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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Asleep in the Boat: Day 4

   Then a voice said to him “What are you doing Elijah?”
  He replied, I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to the death with the sword. I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too.”  The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king of Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi, king of Israel, and anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Ball and all whose mouths have not kissed him.
         I Kings 19:13-18

This is such a great story! In fact, it may be the story for our times.

To recap: Elijah has given his all for the Lord’s work and seen some amazing results. In the end, however, the governing authority seems to have won and Elijah, in apparent defeat, must flee for his life. Reduced to an exhausted puddle of self-pity, Elijah has all but thrown in the towel. Then God calls him out of hiding, listens to Elijah’s complaint and imparts two game changing pieces of information:

First of all, He gives Elijah his marching orders. He is to go back home and do what prophets do: anoint two kings to replace Elijah’s seemingly invincible nemesis and a prophet to take Elijah’s place. The king that Elijah perceives to be in charge of his life is on his way out. The reality is two kings will shortly take his place. And help is on the way in the prophet department, too. Elisha will not only be his future successor, but a present companion in his loneliness. Just when Elijah thought the end had come, God reveals preparations for a new beginning and given Elijah the great privilege of preparing the way.

Secondly, God shows Elijah (who believes that the future of Jehovah’s agenda rests on his weary shoulders) that there is a bigger picture. God is the keeper of Israel. Despite appearances, there are 7,000 true believers who are devoted to the one true God and God Himself will preserve them.

What great encouragement for our time! Evil is increasing at a breath-taking rate and it seems that nothing can slow its malignant spread. The governing authorities are godless and seemingly unstoppable.

But God’s Word hasn’t changed from Elijah’s time to our day: We are to go back into the society we came from and live out our identity—salt and light. As we go and as we live, we will trust God for the results.

Nancy Shirah      

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