Bum Raps and Remnants

     To fully understand the power of Elijah’s ministry and how effective it was in his day, we must look at some key things that took place in his life as God worked to reposition him for victory.  There is always a redeeming force, referred to as ‘the spirit of Elijah’, that is ever-working to reveal God’s gracious hand to mankind.

     God always has a remnant.  God does not do ‘Plan B’ either, because He never needs it.  You can rest assured that if He has started something with you then He is going to complete it.  God is Love and always redeems, restores, revives, and rebuilds and, best of all, He always has a remnant.   This week, we continue with Elijah who is esteemed by many as the greatest prophet who ever lived.  His story begins in 1 Kings 18-19.

     When we overlook the core nature of God we can easily give Elijah a ‘bum rap’ or a bad reputation.  God was not disappointed with Elijah when He called for the anointing of Elisha to replace him after he ran and hid from Jezebel (read).   See Romans 11:1-6 where Paul uses Elijah as an example that God does not reject but rather always has a remnant.  God  was not correcting Elijah by telling Him that he was not the only one left; that God has 7,000 people who had not bowed their knee to Baal (read).

‘Well of the Oath’

     It is true that Elijah ran in fear while working to understand the war within him, one of fear and questioning.  However, he was able to reestablish his balance because the first place he went after hearing of Jezebel’s vile threat was Beersheba.  It was at Beersheba that Elijah first left his servant and continued the journey alone.  Beersheba means, ‘well of the oath.  He refreshed himself in his oath of service to the Lord, one of total dependence on God’s sovereign hand.  In this place called Beersheba is where we too can remind ourselves of God’s promises to us.   

Mantle of Humility

     If you have read the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18-19 by now, you would have read where the Lord revealed a strong wind, an earthquake, a fire, and then a small voice.  It was in hearing the voice that Elijah learned that God was not to be found in the result of His actions, He would be found in the voice that foretold of their happening.  Only after visiting the ‘well of the oath’ and now seeing God anew was he truly humbled and hid his face in his mantle – the cloth that covered his shoulders. It was this mantle that represented his anointed position in the workings of God.  Elijah buried his face as a person would humbly reaffirm his calling.  He could have cast down the mantle but he embraced it instead.  After we reaffirm or restate our oath, we re-appropriate our vestments of anointing, and secure our footing into the future.   As New Testament believers we ‘put on Christ’.  Christ was the perfection of Humility.

‘But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.’ (Romans 13:14)

‘For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.’ (Galatians 3:27)

     Humility displayed leads to humility conveyed.  Because Elijah humbled himself before the Lord, he became a just model of humility and grace was given to Ahab who later humbled himself before the Lord.  God had spoken a judgment against Ahab.  However, because he humbled himself before God the judgment was held off for over 12 years.

Humility’s Remnant

     Elijah told God that he was the last prophet and God did not correct him.  However, God did tell him that he was to anoint two kings and another prophet to help him.  Because Elijah humbled himself before God he was not rejected by God he was lifted up and sent to anoint more people for the judgment of the house of Ahab.  Humility always calls forward the remnant, the next phase of God’s plan.  Pride will stall God’s plan. Humility Releases it.  God’s judgment on Ahab was that those who were not killed by the sword of Hazael would be killed by Jehu and those who were not killed by Jehu would be killed by Elisha.  Because Ahab humbled himself, over twelve years would pass before this took place and all of this can be found in 2 Kings 8-9 when Ahab, two Kings of Israel, and Jezebel are removed from power.

     Elijah did not fail and was not downgraded, he was promoted.  He was so highly regarded by the Lord that Elijah has not died yet having been taken up in a whirlwind.  In calling for the anointings that followed, God was not shifting to ‘Plan B’.  R rather, He was fulfilling His plan to bring Ahab and Jezebel to justice, all the while revealing humility in Ahab and His own willingness to show mercy.   God is Love and has a solid appreciation of both Justice and Mercy.  To ignore justice is merciless and to ignore mercy is unjust. 

     In the world we live in it is important to remember what we started with here today.  God redeems, restores, rebuilds, and revives, and best of all, He always has a remnant.  Do not let the enemy or your own thoughts tell you that there is not a fruitful end to what you have started for God.  That would be a lie. 

     In closing, as Malachi 4:5-6 tells us, God sends Elijah to restore so that He will not have to come and smite the land with a curse.     

5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. 6 He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I (God) will not come and smite the land with a curse.”  (Malachi 4:5-6)

     It is time for all Christians to respond as Elijah did – in an attitude of humility as we pray for the Lord’s wisdom and direction. (see 2 Chron. 7:14)  We will then see our nation turned around and the Lord’s leaders being called forward to set things right.  It will be those who get in God’s way who will have earned the bad reputation and will be removed from the remnant.