgiven. The occasional mis-step. OK, you're fine. But a constant disregarding of GOD's will is not to be tolerated. Remember that restraining hand!!??!!
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