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Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come here to me." They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, "Your name shall be Israel." With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, "Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood." "Do it again," he said, and they did it again. "Do it a third time," he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!" 1 Kings 18:30-39
one night i read this to my young daughter – the kids adventure bible version that is.
but it struck me afresh – before the fire of God could come there was a lot of work to do.
elijah had to prepare the altar. digging. building. hard physical labour. work. he had to get the altar ready for the fire to come.
likewise in our own lives , we need to be lives ready for the fire to fall. we need to prepare our own heart and outward lived lives for God to use and demonstrate His power and glory. there is work to be done. building. digging. work.
we often put our hands up and say YES God, but are we ready to do the leg work, and the prayer work, and the heart work, and the servant work, and the transformation work???
The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he travelled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. 1 Kings 19:7-9
This journey we read about Elijah taking took him 40 days and 40 nights. He was strengthened supernaturally by the food the angel fed him with.
The thing is, the Did You Know – that journey from where he was to Horeb usually took 3 days by foot.
Yet it took Elijah 40 days and 40 nights.
I love how the bible asks us to read between the lines.
Nowhere does it explain WHY it took Elijah so long to reach the mountain of God, where he had a phenomena encounter with God and was restored into ministry.
Perhaps it took that time for his heart to heal from the fear and discouragement.
He had lost his way, and perhaps it look time for him to find it again.
Perhaps it took great physical, emotional and spiritual effort to just put one foot in front of the other.
Yet he did it. He persevered. He walked. He endured. He reached his destination.
Often when we’re returning to God we want to snap our fingers and be instantly restored. When you think about it provisionally (am i using that word in the right spiritual context????) we are – we are saved, covered by grace and forgiveness, children of God, with the righteousness of Jesus Christ as our own righteousness… yet when we walk away it takes time and effort to walk back and change our own mind and mindsets and re-find faith.
The good news is that Elijah got there. the angel sustained him. God made the way. Elijah didn’t give up.
If we put one foot in front of the other, if we make forward motion, if we do the things we used to do first love wise (to slip into Revelation – letters to the churches) then we will get there and encounter God…
After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:12
and on the mountain Elijah met with God.
Other translations read:
… a still small voice
… a soft whisper
… a sound of a gentle blowing
… a gentle and quiet whisper
… a sound of sheer silence
… sound of a soft breath
I find the translation of this phrase loaded. In the King James Version "a still small voice". What a phrase! What imagery! The all powerful, all mighty God whispering to his people. To one single person. It is all about a relationship like that. One on one with God. That is God’s original design. God desires to be near to us, one on one, so close that only whispering is needed. I want to hear the whisper. I want to respond to the still small voice. "Come near to God and he will come near to you." (James 4:8) His glory is overwhelming but his voice can sometimes be small, gentle, quiet, and soft in order to draw us in close to hear his words intimately and clearly. Sound of a Soft Breath
Elijah was discouraged. God determined to give him courage by revealing himself. On Mount Horeb, he caused all kinds of amazing things by his presence, but desiote the awesomeness of the wind, the rocks breaking and the earth shaking, Elijah knew the difference between God causing something and God’s very presence. God’s presence was in the whisper after the storm. Perhaps that should suggest something to us. Maybe God does not reveal Himself to us in the midst of the mayhem we are living through. Maybe we really discover Him when we have determined to keep watch through the storm, and we see Him clearest once the storm passes. youversion note
i’m so amazed at the graciousness of God. we are such flawed humans – with our attitudes and fears and insecurities and doubts and weaknesses and prides and everything. yet God CHOOSES to use us and He encourages us and graces us to serve Him. He knows our heart so well and so we can trust Him with it.
(Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 1 Kings 18:3-4
this description of Obadiah reminds me about a Christian i read about once:
St. Nicholas Owen : (d. 1606) Nicholas, familiarly known as "Little John," was small in stature but big in the esteem of his fellow Jesuits.
Born at Oxford, this humble artisan saved the lives of many priests and laypersons in England during the penal times (1559-1829), when a series of statutes punished Catholics for the practice of their faith. Over a period of about 20 years he used his skills to build secret hiding places for priests throughout the country. His work, which he did completely by himself as both architect and builder, was so good that time and time again priests in hiding were undetected by raiding parties. He was a genius at finding, and creating, places of safety: subterranean passages, small spaces between walls, impenetrable recesses. At one point he was even able to mastermind the escape of two Jesuits from the Tower of London. Whenever Nicholas set out to design such hiding places, he began by receiving the Holy Eucharist, and he would turn to God in prayer throughout the long, dangerous construction process.
After many years at his unusual task, he entered the Society of Jesus and served as a lay brother, although—for very good reasons—his connection with the Jesuits was kept secret.
