You’ve probably heard and maybe even used the old expression “stole my thunder.” Essentially, it means to take credit for something really done by someone else. I’ve done it (though I’m sure unintentionally!) and had it done to me. But have I ever stolen God’s thunder?
We see it over and over in Scripture and it’s not a pretty sight. It’s something God takes extremely seriously. Consider Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar. Under his reign, Babylon was the great world power. All the surrounding nations were subject to Babylon. At the height of his rule, King Neb had a dream about a huge, strong tree that “touched the sky and was visible to the ends of the earth.” In the dream the tree was cut down and stripped of its branches.
The dream disturbed him so he called in Daniel, the Hebrew member of his staff who could interpret dreams. Daniel revealed that the tree represented King Neb. He warned the king that unless he turned from his sinful and oppressive ways and humbled himself he would be cut down by God.
However, a year later as the King stood on his patio and looked out across the kingdom and observed its greatness he dared take for himself what rightfully belonged to God alone. “Isn’t this the great Babylon that I have built by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
Uh oh! King Neb laid claim to the power and glory of God! Within moments King Neb’s dream came true. He lost his mind and ended up in the wilderness living like an animal. But that’s not the end of the story. After seven years, when King Neb humbled himself before God and gave Him the proper honor, God restored him to the throne. (You can read King Neb’s song of praise in the fourth chapter of Daniel.)
In case you think only “heathens” would steal God’s thunder, let’s take a look at an event in the life of Moses. It’s recorded in Numbers, chapter 20. It had been 40 years since the exodus and Moses was in the homestretch of leading this rag tag bunch of refugees. When the Israelites complained once again about the lack of water, God gave Moses instructions about providing it. “Gather all the people together, speak to that rock and water will pour out.”
So Moses and Aaron gathered everyone in front of the rock. Moses struck the rock with his staff and said, “Listen you bunch of rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Because of Moses’ actions here at Kadesh, God did not allow him to enter the Promised Land. And it wasn’t because Moses disobeyed God by striking the rock instead of speaking to it. No, it was because Moses stole God’s thunder.
God Himself tells us this in Numbers 20:12. “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Moses didn’t get to go into the Promised Land because he tried to take credit for God’s miracle. He claimed God’s power and glory for himself. This great spiritual leader, God’s friend, and an intercessor for the people failed to give God the credit He alone deserved.
Have we ever done this? I know there have been times that God acted, displayed His glory, and I failed to acknowledge it. Worse yet, I wonder, have I ever taken credit for something that God alone can do? Perhaps. What about you? Let’s commit to give God the honor and glory due Him alone.