Three Questions

“Am I in the place of God . . . ?”

“. . . am I in God’s place?”

“Am I God . . .?”

These three questions asked by biblical characters sound much alike, but the circumstances provoking them are quite different.

A recognition of limitations

Desperate for a child, Rachel blurted out to her husband Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” Knowing how powerless he was to fulfill her demand, Jacob became angry with Rachel and replied, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:1-2).

Now that their father Jacob was dead, Joseph’s brothers feared that Joseph would revenge the harm they had done to him some 39 years before. Grieved that they would even think this, Joseph replied, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?” (Genesis 50:19).

The king of Syria sent word to the king of Israel, “. . . I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” The king of Israel “tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?’” Elisha then sent this message: “Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:6-8). By following God’s instructions through Elisha to dip seven times in the Jordan, Naaman was healed by the power of God.

A lesson in humility

Both Jacob and the king of Israel realized they could not do what was asked of them. Joseph, however, could have misused his great power to have his brothers’ heads, but he rightly deferred to the One who said, “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

Occasionally we all need a refresher course in humility: to admit that God has His place and we have ours—and they are not the same!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

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