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UNDERSTANDING TOO LATE

In one of Jesus’s last discourses with his disciples concerning end-time events, he said these tragic words, “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:39). In this verse, He was describing what happened to the people who were outside of the ark during the flood.

Before the flood, the people were going about doing their daily activities. Once the rain started and did not stop, the warning and preaching of Noah made sense, but it was too late. The Bible informs us that Noah had preached to the people for one hundred and twenty years while building the ark that disaster was in their future. Sadly, the people did not listen or believe his message.

I am sure those individuals that could swim did so until their strength gave out. Those that thought there was a possibility of Noah opening the ark door were probably banging on it; however, God shut the ark’s door, and no one was allowed admittance. Except for those in the ark, all civilization died during the forty days of rain; because they understood too late.

This event serves as a warning to us. Right now, before the rapture, everyone has the opportunity to accept God and become a kingdom citizen. However, after the rapture, the seven years of tribulation occur with the outpouring of judgment on earth’s inhabitants. As revealed in Revelation, the judgments will be horrific; men will desire death and refuse to repent due to the hardness of their hearts (Revelation 9:6).

When the end of this life as we know it comes, and those whose names are not found in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire, they will understand, but it will be too late.

DON’T ADD TO IT NOR TAKE AWAY FROM IT

Deuteronomy 4:1-2 Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

Revelation 22:18 -19 I give fair warning to all who hear the words of the prophecy of this book: If you add to the words of this prophecy, God will add to your life the disasters written in this book; if you subtract from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will subtract your part from the Tree of Life and the Holy City that are written in this book.

In the book of Deuteronomy, in chapters 4 and 12, Moses spoke to the children of Israel concerning the commandments, statutes, and judgments that God gave them to follow. Additionally, in Revelation, the last book and the last chapter in the Bible, John, the writer, warns the readers of the consequence of adding and taking away from what they read in this book. Both of these men whom God inspired to share the Word knew from experience what happened to the disobedient and were sounding an alarm for all to hear.

We are presently living in a time where people interpret God’s Word in a manner that allows them to do things that God opposes. Like the Israelites in the book of Judges, every man is doing what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). Sadly, like the Israelites who experienced the consequences of following their own dictates, those who manipulate and take lightly the Word will ultimately come to regret doing so.

God loves everyone and desires all to be saved, and no one perish, but God is also a God of order and holiness. He knows what is best, and He gives all the opportunity to decide which path they will follow.

Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 King James Version states, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Additionally, I am sharing this exact text in two more versions just in case you did not understand what you read. First, The Living Bible, “Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” Second the Message Bible, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”

As these verses point out, it is easy and inviting to go along with the crowd; however, choosing the narrow way requires discipline and sacrifice. The eternal yield from doing so will prove to be a person’s best life decision. So, in closing, I recommend not adding to the Word nor taking away from it but choosing to simply follow it.                               

PRESCRIPTION FOR SUCCESS

Every person in this world wants to be successful; no one wants to fail. Unfortunately, not enough people realize that following the Word of God will provide them with a prescription for success. God told Joshua Moses’s successor in Joshua 1:8, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” This powerful statement was applicable then and remains applicable now. As you will read in this blog, some of Israel’s kings followed this instruction while others did not. A king named Asa did both, and I will share his story highlighting his successes and failure. Besides what you will read in this blog, you can read in detail the story of King Asa in 1 Kings 15:10-24 and 2 Chronicles 14 -16.

Israel was divided into two kingdoms after the death of King Solomon because his heart had turned from God toward idolatry (1Kings 11:4-11). The ten northern tribes continued to be called “Israel,” and the combined two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, were called “Judah.”

Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, reigned for seventeen years as the king of Judah, and he and Judah continued to commit idolatry. After Rehoboam’s death, Abijam, his son, reigned for three years, and he and Judah followed the idolatrous practices of his father. Upon his death, Abijam’s son Asa became the king of Judah and reigned in Jerusalem for forty-one years. Asa did what was right in the eyes of God until his latter years.

At the beginning of his reign, King Asa removed the pagan shrines and altars throughout the land and led the people in seeking God and obeying His commandments. God blessed the land with peace for his devotion during the first ten years of Asa’s reign. Wisely using this time, the king fortified Judah’s borders, rebuilt the army, and increased their weaponry. When a massive army from Ethiopia attempted to invade Judah, King Asa petitioned God to rescue Judah. God answered the king’s prayer resulting in a tremendous massacre of the Ethiopian army and colossal plunder for Judah.

