Elijah the Tishbite Part 2
by W. W. Fereday

1 Kings 17-20

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The God of Resurrection

After some time a dark cloud gathered over the home in Zarephath where God's goodness was daily experienced. where His word was honoured. and where doubtless the voice of prayer was daily heard. The only child of the woman fell sick and died! It was not a sudden death, thus there were days of deep anxiety for both the mother and her Prophet-guest. Remarkably, it was the only Son of a widow whom the Lord Jesus raised at the gate of Nain ( Luke 7: 12); it was an only child whom He raised in the house of Jairus ( Luke 8: 42); and it was an only brother whom He called out of the tomb in Bethany (John 11). This character of visitation. which seems to empty the home of its choicest, is always particularly painful; but while we remain here sickness and death are never very far away from God's saints as well as from others. When the Lord Jesus returns, everything will be changed. Martha was quite right when she said, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died" (John 11: 21). Death cannot subsist in His presence. He is death's master. How blessed is the Christian's hope! "Behold, I show you a mystery." says the Apostle in 1 Cor. 15: 51. This means that he was about to tell his readers something which had never been told before. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed." Then "death will be swallowed up in victory," and in the light of this hope, we can send forth the double challenge: "O death, where is thy sting! O death (not "O grave"), where is thy victory?"

The Lord Jesus set before Martha the power that resides in His person: "I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and he that liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die"(John 11: 25, 26 Whether the sorrowing woman to whom He addressed Himself understood Him or not, in the light of such a revelation as that in 1 Cor. 15. His meaning is blessedly clear. As the Resurrection, He will raise all His sleeping saints at His descent into the air: and as the Life, He will change the Mortal and corruptible bodies of His living ones, and will make them like His own body of glory (Phil. 3: 22). These latter will never die at all. Rom. 8: 11 speaks of those whom the Lord will find at His return waiting for His coming: "if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies because of His Spirit that dwelleth in you." From this wonderful passage we learn that one reason why believers will be changed at the Lord's coming is that our mortal bodies are the very habitation of the Holy Spirit. Thus they have a sacred character in the eyes of God. Death should not be an object of dread to the Christian; but it wore a different aspect to the saints who lived prior to our Lord's great victory. "Through fear of death they were all their lifetime subject to"(Heb. 2: 15). Our position differs from theirs in that we are able to look back at the empty sepulchre of the Son of God, and then look up to the throne, and behold Him seated there, crowned with glory and honour. To John in Patmos, the Lord said, with His right hand laid upon His trembling servant: "Fear not; I am the First and the Last and the living One: and I became dead; and behold, I am living to the ages of ages, and have the keys of death and Hades" (Rev. 1: 17-18-Darby's Translation). Having to do with such a One, we are consciously on the side of victory. "Death is yours," wrote the Apostle exultingly to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 3: 22); and to the Romans he wrote that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even death! (Rom. 8: 38).

The home in Zarephath was probably quiet and peaceful for many weeks. There was sufficiency there, and a sense of Jehovah's special interest and care. Then suddenly the cloud arose. Sickness entered the home which terminated in the death of the widow's only child. How many homes of believers in the Lord Jesus have had the same painful experience! How often have we said at the throne of grace, "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick"; then perhaps later we have been constrained to say through our tears, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here . . . !"

Sickness and death are frequently used by the Lord in a disciplinary way: and perhaps these things have more frequently this character than our dull hearts realize. Certainly. some of the Corinthian saints experienced this; their careless ways brought down the hand of the Lord upon them. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you. and many sleep"(1 Cor. 11: 30). These things being true we need spiritual discernment in praying for a sick fellow-Christian. "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give life for them that sin not unto death. There is sin unto death: I do not say that he should pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin; and there is sin not unto death" (1 John 5: 16-17). Sometimes perplexed souls ask, "what is the particular sin that is unto death?" No particular sin at all. Two brethren possibly may err in the same way, yet the Lord, taking into account all the circumstances, may lay one upon a sick bed, and take the other out of the world. There is no question of the salvation of the soul in these dealings; it is divine chastening. But "if we would judge ourselves. we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11: 31-32). The latter would be eternal damnation, which can never be the portion of even the most faulty believer in the Lord Jesus.

We need to exercise ourselves more than perhaps we do with reference to sickness. We are too ready when trouble comes, to send for the physician; and also when a fellow- Christian falls sick, to ask the Lord to heal him. Should we not, first, exercise our hearts and consciences before God, and enquire of Him why these things have come about? There are sometimes moral reasons why we or our loved ones are laid low. The affliction may be preventive in character, as in the case of Job, or it may be corrective. In any case, exercise of heart and conscience before God is good and cannot fail to yield blessed results. Another has said: so

This exactly describes what happened at Zarephath. The stricken mother seemed to recognise at once that the hand of God was in the sickness and death of her child. "She said unto Elijah, what have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?" (1 King 17-18). Zarephath means "smelting furnace"; the woman was now experiencing its heat: but, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who only got rid of encumbrances (bands) in the fire, this woman emerged from the affliction a happier soul, and with a fuller knowledge of God. There was evidently something in her past life, or in her innermost soul at that very moment which she was seeking to cover. but God in His goodness to her brought it out into the light in His own way.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply: The flame shall not hurt thee: I only design Thy dross to consume. and thy gold to refine." G. Keith.

Elijah felt the position. He realized that his coming into the house had something to do with this blow. He said to the mother, "Give my thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into an upper chamber, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed." There is a suggestion of tender feeling in his prayer to God. This stern man who could face an angry king and a wicked nation, and pronounce sentence of judgement felt deeply for this poor woman whom he had come to know, and whose heart was now very sore. The prophet spoke to Jehovah twice. In his first utterance, in which we think we discern tenderness, he said: "O Jehovah my God, hast Thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, in slaying her son?" Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, as if he would acknowledge that in himself he was as weak as he who was dead; then he spoke to Jehovah a second time, and we note that both in verses 20 and 21 the Holy Spirit says "he cried unto Jehovah." This word "cried" should never be lightly passed over in our reading of Scripture, for it expresses intense longing. Thus our Lord, at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, "stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink"( John 7: 37). How He yearned over needy souls!

Such a prayer as Elijah uttered over the dead child, had probably never ascended to heaven before: "O Jehovah my God. I pray Thee. let this child's soul come into him again." Wonderful! There is no previous record in Scripture of any person, Jew or Gentile. old or young, ever having returned from the dead. Yet the prophet prayed thus! His faith was in advance of Abraham's on Mount Moriah. when he laid Isaac upon the altar "accounting that God was able to raise him up from the dead: from whence also he received him in a figure" (Heb. 11: 19). Both Abraham and Elijah believed that nothing was impossible with God, and that even death would present no difficulty to Him; but it was one thing for Abraham to reckon that God could raise a lad from the dead, and quite another for Elijah to ask definitely that this great miracle might be wrought.

Be it observed that Elijah's prayer was brief and definite. Shall we not learn a lesson from this? Do we go to our prayer meetings with something definite before our minds? Or do we attend from mere force of habit (a good habit, admittedly), with minds unexercised and unprepared? If it be so, need we wonder that the dreary round of words to which we sometimes have to listen have no set purpose; and, in consequence lead nowhere? Prayer is sorely needed. shall we not seek to learn how to pray?

Jehovah heard and answered Elijah's brief prayer, "and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived." With calm dignity the prophet led the lad down from the upper chamber, and said to the mother, "See, thy son liveth." The woman's reply is arresting: "Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of Jehovah in thy mouth is truth." We cannot but compare this with what the Shunammite woman said (to her husband) concerning Elisha: "Behold, now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God which passeth by us continually" (2 Kings 4: 9). Elisha had sometimes, in the course of his travels, called at their home for a meal, and his deportment suggested the woman's remarks. But the Shunammite was on higher ground spiritually than the Zidonian in that she discerned in her visitor a man of God before any miracle was wrought; the Zidonian needed a miracle to lead her to that conclusion. But both women are included in God's gallery of witnesses in the words. "through faith ... .women received their dead raised to life again"(Heb. 11: 35).

We must not leave this subject without reminding ourselves that me know God specifically as the God of resurrection. He has brought back from amongst the dead our Lord Jesus, "who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4: 25). This secures every blessing for those who believe, and it reminds us also that our blessings lie outside this world altogether. We do not know "Christ after the flesh" ( 2 Cor. 5: 18): we know Him as risen and exalted to the right hand of God. God views us as risen with Christ, and would have us set our minds on things above, and not on things on the earth (Col. 3: 1, 2). Paul the Apostle was so deeply impressed with this that he longed to know "the power of His resurrection" (Phil. 3: 10). Probably no one ever knew this more than Paul; still, he longed to get a firmer grip of where the resurrection of Christ had set him that he might be wholly influenced by it day by day.

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Elijah's long rest at Zarephath was ended by a call from Jehovah to show himself to Ahab. because He was about to send rain upon the earth (1 Kings 18: 1). When the prophet told the king that there should be neither dew nor rain but according to his word, he knew not how long the drought would continue. That was in the hands of Jehovah. Rut the drought was long, "for it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months" ( James 5: 17). When the rain at last came, it was in answer to Elijah's prayer, as in 1 Kings 18: 42.

But matters were now to be brought to an issue. Jehovah was about to display His power, to the confusion of Ahab and all his idolatrous prophets. Such striking miracles, as the calling down fire from heaven upon the sacrifice on Mount Carmel, and later upon the captains and their fifties (2 Kings 1) were not wrought in the kingdom of Judah. There Jehovah was still acknowledged, although some of the Kings were evil men, and led the people astray; but the prophets who witnessed there could at least appeal to the 'Word of God. In the Northern Kingdom another line was necessary. The people were in open apostasy; Jehovah was no longer acknowledged as the God of Israel. This being so, God who was still interested in His erring people ("how shall I give thee up, Ephraim?" Hosea 11: 8) sometimes put forth His power, thus bringing home to the people that He is God, and mightier than all the deities of the heathen. Jehovah was now about to assert Himself on Mount Carmel, on an occasion that will be memorable as long as the earth remaineth.

When Elijah set out to find Ahab (no more fearing the wrath of the king than Moses before him (Heb. 11: 27), he first met Obadiah who was governor of the palace. The Holy Spirit records that "Obadiah feared Jehovah greatly." It is happy to note that this is stated before the story of Obadiah is unfolded. In like manner, the Lord Jesus commended all the good that He could see in the assemblies in Asia before rebuking that which was grievous in His sight (Rev. 2: 3). Along this line we are frequently terribly lacking in our dealings with one another. That which is evil, or at least unsatisfactory, becomes so large in our eyes that we quite overlook that which is good in those who displease us. Of Barnabas it is written years after his failures as in Gal. 2: 13 and Acts 15: 37: "he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith" (Acts 11: 24).

It is written of Obadiah, that he "feared Jehovah greatly." "The word" greatly must not escape us; for God always notes degrees in the piety or activity of His saints. In Rom. 16: 12 we read of Tryphena and Tryphosa who laboured in the Lord, and also of the beloved Persis who laboured much in the Lord. In the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem after the return from the captivity, it is recorded of some that they "earnestly' repaired," and of some that they undertook a second piece of work (Neh. 3: 20-24). It is encouraging to us to be reminded of these things, and we shall doubtless hear more about them at the Judgement seat of Christ.

There are some important lessons to be learned from the story of Obadiah; but first it may be well to compare him with some of his contemporaries. Elijah and Obadiah were both saints of God; so also were Micaiah the son of Imlah and Jehoshaphat King of Judah. We shall meet them all in the glory of God ere long, like ourselves, sinners saved by grace. These four men fall into two pairs, thus:-Elijah and Micaiah; Obadiah and Jehoshaphat. The first two were bold and Unflinching in their testimony. Ahab called Elijah "mine enemy"(1 Kings 21: 20). and of Micaiah he said, "I hate him"( 1 Kings 22: 8). It is really a compliment to be disliked by the wicked. "Woe unto you, when all men speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6: 26). Obadiah and Jehoshaphat were the opposite of Elijah and Micaiah. They were not bold and unflinching, but weak, and given to compromise for the sake of advantage. Ahab hated neither of these. for they were useful to him. The Lord Jesus once said to His Own unbelieving brethren, "the world cannot hate you: but Me it hateth. because I testify of it that its works are evil" (John 7: 7). The Lord in His prayer to the Father in John 17 spoke of His disciples as loved by the Father, but hated by the world. The comfort of the one strengthens us to endure the painfulness of the other.

