Thursday, September 25, 2014
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. (1 Kings 17:1 KJV)
Most of the Bible stories about God’s calling of His messengers gives more background than a birthplace. Usually there’s a bit about the messenger’s hesitancy, which gives us a good lesson in how God uses those He calls rather than calling those prepared to be used. For Elijah, that’s not the case.
The first time we read of him, he’s standing before one of the most wicked kings in Israel’s history – the man who chose Jezebel for his wife – Ahab.
And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. (1 Kings 16:30 KJV)
We would think, based on previous history, that Ahab would have understood the results of going against God’s will. We haven’t learned that lesson, so why would we expect that from Ahab? He used the full power of his kingdom to do as he pleased. God chose drought as the attention-getter.
So, what happens to Elijah?
And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. (1 Kings 17:2-6 KJV)
A good lesson on God’s provision, right? Then things got worse.
And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:7 KJV)
Those seven verses, 1 Kings 17:1-7, were last night’s lesson. They did not end on a happy note of repentance as Jonah’s trip to Nineveh. Even if we skip ahead to next week’s lesson, we don’t find Elijah living comfortably, but subsisting day by day on meager rations provided by the Lord.
Which brings me to the tens of thousands who listen to sermons promising them materially abundant life here and now. The sermons which tell us that God exists for our well-being and pleasure. Then things get worse.
Are we willing to take a public stand against evil, then totally depend on God’s ability to provide for us? Elijah was. Then it got worse. The brook – not even large enough to be called a stream, certainly not a river – dried up.
I’ve read the “rest of the story.” Elijah’s prophecies were fulfilled, but there were more serious difficulties ahead, to the point he cried to God:
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:14 KJV)
Can we continue praising God when things go from bad to worse? Can we continue when it appears few are faithful? When we see violent hatred killing those who choose to serve God and it appears wickedness prospers? Can we continue to serve and worship Him?
Elijah did. And, he wasn’t the only one.