The life of Elijah is interesting. He is a man with boldness, faith and honest weaknesses. One famous story is that of how Elijah calls the prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel for a test – the one who answered the sacrifice on the altar with fire would be declared God. So, four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal cried out all day and cut themselves but to no avail. Then, Elijah cried out to God and the fire of God consumed the whole sacrifice, altar, and the water all around it. The people proclaimed that “The Lord, He is God!” and the prophets of Baal were executed. This was a great victory, but soon after, Queen Jezebel threatens to kill Elijah and he flees into the wilderness and asks to die.
Elijah has just seen God reveal himself, though he alone faced four hundred and fifty priests, and a multiple of people. He knows God is with him and that God hears him. Then, at the threat of one unbelieving woman, Elijah flees. In the wilderness, we get a glimpse of what Elijah is feeling. First, he is weary and downcast. He says, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” [1 Kings 19:4] God responds to this by sending an angel to refresh him with cakes and a jar of water – saying, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” This strengthens Elijah and he goes in strength for forty days and nights until he reaches a cave near Horeb, the mountain of the Lord. Here, we see Elijah explain what is bothering him. God asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” and Elijah answers,
“I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” [1 Kings 19:10]
Elijah feels that for all his zeal, and all his work, there is no impact and the people now want to kill him. Essentially, he feels like he is a lone warrior for God – that there is no one else. Look at how God responds to Elijah’s attitude here. He tells Elijah that to go stand on the mountain before the Lord. Then, the Lord passes by – not in the strong wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, but in a still small voice. Elijah recognises the presence of God in this still small voice and presents himself, against stating his complaint when God asks him what he is doing there (alone in the wilderness). God responds this time, by telling Elijah to go back on his way and gives him instructions on what to do when he arrives. Amongst these instructions, God tells Elijah to instruct Elisha as prophet in his place. He assures Elijah that He has a plan to save the children of Israel, and tells him to train up someone else who will hear and proclaim God’s voice when Elijah is no longer around. He says to Elijah,
“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” [1 Kings 19:18]
We do not necessarily see the extent of what God is doing. Sometimes, we are so caught up in our own ministry, that we miss what God is doing through others. It is a dangerous place to be alone in “spiritual privilege”. Many cults have arisen from people claiming to have “special knowledge” of God, or claiming that God speaks more specially to them that to others. Many Christians have committed suicide, knowing God is with them, yet still feeling alone. It is dangerous to spurn accountability and do things by yourself, thinking that no-one else really knows Jesus. We are so imperfect, but God’s grace covers our sins, and in His mercy, He guides our paths and works even in our mistakes. To think that we alone are right, however, can really isolate us, and lead us astray. One way we see this nowadays is in isolation from the church. Many people have been hurt by, or offended by churches, yet still earnestly desire to know God.
I have certainly been through a period in my life where I was discouraged by the way in which I saw other people respond to God. It made me feel as if no one really cared about following God with all their heart, and like I could not share my zeal for God with anyone else. God changed my mindset dramatically. In my heart, I was frustrated because I longed for Christians to walk in the fullness of Christ and to demonstrate the light of His glory in their lives. I felt alone in declaring who God is to the world. However, my attitude was one which did not love my brothers and sisters in Christ, one which judged them, and one which was remarkably selfish, hidden in the veil of self-righteousness.
Yet God was so faithful to me. He saw my heart and He understood my frustration. He worked with me and gave me wonderful testimonies when I thought it was just me and Him. He brought people around me and softened my heart to see how His grace extends to all people. He showed me how He is a gentle and loving teacher who loves heart that seek Him, even if they are riddled with sin. Who am I to judge? Have I not sinned? No, I myself am a recipient of God’s incredible, free grace. I myself fail many time though I earnestly seek God. If God loves me despite the depths of my sin, how much more should I love others, especially those whom my God calls His own? Now, I have a great passion to protect my brothers and sisters in the church, to build them up and encourage them in Christ, and to comfort them when they are weak.
[1 John 4:11] – “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.”
I also have developed a great appreciation for fellowship with accountability – where we can sharpen one another in Christ as iron sharpens iron.
[1 Peter 5:16] – “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
I can say that in my life, God has humbled me, and showed me the vastness of His people, and His army on earth – true believers who seek Him with all their heart. He has highlighted to me the value of discipleship and as a result, I have grown in love, and in how I value fellowship. God assured Elijah that he himself knew God, instructed him to disciple someone else, and showed him that there were many others who knew and followed God. God has assured me that I know Him, instructed me to disciple others in his ways, and showed me that there are many others who know and follow Him.
Do not isolate yourself from fellowship! Ask God to open your eyes to see the extent of the work He is doing. Humble yourself before Him and recognise His grace. Love as He loves, forgive as He forgives, and help Him build up His church and His bride.
[Ephesians 2:19] – “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”
[Philippians 2:3-4] – “let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
I refuse to stand by and let Satan deceive people, even Christians, into death. I choose to love others as God has loved me, and I will engage in fellowship with God’s church, His beloved Bride.