Obadiah had never learned the importance of separation from the world. Have we learned it? Are we true to our baptism? Do we regard ourselves as dead to sin and the world by the death of Christ? Have we really taken up our cross in. order to follow in the footsteps of the One whom the world cast out and crucified! Have we indeed gone forth "to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach!" (Luke 11: 23; Heb 13: 13). There was much in Obadiah that was excellent. and the inspired historian tells us of it. When Ahab sought to destroy all the prophets of Jehovah. and thus stamp all divine testimony out of his dominions. Obadiah took a hundred of them, "and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water." He feared Jehovah, but was too timorous to confess Him. He sympathised with the hunted prophets, but lacked faith to identify himself with them in their sufferings. His kindness will doubtless be rewarded in the day of Christ: but God would have been better pleased had he stood with His servants instead of being content to patronise them. Moses forsook the honours and comforts of the king's palace, "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God"(Heb. 11: 24-25). Obadiah chose to remain in the palace. and benefit the persecuted from thence. All the professing saints in Asia turned away from Paul when he fell into disgrace with the authorities for Christ's sake (2 Tim. 1: 15). How should we stand in days of peril? In 2 Cor. 6 we are definitely charged not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers, but to come out from among them and be separate; and in Eph. 5: 11 we are instructed to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Are we willing to take up a stand which may cost us something?

When Obadiah crossed the path of Elijah, he was not occupied with business for God. The land was doubtless full of stricken hearts; mothers knowing not how to nourish their children; and all in a condition of despair. What precious words of consolation he should have been able to take to them from the heart of God! Instead. he was searching the land for food for animals in order to preserve the royal stud! Ahab said to Obadiah: "Go through the land, to all the fountains of water and to all the torrents, perhaps we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive. so that we may not have to destroy some of our beasts" (1 Kings 18: 5, Darby). Sorry words from the lips of Israel's king; paltry business for a God-fearing man to engage in! The divine ideal for a king is described in the Spirit- filled words of Asaph in Ps. 78: 70-72: "He chose David His servant. and took him from the sheepfolds: from following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob His people. and Israel His inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands." God's ideal king is thus neither selfish nor tyrannical; but a wise shepherd of the people, serving in the consciousness that the people belong to God, and that he, the king is just God's honoured servant in rule. In this spirit David prayed for the people when pestilence was raging. He pleaded with Jehovah to spare the sheep. and punish him instead (2 Sam. 24: 17). None but the Lord Jesus have been perfect in shepherd-rule and of Him it is written: "He shall stand. and feed [His flock] in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah His God; and they shall abide: for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth" (Micah 5: 4).

There is not a hint that Ahab cared for the suffering people, but he was troubled lest he should lose his horses and mules. So he arranged that he would go in one direction, and Obadiah in another. and find grass somewhere, if possible. The position was serious indeed when the king himself undertook the foraging!

In the pursuit of this humiliating business, Obadiah met Elijah. Using modern terms, the two men were brethren; but there was no cordial greeting, as when Moses met Aaron and kissed him (Ex. 4: 27). Obadiah was troubled, and Elijah was cold and reserved. Although the one was an exalted Government official. and the other a humble villager, Obadiah trembled before Elijah; and indeed he fell upon his face, saying, "Is it indeed thou, my lord Elijah?" Communion with God, and obedience to His will imparts moral dignity to anyone. We see this in Stephen when confronting the Jewish Sanhedrim: and in Paul when standing before royalty and political and military leaders in Caesarea (Acts 7: 26 In each case the prisoner took full command of the situation! Obadiah lacked this. With all his honours and high salary, he felt that the man who stood before him in hairy clothing was his superior. Else, why should he address Elijah as "my lord?"

When the prophet bade him go and tell his master, "Behold, Elijah is here," he was terrified. He feared his very life would be in danger. He poured out a veritable torrent of words to the prophet. First, he spoke of the danger to himself; then he told how Ahab had enquired of every known kingdom and nation concerning Elijah, determined to slay him if he could get hold of him. To mention the hated name to the furious king would stir his devilry to its depths. So Obadiah feared; and, as if begging to be excused carrying such a message, he pleaded his kindness to the prophets. "Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of Jehovah, how I hid a hundred of Jehovah's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water" It is suggestive of a low spiritual condition when any servant of God makes much of his own work. Paul says a good deal about his own labours and sufferings in 2 Cor. 11: It was the bad condition of things at Corinth that made it necessary, but he calls it "folly," nevertheless. But how wonderfully God works! We should never have known how varied and severe were the sufferings of the apostle, had not the story been wrung from him by the ill-behaved Corinthians. It does one good to read 2 Cor. 11 it is a holy stimulus to our souls; but Paul and every other true-hearted labourer would infinitely rather speak of Christ- the glories of His person the perfection of His sacrifice, and the greatness of His triumph-than speak of his own work. and thus seem to be magnifying himself.

Going along with the world is injurious to the soul at all times. Thus Obadiah feared the wicked Ahab, Elijah did not: he humiliated himself before Elijah instead of greeting him warmly as a valuable witness for God and His truth; and, worse than all. he even hinted that the Holy Spirit might act unworthily! "It shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of Jehovah shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear Jehovah from my youth." Elijah was perfectly straight forward in the path that he was pursuing; he was charged by Jehovah to see Ahab. and he intended to do so. The Holy Spirit. who delights to guide the servants of God, would never lead him to be false to a divine commission.

Elijah's answer to Obadiah sounds like a rebuke. "As Jehovah liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself unto him today." Whatever Jehovah might be to Obadiah. He was a living God to the proscribed prophet; and he was standing-i.e. speaking and acting-in the consciousness of His presence.

Obadiah must have been far removed from Elijah's spirit to have been tolerated, and even honoured, for years in the royal circle. He must have kept his lips close sealed concerning his God, or the blood-thirsty Jezebel would have treated him as she treated the prophets. Obadiah could scarcely have said:-

"I'm not ashamed to own my Lord

Or to defend His cause."

In Isa. 59: 15 we read: "Truth faileth, and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey." Obadiah was not quite willing to be a prey. In Jer. 15: 19 he who would separate himself from the evil around is assured by God, "thou shalt stand before Me; and if thou know how to take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as My mouth." This is exceedingly precious:-nearness to God, and ability to give utterance to His mind to others. Obadiah, alas, knew nothing of this. What do we know of it?

Obadiah comes upon us in the Scriptures as abruptly as Elijah; but while the one passes off the sacred page abruptly (sixteen verses. and no more!) the other lingers in the mind of the sacred historians, and his service and testimony continue right onward to the great day of the Lord!

"God of all grace, mercifully preserve both writer and reader from becoming Obadiahs! The rather help us to become Elijahs. not indeed in fiery judgement, but in holy zeal for Thy Glory, and in stern separation from everything contrary to Thy will. Amen."

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Prophet and King

When Ahab learned that Elijah was in the neighbourhood, he did not hasten towards him with a "firing squad" (or whatever was the equivalent in those days); on the contrary, he approached him with a measure of deference. The wicked king had some sense of the greatness of God whose irresistible power His servant could wield. The whole country was suffering severely under the sentence pronounced by Elijah's lips. The people were proving that it is "an evil thing and bitter" to forsake Jehovah and worship other gods (Jer. 2: 19). Ahab's son Ahaziah lacked even the measure of respect and dread that his father had for Elijah. He ventured to defy him and the power of God that was with him (2 Kings 1). But the results were very serious!

Ahab's greeting is very suggestive. "Is it thou, thou troubler of Israel!" ( 1 Kings 18: 17 R.V.). We have here a clear illustration of how Satan beclouds the minds and perverts the judgement of men who believe not. There certainly was trouble in Israel; but apparently it did not occur to Ahab's mind to trace it to the idolatry which had spread everywhere. Temples, altars, prophets, and priests of an evil character covered the land. There was no disposition either in king or people to get down before Jehovah, and acknowledge the wickedness of all this, with the determination to put it all away. Accordingly, Ahab blamed the servant of God for the widespread distress. Had Satan not blinded his eyes he would have perceived that the fault lay with the king, not with the prophet.

When Paul and Silas went to Philippi there was insurrection against them, and it was said. "these men do exceedingly trouble our city" (Acts 16: 20). But "these men" had carried into Philippi the Gospel of the Grace of God; they were telling men and women who were living in the darkness of Heathenism, and who were hastening to perdition, of the Saviour who died for the ungodly. They were putting immense blessings in the way of the people, all "without money and without price." They were proclaiming the true and only remedy for all creature ills. Those who received their words would become supremely happy, even as Paul himself was when he wrote his Epistle to the Philippians a few years later. No truer friends of the people ever visited the city, yet the preachers were charged before the magistrates with being troublers, and were forthwith flogged, and cast into prison!

At every period faithful witnesses for God and His truth are regarded as troublers. Men and women who are all wrong with God do not care to have facts set before them. They prefer to live undisturbed in a dreamland of their own. He who presses upon their attention the gravity of sin, and the reality of God's judgement of sin is a troubler. He disturbs their false peace and spoils their pleasures. Felix cut short his conversation with Paul when his words became very pointed (Acts 24: 25). Yet no true preacher would speak only of sin and judgement; he would delight to go further, and tell of the one Mediator between God and men, who gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2: 5-6).

Elijah, with divine bluntness, put the truth before the king. "I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of Jehovah, and thou hast followed Baalim." Men who are willing to rebuke sin in high places are scarce. Nathan dealt faithfully with David (2 Sam. 12); and John the Baptist, every time he found himself in Herod's presence, put his finger upon the fatal spot saying. "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife" (Mark 4: 18 ). It is said of the British king Charles II,-as vile a king as ever disgraced a throne that he was once offended with a Chaplain for his plain preaching. "I will thank you." said he, "to alter your manner of preaching." "So I will your Majesty," replied the Chaplain, "if you will alter your manner of living." This was as it should be. If in our own day there were religious leaders faithful enough to rebuke Dictators and others who are leading millions to ruin how good it would be. It is alas! too frequently the habit of professional clergy to accommodate their words to the wishes of the ruling powers. They thus become instruments in their hands for deceiving the people. Solemn thought!

The real trouble in Israel was not Elijah, but Ahab, and Ahab's own conscience must have felt that it was true. The prophet now made a proposal to the king. "Send and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred which eat at Jezebel's table" (2 Kings 18: 19). Amazing, when we consider the relative position of the two men. Ahab-a powerful despot, with all the military resources of the kingdom at his disposal, backed too by a resolute and ruthless wife; now being virtually commanded by a feeble and friendless individual to convene a meeting of the nation! We have already remarked upon the moral dignity which communion with God imparts; we see it here again in Elijah the Tishbite. The condition of things throughout the country was desperate; it could not continue indefinitely; hence the king consented to Elijah's proposal for a meeting, the outcome of which he could not imagine, but he hoped there would soon be rain!

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Prophet and People

So the great meeting was arranged. "Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto Mount Carmel" (1 Kings 18: 20). The omission of any mention of Jezebel at this critical juncture is remarkable. We can only think of one gathering in the Holy Land more momentous in its results than that on Mount Carmel. All four Evangelists record a multitude gathered outside Pilate's palace in Jerusalem, led by the highest ecclesiastics of the nation. A great decision had to be made. Barabbas the robber, and the blessed Son of God, Israel's Messiah, were set before the people for their choice. "Not this man, but Barabbas," was their united cry. Yet that multitude were not Baal worshippers as those with whom Elijah had to do; they were the professed worshippers of Jehovah, and they regarded with abhorrence the idolatries of their fathers! Yet they would not have Jehovah's Christ; a robber was more to their taste! Fatal decision, from which the blinded nation is suffering to this day. "His blood be on us, and on our children," said they (Matt. 27: 25); and the God of righteousness has held them to their word.

We borrow the words of another concerning the meeting on Mount Carmel. "There are few more sublime stories in history than this. On the one hand the solitary servant. of Jehovah, accompanied by his one attendant; with his wild shaggy hair, his scanty garb, and sheepskin cloak, but with calm dignity of demeanour and the minutest regularity of procedure, repairing the ruined altar of Jehovah with twelve stones,-on the other hand the eight hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and Ashtaroth, doubtless in all the splendour of their vestments, with the wild din of their vain repetitions and the maddened fury of their disappointed hopes, and the silent people surrounding all" (Dr. W. Smith). It is not quite certain that the prophets of Ashtaroth were present, possibly Jezebel was able to protect her own protégés, although the feeling amongst the people was too strong to allow her to prohibit the gathering altogether. Elijah wished the two hosts of misleaders to attend, but mention is only made of Baal's four hundred and fifty (1 Kings 18: 19, 22, 40).

