GRAIN OF A MUSTARD SEED
By Glenda Ward
Israel is a place containing a lush, green, thriving reserve in which colorful, yellow mustard bushes grow a little taller than head high. Is this why Jesus referenced having the faith as a grain of mustard seed in Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6 “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed”; as to our faith and doubt?
It is hard for us to imagine the culture and what people were like back in Jesus’ day. In reading 1 Kings chapter 12 your imagination will swell. You can feel the Old Testament come to life. The kingdom and the twelve tribes of Israel are divided. In this chapter, Rehoboam, son of Solomon is now the king of the southern kingdom, and Jeroboam, son of Nebat, is the king of the northern kingdom, and neither king is obedient to God’s ways. Tel Dan located in Northern Israel is at the foot of Mount Hermon and is not a place Christian travelers would go to learn the foundational truths about their faith. Tel Dan is one of two sites in which King Jeroboam built altars that were set up as an alternative place of worship. The king took counsel and made golden calves for each altar saying it was too much for the people of Israel to journey to Jerusalem to worship. This thing he did became a sin: for the people went before one of the two altars to worship (verses 26-30). Jeroboam was always on the list of bad kings and not someone you would want to try to be equal to or rival with.
Tel Dan does come alive as we read 1 Kings 12:31. Jeroboam also made shrines on high places – built up high – and made priests from the ranks of the lowest of people that were not Levites. These places were not hidden or protected from sight. Everyone could witness what was happening as sacrifices were being offered on the altar as if being lifted up on a stage. Actually, in today’s time those teaching, preaching, or leading worship stand up on a raised platform leading and directing us to the One God we are to worship. This ancient high place at Tel Dan is a good reminder of the influence those standing in front of us on a platform have on people today. We need to keep in mind if the wrong person is on the platform leading and instructing as was true all those thousands of years ago, they can lead many people astray and away from the One true God.
There is trouble in our thinking as this passage of Scripture points out the danger of worshiping solutions of our own making; and isn’t that what these idols represent? In 1 Kings 12:33, we see that Jeroboam built alternate places of worship, made golden calves to worship, and even changed the time and season of worship. God had been clear in His directions of how to worship, but somewhere along the way Jeroboam in his thinking thought he knew better than God.
Don’t we sometimes do the same thing? We say we trust God and we believe He is working in our lives, except when we don’t see or feel His working at the time. Don’t we try to interfere trying to modify His plans or change things to fit our schedule or our situation? At times like this we try to take control trying to create our own way; disobeying God; and maybe, unintentionally leading others astray.
It is painful looking at the truth of how often in life we (or in my case I) have departed from trusting God. I have been impatient with God so many times and trusted myself more than God. But this is where God never fails us, leaves us, or forsakes us. Always we can look back and we can see the one set of footprints at these times of struggles in our lives, and we know without a doubt that God has been with us – this is when He carried us – to keep us on His straight and narrow path. I can say that God only let me move so far away till He pulled me back in line and I mean pull!
I want to do things my way sometimes so badly, yet He graciously and tenderly lets me know I am in the wrong. He lets me know His way is the right way. Honestly, I have given God some really hard times wanting things done my way because I was not seeing results that I thought I should be seeing in the time frame that I thought they should be happening. But God holds steadfast keeping me in line with His Will. This verse in Matthew 17:20 has come to mind so often. The Lord reminds me our faith only needs to be the size of a grain of mustard seed and no high place, a false idol, or mountain can stand against it. Truly I have learned what it means to “be still and know that I am God”. In Hebrew “be still” means let go. God tells me like it is. God lets me know that He is in control and I need to let go and follow His direction. He makes this clear in a way that is kind and loving yet with a firm grip. I have learned to listen and hear God’s love, leadership, and direction. I have learned a lot about being patient and persevering. God works in His own time frame. Our timing is not God’s time. He is still working on me and I thank God for His grace and mercy in my life!
Israel is a reminder of God’s great faithfulness. Instead of our looking up to the high places and trying to reach Him, God came down low. Jesus’ birth was in a lowly place to a humble couple. Angels came down to announce His arrival to the meek and lowly shepherds in the fields for anyone to see. Jesus lived an ordinary, and yet extraordinary life as the son of man and the Son of God as we read in the Gospels. Then Jesus ascended back to His heavenly Father from the Mount of Olives, one of the lower elevations on the Judean mountain range.
Glenda Ward is a member of Grand View Baptist Church in McDowell County. She is the mother of five grown children. Glenda is a Christian writer/author of “Something to Think About” – weekly Christian Articles. She writes Church Programs & Bulletins, VBS Material, Christmas and Easter Programs; all material based on the KJV of the Bible. Also testing the field in tributes, individual memorial writings, etc. You can read more good news from Glenda HERE.