Azariah, the prophet, came to King Asa and reminded the king of the nation’s past failings and recommended the king faithfully continue serving God. Motivated, King Asa again went through the nation destroying pagan idols, promising death to those who persisted in idolatrous practices, and demoted his idol-worshipping grandmother Maacah from being queen mother. Additionally, he and the people gathered together and recommitted their allegiance to God. Pleased with this commitment, God blessed Judah with another twenty years of peace.

In the thirty-six year of King Asa’s reign, King Baasha of Israel decided to start a war with Judah by barricading the borders. Unfortunately, King Asa ignored God and sought military help from Benhadad, king of Syria. This alliance angered God, and He sent Hanani, the prophet, to inform King Asa the consequences of his actions would be continued wars in the kingdom of Judah. Instead of repenting King Asa became angry, placed the prophet in prison, and abused some of his fellow citizens. King Asa’s attitude, negativity, and cruel actions became his downfall.

After several years King Asa’s feet became infected, and once again, the king sought help from the wrong source. Instead of requesting healing from God, he looked to his physician for help. King Asa’s physical condition never improved but worsened, and two years later, King Asa died and was buried in his sepulcher in the city of David.

One of the benefits of reading the Bible is to give instructions that will assist believers in living a life pleasing to God. The story of King Asa displays that when individuals and nations obey the Word of God and seek him as their source, they are blessed and prosperous. When believers do the opposite, they displease God and open the door for evil to befall them.

So, I close this blog by encouraging you to be among those who use God’s prescription for success and declare you will not regret doing so.

THE LEADING EVIL SPIRIT OF OUR TIMES

There is a leading evil spirit running rampant in our world; it is called the spirit of deception, and we see its handiwork all around us. It amazes me how the operators of this spirit can so easily deceive us. Unfortunately, this spirit of deception was first manifested with the serpent and Eve in the Garden of Eden and has continued down through the ages of time.

Even Jesus spoke to his disciples while sitting on the Mount of Olives regarding deception. “Watch out that no one deceives you,” He said in response to a question that they asked Him concerning the sign of His coming and the end of the age. In emphasizing the word “deceive.” He informed them to pay attention, so an individual does not dupe them. Also, He alerted them that men would attempt to speak authoritatively into people’s lives as if they were the Messiah.

In the dictionary, the words deceive and deception carries the same meaning: the action of deceiving someone, double-dealing, fraud, cheating, trickery, duping, hoodwinking, underhandedness, take-in, ensnare, beguile, seduce, entrap, misguide, or fooled. All of us can admit that sometime in our life, we have unfortunately been deceived, and hopefully, we do not practice deception.

In the future, Satan, the master of deception, will be bound in a bottomless pit during the Millennial reign of Christ. The scripture reveals that after he is loosed, he is able to deceive the nations of the earth and get them to unite in battle to end the kingly reign of Christ. Of course, they fail, and finally, Revelation 20:10 states, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Until then, remember Paul’s words in Timothy 3:1,13 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” We are living in such a time and we believers must remain diligent. As we pray for truth to prevail in our world, also pray that men will recognize truth, not deceive, and not be deceived.

ELIJAH SERIES: ELIJAH’S TRANSLATION

The scriptures never recorded the length of time that Elijah and Elisha spent together; neither did it reveal glimpses into the years of mentorship. Nevertheless, in 2 Kings 2:1-12, we see their last day together and Elijah’s translation into the heavens, leaving Elisha behind. And this chapter noted the fact Elijah, Elisha, and the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel and Jericho knew that God was going to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind but not the exact time of Elijah’s departure.

Elijah and Elisha started from Gilgal on this last day journey, went down to Bethel, proceeded to Jericho, and then to the Jordan River. At Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho, Elijah told Elisha to remain in these places; however, Elisha responded, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” Additionally, as they passed through Bethel and Jericho, the sons of the prophets located in these areas said to Elisha, “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? Elisha answered both times with the same response, “Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.”

When they reached the Jordan River, Elijah took his mantle and smote the waters, which divided and allowed them to pass through to the other side while the sons of the prophet watched them from a distance. Elijah knowing that his departure was imminent, asked Elisha what he could do for him. Commentaries believe Elisha viewed himself as Elijah’s son since the prophet did not have any natural sons; therefore, Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, as explained in Deuteronomy 21:17. Elijah informs Elisha, “Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.” As they continued talking and walking, a chariot of fire with horses of fire appeared and separated them, and a whirlwind took Elijah up into heaven.