Elijah addressed himself to the people direct. When rulers transgress against God, and bring down His chastening hand, it is always the poor who suffer most. Probably Ahab and Jezebel had not been short of wine and meat during the famine; and false prophets can always be trusted to look well after themselves. So Elijah came unto all the people, and said, "How long halt ye between two opinions! If Jehovah be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him" (1 Kings 18: 21). This day must be a day of decision, and the people doubtless felt the reasonableness of what Elijah said. The nation was at that time divided into three classes:-there were hordes of evil religious leaders; there were at least a few thousand who were still true in heart to Jehovah (although did not seem to be aware of their existence): and there was the mass of the people who were apparently indifferent to what form religion might take, but they wanted rain! These three classes are represented today in the nations of Christendom. There are religious misleaders, some of whom, pompously describe themselves as "Higher Critics," who would destroy all faith in God and His Word; and others, ritualistically inclined, would. enslave the multitudes to the Italian clique in the Vatican. These two groups are largely responsible for the terrible disasters of our time. In contrast with these, God has in every land a pious remnant who love His Word, although perhaps they are not as outspoken in testimony as they should be. There then are the masses, who care nothing for religion. Christianity, Judaism, Mohammedanism, etc. are much alike to them; but they do not wish to be disturbed, and they cannot see why God should punish the nations for this condition of things. These people need to be brought to the point of decision. Is there a God; why not obey Him? Is there a Saviour; why not trust Him! To which of these three classes does the reader belong? Reader, is your mind. made up that the God of Heaven is the only true God: that the Lord Jesus, His beloved Son, is the only possible Saviour; and that His precious blood can alone cleanse from sin, and give you a title to eternal bliss!

Elijah spoke a second time to the people, again ignoring both king and prophets, and also any officials who may have been in attendance upon the king. His proposal was very simple: two bullocks were to be provided, one for Baal's four hundred and fifty prophets, and one for himself- Jehovah's solitary witness that day. (Where was Obadiah!). Each bullock was to be cut in pieces and laid on wood. with no fire under, and the prophets of Baal were to call upon the name of their god. and Elijah would call upon the name of Jehovah; and the God that answered by fire was to be Israel's God. The people, well knowing that Baal was the reputed god of fire, said. "It is well spoken." To Elijah's appeal. "How long halt ye between two opinions?" they answered not a word; but the proposal to submit the great question to a trial by fire was so reasonable that "all the people answered and said. it is well spoken."

Elijah then turned to the prophets of Baal, and said, "Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first: for ye are many; and call on the name Of your gods, but put no fire under" (1 Kings 18: 3-5). It was important to stress the last clause when dealing with unprincipled villains. Priestly "miracles" have a bad reputation for imposture. In the calmness of faith. Elijah could afford to allow the emissaries of Satan to move first, knowing quite well that the god they served had no power.

What a day it was! From morning until noon the prophets cried. "O Baal, answer us!" realising that for them everything was at stake. The silence of their deity threw them into a frenzy, and they leaped about the altar they had made "The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men's hands They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not, they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them" (Ps. 135: 15-18).

With the multitudes looking on, when noon came E1ijah mocked the unhappy prophets. He suggested that they were not crying loudly enough; perhaps their god was occupied with other business. and could not attend to them; possibly he was away from home; or he might be asleep! Goaded by these taunts, the false prophets gashed themselves with swords and spears until their bodies streamed with blood! This unholy farce on the part of men made in the image of God was suffered to continue three hours longer.

At "the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice" Elijah judged that his opportunity had come. It was 3 p.m., and the evening lamb was being placed on the altar of Jehovah in Jerusalem, with its accompanying Meal offering and Drink offering, all speaking to God of Christ whose death at Calvary took place at that hour (Ex. 29: 41; Matt. 27: 46). It was the hour of divine blessing: compare Ezra 9: 5; Dan. 9: 21 The hour had struck for Elijah's sacrifice to be offered, and for the blessing which followed.

"Come near unto me." said Elijah to the people. so long led astray like foolish sheep. There is a sound of tenderness in the prophet's words. reminiscent of Joseph's invitation to his guilty and trembling brethren in Gen. 45: 4. Elijah would soon now lead the poor misguided people back to their long-suffering: and faithful God. In their presence he repaired the long-dishonoured altar of Jehovah. He would teach them the true way of approach to God. If blessing was ever again to be enjoyed in Israel, it must be in virtue of the divinely accepted sacrifice. When the remnant returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel "they set the altar upon his bases for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto Jehovah, even built offerings morning and evening" (Ezra 3: 2-3). In their weakness they felt the altar would be a better protection than walls and weapons. They were right, for the altar and sacrifices spoke to God of Christ, and God always responses to faith of that character.

Elijah built his altar of twelve stones "according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of Jehovah came, saying, Israel shall be thy name. " This act is proof of the prophet's spiritual perception. The twelve tribes were no longer walking in unity: their unity has not been restored to this day, nor will it be until the kingdom of the Lord Jesus (Ezek. 37: 21-23). Elijah was standing on ten tribe ground: but his twelve stones tell us that he entered into God's thoughts about His people. The people were still one in His mind. Although the temple in Jerusalem was now only recognised by two tribes, the High Priest still bore the names of all the children of Israel on his breast plate before Jehovah, and twelve loaves were still placed on the table of shewbread in the holy place (Ex. 28: 29: Lev. 24: 5-8). Two centuries after the great gathering on Mount Carmel, Hezekiah, king of Judah, at the Passover that he held in Jerusalem commanded that atonement should be made for all Israel (2 Chron. 29: 24). Yet only two tribes acknowledged his sway, and the deportation of the Northern tribes had already begun! After the return from Babylon "the children of those that has been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel" (Ezra 8: 35) Six centuries later still. James addressed an epistle "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting." All this was very precious to God. as showing that Elijah, Hezekiah Ezra, and James entered into His thoughts concerning His faulty people. Are we as spiritually intelligent today? As we look around us, we see Christ's members, not in two parts as Israel in the days of the kings, but in division almost innumerable. Do we sorrow about this before our God. and do we seek to contemplate His saints (however faulty they may be) as He contemplates them? Do we refuse to sanction this unholy confusion? Are we able to say in faith "there is one body and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling!" (Eph. 4: 4).

Elijah having built his altar. made a trench around it; and when he had laid his burnt sacrifice upon it, he commanded to pour four barrels of water over it. He repeated this three times. until the bullock and the wood were drenched, and the trench became a moat! He would thus appear to put every possible difficulty in the way that the impending miracle might be the more convincing. The prophets of Baal did not venture to use water thus, but Elijah used it freely. He then drew near and offered his simple prayer: "Jehovah. God of Abraham. Isaac. and of Israel. let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel. and that I am Thy servant. and that I have done all things at Thy word. Hear me. O Jehovah. hear me, that the people may know that Thou art the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim). and that Thou hast turned their heart back again" (1 Kings 18: 36-37). It should be observed that the prophet sought no honour for himself (unlike Simon of Samaria who gave out that himself was some great one Acts 8: 9): he kept his true place as a mere servant acting at the Word of his God. Like Paul, he would have said, "I am nothing" (2 Cor. 12: 11; 1 Cor. 3: 7). Do not miss the lesson, good reader!

Elijah proved the truth of Isa. 65: 24: "it shall come to pass. that before they call, I will answer and while they are speaking, I will hear." Israel must wait for this blessed experience until the glorious age when-" the wolf and the lamb shall feed together." Elijah had it while facing a whole pack of wolves with teeth undrawn! It is good to have to do with God. His answer to the lonely man's prayer was prompt and decisive. "Then the fire of Jehovah fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench."

Let not the reader miss a word of this remarkable verse. The fire-the emblem of the righteous judgement of God might well have fallen upon the disobedient nation, or, passing by the nation, it might have fallen upon Ahab and his hundreds of idolatrous prophets-all servants of the Devil; but it did nothing of the kind. The fire fell upon the unoffending bullock which Elijah had placed upon the altar! What a picture of the great sacrifice of Calvary! where the righteous judgement of God fell, not upon the wicked masses of men, nor even upon the unprincipled leaders who were primarily responsible for that cross being set up; the judgement of God in all its terrible severity fell upon the Holy One who hung there, so that He was constrained to cry. "My God. My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" ( Matt. 27: 46). That stupendous sacrifice. the full value of which is only known to God. has made blessing possible for sinners everywhere; and the first preachers of the Gospel were even commanded. to begin at Jerusalem with their proclamation of repentance and remission of sins in the Saviour's Name! (Luke 24: 47). Faith sees Him now risen and glorified at God's right hand, clear proof that for Him, and for all who trust Him, the judgement of God is past for ever. The effect of the fire from heaven at Carmel was marvellous. "When all the people saw it. they fell on their faces: and they said, Jehovah, He is the God; Jehovah, He is the God." The great decision was made; and God, who is compassionate for nations as well as for individual sinners, could now grant blessing. The rain would soon descend!

But what about the prophets of Baal! They were not destroyed by the fire of God; there was thus, for a brief moment, a door open for repentance. Their exhausted and bleeding bodies were sufficient proof that Baal was worthless. He could do nothing for his most ardent votaries in their hour of peril. They stood publicly convicted of having practised fraud upon the people. Why did they not immediately fall upon their faces, and confess their-great sin before God and the nation! They did nothing of the kind; sullen and defiant, they stood upon the mountain in the presence of the people they had cruelly deceived for many years; and even the king's partiality for them could not now save them from destruction. In obedience to Deut. 13: 1-5 (which meant nothing to Ahab), Elijah commanded that all the prophets were to be arrested. Willing hands obeyed, and the whole ghastly host, four hundred and fifty in number, were led down to the brook Kishon, and slain. Have we learned to distinguish between the ways of God in different dispensations, from Moses until Christ was the age of law. Among other righteous enactments, death was the penalty for false teaching. It is otherwise in this day of grace. Those who would mislead souls concerning the fundamentals of the faith must be sternly rejected; even a widow and her children were admonished by John in his Second Epistle not to show such persons even the courtesies of life; but beyond this we have no authority to go. Rome has judged otherwise in her ignorance of divine grace, and blind disregard of the Word of God. Many a choice servant of Christ has been cruelly slaughtered under the pretence of getting rid of "dangerous heretics." When the servants in the parable of the tares in the wheat field enquired if they should gather up the tares, the Lord replied: "Nay: lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest" etc. (Matt. 13: 29, 30). Perhaps no words from our Lord's lips have been more generally misunderstood than these. They have frequently been quoted as a plea for retaining unsound persons in Church fellowship. But the Church is not in view in the parable of the wheat and the tares; indeed the Church had never been spoken of up to that time. The parable is found in Matt. 13; but the Lord's first mention of the Church is in Chap. 16. "Grow together" does not mean "fellowship together"; impossible that He who is Holy and True should appear to sanction such confession (Rev. 3: 7). The wheat and the tares are to grow together in the field, and the Lord Himself has taught us that "the field is the world" (Matt. 13: 38). In other words, those who are true to Christ and love His truth must not put to death false teachers, even if they had power to do so. Such delicate work as weeding God's wheat field could not be entrusted to fallible men: terrible miscarriages of justice would inevitably follow.

If any would inquire as to what is meant by the "destruction of the flesh" in 1 Cor. 5: 5, it is not the body that is referred to, but the evil moral principle that is connected with the body in us all. "Delivering unto Satan," as in 1 Cor. 5: 5 and 1 Tim. 1: 20 is apostolic action; in the first case operating in conjunction with the assembly and in the second apart from the assembly altogether. The evil persons in question, having failed to learn their lessons in God's gracious school, had to be broken and humbled by Satan's cruel instrumentality. Divine discipline in all its forms is a deeply serious matter, but always with ultimate blessing in view, "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."

Our duty is to "put away" from amongst ourselves wicked persons. Further we must not go.

