A Voice in the
"And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, As Jehovah the God of Israel lives, BEFORE WHOM I STAND, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except according to my word." (1Ki17:1)
Who was Elijah? This verse, just quoted, is the beginning to one of Scripture's -famous- stories. Israel and Ahab have been serving the baals, so God brings famine to the land, at the mouth of Elijah. Then, who can forget the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, to call down fire upon the sacrifices. When Elijah meets Obadiah and tells him to go inform Ahab that he has come, and Obadiah fears that Elijah might just up-and-disappear again, he assures Ahab's servant, "As Jehovah of Hosts lives, BEFORE WHOM I STAND, I will surely present myself to him today." (1Ki18:15)
Elijah was the prophet who did not die, but was raptured up to God in the whirlwind, and a "double portion" of his spirit was given to Elisha. (2Ki2:9-14) When Elijah's mantle fell from him, Elisha takes it up, and splits the Jordan River to return to the prophets on dry ground, and Elisha is recorded with more signs and miracles than Elijah is. And notice Elisha's words on a couple of occasions, "As Jehovah of Hosts lives, before whom I stand" (2Ki3:14,5:16) This expression seems to run in the "spirit of Elijah" (2Ki2:15) John the Immerser was born "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Lk1:17) and Jesus proclaimed him the greatest prophet "born of woman" (Mt11:11-14)
For years there has been a -reticence- amongst people calling themselves "Christian" to name the name of Jesus Christ. If topics related to Godly spiritual matters come up, Christians do not acknowledge the Most High to the world. If subjects related to "religion" come up, Christians have adopted this "intellectual" approach before the world, trying to argue/debate the Creator to the world in the world's own terms; not -naming- the Most High for fear of "alienating" the person of the world; after all, we don't want to be too 'presumptuous' to them, and "turn them off".
Did it escape their notice that the world is -already- "turned off" to God? That the "carnal mind is enmity against God"? (Rom8:7) That's why scripture calls them "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph2:1,5) How are they going to be turned away from God ANY MORE THAN THEY ALREADY ARE? And if they are not shown "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1Co2:2), how will they even know that they 'should-be' looking to God? They are like that Amway rep years ago who was continually trying to get my wife and me to get into Amway...always talking to us about "THE CONCEPT" (but never saying the word "Amway"). Or when we responded to an ad in the paper, and the spiel sounded awfully much like Amway, and I asked the lady, point-blank, "Is this -Amway-?" (I thought that should elicit a "yes" or "no" answer) her response was, "In what sense?" (Well... in the sense of: Is it Amway? Yes? or No?) But this has been how many calling themselves "Christian" have approached what I presume they considered themselves to be doing: "witnessing"...??
Or when Bible studies were being held, teaching would never dare to -read- the Scriptures (1Ti4:13), and then proclaim "thus says the Lord" (Ezk2:4) To do so might "offend" the unsaved, whom we are trying to -con- into the kingdom. Apparently not realizing that the cross of Jesus Christ -IS- offensive. Paul calls it the "offense of the cross". (Ga5:11) Thus, if the unregenerate or unlearned begin to "share" their own ideas from the world, which are contrary to God's Word, nobody corrects them from the Scriptures...after all, we don't want to "offend" them.
But what happened when the disciples stood up to the contrary leaders and proclaimed, "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Ac5:29), pointing the finger and proclaiming "-you- crucified" Jesus, but it is only by the name of Jesus through whom salvation comes (Ac4:10-12); what was the outcome?
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they understood that THEY WERE WITH JESUS." (Ac4:13)
Same expression, "..before whom I stand.."
This is not a proclamation to suggest something like: I've been talking to God (over there), He gave me a message for you, and now I've come -from- Him, -to- you. Before whom I stand, is a present reality. The apostles were "with Jesus" through the agency of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised "We will come to him..." (Jn14:23) The Father and Jesus, making their "abode" with the Believer, through the Holy Spirit, the "Helper". (Jn14:26, 15:26)
What those religious leaders saw, in the disciples, was Jesus Christ. In the same way, as Elijah and Elisha proclaimed God's Word, it was not these two men, but it was Jehovah proclaiming. The people could not see God; but as God's prophets spoke to them, the proclamations were God's proclamations, just every bit as much as if they could have seen themselves before a grand throne, with God sitting on it, and God's messenger next to him proclaiming to them. As though to say: God -here- (motioning with hand gestures) before whom I stand.
Why are so many (so-called) Christians so reticent to proclaim God Almighty and Jesus Christ, His Son, our Savior? Is it because they are not, truly, -in- God's presence? They are not actually His children; His servants?