Seeing what was happening, Elisha cried, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” Then in grief, he tore his clothes into two pieces and picked up Elijah’s mantle that fell from him as he was ascending to heaven.

My next series will be on Elisha, so I am limiting my thoughts to Elijah’s and Elisha’s interactions. When I do the Elisha series, I will blog about Elijah and Elisha’s initial meeting and then pick up from this point to continue the story of Elisha.

As I conclude this series on Elijah, let me share some nuggets that I gain from this chapter:

  • While in training, your commitment will be tested.
  • Don’t allow the words of others to deter you from your assignment.
  • Some realities are hard to hear.
  • Learn all you can while mentoring and teaching are available.
  • Departing from loved ones can be emotional.
  • In this life, stay busy as long as you can.
  • There are always spectators waiting to see what is going to happen.
  • Be a participator and not a spectator.
  • Being in the right place yields a positive reward.
  • Leadership may change, but God’s agenda remains the same.

This is the last blog in the Elijah Series. If you have missed any of the previous blogs, you can find them in the archives. I pray this series has enlightened and inspired you and look forward to the next series on Elisha.

ELIJAH SERIES: FIRE FROM HEAVEN

As told to him by Elisha in 1 Kings 21, King Ahab’s blood from a fatal wound he experienced while in a battle with Syria was found in his chariot and licked up by dogs in Samaria. King Ahab’s son Ahaziah became the successor to the throne in Israel, and he continued the sinful practices of his father.

After experiencing a severe injury from an accidental fall through his rooftop balcony railing in his house, King Ahaziah sent messengers to consult with Baal-Zebub, the God of Ekron, about his prognosis. While on their way, an angel sent Elijah to intercept them with this word, “Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the God of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith the Lord, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.”

Immediately the messengers returned to the king and told him what Elijah had said. King Ahaziah asked the messengers to describe the man that gave them the word, and when they did, the king realized it was Elijah. Infuriated by the Word, the king sent his captain with fifty men to get Elijah.

As the soldiers approached Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, the captain derisively said, “Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.” However, Elijah did not comply but called for fire to come down from heaven and consume the group of soldiers. With the death of these soldiers, the king sent another group of soldiers to Elijah, and the previous event was repeated.

King Ahaziah sent a third group of soldiers, but this time the captain fell to his knees in front of Elijah and requested their life be spared. Elisha did so and, being instructed by an angel, accompanied the soldiers back to the king. When he met with the king, Elijah spoke the exact words he had spoken to the messengers that the king had sent to inquire of Baalzebub, the God of Ekron. He said, “Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast sent messengers to enquire of Baalzebub the God of Ekron, is it not because there is no God in Israel to enquire of his word? therefore thou shalt not come down off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.“ Shortly after that, the king died.

Now here are some nuggets that I gleaned from this chapter:

  • When you see examples of negative behavior and its consequences, learn from them.
  • When you want answers about your future, ask God.
  • If you want to hear the truth, ask God.
  • Men will attempt to intimidate you with a display of strength and power.
  • God honors the words of His prophets
  • When you associate with the wrong people, you can get burnt.
  • A discerning leader will recognize danger and act accordingly.
  • When leadership is approached with respect, the outcome will be favorable.
  • With God’s hand on you and His Spirit leading you, speak His word boldly and fearlessly.
  • Recognize the Word of God will come to pass.
  • At your appointed time, death will overtake you.

My next blog will be the last in this Elijah Series, for Elijah will be translated into heaven. So come back next week to see how Elijah’s earth journey ends.

ELIJAH SERIES: GENERATIONAL DEATH SENTENCE

When we last read about Elijah in 1 Kings 19, he anointed Elisha to be his prophetic successor, and Elisha took leave of his family to become Elijah’s attendant. In 1 Kings 21, Elijah reappears in the storyline of Israel. Years have passed since his last encounter with King Ahab, and now he returns to give King Ahab a judgmental word from the Lord.

Naboth, an Israelite of Jezreel, owned a fertile vineyard adjacent to King Ahab’s property. This vineyard had been handed down in Naboth’s family from one generation to the next as commanded by God (Leviticus 25:14-15, 23-28; Numbers 36:7). However, the king coveted this vineyard and approached Naboth, and offered to purchase it. Naboth rejected the offer and stated he could not give away his ancestral heritage. King Ahab became peeved and went to his palace, where Jezebel found him sulking in bed and refusing to eat.