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The Prophet and His God

The people having given their decision, and the idolatrous prophets having been slain, Elijah knew that rain was near. Accordingly he said to Ahab "Get thee up eat and drink. for there is a sound of abundance of rain"(1 Kings 18: 41). Let us observe that the welcome rain did not begin to fall immediately the people shouted, "Jehovah, He is the God." In the divine ordering, Elijah must first pray for it. He was, so to speak, God's administrator towards Israel at that crisis. His lips pronounced the judgement; and his lips must announce the blessing; but both blessing and judgement were preceded by prayer. Thus we have the prophet going up to the top of Carmel to speak to God. Ahab, in his selfishness, prepared to go home; not to pray, but to feast. He had the feeling that the long- continued drought was ending. That was all that mattered: there would soon be food again for his horses and mules! Meantime, a banquet was more to his liking than a prayer-meeting.

But where was Obadiah? The Lord has taught us in Matt. 18: 19 the preciousness of two praying together; but the two must be in harmony; they must both be alike in separation to God. and walking in His ways for their prayers to be effectual. Alas there was no bond of sympathy between Elijah and Obadiah. although both were men born of the Spirit! Obadiah did not stand by Elijah when he confronted the foe nor did he bow the knee with him when he made supplication to God. How much Obadiah missed by pandering to the world accepting ease and honour in the midst of the ungodly! Also how much Jonathan missed by not separating himself from the divinely rejected Saul-order of things to go outside with David! He could never have written David's psalms! "Ye are honourable," wrote the Apostle to the ease-loving Corinthians "but we are despised" (1 Cor. 4: 10 But Paul was more happy than they. Nevertheless, to stand apart from the world system is admittedly loss, as men judge; but the spiritual gain in communion with God is immense.

Surely Elijah needed to eat and drink as well as Ahab! The events of the day were exhausting. and the servants of God get hungry and tired as well as other men. Even the Son Of God sat in weariness on the well of Sychar while His disciples went into the town to buy food. But the spiritual rises above the physical. The immediate needs of the body are forgotten when powerful spiritual interests are operating. When the disciples returned, and begged the Lord to eat, He replied, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." His spirit had been deeply refreshed by His conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4). In like manner Elijah rose above his bodily needs, and gave himself to prayer.

The knowledge that God means to give does not make prayer unnecessary. Thus in Ezek. 36-37 Jehovah, after having declared in a very full way His purposes of grace concerning Israel, said, "I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel to do it for them. " Elijah bowed himself upon the earth. and put his face between his knees. A becoming attitude surely! He who stood bold and erect before king, prophets. and people now takes the lowest possible place before God. His success had not elated him. His name would become famous when the report of Carmel got abroad throughout Israel, Judah, and other lands, but the prophet was not seeking glory for himself. He was just Jehovah's servant, and had acted according to His word. Having fulfilled his commission, he got down low at the feet of Him who sent him.

Brethren. prayer is no light matter. It is a wonderful thing to enter into the presence of the Divine Majesty! His greatness and our littleness should be remembered; but oh the privilege in this day of being able to draw near to the Father in the name of the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit!

The prophet who three and a half years previously, prayed "withhold the rain." now prays "Send the rain." But even so (and doubtless Elijah had with Jehovah about the matter before the great gathering took place), the answer to his prayer was not immediate. He said to his servant ( was it the widow's son whom he had raised from the dead?) "Go up now look toward the sea." He returned saying, "There is nothing." It frequently pleases God to test the faith of His people; but He encourages us to "continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving" (Col. 4: 2); also to "pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Eph. 6: 18). The widow of Luke 18: 2-5 was probably not a mere parabolic character, but an actual person whom the Lord had observed. Her perseverance attracted Him. She had a grievance, and she took it to the judge; but he was not disposed to burden himself with the matter. But the woman persevered. Morning after morning When the doors of the Court were opened, in walked that widow! Let no reader misunderstand the application. God is not indifferent, and unwilling to bless; and certainly He would not despise a suppliant because she was poor and a widow; it is the woman's perseverance that He bids us remember and emulate. One wonders what would happen if some person accosted us when coming away from a prayer-meeting, and were to ask what we have prayed for? Could we always give a coherent answer! The widow could have given a very plain reason why she attended the Court.

Elijah said to his servant. "Go again seven times." Seven is God's number of perfection. The seventh time the young man said. "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand." The Lord Jesus said to the people in His day, "when ye see a cloud rise out of the west (and Elijah's servant was looking towards the west) straightway Ye say. there cometh a shower; and so it is" (Luke 12: 54). The "man's hand" is suggestive. Belshazzar saw the fingers of a man's hand writing upon the plaster of the wall of his palace, and it pronounced his doom (Dan. 5: 5). There is a Man into whose hand God has committed both judgement and blessing for men; judgement bye-and-bye, blessing now (Acts 17: 31). Israel having become repentant, and having judged the evil that was amongst them, blessing was now to be granted.

The little cloud was enough for Elijah. He sent a message to Ahab, who apparently had not yet left the mountain: "Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not." The longed-for rain fell heavily. "It came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heavens were black with clouds and wind and there was a great rain." Elijah was so overjoyed that he did a remarkable thing. "The hand of Jehovah was on Elijah: and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel" (Kings 19: 46). He must have been both tired and hungry. and he was probably a man advanced in years; yet he made himself the king's footman in the joy of his heart. Things seemed to be getting right again amongst the people of God; and that was everything to the man who loved Jehovah and His people. In like spirit David danced before Jehovah with all his might when the ark of the covenant was carried up into Zion (2 Sam. 6: 14). Neither prophet nor king thought of dignity on those great occasions! The Lord has told us there is joy in the presence of God over one sinner that repenteth; and John writing to his friend Gaius says. "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth" (3 John 4). These are pure joys of which this unhappy world, in its estrangement from God knows nothing; but unless we, God's saints, are walking in communion with Him, such joys will not appeal to our hearts as they should.

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We may perhaps wonder that Elijah, a man so morally superior to Ahab, should run before his chariot from Carmel to Jezreel-no mean journey. He would "honour the king," as we are exhorted to do in 1 Peter 3: 17. This is always the becoming attitude of God's saints towards the supreme ruler, irrespective of what his personal character may be. The ruler, whoever he may be at any time or in any land is God's representative. He may be too ungodly to understand this himself; but faith understands it and acts accordingly.

We picture the prophet arriving in the city drenched with mire, very hungry and very tired; but should he have gone there at all? He doubtless meant well even as Paul in his last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21). The express word of Jehovah took Elijah to Cherith, to Zarephath, and twice into Ahab's presence; but the word of Jehovah is not mentioned in connection with his run to Jezreel. Had he forgotten Jezebel? That violent woman was a force to be reckoned with, but not at all to be feared by a man of faith conscious that God was directing his steps. The Lord taught His disciples to pray, "lead us not into temptation" (Matt. 6: 13); for we do not realize how weak we are until we are tested. If it be urged that "the hand of Jehovah was on Elijah," thus giving him strength for the journey, that does not prove that Jehovah was sending him. For an angel was sent from heaven to provide a meal for him when he was fleeing to Horeb, n journey which was most certainly not undertaken by the word of Jehovah.

Poor weak Ahab, on his return from Carmel, told Jezebel all that had taken place there, and particularly the destruction of the prophets. In her fury, Jezebel sent a message to Elijah: "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to-morrow about this time" (1 Kings 19: 2). This appears to have followed quickly, and thus the messengers would find, the prophet at a low ebb physically. He seemed unable to view the threat calmly, or even to spread it out before Jehovah. A little reflection would have suggested to him that the threat was practically empty, for why should Jezebel give him a day's notice of her intention to kill him! Her messenger could easily have slain him at once, as Herod's executioner beheaded John the Baptist (Mark 6: 27). It rather looks as if Jezebel's real aim was to drive Elijah out of the country, lest his influence became too strong to suit her evil purposes. Public opinion was in favour of the prophet at this juncture, and it might not be polite to murder him! It is said of Chrysostom of Constantinople that when the Empress Eudoxia sent him a threatening message, he replied, "Go, tell her Majesty that I fear nothing but sin." But nothing of this seemed possible for Elijah at this critical moment. It has been truly said that faith in us is never more feeble than immediately after a great victory. We see this in David. He gained a moral triumph over himself in 1 Sam. 26., when he had Saul in his power, and refused to hurt him; the next thing we read is: "David said in his heart, I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines" (1 Sam. 27: 1). What a collapse of faith! God had carried David safely through many perils; now confidence seemed at an end! So with Elijah in 1 Kings 19. With calm courage he had confronted multitudes on Mount Carmel; now he is terror-stricken by the voice of a woman! Peter was bold enough in the garden in the presence of soldiers; but became an abject coward when amongst the servant-maids! Real danger he faced boldly; where no danger appears to have been, he feared the worst! What poor creatures we are! King, prophet, and apostles thus broke down! Are we better than they? Let us watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation (Matt. 26: 41). Certain Pharisees approached the Lord Jesus one day saying: "Get Thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill Thee." God's perfect Servant saw through the move, Herod himself had inspired that message. He wished to get rid of Jesus out of his borders; but he had no wish to repeat the crime of murder, for the death of John the Baptist still troubled his conscience. But the Lord refused to be deflected from the path of duty (Luke 13: 31-33). When the last evening arrived. He went, as He was wont, to the mount of Olives, well knowing what awaited Him there (Luke 22: 39).

Jezebel's threat overwhelmed Elijah, "When he saw that, he went for his life." Unlike Paul, who said: "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself" (Acts 20: 24). "I am ready to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21: 13).

"When he saw that!" Everything depends upon what our eyes see whether we are strong or weak. The sight of the glorified Christ strengthened Stephen to suffer and die: and Paul to suffer and live (Col. 1: 11). Elijah was no longer able to say, "As Jehovah the God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand. " For the time being, his eyes were not upon God His departure from Jezreel was no mere retirement, as when our Lord went into the country in John 11: 54; it was panic! It did not even occur to him to seek shelter in the dominions of pious King Jehoshaphat. He rushed through the kingdom to Beersheba in the far south. There he left his servant, and went still further, right outside God's land altogether!

Let us not miss the lesson of this. It is always possible for a man's personal faith to be unequal to the greatness of his testimony. In that case, the pressure of painful circumstances will cause a break-down sooner or later. Do we really mean all that we say! Is God indeed to our souls all that our preaching would suggest? These are serious- questions, which every witness for God should face. We must watch and pray lest circumstances arise which would reveal that we are not the men of faith we seem to be.

Elijah having gone a day's journey into the wilderness sat down under a juniper tree and spoke to God, probably his first word of prayer since he left Jezreel. "He requested for himself that he might die." Unbelief is always unreasonable and inconsistent. If the prophet really wished to die, why did he flee from Jezebel? Why not die a martyr's death in the midst of the people of God! Jehovah was no longer uppermost in his thoughts. The divine glory was not before his mind, but some fancied advantage for himself. Life was now a disappointment! His work in Israel had gone all wrong! How gracious of our God not to take His poor perverse servants always at their word! It was His intention that Elijah should not die at all; that he should have an exit from the world such as no-one ever had before, or has had since! Paul in Phil. 1 took a totally different line from Elijah. His work also had gone wrong (as men would judge), and he was in prison, with martyrdom threatening. Calmly in the presence of God he considered the situation. He was in a great "strait." If he put his own interest first, he would desire to depart and be with Christ, which would be happier for him than the happiest experiences here. But he thought of the need of the saints; therefore he desired to remain on earth a little longer: but in any case his one ambition was that Christ should be magnified in his body, whether by life or by death.

Elijah's prayer was brief and pointed as his manner was, "It is enough; now, O Jehovah, take away my life: for I am not better than my, fathers." In the concluding words perhaps is contained the secret of his failure. Who ever said that he was better than his fathers? Possibly his success on Mount Carmel had inflated him. All alone he had accomplished great things for God. Did this really make him feel somewhat important and even indispensable! This is a condition of mind which can easily develop in any of us; but it is fatal to our usefulness. Many years ago, the writer called to say farewell to an aged servant of Christ just passing into the presence of his Lord. As we clasped hands at parting he said: "Goodbye, beloved brother; remember, few men are important, and none are necessary." Wholesome words, not to be lightly forgotten! It is an unspeakable honour for the great God to make use of any of us in His work; but let us never imagine that He cannot do without us.

Elijah fell asleep. Well we might, for surely he was badly over-wrought. After some time (not too soon, we may be sure) an angel touched him, saying, "Arise and eat." Looking around, he saw a cake baken on hot stones and a cruse of water; having refreshed himself, he slept again. Here we have a truly wonderful manifestation of the kindness of God. An angel sent from heaven to provide a meal for a faulty servant who had forsaken an important post of duty, and who was now completely outside the path of God's leading!