About the only reason someone calling themself a "Christian" would deny God, by being afraid to proclaim -sin- as "sin", would be if they, themselves, are not in God's righteous, holy presence. Or, if they truly are saved, their lives are not in full obedience to God's holy standard of righteousness. How many married individuals are ashamed to own up to 'belonging' to their spouse when they are with them? If others are looking, staring, etc...the two are a "couple". This is "my wife". This is "my husband".
But when it comes to God... you cannot find it in yourself to say His name??? And.. WHY NOT?!
Over recent years I have found myself using expressions with people like: I serve a different Master (implied: than you do). or: I serve the Most High. (With so many 'gods' out there, the term "Most High" distinguishes the Almighty from the others.) And after the nature of the conversation that preceeded those statements, they always know what I have just said...even the ones claiming to be "christian"
What sort of God do we "stand" before? As I speak of the "Most High", Elijah also makes the clear distinction as to -which- 'god' he is speaking of: "as Jehovah the God of Israel lives"
Recently I discovered the e-mail address for Prime Minister Sharon, and so as I composed an e-mail to him, I addressed the Almighty as the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel" ...to distinguish to him 'who' I was speaking of. When I correspond with Jewish people that I know do not know the Messiah, I use similar terminology.
Elijah does not merely speak of "God". Israel was worshiping all sorts of 'gods'. The one he was confronting this time around was Baal. The world today speaks much about "god". Oprah believes in god. All the world's religions believe in "god". One of the current antichrists is proclaiming, essentially, that his "father" is -all- the gods of Hindu, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity, etc. All these gods are the -same- god, he says. (and he claims to be 'christ')
But notice that they are all 'dead'. Yes, even today's false "christianity" worships the -dead- 'Jesus', always forever hanging on that crucifix. And even if you don't consider yourself "catholic", but you are comfortable with what a subscriber wrote me about recently from their experience visiting a particular church, where this "evangelical" pastor invited a visiting Vatican bishop up to the platform for the closing prayer, where he also made the sign of the cross over the congregation...you are worshiping a -dead- 'jesus'.
Thus, to distinguish the Almighty from all of them, "as Jehovah the God of Israel -lives-" Our God is not a former prophet who died, and we can now go kiss his tombstone. Our God lives. He is the -source- of life. If God was dead, how could He claim to sustain life...if He cannot even sustain Himself in life? Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life" (Jn11:25); and again, "I am the way, the truth and the LIFE..." (Jn14:6) Jesus created all things, "..and in Him all things consist" (Col1:17) He established the world and humanity's domain within it. He "gives to all life, breath and all things" (Ac17:25) The only way He can do that, is if He -lives-.
Elijah also distinguishes from the "gods of the peoples" as the psalmist proclaims: "Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For Jehovah is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but Jehovah made the heavens." (Ps96:3-5)
Elijah proclaims: "Jehovah, the God of Israel" That's: The "God of your fathers" (Gen46:3, Ex3:6)
God in the beginning had created the heavens and earth. (Gen1:1) When Adam and Eve sinned, God came seeking them out, "Adam, where are you?" (Gen3:9) And after Seth was born, it says that men began to call upon God. (Gen4:26) Enoch was raptured, since he "walked with God". (Gen5:24) God then calls to Noah. (Gen6) After the flood Nimrod began what has become the world's "babylon" religion. (Gen10) In -that- context is where God calls to Abram, chooses him, out of which to create a nation unto Himself; a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex19:6) Abraham, the "friend of God" (Ja2:23), against whose faith our faith is compared; who, as such, is the "father of us all". (Rom4:16) It is this Abraham, his lineage, to which God the Creator of the heavens and earth (Rev10:6) has linked Himself. He acquitted Himself by bringing the nation of Israel completely from out of another nation, Egypt. (1Ch17:21) Thus, the Almighty claims "Israel" as His own nation. The very name, Israel, meaning "the Mighty God prevails"!
Elijah, knowing God's call upon his life, when proclaiming to the unbelievers, does so -boldly-. When he says, "before whom I stand" he is also making a proclamation about himself, -being- God's 'prophet'. (We'll look at that next month.)
What is your boldness regarding God? Is the Most High -your- God? Then, do you proclaim Him just as proudly as you would your spouse? ...your best friend?
Remember Jesus' words: "Therefore whoever shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in Heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in Heaven." (Mt10:32-33)
You say it's a 'scary' thing to talk about God to the world? Why is that? You think you might be ridiculed? Perhaps. But that's part of the territory. Continuing Jesus' words... "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a manís enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life on account of Me will find it. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." (vs34-40)
If you are too afraid to talk about the Lord, by your actions you show that you are more a friend of the world, and/or want and crave its friendship. Is that what you really want?
"...do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore purposes to be a friend of the world is shown to be opposing God." (Jac4:4)
Which is it for you?