Isaiah 53:1-Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? NKJV
If you have lived for any length of time, you have been the recipient of bad news. It comes to all of us! Whether you receive news that you have failed a test, been rejected for a job, have a serious disease, or have lost a relationship, you have had to handle the emotions that follow bad news. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t deal with these negative feelings very well because of past experiences or their current state of mind. However, as believers, we have to decide that no matter what news we receive, good or bad, if it is contrary to God’s word, we are not going to trust it!
Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?Isaiah 53:1 NKJV
Whenever I read these words, it pricks my heart. Who has believed our report? It is as if God looked over at Jesus and the Holy Spirit and asked the question! I can imagine them watching another “believer” as they receive a negative report and start to fall apart and say, “Does anyone truly believe what we have to say about this situation?” If you have failed to believe God at the onset of bad news, you are not alone! We have all failed to do so! But that’s not a badge of honor!
The Bible is filled with just such instances! Cain didn’t believe God!
And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord…And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.Genesis 4:3-5 NKJV
Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to God, and God rejected Cain’s offering. I can imagine the pain of this rejection because we should all want to please God. Instead of placating Cain, God gave him some advice:
So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”Genesis 4:6-7 NKJV
After God rejected Cain’s offering, Cain got angry. God asked him why was he pouting, knowing the answer, but trying to get him to take a look at himself. Then God told Cain, if you do the right thing, you will be accepted, but if you don’t, sin lies at the door waiting to take over. Cain, if you are not careful, you will allow it to have dominion over you when in actuality, you should have dominion over it!
Well, we all know what Cain’s decision was. He did not believe the report of the Lord! Therefore, he killed his brother! That is not the way to handle bad news. How many mass shootings and school shootings have we heard about lately because someone was rejected, bullied, or even abused by a system or individual and didn’t handle it well?
When Ishmael was “rejected,” God found him in the wilderness. As he and Hagar cried, God heard his tears and said to Hagar,
“What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”Genesis 21:17-18 NKJV
They didn’t make plans to go back and get Abraham, Isaac, and Sarah to make them pay! They chose to believe what God said, and His arm was revealed to them! In the Hebrew language, the word zerôwa is translated to arm in the NKJV Bible. However, it also means power, help, mighty, and strength! Because Hagar and Ishmael chose to believe God’s report over their circumstance and feelings, they were able to trust that He would truly help them! And he did!
Elijah was a different person altogether. God had chosen him, and he accomplished some great things for God. He even prayed that there would be no rain in the land, and the rain stopped for three and a half years. One day he had it out with prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. They had a “let the real God show up” contest, and his God, our God, won! God showed up so magnificently that His fire licked up the water that Elijah had excessively poured on the altar and burned the sacrifice! What a glorious day! Then the rain fell! Pretty impressive that a man can be used so mightily by God! It was a good day with the Lord!
Then Ahab went home and told Jezebel that Elijah had killed all of her prophets. Jezebel was livid, and she sent Elijah a message:
“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.”1 Kings 19:2 NKJV
Elijah didn’t receive this death threat too well! As a matter of fact, you can hardly recognize the great prophet of God and this Elijah as being the same people! But they were! And how did he handle this news! He ran! Not only did he run, but he told God he was ready to die!
And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”1 Kings 19:4 NKJV
Elijah was weary from the battle! Not just the exhibition on Mount Carmel, but the whole thing called ministry. So when he heard the words of Jezebel, his first reaction was to just run away from it all! (That’s a whole different topic)!
I know that’s not us! We would never run away! Or would we? I say we do! We may not physically run away, but we run away in our hearts, or in our minds. We may not say we want to die, but we start thinking negatively about ourselves, feeling as if God has abandoned us!
There have been times when I told God I didn’t have it in me to fight another battle right now! Or I have said that I was exhausted and tired of always fighting! It happens! And it happened to Elijah! The beautiful thing about this situation is that God saw where Elijah was mentally and met him there, and ministered to him. Then God straightened out his thinking!
Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”1 Kings 19:13b NKJV
Didn’t God know why Elijah was in this place? Yes, He did! Just like God knew why Cain was angry, He knew why Elijah was on the run and at the cave! God wasn’t asking Elijah about his physical location, but his spiritual or emotional location! What are you doing in this place where you have lost trust in Me and in what I have to say about what is going on? How did you get here, Elijah? How did you get to where you are not trusting God and what He says about your circumstances? (Again, that’s a conversation for another day)!
I wish I could elaborate on this in greater detail, but suffice it to say, Elijah felt all alone and abandoned. He said he was the only one serving God, doing the right thing! God initially doesn’t respond to Elijah’s litany of all he had done for Him and how he was the only one still serving God. In fact, God gave him some assignments! Then God said to Elijah:
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 NKJV
In other words, God told Elijah that he was not the only one serving Him. There were seven thousand other people who hadn’t compromised themselves with Baal, and God was going to reserve, or protect them, from the wars to come. One of those assignments God gave to him was that Elijah was being replaced with Elisha, and Elijah had to go and anoint him as a prophet in his place. Do you want to get to that position where God just decides to replace you with someone else, and you have to mentor them? I don’t!
I have to rush and close, but I just want to remind us that we can’t stop bad news from coming to us. We can’t even control how much of it we will get. But we can control whether we will believe the report of the Lord and trust Him for help, or whether we will give up! Just something I wanted to share with you this week. Be blessed, and hold on to the truth that He loves you! Wonderful Jesus!