After questioning the king and ridiculing him for not being forceful with Naboth, Jezebel took matters into her own hands. She orchestrated a diabolical plot that resulted in Naboth being stoned to death for blasphemy against God and the king. Additionally. with the death of Naboth, King Ahab seized Naboth’s vineyard.

God sent Elijah to meet King Ahab in Naboth’s vineyard, and upon seeing and hearing him, the king voiced his dissatisfaction. Elisha gave the king this word from God, “Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.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.”

After hearing the word, King Ahab became fearful and repented, which caused God to say, “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 the evil upon his house.” God extended mercy to the king and allowed him to die several years later without seeing the death of his family members (2 Kings 9: 24-26, 30-37; 10:17).

This is a summary of 1 Kings 21; however, reading the chapter is recommended for a more detailed account. Now here are my thoughts on this chapter.

  • Throughout the Bible, God used prophets as His mouthpiece to speak to nations, leaders, and people. If you read the preceding blogs in this series, you will notice that over the years, the majority of Elijah’s recorded prophetic ministry was to King Ahab concerning the sin of idolatry. In this chapter, God used Elijah to address King Ahab’s covetousness, murder of Naboth, and delayed judgment due to the king humbling himself. God judges our actions, but he is also kind and merciful when we repent.
  • We should not imitate King Ahab’s failure. Obey the commandment found in Exodus 20:17, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
  • The earth belongs to God, and He blessed Israel with a portion of it. Naboth understood this, and he cherished his ancestral gift. Also, he took God’s laws seriously; that is why he would not sell his vineyard. Don’t sell your family heritage.
  • Both Naboth and Elijah stood up to the governmental leader and spoke the truth. It cost Naboth his life for doing so, but God avenged him. No one can escape the wrath of God.
  • Sulking like a child when you don’t get your way is a sign of immaturity
  • Yes, you are guilty when you allow others to harm the innocent.
  • Obey the commandment found in Exodus 20:16, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”
  • When you speak the truth to those that don’t want to hear, they will consider you an enemy.
  • There is a price to pay for illegal confiscation.
  • Your sinful acts can result in a generational death sentence.
  • God extends mercy to those that will humble themselves, for he does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). 

I pray you have received some inspiration and motivation from this blog to obey God’s laws and to hold on to your ancestral gift.

ELIJAH SERIES: PROPHET ON THE RUN

1 King 19 revealed after King Ahab shared the news of the Mount Carmel event and Elijah’s killing of all the prophets of Baal, infuriated Jezebel sent a message to Elijah. It said, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” Consequently, Elijah, the man who boldly declared a three-year drought to the king in chapter 17 and had stood alone against all the worshippers of Baal in chapter 18, became fearful of Jezebel. This man who trusted in God to feed him at the brook of Cherith, to feed him and the widow’s family in Zarephath, and to raise the widow’s son from the dead, apparently lost his confidence in God to keep him safe.

Elijah escaped from Jezreel and left his servant in Beersheba while going alone into the Negev wilderness. After traveling for a day, he found a Juniper tree and sat under it. It was there he requested to die. Tired emotionally and physically, Elijah fell asleep until he was awakened by an angel who had prepared a cake along with water for him. Elijah ate and fell back to sleep until he was awakened a second time by the angel with similar nourishments for him to consume.

Leaving there, Elijah traveled for forty days to Mount Sinai and entered a cave. It was here that God finally addressed Him with this question, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Elijah responded, “I have been very jealous for the Lord 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.”

God told Elijah to come out of the cave, which he did not do. God passed by, and first, there was a strong wind, then an earthquake followed by fire. After the fire, God spoke in a still, small voice. Elijah responded by wrapping his face in his mantle and going and standing at the cave entrance. Again God repeated His same question to Elijah, and Elijah gave Him the same answer.

God did not reject Elijah because of his behavior or answer, but he gave him the task of anointing three men. Elijah was to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi to be king over Israel, and anoint Elisha the son of Shaphat to be his prophetic successor. Additionally, He told Elijah, “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.”

Elijah left the cave with this information and went to the Jordan valley, where he found Elisha in his field plowing behind twelve oxen. Elijah cast his mantel on Elisha as he passed by him. Knowing what that meant, Elisha requested permission to say farewell to his parents before accompanying Elijah. Hence Elisha returned home, slew a yoke of oxen, and gave the meat to his people. Then he reconnected with Elijah and became his attendant and eventual successor.  