To those who fall, how kind Thou art!

How good to those who seek!

When we compare this angelic ministration with the prophet's experience at Cherith the conclusion is this:-when he was right with God, it was simply the need of his stomach which had to be considered, and the ravens sufficed for that service; but when he was all wrong with God, something more serious than his stomach was in question; God would reach his heart. The attentions of the angel would be a definite assurance to Elijah that Jehovah loved and cared for him still spite of his deep failure. Elijah should have learned from this. God's feelings towards His erring people Israel. The prophet's complaints at Horeb will tell us that he did not feel towards the people as God did. A second time the angel awoke him, saying, "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee." A journey that he should never have undertaken!

John 21 furnishes with another instance of a meal provided by divine love for disobedient servants. It was not an angel but the Lord Jesus Himself, who prepared that fish breakfast. Cold, wet, and hungry, the seven disciples who went fishing in self-will instead of waiting patiently for their expected Lord were warmed and fed with no word of censure from His holy lips!

It is a precious thought that God never gives up His saints, however faulty they may be. At a Bible Reading long ago where it was being taught that the believer in Jesus stands in the eternal sunshine of God's favour, the question was asked, "But what if I turn my back upon Him." The reply was given "He will shine on your back!" God knew that His poor servant Elijah was physically over-wrought, and He handled him in suitability to his condition. Our contemptible foe delights to attack the children of God at such times, and too often he gains an advantage. The Lord Jesus had been forty days without food when Satan approached Him in the wilderness and suggested to Him to make stones into bread. but he had no success with God's Holy One. Whether full or hungry, He refused to act in the smallest matters without a word from God (Matt. 4: 4).

These pages are being written during times of greater stress than men have known since the world's foundation. Many beloved children of God are over- wrought. Frequent alarms; destruction of property; loss of loved ones; combined with lack of help in the duties of daily life, are telling their tale. With lowered physical vitality, the temptations of the Devil are serious; faith can only be maintained at its true level by moment by moment dependence upon God. No circumstances are too serious for His abounding grace.

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At the Mount of God

Strengthened by the food so wonderfully provided, Elijah proceeded further into the wilderness. John the Baptist chose the wilderness for its possibilities of quiet communion with God (Luke 1: 80): there is no evidence that Elijah went there with anything so commendable in his mind. For the time being, he had practically forgotten God. Terrible possibility for any of us in times of discouragement! After forty days the prophet reached Horeb, the mount of God- a place of peculiar interest. There Jehovah had dealings with Moses, forty years after his premature attempt to deliver His people. At Horeb Moses learned precious lessons which fitted him for his future service in Israel (Ex. 3). In the same neighbourhood was Mount Sinai, where Jehovah had dealings with the nation. and set before them His holy law (Ex. 20). It is significant that Elijah in his indignation against the people should have gone there. It was as if he desired judgement upon them for their unfaithfulness. The Holy Spirit in Rom. 2: 2 says "he pleaded with God against Israel."

The prophet took shelter in a cave, and soon he heard the voice of Jehovah. He had heard the kindly words of the angel, but he had been out of touch with Jehovah for some time. The divine voice was a challenge: "What doest thou here, Elijah!" This reminds us of the Creator's call to disobedient Adam in the garden, "Where art thou!" (Gen. 3: 9), and also of His challenge to Cain, "What hast thou done!" (Gen. 4: 10). Elijah heard no divine challenge either at Cherith or at Zarephath; for he went to both places by the Word of Jehovah. But his presence at Horeb was a different matter. Jehovah did not send him there; but, being there he was taught lessons of the deepest possible importance and the record of them has been preserved for our instruction today.

We note the word "doest." "What doest thou here?" Great stirrings were taking place in the land of Israel; for the mighty events on. Mount Carmel must have made a deep impression upon the minds of the people. Jehovah was now the confessed God of Israel, and no longer Baal. How useful Elijah might have been as a worker and instructor amongst the masses at such a time; and there was indeed no-one else who could have done the work. But here is Elijah far away from the habitations of men. and sheltering in the quietness of a cave! When the Lord says to His servants, "Come ye apart and rest awhile," it is the right thing to cease labour and retire (Mark 4: 31); but no such words had been addressed to Elijah. He was an absentee from an important post of duty at one of the most critical moments in his nation's history. Philip left Samaria when the tide of blessing was in full flow, and went down to a desert road; but the angel of the Lord directed him there, and he went unhesitatingly. although he probably wondered why (Acts 8: 26).

Brethren, let us seek to be subject at all times to the controlling hand of God. Let us never move without His guidance and when we get it, let us go forward, like Paul and his friends in Acts 16: 9-10, when they crossed the sea from Troas into Macedonia. One of the vital principles of Christianity is the presence on earth of the Holy Spirit in testimony to the absent Christ. He employs as instruments whomsoever He will, and He is the true Director of all the operations. If we go where we should not, either for service or for pleasure, we may hear the divine challenge. "What doest thou here?" and what can we say in reply!

Elijah's reply was deplorable. "I have been very jealous for Jehovah the 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." Thus the disgruntled prophet spoke well of himself, and ill of God's people, and virtually called upon God to judge them. He had got a long way from God in his soul in expressing himself thus. The contrast with Moses after the people's worship of the golden calf is startling. When Jehovah proposed to wipe out the stiff-necked people, and make a fresh start with Moses. Moses would not hear of it. He pleaded the honour of Jehovah's great name; he entreated Him to remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel; and even prayed God to blot him out of the book of life, if thereby the people might be forgiven! (Ex. 32). It was music to Jehovah to hear His servant pleading thus in the spirit of self-sacrifice for His erring people. What an anticipation of Christ! Moses never shone more brightly than on that day of matchless intercession. Would that we could catch the spirit of it!

God spoke again to Elijah. "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before Jehovah." Great manifestations of divine power followed. "Jehovah passed by, and a great strong wind rent the mountains. and brake in pieces the rocks before Jehovah; but Jehovah was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake: but Jehovah was not in the earthquake, and after the earthquake a fire; but Jehovah was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice" (1 Kings 19: 11, 12). Manifestations of power are from God, but they must not be confounded with God himself. Elijah had witnessed His power at Carmel; but because he no longer beheld such displays, it seemed difficult for him to realize that God was working at all. But he presently learned that a quiet gracious work was proceeding in many hearts in Israel of which he was unaware. God had use for the whirlwind, for out of it He spoke in majesty to Job and his friends (Job 38: 1; Job 40: 6) and Nahum tells us "Jehovah hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm." He has use "for the earthquake": What blessed results followed the shaking at the midnight hour in Philippi (Acts 16). An earthquake was one of God's witnesses to His Son at the moment of His death (Matt 27: 51). He has also use for the fire, as the people of Israel had so recently proved on Mount Carmel. But although Elijah witnessed at Horeb the great and strong wind. the earthquake. and the fire. it was the still small voice which made him feel that he was having to do with God.

It is possible for us today to get discouraged if the work of God in our hands does not move in striking ways. Persons of energetic disposition, such as Elijah certainly was, are more likely than others to feel thus. Where there are no visible manifestations we are apt to conclude that nothing is doing at all! The Book of the Acts is instructive in this connection. God used the violence of an earthquake to arouse the Philippian jailer, He opened the very heavens to reach and lay low Saul of Tarsus; but Timotheus and Lydia were reached by the quiet influence of the Word of God with nothing notable connected with their conversion. A prominent London business man in the last century, who was a lover of the Gospel (as we all should be) threw himself very zealously into the great inter-denominational campaigns of his day, but in the evening of life he said to me: "If I had my time over again, I would let all such movements alone. Enormous expenses were incurred, and I do not feel sure of the results. Upon mature reflection I think perhaps the best work is done in the constant plodding in modest halls." I replied "I told you that years ago." Those who want great things and who are filled with Elijah's zeal and energy, would do well to remember what the London merchant said. Too often the great things involve the use of worldly methods, and also the sacrifice of divine principles which we profess to hold dear. These remarks are not intended to discourage enterprise for God. Far from it. If there are no signs of blessing in connection with the work we are doing. let us get down before God about it, and ask Him why our labour appears to be in vain. But the comparatively few souls that we can show as the result of quiet Scriptural preaching may be worth more in the long run than the crowds who are registered as converts because they have signed "decision cards." or have shaken hands with the preacher! Some of these souls may possibly be injured for life by such flippant handling.

There were no great things to show in Jerusalem after the return from the captivity; but real solid work was wrought which delighted the heart of God. By the hand of Zechariah the prophet Jehovah sent this encouraging message to the leader of the people. "This is the word of Jehovah to Zerubbabel: not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts" (Zech. 4: 6). Again we say it was the still small voice which made Elijah feel that he was having to do with God. It is the same today. God speaks now to consciences and hearts in the written Word. The band, the choir, the solo. and other forms of religious excitement are unlikely to lay bare the conscience, and create in the hearer a horror of sin and its eternal consequences; such unapostolic methods would rather tend to hinder the voice of God reaching the inner man at all.

Jehovah's manner of approach to His fugitive servant was very gracious. He did not address him angrily in tones of thunder. The "soft gentle voice" ( J.N.D.) did not terrify Elijah. It drew him to the mouth of the cave with his face reverently wrapt in his mantle. Servant and Master were now as it were, face to face. A second time He who alone should control the movements of His servants put the question, "What doest thou here Elijah?" The poor prophet repeated word for word what he said when first challenged. The children of Israel were so evil, they had forsaken Jehovah's covenant, thrown down His altars, and slain His prophets. Elijah alone remained; and he also they sought to kill! Such words were very grievous to Him who loved His people with everlasting love (Jer. 31: 3). Since Elijah's day they have murdered the Son of God; even so, we are told in Rom. 11: 28 they are still "beloved for the fathers' sake." Let us tread softly when we examine the failures of the servants of God. Elijah at Horeb, and Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21) were out of the path of divine leading. The story of their faults is written for our warning. We do not feel worthy to stand alongside such devoted servants of God, but we must face the fact that they were not perfect. The Lord Jesus could have said all that Elijah said concerning rebellious Israel, and more! Was He not tasting the bitterness of malignant rejection? Yet not a word of complaint passed His lips, not a word that pleaded for judgement upon His enemies. Instead, He wept over them; and even when on the way to Calvary. He said "Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do" (Luke 23: 34). Centuries before His coming the Spirit of prophecy put these words into His lips: "I have laboured in vain; I have spent My strength for nought, and in vain" (Isa. 49: 4). But His labour was acceptable to the One Who sent Him, and there His heart rested. Although treated by the people of Israel worse than Elijah. He did not flee away. We have seen already that when a hint was sent to Him to depart hence; or Herod would kill Him. He refused to do so. because His work was not finished. At the same moment He spoke of the people (of Jerusalem particularly) as having killed the prophets, but He said it in grief, not In anger (Luke 13: 31-35). Ps. 16: 8 explains the difference between the Lord Jesus and Elijah: "I have set Jehovah always before ME; because He is at My right hand, I shall not be moved. " "Always" was not true of our prophet. When Jehovah was indeed before him, he was bold as a lion: but when he lost sight of Jehovah, and got Jezebel before him, be collapsed utterly. Truly, God has only had one perfect Servant. Let us follow Him!

Jehovah's reply to Elijah's complaint is deeply solemn in all its parts. " Go return!" Every false step with any of us must be retraced. Abram should not have gone down into Egypt, and he enjoyed no more communion with God until he returned "unto the place of the altar which he had made there at the first; and there Abram called on the name of Jehovah" (Gen. 13: 4). But false steps and careless walking involve loss of time; so we are taught in the law of the Nazarite (Num. 6: 12). Life is too short to allow of wasted time! Life on earth is our great preparation for ETERNITY!

To proceed with Jehovah's words to Elijah. "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 Abel-Meholah 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." The judgements which Elijah seemed to feel were necessary should be executed. The forsaken covenant the desecrated altars, and the murdered prophets, should all be avenged; the circumstances of the judgements should be analogous to the whirlwind, the earthquake, and the fire. A ruthless destroyer from without and a fierce reformer within. should be let loose upon the guilty nation.

