With each temptation, the devil offered Jesus a shortcut…a way to compromise and thus circumvent God’s plan. So anytime our own impatience tempts us to not wait but instead run ahead of God…we’re playing right into the same scheme. Now none of us like to wait…we all want immediate gratification, so when offered a shortcut, we usually take it. But within that shortcut can hide compromise, risk, and loss. I Corinthians 15:58 encourages us to, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” In God’s perfect plan there are no shortcuts, and even though we may feel impatient when waiting on the Lord…we are to stand firm, fully committed and trusting in Him.
To paraphrase Acts 26:18…We are to turn from spiritual darkness to the light of Jesus Christ… from the limited power of Satan to the infinite power of God, so that we may receive forgiveness of our sins and a place among fellow Believers who are sanctified by faith in Jesus. The Lord has snatched us from danger and set us free…the chains have been broken off and we are no longer a slave to sin and the jurisdiction of darkness…for the Kingdom of God is now residing within our hearts. (Luke 17:21)
This story of Elisha is a foreshadowing of Jesus feeding the 5,000 – ( the only story, other than the Resurrection, that is found in all 4 Gospels). So it must have made quite an impact on the Disciples to witness a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish being multiplied into a huge meal for thousands. Comparing both stories, we see doubt and skepticism on the part of the faithful…people who had observed many miracles, but couldn’t fathom this one. We also see confidence and full trust in God that He would bless over and above. In both cases, there wasn’t just enough, there was plenty to go around…there wasn’t the bare minimum, there was excess to spare. For God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, (Ephesians 3:20) and He desires to lavish His blessings on us…to the point of overflowing.
In both Exodus 23:24 and Leviticus 20:23 the Lord was emphatic…Don’t bow down to foreign gods, and you must not follow their customs and practices…and this included their response and rituals towards signs in the sky. The world has always reacted to natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes with alarm…for there is nothing humanly possible we can do to control them. But as Believers, we know these types of signs are finger-marks of God…indicating His spiritual purpose…signs of the End of the Age. We only have to read the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:6-8 for clarification, ” You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
Jesus was back in His hometown of Nazareth…the place where He had been brought up, and where everyone knew Him and His family. We find Him on the Sabbath in the Synagogue where someone handed Him the scroll of Isaiah to read from. He read from Isaiah 61:1-2 …( Which was Jesus’ exact job description here on earth) and then sat down. Everyone spoke well of Him until He uttered 8 words, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” No wonder the people were furious! All they could see was Mary and Joseph’s little boy…and now He’s daring to claim to be the Messiah! Their minds refused to believe…their hearts were hardened by pride…their eyes were blinded to His Deity. Their long-awaited Messiah had come and was in their midst…yet they rejected Him.
His time on earth was getting short and Jesus wanted His disciples to understand their mission. Everyday He had guided, demonstrated, and shown them what to do…to think outside the box of human nature. For this wasn’t the first time Jesus had fed a crowd with only a few loaves and fish…but the disciples still didn’t get it. The disciples had witnessed and actually helped distribute the food to that crowd…but when challenged to come up with a plan for this hungry group, they quickly reverted back to their humanness. How many times have you sold yourself short by your limited vision of what God could do? We need to be asking for God’s vision in our life, not ours…and we need to be thinking outside our “human” box and seeking God’s unlimited and miraculous vision instead.
This prophecy of the coming Messiah was quoted 700 years later by the Chief Priests and Scribes when King Herod asked where the Christ was to be born. In John 7: 25-44 we see Jesus at the Feast of the Tabernacles proclaiming that He was indeed the Messiah, only to see the skeptics quoting this Scripture again…but then mistakenly assuming He had been born in His home town of Galilee rather than Bethlehem. But God never makes mistakes…His timing is always perfect…His promises always fulfilled. This long-awaited Savior of the world had indeed been born in Bethlehem for us all.