After a number of narrow escapes, he himself was finally caught in 1594. Despite protracted torture, he refused to disclose the names of other Catholics. After being released following the payment of a ransom, "Little John" went back to his work. He was arrested again in 1606. This time he was subjected to horrible tortures, suffering an agonizing death. The jailers tried suggesting that he had confessed and committed suicide, but his heroism and sufferings soon were widely known.
He was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.
Nicholas was a clever builder and architect who used his skills to protect endangered priests. Without his help, hundreds of English Catholics would have been deprived of the sacraments. His gift for spotting unlikely places to hide priests was impressive, but more impressive was his habit of seeking support for his work in prayer and the Eucharist. If we follow his example, we may also discover surprising ways to put our skills to God’s service
we may feel that our contribution is insignificant – that we’d rather be the prophet than the kings servant and hider of saints… but God has a plan and a purpose uniquely crafted for each of us. Obadiah risked his job and his life to rescue believers. His role was very important in the spiritual history and continuation of Israel.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there." So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. 1 Kings 17:2-6
i love this passage. Elijah steps out into a national prophetic ministry and then of course is caught up in the circumstances of it – drought. But God leads Him to a place of safety and there provides for him in strange and remarkable ways.
in that place as a stream with water.
and ravens brought him bread and meat morning and nightly. i always half smile at this. ravens. God used RAVENS to bring provision and sustenance to Elijah. and the ravens got the bread and the meat from “somewhere”. Where? someone’s window sill? someone’s kitchen? the markets? it doesn’t say. but ravens came faithfully every day to bring food to Elijah. without devouring it on the way themselves.
i always think also how odd it is that God used ravens. my impression, or judgement of ravens, is that they are scavengers aka dirty birds. they are in fact considered unclean according to the law: "And these you shall have in abomination among the birds, they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, the vulture, the osprey, the kite, the falcon according to its kind, every raven according to its kind, the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk according to its kind, the owl, the cormorant, the ibis, the water hen, the pelican, the carrion vulture, the stork, the heron according to its kind, the hoopoe, and the bat" (Leviticus 11:13-19 RSV)
God can provide and meet your needs in amazing unique creative ways. He is GOD. be it manna from the sky, fish and bread from a small boys lunch, or food delivered by ravens. Any which way, God is able.
God can also use whoever He wants. Despite the judgements of men – my judgements – the ravens were heroes in this passage. You may feel unworthy, unqualified, unspiritual and unusable, but if God can use a raven, then God can use you.
Did you notice the start of verse 5: So he did what the Lord had told him.
An unfailing mark of a true servant is obedience. When Elijah was bidden to hide himself by the brook Cherith, "he went and did according unto the word of the Lord," and now, commanded to go to Zarephath, "he arose and went to Zarephath." This simple and unquestioning obedience justified his statement that he "stood" before the Lord God of Israel. The very term servant implies subjection to the will of another; and on this very account we have the presentation of the Perfect Servant in Him who came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. And it should never be forgotten that obedience is the sign of power. If asked to specify the greatest display of power in Elijah’s service, many would refer to the scene on mount Carmel, wherein he challenged the priests of Baal to prove the existence of their god, and, when on their failure, after Jehovah had vindicated His servant by sending fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice, he commanded them all to be put to death. But true spiritual power, silent and constant, is far more conclusively demonstrated to the spiritual eye by obedience to the will of God. The Widow of Zarephath
Elijah learned to trust God. In the season of drought he learned to trust God. God had led Elijah to Kerith Ravine and provided and protected him there. BUT THEN. the brook dried up.
there are seasons where it seems like the one avenue of provision and protection dry up, seasons which are difficult and stretching. Where there seems no way out.
God led Elijah to this specific location.
and then the brook dried up.
This Hillsong song has really captured my heart recently. esp the bridge. i first heard it by elevation church at their christmas event and wondered what song it was and who by. i love the verse words too – beautiful reminder of the greatness of what God has done.
The skies lay low where You are
On the earth You rest Your feet
Yet the hands that cradle the stars
Are the hands that bled for me
In a moment of glorious surrender
You were broken for all the world to see
Lifted out of the ashes
I am found in the aftermath
Freedom found in Your scars
In Your grace my life redeemed
For You chose to take the sinner’s crown
As You placed Your crown on me
In that moment of glorious surrender
Was the moment You broke the chains in me
Lifted out of the ashes
I am found in the aftermath
And in that moment You opened up the heavens
To the broken the beggar and the thief
Lifted out of the wreckage
I find hope in the aftermath
And I know that You’re with me
Yes I know that You’re with me here
And I know Your love will light the way
Now all I have I count it all as loss
But to know You and to carry the cross
Knowing I’m found
In the light of the aftermath