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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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Elijah on Mt Horeb

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 13

1 Kings 19

“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for 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. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 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. And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:9-18 

Elijah’s time on Mt Horeb is ending, but first God has a lesson for the prophet. As we recall, Elijah has seemingly run off to My Horeb and had a bit of a pity party. He has complained to God that he has served him faithfully, yet everybody else has been killed off, he is alone, and they want to kill Elijah also. God commands Elijah to leave his cave and stand by on the mountain waiting. Clearly, he is to be waiting for the Lord to make Himself known. First, a strong wind roars by, which was strong enough to break rocks into pieces; yet, God was not in that wind. Then there was an earthquake; yet, God was not in the earthquake. Finally, there was a fire; yet, God was not in the fire either. Where was God?

Finally, there was nothing but a still small voice. Some translations call it a low whisper, or a quiet whisper. This, Elijah heard. Then, God spoke again, and asked the prophet the same question as before; Elijah replied with the same answer as before. We know Elijah heard, because our scripture tells us, “when he heard it.” We also can infer Elijah was now listening, because no other words were exchanged other than further instructions from God to Elijah concerning what he was to do next. He was to appoint a new king of Syria, a new King for Israel, and finally his own successor in the ministry, Elisha. How ordinary! It almost seems anticlimactic that after all the ruckus that God showed up in a quiet whisper, and Elijah listened.

That’s clearly the point of this. God has certainly spoken in dramatic ways. He at times spoke through whirlwinds and earthquakes; He displayed His presence through pillars of flame and cloud. Yet, He certainly is not restricted to dramatic ways of speaking. Elijah had learned this lesson during his time by the brook being fed by a raven, and during his time with the widow woman; that lesson was that God is in the daily and the ordinary; maybe Elijah needed that lesson after all of the drama and excitement he had been part of. God is not just in the big and dramatic; He is in the normal and mundane as well. I think Elijah needed a reminder of the presence of God in the daily, normal and mundane.

Again, this is something anybody doing a work for God could bear in mind. We may be called to do something huge like contending with the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel; if He does, He will be with us then. On the other hand, we may not be called to anything big (in our minds,) at all. We may be called to a simple life of being a good Christian. Friends, He is with us then also. If we are waiting for God to appear in the grandiose, we may not hear the still small voice; we may actually miss the “big” calling….because we are too busy looking for it!

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 12

1 Kings 19

“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for 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 19:9-10

I don’t want to be too hard on poor Elijah here; after all, he is among the greatest prophets in the history of Israel. He was important enough that he didn’t even die like the rest of us; he was carried to heaven on a flaming chariot! So, Elijah is quite a big deal. We have sort of talked about whether Elijah’s trip to Mt Horeb was God-approved or not; as we read through this passage I think I find myself fairly firmly in the “not God approved or commanded,” camp on this. When God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” I can almost hear, “Elijah, why are you here on this mountain instead of continuing on with the mission I had given you?” Elijah’s response is what really seals my thought on the matter. Not to sound flip, but his response sounded a bit like, “But, what about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, God?”

We ought to not be shocked by this, or too judgmental about it either; when you are king of the hill, so to speak, it is important to remember that everybody not on top desperately wants to unseat you from your place. Not only should we cut Elijah a bit of slack, but we ought to understand that, in the right circumstance, that could be any one of us.

Standing strong for God can be tiring. Elijah had done exactly as told for a few years, and when things reached their climax no one could deny that the prophet had come through grandly. Undoubtedly, Elijah was simply tired. Elijah may have simply been shocked that suddenly, after all this time of God seemingly taking care of every need, that out of the blue this woman Jezebel wanted to kill him. Maybe that was a shock to the prophet.

All of that notwithstanding, it does seem Elijah did something that we should all be careful of; he seemed to have become quite fixated on himself. Not to be overly harsh, but maybe Elijah got a bit full of just how he fit into God’s plan. He was quick to remind God of all that he had done, and just as quick to remind God about the failure of others. He even seemed to think he was the sole remaining faithful person in God’s service.

Friends, serving our Lord can be a lonely place, especially if one takes a position that is not popular. It is not unusual for those doing brave service for God to feel isolated and even abandoned. God is going to teach Elijah a lesson, and it’s a lesson for all of us to use. Stay tuned.

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 11

1 Kings 19:9

 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

1 Kings 19:13

And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

Here we are, after 40 days, at Mt Sinai(Horeb.) Elijah ran from the evil Jezebel, hid under a tree, was provided for by God and made the trek from Beersheba to Horeb. He finally arrives, finds a cave to hide in and lodges there. God speaks and asks the prophet, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” First, we must remember, God doesn’t ask things because He needs to know; He already knows. God knew the motivation of Elijah’s heart better than the man himself knew it. There must be another reason God asked this question.

Last time we talked we had some discussion about whether this trip was God’s plan, or whether Elijah was just doing his own thing. This passage makes me lean strongly in the direction of Elijah doing his own thing with this little side trip. It seems the very question might imply that what Elijah was doing was not actually what God wanted him to be doing. If that is true, it makes what transpires between God and Elijah even more amazing; it should also serve as a great encouragement to us all. We will see later that there were many others standing by in the wings to carry on with God’s work; one of those was the mighty Elisha. Again, God could have just left Elijah to wallow in his self-pity, or even just dealt with him directly. He did not.

So, back to the question regarding the question. God knew exactly what Elijah was up to, so why did He ask what Elijah was up to? Friends, God desires our communication with Him. We don’t have to tell Him what we seek; He already knows. We don’t have to tell Him our concerns and fears; He already knows. We don’t have to tell Him our needs; He knows what is best for us far better than we do.

We will see later that God had a lesson to teach Elijah on that mountain. I can’t help but think that part of the lesson was helping Elijah come to an understanding of his own self. In other words, God helped the prophet come to grips with his own motivation and concerns, then clearly addressed them. Maybe if Elijah had never articulated his concerns, they would have simply gone unanswered. How many time might our own concerns go unanswered simply because we never articulated them to our Heavenly Father?

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