Grinnell church of Christ
Website design by Blythe Data Recovery & Computer Repair, LLC
In I Kings 18 we read about one of the great triumphs by God’s people. In this chapter we learn of when God’s prophet Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal in the land of Israel to determine whose god was really God. Israel at this time was deeply steeped in the idolatrous worship introduced by Ahab and Jezebel. The result of the challenge made it clear to all that God was the only true God. The 450 prophets of Baal cried out all day and Baal never answered. Elijah even mocked them when the day was half way through by encouraging them to call louder just in case he was occupied or asleep. No god ever answered their prayers. Elijah then prepared on the offering by erecting an altar and soaking it, the ground, the moat around the offering and the offering itself with water. He offered one prayer, asking God to make it known who was the one true God. “Then fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood, and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench (I Kings 18:39).” Israel then seized the 450 prophets of Baal and slew them in the book Kishon (I Kings 18:40).
Following this great victory, Jezebel was furious. She vowed to do the same to Elijah by the following day (I Kings 19:2). Elijah in his fear fled from her presence. Elijah initially fled to Beersheba (the southernmost city in Judah, clearly out of the jurisdiction of Ahab and Jezebel). While there, he sat down under a juniper and asked God to asked his life. God sent an angel to strengthen him. After eating he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and went up to Horeb (I King 19:4-8). It should be noted that not only was this the same time that Christ fasted, but that fasting like this was done to strengthen ones faith. I do not doubt that he was physically weak at this time. But, he should have been very spiritually strong as he relied upon God to continually strengthen him. Instead he went into a cave and again asked God to take his life. You could hear the despair in his voice as he felt he was the last of God’s people in the land of Israel. While it could be easy to question Elijah’s strength or character or faith, when we really consider what was going on, we will find that we are often in similar circumstances.
Elijah followed an occasion of great victory with an occasion of rejection. How often does that happen to us today? We get the big promotion or raise at work and praise God for blessing us with it, only to find that our co-workers are jealous. Or we study with a person and see them put on Christ in baptism only to watch them later be carried back into the world, or perhaps it is us that finally puts a particular sin that has been haunting us behind us, only to be immediately met with another challenge to our faith. It happens all the time. And often times we through our hands up in despair, just like Elijah and ask, “Why bother” or “What’s the point.”
This past week we had the opportunity to be filled with the good news on a nightly basis. When going through a gospel meeting, while physically exhausting, they should bring to us feelings of a renewed vigor to serve God. We can get all excited about teaching others the good news. I would warn you to not let the distractions, hardships, rejections, etc that you face this week, and the weeks to come to make you forget how spiritually invigorated you were following the meeting. I would encourage you to create a mental map in your heart that when you see yourself drifting far from this feeling that you can get back to it, back to your “center.”
Now, I realize that sometimes, despite our best efforts to find our way back (like Elijah did when he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights) that we do not make it back. This does not mean that we are too weak to follow Christ. It means that you are human. Remember, even Elijah needed an extra boost. As he laid in the cave, longing, wishing for death, God sent him two valuable lessons.
The first of these lessons was to get up I have work for you to do. God sent Elijah to anoint two kings; Hazael over Aram and Jehu over Israel, and he was to anoint his successor, Elisha. Elijah went and did exactly what God had called for him to do. Interestingly enough, while de continued to face opposition from Jezebel and Ahab we never find him hitting this low again. Seems to be the cure for growing weary in doing well is to get up, get going, and get doing good for God. When we are feeling discouraged we need to get up and return to work. It does not good to sit around. The next time you find yourself sitting there, feeling discouraged remember what God essentially asked Elijah, “What are you doing here, don’t you have work that needs done?”
The second lesson is found in his last words to Elijah on this occasion. “Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him (I Kings 19:18).” God had to remind Elijah he was not alone. Not only has God not abandoned him, but neither has God’s people. The next time you feel overwhelmed remember, you are never here alone. While 7,000 may not have seemed like much compared to the rest of Israel, think of all that Elijah did for God as one man. Imagine what God could accomplish with 7,000 more willing to do the same! -WTK
Growing Weary In Well Doing
Volume 3 Issue 22 April 29, 2012