Would God rather us be angry with Him or have a lack of faith in Him?
– 2 Kings 6 – Some time later, Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. 25There was a great famine in the city… 26As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, “Help me, my lord the king!” 27The king replied, “If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you?… 28Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?” She answered, … we cooked my son and ate him… 30When the king heard the woman’s words… 31He said, “May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if the head of Elisha son of Shaphat remains on his shoulders today!”.. 33The king said, “This disaster is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”…
… 2 Kings 7:1-2,20 – Elisha replied, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.” 2The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?”“You will see it with your own eyes,” answered Elisha, “but you will not eat any of it!”… 20And that is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.
Cannibalism is a weighty subject, and probably got your attention more so than what I wanted to talk about. I hope to say more about it, and leadership, in the coming days. Today, however let’s touch on the topics of faith and anger in this passage.
The king was waiting for God’s to deliver them from the siege and famine, but when he heard that the people were starting to eat each other, he became angry. He started to lose his faith in God and he lashed out at God by threatening to kill Elisha, whom God often spoke through. Elisha responded 1) with force by barricading the door to protect himself, and 2) by telling the king to wait on the Lord one more day. Perhaps God didn’t respond as fast as the king would like, because the king was not acting the way he should.
- He should have been in sackcloth, asking for God’s help, while searching himself for any wrongdoing. Instead, he tried to hide his sackcloth under his royal clothes.
- He also could’ve sought God out beforehand, instead of waiting until the last second to see what God had to say about the siege. Seeking God should come first.
Nonetheless, there is an interesting principle in this story:
The king expressed anger by asking Elisha, ‘Why should I wait on the Lord any longer?’ Though he went with the intention to kill Elisha, he still listened to Elisha’s response and waited on the Lord one more day. The officer, however, expressed disbelief in God’s ability, and died because of it.
So anger is better than unbelief? Yes.
It is better to have faith in God, and get mad at Him when it doesn’t look like He is coming through for you, than it is to express disbelief in what God says He is going to do.
The king tried to wait on God, and tried to repent by wearing sackcloth. He didn’t do either of them perfectly, but he tried and God honored that. He intended to sin in his anger, but he ended up changing his mind and doing what was right. The officer, who did not believe God could help them, was not honored.
There is a situation in my life in which I have faith, and am waiting, though I may have times of anger or questioning. It’s nice to know that God is okay with that, and can put people in my life to renew my faith. It’s nice to know that there is grace, and that he honors a slip in faith as long as there is an effort of faith. I hope that encourages you as well. Faith is hard, and faith is necessary, but God gives us grace when we try.
Matt. 21: 28-32 – There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”“The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.
There is a way to be angry and not sin, but that wasn’t what the king had in mind. Nonetheless, the king turned away from the sin in his heart and chose not to kill Elisha. He came to God in anger, and God helped him because he was willing to listen. It’s better to go to the person you have a problem with, before it turns into wrath, but God has nothing to fear. The correct response for us is to set a boundary, and get help, like Elisha did by gathering elders to barricade the door. God however, just wants you to come to Him for help. If getting to a breaking point, or a rage, is the only way you’ll come to Him for help, then He accepts that. Job expressed his anger to God, and God helped him see how things really were.
Heb. 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
God asks us to have faith in Him, and to even put His words, ways, principles to the test. If we test Him, in our faith, He will reward us:
Mal. 3:10 – … “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
When the Bible says that testing God is wrong, it is referring to testing God in lack of faith. Testing God is nether right, nor wrong in itself; it simply depends on your heart.
Jer. 17:10 – I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.
Deut. 6:16 – Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.
Ex. 17:7 – And he called the place Massah (testing) and Meribah (quarreling) because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
James 1:6-8 – But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Ps. 94:18 – When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
Mark 9:21-24 – Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
Help my unbelief. That is a prayer that God honors. He loves truth; even when the truth is that you are angry, He honors it. Seek Him first, ask Him to help your unbelief, and just choose to be real with Him today.