Elijah was now to go to Abel-Meholah (in Naphtali) to anoint Elisha to be prophet in his room. He probably did not expect anything quite as serious as all this when "he made intercession to God against Israel" (Rom. 11: 2- 5). The principal lesson that he learned at Horeb was that Jehovah had seven thousand in Israel that were still true to Him, and refused Baal. Elijah had seen the terrible evils which covered the land, but somehow he had over-looked the good that was there. Had he known that Jehovah still had thousands of true hearts in Ahab's dominions, he would scarcely have said: "I, even I only am left!" Self-occupation is a spiritually ruinous thing, whatever form it may take; but it is highly objectionable when it leads any servant of God to imagine that he is the last true man upon earth! The testimony of God has never yet depended upon the slender thread of a human life, and it never will. God Himself will take care of the testimony; and in His own infinite wisdom He always knows where to find instruments through whom He can speak to the consciences and hearts of the people. The prophet said nothing in response to the solemn words of Jehovah. What could he say!

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God's Seven Thousand

Elijah left Horeb, and started on his long journey Northward with the words of Jehovah ringing in his ears (and we may hope in his heart also): " 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." God has always had a loyal remnant, even in the darkest days of Israel and of Christendom. In Thyatira, where blasphemy and wickedness prevailed there were those who had not "this doctrine," and had not known the depths of Satan (Rev. 2: 24). To the angel of the Church in dead Sardis the Lord said: "Thou hast a few names which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy" (Rev. 3: 4). When the tide of evil is flowing strongly, some timid souls fear to declare themselves. Joseph of Arimathea believed in Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews. Nicodemus was somewhat like him; but the appalling wickedness of the crucifixion gave these men courage, and brought them out into the light (John 19: 38-42). Our Lord's chosen disciples who had professed loyalty to Him, one of them being particularly strong in his protestations, were all missing at the critical hour. One of the twelve-Matthew records that when John the Baptist was murdered "his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it" (Matt. 14: 12). Surely Matthew's heart smote him as he penned those words! He and his fellow-disciples did not do for the Lord Jesus what the disciples of John did for their teacher. It is undisputably the will of God that those who revere His name and value His truth should stand forth boldly in testimony, whatever the danger may be: but if in their timidity any lack courage for this, God does not despise the true faith which reigns in their hearts.

Now here is an interesting thing:-no sooner had Jehovah told Elijah of the loyal seven thousand than He began to bring some of them out into prominence. Elijah, of course knew of Obadiah, and of the prophets whom he had befriended; now Elijah was sent to seek out Elisha the son of Shaphat. Here then is one of the seven thousand. In the following chapter-1 Kings 20-we read of three more although their names are not given (vv. 13, 28, 35). Then in 1 Kings 21 we find faithful Naboth: and in 1 Kings 22 we have Micaiah the son of Imlah, whom Ahab hated for his outspokenness, and kept in prison. These are a few samples of the true hearted minority living in the midst of apostate Israel.

It was a peaceful scene at Abel-Meholah. The rain for which Elijah had prayed had done its work, and the land was ready for ploughing. The man to whom he was sent was thus engaged. The fact that twelve yoke of oxen were in use indicates that Elisha's father was a farmer in a large way. Elisha thus turned his back on good prospects when he accepted the call to follow Elijah. This is what God loves to see in those who serve Him. There are many in our day say they are "out in the work." This means that they no longer evangelise after office hours, but now devote their whole time to the service. Certainly if their ambition is to go from door to door and from town to town in search for souls, it is well that they should be free from everything else. But, my brethren, what has the step cost you? Have you surrendered something substantial (as men speak) in order to serve the interests of Christ in a needy world! Many years ago a brother in an English town wrote me confidentially for advice. He could not make his shop pay, and he wondered whether the Lord would have him close it, and go forth to preach. What did I think? I replied that the Lord has no use for ne'er-do-wells. A poor grocer would not be likely to make a good preacher. If his business were at the height of prosperity, and he felt the urge of the Gospel, the Lord would be delighted with the sacrifice. A different case was that of a young Englishman who held a good post with fine prospects who had China upon his heart. Just as he was posting his letter of resignation, a notification came from his employer that he was to be promoted to higher work with a considerable increase of salary! He hesitated not, but posted his letter and in due course sailed for China. What God wants is men who are ready to tread the path of His beloved Son who "sold all that He had."

Elisha had nothing to gain as far as this world is concerned by following Elijah. The prophet was a proscribed man, and his life in continual peril. The Lord Jesus warned those who would follow Him that it might involve the loss of everything. Foxes had holes and birds had nests, but the Son of man hath nowhere to lay His head (Matt. 8: 20). Men called Him Beelzebub; what could His followers expect to be called (Matt. 10: 25). He was going onward to a cross; were His disciples willing to carry one? (Mark 8: 34). Paul rejoiced to be treated as the filth of the world, and as the off- scouring of all things for Christ's sake (1 Cor. 4: 13). Do we seek ease and honour in the scene of our Lord's rejection?

It has been said that Elijah was now to be superseded by Elisha. This seems hardly correct. Jehovah still had use for him as subsequent chapters show. But meantime He would teach His servant that the testimony was in no real peril, and He granted him the honour of training the man who should continue it. In the days (or perhaps years) that followed, Elijah had the comfort of Godly companionship. His sense of loneliness had been too much for him, and' had bred unbecoming thoughts in his mind. It is written of Elisha that "he poured water on the hands of Elijah" (2 Kings 3: 11). Simple imagery, telling us how the younger man refreshed the elder. Paul experienced something of this in the loving ministrations of his son Timothy (Phil. 2: 19-22).

We must not leave the subject of God's seven thousand without making, its application to ourselves in these closing days of the Christian era. Some who will read these pages have taken a definite stand in separation from the growing evils of Christendom. Popery, religious infidelity ("Higher Criticism"), and other forms of disobedience to the Word of God are marching on ; and these separated ones abhor them all. This is good. Beware lest you allow discouragement, or anything else, to weaken the stand. you have taken. But also beware how you speak of your brethren who ( unaccountably to your minds) remain where they are. God knows their hearts; you do not. They are His saints; dear to Him for Jesus' sake. They cost Him more than you will ever fully understand, and in His own time He will cause them to shine forth in all the divine perfections of His Beloved Son. Speak no ill of them ; judge them not. Some of their works, wrought amidst difficulties, are doubtless precious in His sight. It was so even in corrupt Thyatira (Rev. 2: 19). It may he that the inconsistencies of some professedly separated ones have stumbled them-a most serious confederation which should cause the deepest heart-searching before God.

Elijah blundered in speaking ill of God's people. Terrible words; "he maketh intercession to God against Israel" (Rom. 11: 2). God will never tolerate this in any one. Love them; pray for them, and instruct them in meekness as God may give opportunity (2 Tim. 2: 25). A censorious attitude may lead some to say: "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you" (Job 12: 2). The spirit that is characteristic of Philadelphia is delightful to God; let us cultivate it. But a suppositious Philadelphia may easily degenerate into a very real Laodicea!

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Naboth's Vineyard

Solomon says in Ecc. 2: 4: "I made me great works; I builded houses; and I planted vineyards." Ahab could have said the same; but what blessing did he get out of it all? The humble prophet Elijah, whom he persecuted, is in Heaven; but Ahab, alas! is not there. His father Omri built Samaria, and made it the capital of his kingdom, not being satisfied with Tirzah. Ahab also built new cities, but he seems to have preferred Jezreel as a place of residence. In 1 Kings 22: 39 we read of "the ivory house which he built," which was probably in Jezreel. He cast eyes upon the vineyard of a neighbour, Naboth by name, and demanded it; offering to give him a better vineyard in exchange, or money if he wished. Naboth brought Jehovah's name into the matter. It was not Ahab's custom to think of Jehovah, still less to seek His guidance about his doings. Naboth said: "Jehovah forbid it me that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee" (1 Kings 21: 3 ). Let us be quite clear what was involved in this reply. Our God would not wish His servants to be disobliging and un-neighbourly, but it was not such sentiments as these that guided Naboth in his refusal of the King's demand. The land of Israel was unique in the earth. It was Jehovah's land in a very special sense (had He not a house there!), so much so that in Jer. 12: 14 Jehovah speaks of the nations round about as" My evil neighbours. " The land had been distributed amongst the tribes by His direction, and every individual Israelite was responsible to regard himself as a tenant under his God. He was thus not at liberty to alienate his portion. If he became poor, he might sell it until the Jubilee. "The land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is Mine for Ye are strangers and sojourners with Me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land" (Lev. 25: 23, 24). Moreover, we gather from Num. 36 that even such a temporary sale must take place within the limits of the tribe, so that Jehovah's original distribution might not be disturbed. Ahab had no fear of God before his eyes; the Word of God had no place in his heart; and the year of Jubilee meant nothing to him. Had Naboth yielded to the king, it is not at all likely that the property would ever be returned. Also, Ahab probably belonged to a different tribe. In Ezek. 47: 18 it is enacted that the prince who will rule for God in the holy land during the Millennial era must not take of the people's inheritance by oppression, "that My people be not scattered every man from his possession."

Naboth was thus a man of faith. His father valued what Jehovah had given him, and Naboth valued it also. He would die rather than surrender what really belonged to God. The Naboth spirit seems rare in our time. Divine principles which our fathers prized, and for which many suffered the loss of everything, are very lightly regarded by their children. The worthies of past years are even regarded as over-scrupulous. A little of the accommodating spirit of the Twentieth Century would have been to their advantage! To be spoken of as a "Puritan" is considered a great reproach today!

In the early days of the Nineteenth Century holy men with hearts aflame to learn the will of God, recovered for us priceless treasures of truth which ecclesiasticism had long obscured. Once more God's saints (or at least a remnant of them) realized their union with Christ risen and glorified, and became detached in heart from things here. The blessed hope of His coming for His Heavenly saints was disentangled from the judgements of God Church re-appeared to their soul's vision in its true relationships. It is Christ's body, to be in intimate association with Him in His glories. but meantime it is a vessel for the manifestation of His perfections here amongst men. It is God's house. the temple of the Holy Spirit in which He graciously dwells, and where He delights to work sovereignly for the blessing of the members of Christ. Dr. C. I. Scofield. in the introduction to his well known Bible, refers with appreciation to the "intensity and breadth of interest in Bible study unprecedented in the history of the Christian Church." Thus our "fathers" have handed down to us a priceless heritage: but do we value it, Have we sought to develop it further? Do we pore over the sacred page individually? Is it to us more to be desired than gold, and sweeter than honey and the honeycomb? (Ps. 19: 10). Also do we delight to read it collectively; or have we sunk so low that we need to be entertained? Conferences. Rallies. Lantern lectures. and Solos are poor substitutes for the quiet. reverent. conversational Bible Readings in which our" fathers" delighted. ..and from which they drew their strength. Have we in contrast with Naboth, sold our inheritance for "a better vineyard." or for money? Brethren, where are we? Have we really gone forth to Christ "without the camp. bearing His reproach" (Heb. 13: 13); or have we merely exchanged a "Church" for a "Hall?"

Ahab returned home sulky after his talk with Naboth and refused to eat. When Jezebel learned the cause, she moved promptly. She wrote letters to the Town Council. using the king's name and the royal seal. Her orders were peculiarly diabolical. The elders and nobles were to proclaim a fast, set Naboth at the head of the gathering, and bring in two sons of Belial ( i.e.. sons of worthlessness) to charge him with having cursed God and the king. We understand this to mean that they were to imagine some divine displeasure against their city: at the fast the cause was to be inquired into, with Naboth presiding; he whom they thus professed to honour was to be denounced as the "Achan" of the place, and hurried off to execution ( Joshua 7: 25). The whole business seems too horrible for belief; yet such was the moral degradation of Israel that all this was done by queen and elders in God's Name! (Baal had for the time being gone into the shade). It will be remembered that two wicked men were hired by the religious chiefs of Jerusalem to falsely accuse the Lord Jesus. that they might have some appearance of justification for putting Him to death (Matt. 27: 60).

Jezebel's action in the case of Naboth was a dark foreshadowing of what Christendom's Jezebel has frequently been guilty of. Time-serving rulers and governors have been all too willing to put to a cruel death choice saints of God at the bidding of the so-called "Church." But God will remember all that has been done in Israel and in Christendom in the coming day of recompense. Innocent blood will yet be avenged (Rev. 18: 24). "Thou hast seen it, for Thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with Thy hand" (Ps. 10: 14).

