Yesterday I re-posted a story of King Jehoiakim’s attempts to destroy the prophet Jeremiah’s words with fire, as recorded in Jeremiah 36:20-25 (which survived). I decided to share it again based on two events: 1) a comment I saw on Facebook yesterday lamenting that owning a Bible could be made illegal, and 2) Facebook’s reminder to me in “Memories” that two years ago to the day I had posted this:
“To any religious person who is dismayed at “their side” being shut down by social media: Name one of Gods accomplishments that required Twitter or Facebook. The Holy Spirit is the original (and best) social network. Listen to Him. Post to Him. Wait for Him. The Answer lies there. He remains online for eternity and He has a plan.”
Resistance to spreading God’s word is as old as time. Consider the Old Testament story of Elijah, who prophesied during the reign of Israel’s evil king Ahab and his wife Jezebel. According to Who’s Who in the Bible, “Jezebel devoted herself to bringing the worship of Baal and his consort Asherah to Israel. She employed 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophetesses of Asherah (1 Kings 18:19), and persecuted the prophets of the Lord, including Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-9).” Many prophets were killed.
Elijah despaired, as written in 1 Kings 19:10 – “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Apostles also struggled to stay strong, including Paul. When he was frustrated at resistance and lack of progress in Corinth, “the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
When Paul needed an example to encourage others to persist, he used Elijah’s story in Romans 11:2 – “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’ But what is God’s reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’”
Therefore, our hope is not in social networks where we can share God’s message, or in the benevolence of the programmers of algorithms that choose who sees what we post, or in the regulators and legislators who monitor the public square, or in the founding political documents that give us rights. But:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10-11
Social networks, algorithms, regulators and government are not our enemy, but our enemy is the one who tries to convince us we need these things more than we need the God who made them and who made us all. His word will accomplish its purpose, and we have Elijah’s and Paul’s words and actions as evidence.
God’s word withstands the fire. Always.