As I’ve done in the previous blog, I suggest you read 1 Kings 19 to gain detailed information about Elijah’s journey. I believe this chapter shows the frailty of man and the necessity of guarding your thoughts. Additionally, this is an excellent chapter to study when you want insight into emotional and mental health. I will not go into an in-depth analysis of Elijah’s mental status; however, I will share a few of my thoughts.

  • Fear often displaces faith when crises occur.
  • In this life, you will sometimes have mountain top victories, which lead to emotional highs, and valley failures that lead to emotional lows.
  • Like Elijah, we can be exhilarated one day about God’s anointing and supernatural move in our lives, and the next day an incident can erase the previous day’s feelings. Depression and fear because things did not turn out the way we expected is a common human experience. Undoubtedly, Elijah thought after the great display of God’s power, King Ahab, Jezebel, and Israel would be repentant and want to please and serve God. Instead, he finds he is still considered an enemy, which leads to his despair. When things appear to fall apart in your life, are you affected mentally and emotionally?
  • When you want to lose hope, remember the great things God did for you in your time of need.
  • Before giving into fear, consult with God for direction. Practice Philippians 4:6-8, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
  • Isolation can prove detrimental to your mental health. While on the run, Elijah separated himself from human contact, which was counterproductive for his well-being. When you are going through life battles, it is wise to have people around you who can encourage and strengthen you.
  • Being physically and emotionally strained can lead to wrong decisions and a desire to die.
  • Elijah needed rest and nourishment for his journey, and so do you.
  • When you are depressed, your perception becomes blurred.
  • God can do the spectacular as well as simple things. He operates in various modes. He is not one-dimensional.
  • God doesn’t need to do the spectacular to show us He is present
  • Amid the turbulence, listen for the still small voice of God
  • Even though Obadiah, King Ahab’s governor, had told Elijah he hid one hundred prophets in a cave from Jezebel and provided for them during the drought, Elijah’s mind was fixated on the thought that there was no other prophet alive. After saying this three times, God corrected him. For us, we must realize that despite all the evil going on in this world against believers, God will always have a remnant.
  • When in error, God enlightens us with the truth.
  • God did not address Elijah’s despondency, and it is possible He may not address yours. Unlike Elijah, we have the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, and God expects us to use the tools the He has provided for our success.
  • God uses who He will to bring judgment.
  • God prepares men for their assignments.

ELIJAH SERIES: HALTED BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS

In 1 Kings 18, the three-year drought prophesied to King Ahab by Elijah in 1 King 17 ended, and God instructed Elijah to go and meet with King Ahab.  

On the way to meet the king, Elijah encounters Obadiah, the governor of Ahab’s house and worshipper of God. Obadiah told Elijah how he hid one hundred prophets in two caves and fed them when Jezebel was killing off the prophets of God, how King Ahab had searched the land for grass for his horses and mules, and searched the neighboring nations for Elijah. When told by Elijah to say to King Ahab that he was here, Obadiah was reluctant to do so for fear Elijah would disappear and then King Ahab would kill him. However, Elijah assured him that he would appear before King Ahab.  

When Elijah and King Ahab met, Ahab said, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” and Elijah responded, “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.” He further told Ahab to gather Israel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah that eat at Jezebel’s table, to Mount Carmel.

When the people arrived at Mount Carmel, Elijah said to them, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” After receiving no response from Israel, Elijah challenged the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. They both were to offer a bull sacrifice, pray to their God and anticipate their offering to be supernaturally consumed by fire.

The prophets of Baal went first. As the day progressed from morning to evening, Elijah taunted and mocked the prophets of Baal as they continued in their futile prayers and pleas, leaping on their altar and cutting themselves while awaiting their God to respond.

Finally, when it was time for the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah first repaired the altar of God, which Israel had allowed to go to waste. Then he made a trench about the altar and placed the wood on the altar with the cut pieces of the bull on it. He ended by having four barrels of water poured over the prepared sacrifice three times. Elijah prayed, and fire descended from the Lord, consuming the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the dust, and the water in the trench. The people responded by bowing down and saying, ‘The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.” Hence, after irrefutable proof was displayed, those assembled were no longer halted between who was the true God. And without delay, Elijah had the people take the prophets of Baal down to the brook Kishon and execute them.

Elijah instructed King Ahab to go and eat before the heavy rain started. Meanwhile, Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel, bowed down, put his face between his knees, and prayed. He told his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” The servant went but saw nothing, to which Elijah had the servant do this seven times. On the seventh time, the servant reported he saw what appeared to be a cloud that looked like a man’s hand rising out of the sea.