Not only was Naboth murdered, but his sons with him (2 Kings 9: 26). The wicked elders would make certain that no heirs should arise to challenge what they had done.

When Ahab was told by Jezebel that Naboth was dead, he went to the vineyard to take possession of it. Jehovah acted swiftly. He bade Elijah go and confront him in the blood-stained plot. The wicked king quailed before the messenger of God. " Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee; because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of Jehovah" (1 Kings 21: 20). Ahab then had to listen to as fearful a sentence as was ever passed upon a sinner. It was in three parts. (1)" Behold, I will bring evil upon thee. " He personally must suffer. He came to a miserable end, as we know. (2) His whole family was to be destroyed, like the families of his evil predecessors Jeroboam and Baasha. He had wiped out Naboth's family: God would wipe out his. (3) Jezebel was to be eaten by dogs. The fearful sentence concluded thus: "Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat." Hardened sinner though he was, Ahab was overwhelmed as he listened, and he rent his clothes, put sackcloth upon his flesh, and went softly. He knew that there was power in the words of God as uttered by Elijah. The God of all grace responded to Ahab's humiliation, and the greater part of the sentence was postponed in its execution. Jehovah said to Elijah: "Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before Me? Because he humbleth himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days: but in his son's days will I bring evil upon his house." God took into account the evil influence under which he lived-"whom Jezebel his wife stirred up." But he should never have married the woman, and he must be held accountable for her iniquities (ver. 19); for the man is the divinely appointed head of the woman, whatever kind of woman she may be (1: Cor. 11: 3). Let none of us overlook this!

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Ahaziah and His Captains

Men should learn lessons from the past. but do they? Particularly where God's dealings are involved men should profit; but the mind of man is very obtuse in all things relating to God. Belshazzar was quite aware of how Jehovah had humbled Nebuchadnezzar; he knew also how Jehovah took up the challenge when the proud king presumed to cast three of His servants into the burning fiery furnace, Yet he openly defied the God of Israel. Ahaziah knew quite well when he began his reign of the great drought which an indignant God had inflicted upon the nation because of its idolatry. He knew also of the solemn event on Mount Carmel, when Baal's prophets were publicly confounded, and then slain; yet his short reign of two years was marked by defiance of Jehovah. 1 Kings 22: 52 records that "he did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother" for Jezebel still lived, and was still influential in the land). He copied Jeroboam's sins, and "served Baal, and worshipped him." Various events which followed one another quickly should have spoken to his conscience:-first, the tragic death of his father; second, the revolt of Moab after 150 years subjection to Israel; and third, his own accident. Wisdom would have taught him to enquire of God "is there not a cause?"

Finding himself a sick man through his fall out of a window, Ahaziah sent messengers to enquire of Baal-zebub. the god of Ekron whether he should recover (2 Kings 1). This was flagrant, for the recognition of Baal had been discouraged in the land, and Jehovah was (at least nominally) Israel's God. When Ahab's false prophets encouraged him to go to war with the Syrians. it was not Baal's name that they used. but the name of Jehovah (1 Kings 22: 6). Baal-zebub means "lord of flies." The belief that flies carried disease led blind heathen to turn to this particular god for help: but Ahaziah should have known better. To enquire at Ekron was really to enquire of demons. Idols are nothing in themselves, but there are demons behind them, as 1 Cor. 10 teaches us. Traffic with demons is painfully common in our day. Men call it Spiritualism; "demonism" would be a more correct name for this great sin. This is unpardonable where Bibles abound, and where the Gospel of Christ is freely proclaimed. The moral and spiritual consequences of this unholy traffic are very serious.

An angel of Jehovah bade Elijah meet the messengers of the "king of Samaria" (he disdained to call such a man "King of Israel"). and ask then whether there was no longer a God in Israel that they must needs go to Ekron. They were to go back to their master, and tell him he would not recover, but would surely die. The messengers apparently awestruck, but without knowing that it was Elijah who had spoken to them, went back to the king with the message. When Ahaziah enquired what kind of man it was who had thus intercepted them, they said it was "a man in a hairy garment, with a girdle of leather about his loins." The King at once recognised his father's dread monitor, he said, "It is Elijah the Tishbite!"

Not ashamed of his impiety, and in no wise humbled, Ahaziah ordered the arrest of the prophet. But why send a captain with fifty men (presumably armed) against a helpless old man! Conscience told the king that there was a mysterious power connected with Elijah which must be reckoned with. But what could soldiers do against the power of God! The captain found Elijah sitting on top of a hill. He said to him: "Thou man of God. the king hath said. come down." The prophet replied: "If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume thee and thy fifty." The terrible thing took place forthwith. Such a disaster should have warned both the king and his officers that "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10: 31). But a second company was sent, as numerous as the first. The second captain was irritable. "O man of God, the king hath said come down quickly." Military discipline is doubtless important. Officers and men, generally speaking, must obey their superiors; but every man, in every land, whether soldier or civilian. is first of all a servant of God and he should on no account surrender his conscience. It will be no answer in the day of judgement that the king or government commanded this or that. "We ought to obey God rather than man" (Acts 5: 29). The fact that both captains addressed Elijah as "man of God" proves that they had some idea that they were contending with God. It was no secret to any in Israel that at Elijah's word rain was withheld and fire descended: in other words, this humble man wielded the judgements of God. It was one thing to reject his testimony; it was quite another to attempt to destroy the man himself. God's name having been brought into the matter, He must needs take up the challenge. Ahaziah's father once benefited by the folly of the Syrians in this respect. The Syrians having said that Israel's God was God of the hills but not of the valleys, Jehovah asserted Himself, and granted Ahab a great victory, wicked man though he was (1 Kings 20: 28). Thus, in the controversy between Ahaziah and Elijah, Jehovah again asserted Himself, and made the king and his people feel the might of His hand. The second captain was less excusable than the first. Knowing of the destruction of his predecessor, he impiously attempted the same thing, with the same fatal result.

What a contrast between Mount Carmel and the unnamed hill! At the one the fire of God consumed the sacrifice, but spared the people; at the other there was no sacrifice and the fire consumed the ungodly. The sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is a safe shelter for sinners, apart from that sacrifice, nothing but judgement is possible for any of us. Our Lord's disciples once referred to the destruction of Ahaziah's men. They were in the neighbourhood of that disaster; and they were indignant because the Samaritan people refused a welcome to the Lord. He was on His way to Jerusalem a city of which they were jealous, "Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven; and consume them as Elias did!" ( Luke 9: 51-56). The Lord rebuked their mistaken zeal. God had not at that time sent Him to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3: 17). At His second coming, "He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked" (Isa. 11: 4).

The poor human heart is slow to understand grace. Both Peter and Paul possessed miraculous powers, they could even raise the dead, but never once did either call down judgement upon his persecutors. With meekness they accepted all that came upon them for Jesus' sake, assured that in the wisdom of God everything would turn out to the furtherance of the Gospel. The cross of Jesus explains this. That blessed One could easily have smitten His foes; the fact that His captors fell to the ground at the sound of His voice was a warning to them as to this (John 18: 6). When Peter became violent in the garden, He told him that a word of prayer to the Father would bring twelve legions of angels to His aid. But such a prayer He would not offer (Matt. 26: 53).

The cross of Jesus was a necessity in the ways of God. Only on the ground of that great sacrifice could He give effect to His eternal counsels of grace. Righteousness having had it's way, grace flows freely, yea. "the exceeding riches of His Grace" (Eph 2: 7). The cross will yet be divinely avenged; but until the solemn day when God will change His attitude towards men, those who Serve Him must be content to suffer. We cannot too frequently remind ourselves that we are followers of a rejected Christ. When He gets His vindication, we shall get ours also.

A third captain was sent against Elijah. He-wise man-fell upon his knees, and pleaded for his life and for the lives of his men. He realized that it was vain to contend with God. In David's day three companies of men were sent by Saul to take him. and all three were equally willing for their evil work. But God had His own way of turning their efforts to folly (1 Sam. 19: 21). Ahaziah's third captain took very humble ground with the man of God. "I pray thee. let my life, and the lives of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight." (2 Kings 1: 13). Submission to God, represented by Elijah, saved those fifty one men. "Thy servants"; note the words addressed by a military officer to a humble Gileadite peasant. In like manner, no sinner need perish if he will but humble himself under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5: 6).

The honour of the God of Israel having been fully vindicated, Elijah was told by the angel to go with the captain, fearing nothing. Behold then the prophet with his rough hairy mantle going with his considerable military escort to the royal palace! To his face he told the wicked king that there would be no recovery for him; he would surely die. "Thus saith Jehovah." unmolested the prophet walked out!

Note the sequel:-"So he died according to the word of Jehovah which Elijah had spoken" (2 Kings 1: 17). "And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven" (2 Kings 2: 11). Tremendous contrast!

In the world's last crisis, after the removal of the heavenly saints, heavy judgements will reappear at the call of the servants of God. In Rev. 11 we read of witnesses in Jerusalem who will perform the same terrible miracles as Moses and Elijah in the past. Also, the martyrs of that period will pray for judgement upon their persecutors (Rev. 6: 10). But that period is not Christianity.

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Elijah's Translation

The Holy Spirit delights to tell us in Heb. 11 that the worthies of old time preferred Heaven to Earth. Heavenly counsels had not yet been revealed, nor could they be until after the death and resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Old Testament saints were partakers of an earthly calling; but they were so deeply sensible of the ruin of everything re as the fruit of sin, and of the impossibility of flesh ever repairing the mischief it has wrought, that their hearts rose up to Heaven. God was their hope, and their affections were set where He dwells. They "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" they desired "a better country. that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city" (Heb. 11: 13-16). In that city we shall meet them all ere long.

The manner of Elijah's departure from this scene of toil and strife is noteworthy. We recall a moment when he sat under a juniper tree disappointed and depressed, and requested for himself that he might die. Yet the God of all grace had purposed for him a departure from this world such as no other has ever had. the blessed Son of God alone excepted. " Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and he was not, for God took him "(Heb. 11: 5: Gen. 5: 24); but nothing spectacular is suggested in the Holy Spirit's brief record. We-God's present saints-are expecting something far more wonderful than either Enoch or Elijah experienced. Not individually. but in a countless throng we shall be caught up. For this the Lord will come in person (1 Thess. 4: 16-17). Oh, the unspeakable blessedness of " the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him!" (2 Thess. 2: 1). What an end to all the anxieties and sufferings of earth!

Elijah's removal was known in advance by many persons. At least fifty-one men were interested in the great event, but only one witnessed it (Elisha); and he only, so far as we can gather, got a blessing out of it. The sons of the prophets were very sceptical about the miracle; and although they were discouraged by Elisha. they sought diligently to find Elijah's body. Why are men so dubious of divine miracles? Why should they doubt the power of God! Alas, the fifty young men who searched for Elijah's body were all "candidates for the ministry!" What a foreshadow of what has become very common in our day.

Elijah's translation must be regarded as a mark of Jehovah's approval of His servant who witnessed for Him so bravely in a very evil time. His dealings with Elijah at Horeb, when for a moment his faith broke down, were private. The record of what passed there was afterwards written for the instruction of others who might come after.

The prophet's last journey requires careful examination. It commenced from Gilgal. Elisha. accompanying him. Jehovah could easily have taken up, His servant from Gilgal itself; instead, He led him about; first to Bethel; next to Jericho, and then across Jordan. It was a kind of retracement of Israel's steps in the days of Joshua. God would in this way present vividly to Elijah's mind the hopeless evil of the people he had served so well. and who had caused him so much grief and disappointment. Gilgal was Israel's first camping ground after they crossed the Jordan. There they signified their dependence upon God by circumcising themselves in the very presence of the foe (Joshua 5). The place was now one of Israel's chief centres of idolatry. "All their wickedness is in Gilgal" (Hosea 9: 15). " At Gilgal multiply transgressions" (Amos 4: 4). BETHEL had sacred associations as the place where Jehovah made himself known to Jacob in His faithful love. He said: "this is the house of God. and this is the gate of heaven " (Gen. 28: 17). Now one or Jeroboam's calves stood there in public defiance of Jacob's God! JERICHO witnessed the power of God at the beginning: its rebuilding was glaring evidence of the people's infidelity ( 1 Kings 16: 34 Thence Elijah crossed the Jordan; and from outside the limits of the land he was rapt by divine power to heaven. His years of testimony. with striking miracles accompanying were a warning to the nation; the conduct of Ahaziah and his officers was a solemn proof that the warning was unheeded. But God delights in long-suffering. He is never hasty in judgement. He even granted respite to wicked Ahab when He saw him lying low in sackcloth after the murder of Naboth; and even now, although He was withdrawing Elijah from the scene of testimony. He gave His wilful people another opportunity in the gracious ministry of Elisha. But it was all of no avail; and in due course the blow fell. The kingdom was destroyed; and the people were swept out of their land into captivity. The terrible "Lo-Ammi" sentence has not yet been recalled; nor will it be until the appearing of the Lord Jesus.

