Monday, April 22, 2013

A Good Day’s Lesson from Elijah

Good days and bad days. We all have them. I was reading recently about Elijah in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. This guy may have the record for the most dramatic 24-hour emotional swing in history.

1 Kings 18.
At the time when this story took place God’s people were losing. Jezebel’s false prophets far outnumbered the prophets of God. Each passing day more prophets of the LORD were swallowed up until Elijah is the only prophet of God left. Elijah, who tended toward the spectacular, had seen enough so he calls for a showdown between Baal’s prophets and himself. It’s a winner-take-all, king-of-the-mountain duel. The Deity who answers his prophet(s) with fire on the mountain will be proven as the one true God.

The showdown was on and all the prophets rallied on Mt. Carmel. The prophets of Baal frantically and ferociously attempted, but failed to awaken their gods. The climactic moment came when Baal’s prophets are pushed off the stage and Elijah steps up to call upon YHWH. Elijah’s God answers in force by sending fire from heaven. And the Scriptures tell us that “The power of the Lord came on Elijah” (1 Kings 18:46). A really good day.

Oh the joy of spectacular moves of God! The joy of “chapter 18” seasons of ministry and of life. Easter season 2013 at Bayside was a spectacular season. More than 1600 in Easter attendance, 20 people baptized, 50,000 meals prepared. These are big, bold, “power of the Lord” kinds of moments. We celebrate and are grateful that this season has turned hearts toward the Lord (1 Kings 18:37).


I Kings 19.
“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (19:3). My how things changed. From public triumph to private fear. In the previous chapter he stood on a mountain in victory. And the next day he dove into a cave of depression. In chapter 19 he’s not eating, he’s angry at God and hoping to die. He finally gained enough strength to straightaway hide himself in a cave. God rebukes (19:9) him because Elijah has acquired a thirst for the spectacular and is pouting because God is not giving him more. He wants his God to be in the big, the loud, and the mass production.

God revealed Elijah’s idolatry by refusing to display his power through the windstorm, earthquake, or fire. God instead spoke through a gentle whisper. Disgusted the prophet covered his face in his cloak (blanket maybe) and ran away like a spoiled child. Elijah’s hope had drifted from God, to God’s mighty works.

Even mighty men and women of God, who warn others against idol worship, are not immune from idolatry themselves. Elijah allowed the grand to supplant God as his heart’s first love.

In our personal lives as well as in our community life together we will have days when we stand on the mountain top with hands raised (chapter 18). And invariably there will be those “hide me deep in the cave” (chapter 19) days. Whether on the summit, in the cave or journeying between the two lets always remember The Lord - The Lord he alone is God. May we never mistake the grand for God or His mighty works for Him.

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