Elijah sent word to King Ahab via his servant to get off Mount Carmel before the rain started. However, while King Ahab rode in his chariot back to Jezreel, the heavy rain came. The spirit of the Lord came upon Elijah, and he, on foot, outran the king in his chariot to their destination.

For a more detailed account of this chapter, I recommend reading it. From this chapter, here are my thoughts:

  • God has a set timing for events to occur.
  • Wait on God for directions concerning your next move.
  • There are those who care for the survival of their livestock more than the survival of people
  • There will be consequences when there is a failure to keep God’s covenant.
  • When leaders make the wrong decisions, people suffer.
  • You can hold a position without compromising your integrity.
  • God has people strategically planted to protect and care for the needs of His people.
  • People will label you a troublemaker when you speak the Word of the Lord.
  • It is difficult to admit you were wrong when people’s lives have been put in jeopardy.
  • To implement the change of wrongdoing, confrontation  is necessary
  • Followers of God must be monotheistic.
  • Double-mindedness is not acceptable when serving God.
  • While others are in a frenzy, you can remain calm because you know whom you trust.
  • With confidence in God, you can do the unthinkable.
  • Restore the things of God.
  • God and He alone is the giver of rain.
  • God stands behind His Word.
  • Pray until something happens.
  • God can give you supernatural abilities to overtake and outrun those depending on human strength.

If you are interested in Jezebel’s reaction to the slaying of the prophets of Baal and Elijah’s fearful response, revisit this blog next week.

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ELIJAH SERIES: THREE YEAR DROUGHT (Blog 1)

Elijah the Tishbite, who resided in Gilead, lived during the reign of Ahab, king of Israel, and Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was introduced to the readers of scripture in 1 Kings 17. He gave King Ahab this Word, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” This made him an enemy of King Ahab, who, along with Israel, was worshipping Baal, the god of Ahab’s wife. (Baal was supposedly the Phoenician fertility god of rain and bountiful harvest.)

God instructed Elijah to escape for his life, leave Samaria, and go east to the brook Cherith where he would be safe. While there, Elijah was able to drink from the brook, and he was brought bread and flesh in the morning and evening by ravens whom God commanded to do so. Eventually, the brook dried up, and God sent Elijah a hundred miles to Zarephath, which belonged to Zidon. This time God chose a Gentile widow to provide food for Elijah.

When Elijah arrived in Zarephath, he saw the woman and requested her to bring him some water, and as she went, he asked her also for a morsel of bread. She replied, “As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Nevertheless, Elijah responded, “Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.” So, the widow acquiesced, and the meal and oil lasted throughout the drought, just as Elijah stated.

During his stay with the widow, her son became ill and died, which caused her to question her past sins. However, Elijah took the dead child to his room, fervently prayed to God, stretched himself upon the child three times, and God revived the child. When Elijah brought the live child back to his mother, she declared, “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.”

Here are my thoughts on this chapter:

  • The scriptures did not reveal a genealogy or any personal information on Elijah. He appeared in the scripture at a time when Israel thought they could serve the God of their forefathers and worship Baal, the chief god of the Canaanite nations. God will always have someone who will stand up for righteousness and speak to powers concerning immorality and idolatry. With this in mind, as ambassadors of God we cannot synthesize the Word, sinful practices, and popular opinions of our day and think God is pleased. Like Elijah, we are to stand up for the truth.
  • Guard against doing the popular.
  • God kept His Word. He told Israel if they committed idolatry, He would keep dew and rain from their land (Lev.26:3-4, 18-19, Deut. 11:16-17; 28:23-24). Thus, idolatry produces unfavorable consequences.
  • Believing in the prophet’s words will prepare you for the days ahead.
  • God works in miraculous ways. To accomplish His purpose, God will use anyone and anything.
  • During times of drought and famine, God provides. You can rely on God for your daily bread.
  • God gives direction as needed; He does not overload us with information.
  • God can keep you safe in enemy territory.
  • God meets the need of the believer as well as the unbeliever. Additionally, God can meet multiple conditions at the same time.
  • Prayer changes situations.
  • Undeniable miracles will cause people to believe in God.
  • Elijah’s experiences in Samaria, at the brook Cherith, and in Zarephath were to build his faith and trust in God. Small challenges are a stepping stone to bigger challenges. Remember the divine interventions of the past, for they will help you navigate your future.