There was not only a voice to Elijah in the steps of his last journey; there was also a voice to Elisha, who was to witness for God in the land after Elijah's departure. Elisha had an impression that there was a meaning-a meaning of spiritual value-in the movements of that day. Thus he kept close to the departing one, not permitting himself to be deflected, either by the words of the prophet, or by the remarks of the sons of the prophets. Three times Elijah said, "Tarry, here. I pray thee": but Elisha replied each time with holy fervour: "As Jehovah liveth. and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. " It was not that Elijah wished to get rid of his friend; but he would test his constancy. Barnabas counselled the converts in Antioch to cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart (Acts 11: 23). Blessed counsel; may we all heed it! Both joy and power depart when we allow anything to come in between our souls and the Lord. Paul walked once from Troas to Assos-about 25 miles alone. sending his companions round by sea (Acts 20: 13). He had his own reasons for avoiding conversations just then. With Elijah and Elisha it was different. so (2 Kings 2: 11). Elisha was bent on getting the full blessing of that wonderful day. Like Paul later, he would have said: " This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind . . ." (Phil. 3: 13).

GILGAL, as we have seen, was the starting point. There the men of Israel used sharp knives upon themselves after they had crossed the Jordan. This was God's way of teaching them that He can give no recognition to the flesh; it is evil in His sight beyond repair. Have we in spirit crossed the Jordan? Have we definitely accepted the death of Christ as our own, so that we can intelligently hear the apostle saying to us, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek the things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God" (Col. 3: 1). As surely as Elisha was appointed to represent the prophet who had gone up to heaven, so we have been divinely set to represent the glorified Christ. But in order that this may be we must be severe with all the workings of the flesh. hence the words in Col. 3: 5. "Mortify your members which are upon the earth." After the men of Israel had circumcised themselves, Jehovah said: "This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you" (Joshua 5: 9). Gilgal means "rolling." Everything that is suggestive of the world; everything reminiscent of our ways when we were in and of the world is a reproach to us. Let us never forget this.

BETHEL was the next halting-place. What a lesson of God's faithfulness could be learnt there! When Jacob was in flight from home because of his lying and deception, Jehovah appeared to him by night, and assured him of His continued interest and care. He spoke of the land; his seed; and his own personal needs (Gen. 28). Thus if we learn at Gilgal that flesh is always evil, we learn at Bethel that God is always good. The late J. B. Stoney once said: "I know enough of flesh to mistrust it utterly; I know enough of the blessed God to trust Him fully." It gives strength to any witness for God to be able to speak thus.

From Bethel the two prophets went to JERICHO. When Joshua led the hosts of Israel into the land Jericho was a key city, strongly fortified. They could not by-pass it; but they had no need of military machinery for its destruction. Jehovah manifested His power by causing the walls to fall down flat. Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt it in Ahab's day. In like manner men are frequently seeking to rebuild that which has crashed as the fruit of their sins (Isa 9: 9-10). But all the wit of man could not lift the curse which lay upon Jericho. The situation of the city was pleasant; but the residents were obliged to confess "the water is bad. and the ground barren " (2 Kings 2: 19). God is the great restorer; oh, that men could understand it!

After Jericho, Elijah and his friend reached the Jordan, and by the power of God they passed through the river dryshod. Jordan being a type of death, Elijah and Elisha typically passed through death that day on to resurrection ground. The lessons of all these places should be grasped by our souls if we are to be efficient witnesses for the absent Christ. The badness of the flesh which calls for the knife continually (Gilgal); the faithfulness of God (Bethel); the power of God over all the might of the enemy (Jericho); and the great lesson of death and resurrection with Christ as taught in Col. 2 and 3.

On the eastern side of Jordan Elijah said to Elisha " Ask what I shall do for thee before I be taken away from thee. " A test question, assuredly, reminding us of Jehovah's word to Solomon in 1 Kings 3: 5. Elisha's reply was prompt and decisive: "I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. " Elijah spoke with authority. At this point he typifies the risen Christ who has boundless blessings to bestow upon His own. Elisha could have what he desired on one condition; he must see Elijah when taken from him. Faith now sees Christ risen and glorified. Had we known Christ after the flesh, i.e. as a living Messiah, we know Him as such no longer ( 2 Cor. 5: 16). He has "gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God " ( 1 Peter 3: 22). We are "in Him" there. This makes us heavenly as He is heavenly (1 Cor. 15: 48). Elisha did see his master taken up, and received his mantle as it came down upon him. The risen Christ has sent down to us the Holy Spirit (John 16: 7). We thus have the same power for life and testimony as the man Christ Jesus had when here amongst men.

What a sight E1isha beheld! "There appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder: and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." The one who was left exclaimed-"My father, my father, the chariot of Israel. and the horsemen thereof!" He felt that the people of God had lost their surest defence, although the people themselves were too blind to understand it. In like manner the saints are today the world's most precious asset, whether men perceive it or not. Having received Elijah's mantle, E1isha rent his own clothes in two pieces. If we, God's present saints are truly conscious of our union with the risen Christ, we will desire that nothing of ourselves shall again be seen. Our whole deportment should speak to men of Christ.

Elisha recrossed Jordan in order to begin his great work in Israel. Smiting the waters with the mantle, he cried: "Where is Jehovah. the God of Elijah?" and the waters parted before him. The honoured servant had gone but God remained. This is always true. Men fill their little day. and pass from us; their memory is precious; but God ever remains with His people. Elisha enjoyed angelic ministry as well as Elijah; for when the Syrians besieged Dothan with a view to taking him prisoner, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about him (2 Kings 6: 17).

The sons of the prophets said of Elisha when they saw him, "the spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha, " and they bowed low, respectfully before him. May it be ours to be respected, not for our learning or wealth, or social dignity, but for the power of the Spirit of Christ manifested in our lives.

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On the Holy Mount.

Very few men have been sent back to earth after having left it. Three are noted in Scripture: -Samuel was sent (not in response to the call of the witch) to pronounce the doom of Saul (1 Sam. 28); and Moses and Elijah were sent to greet the Father's well-beloved Son on the Mount of Transfiguration. A great honour for them. and full of meaning for us.

There was a general feeling in Israel that Elijah would come back. Mal. 4: 5 was ample authority for this expectation. Among the questions put to John the Baptist was. "Art thou Elias! And he saith, I am not" (John 1: 21 ). When the Lord Jesus challenged His disciples as to what the people were saying about Him, they replied, so (Matt. 16: 13- 14). When He cried out in anguish upon the cross, the bystanders said "He calleth for Elias... let us see whether Elias will come to save Him" (Matt. 27: 45-49

Well-Elias (Elijah) did come to our blessed Lord, not to Calvary to save Him, but to the holy mount to honour Him. That wonderful outshining of glory was witnessed by three of His disciples for the strengthening of their faith: for they were perplexed by His lowly bearing amongst men, and also by His references to a cross, all so contrary to what they looked for in the promised Messiah. Peter, when referring at a later date to the great scene on the mount, said, so(2 Peter 1: 19 J.N.D.)

Several days before the Lord took Peter and John and James to the mountain top He sought to prepare His disciples for a life of self-denial and daily cross-bearing. For their encouragement He spoke also of a day of recompense when He will come in glory, and then added, "Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death. till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom" (Matt 16: 24-28). These words give us the key to the great vision of glory. It is a picture in advance of the Millennial kingdom, presented more particularly in its heavenly aspect. Matthew and Mark say "after six days"; Luke says "about eight days after." Six is man's number; it speaks of his week of labour; it is refreshing to know that after all man's toil and travail there will be an era of rest and glory. Eight is the number of resurrection; the risen Christ will bring the blessing in, and make it divinely secure. Matthew, says "and His face did shine as the sun." How suited to the Kingdom Gospel! For God's King, when He appears, will be "as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, a morning without clouds" (2 Sam. 23: 4). To the God-fearing remnant of that day He will "arise as the Sun of righteousness, with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4: 2). Mark and Luke dwell upon our Lord's clothing. Mark tells us that "his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them." Mark and Luke present our Lord in His lowly character as Man and Servant; hence the emphasis on that which suggests His perfect purity. John-the only one of the four Evangelists who witnessed the glory on the holy mount-omits all reference to it; for it was to him given by the Spirit of inspiration to set forth, not our Lord's conferred glory, but the glory of His divine person.

To the astonishment of the three disciples, Moses and Elijah appeared, and entered into conversation with the Lord. These prophets could enter more than many into the feelings of the rejected Christ; for both suffered severely from those to whose service they devoted their lives. Luke says the theme of conversation was His "decease (exodus) which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem." Here we have the only basis of blessing. Moses brought down from God the law to a people to whom he was obliged to say at the close of his life: "Ye have been rebellious against Jehovah from the day that I knew you" (Deut. 9: 24). Elijah appeared amongst the people at a critical time and sought to lead them back into the path of obedience. Both Moses and Elijah failed, for flesh is an evil thing. But the One who was about to give His life for sinners could not fail. A Saviour who has passed through death and risen again is the only hope of ruined men. Blessed be His holy name!

Peter was so delighted to see Moses and Elijah in the company of his Lord that he proposed to make three tabernacles, "one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias"; for he would fain prolong this wonderful meeting. Peter meant well; but in his thoughtless outburst he really dishonoured the Lord. He was almost putting Him on a level with Moses and Elijah! Yet not long before in contrast with the gossiping multitude who thought that Jesus might be Elijah or one of the old prophets risen again, Peter said fervently, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God " ( Matt. 16: 13-16). It was true that the three disciples fell asleep when they reached the mountain-top; waking up, they saw the Lord in His glory- the glory of the promised kingdom. As Peter spoke, the bright Shekinah cloud enveloped them all, and the voice of the Father was heard, saying, " This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased-hear ye Him." It was right to hearken to Moses and Elijah in their day, for they spake from God: but One who was infinitely greater than all the prophets had now come. All others must stand aside, and HE must be heard. Remarkably, when Peter wrote his second epistle, and described. the vision on the holy mount, he made no mention of Moses and Elijah being present! He had learned his lesson. God was not exalting mere prophets that day. it was upon His beloved Son, despised and rejected by men, He would put "honour and glory ." "We were eye-witnesses of His majesty," says Peter enthusiastically, " and the voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with Him in the holy mount."

The outstanding elements of the glory of the coming kingdom were present that day. Jesus was seen in His majesty; with Him were two men, Moses representing the saints who have fallen asleep and who will be raised at the Lord's coming: and Elijah representing those who will be caught up without passing through death at all. A brilliant host of glorified saints will shine forth with the Lord Jesus when He shows Himself once more to the world. The heavenly saints are seen in Moses and Elijah: and the earthly in Peter, James and John. In mortal bodies they beheld the glory of God. The believing remnant of Israel, when they gaze upward at the opened heavens, will say, "Lo, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is Jehovah: we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation" (Isa. 25: 9).

While glory was being displayed on the holy mount, a painful scene was being enacted below. A poor child writhing in agony possessed with a demon and the poor father bowed down with grief. The coming down of the Lord Jesus changed everything. Satans powers were overthrown, and tears gave place to thanksgiving and joy. Even so will it be in the great day for which we wait, and for which the whole creation groans (Luke 9: 37-42; Rom. 8: 17-22).

Farewell, Elijah! In our meditations we have followed thee through storm and calm up to the rest and peace of the home of God. It was a great day when thou wast carried upwards in the whirlwind; it was a great day when thou wast sent back to earth for a moment to greet the Son of God: it will be a still greater day when in a mighty throng we shall all surround the throne of God and the Lamb, and fall prostrate before the Lamb, and pour forth the new song that will never grow old: "Thou art worthy..for Thou wast slain. and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tribe, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5: 9). No more moments of depression and discouragement; no more peevish longings to die; no more self-occupation; all hearts concentrated upon Him who was the centre of the glory on the holy hill, and who will be the centre of still higher glory for ever. AMEN!