Elijah: Securing the Breach

 

     One need only read the Biblical account of Elijah found primarily in 1 Kings Chapters 17-19 and 2 Kings 1-2 to learn of Elijah’s greatest victories as well as his darkest challenges.   It is a brief account but speaks of the power and strength of a man and His God to defeat the enemies of Israel , to confront those who promote the worship of false gods and to destroy those that are not gods at all.   In order to gain the greatest insight and value we must understand the process of ‘securing the breach’.   Many can walk through confronting advances towards the enemies of life but unless we address the issues that reside deep within each of us, this breach persists and we all remain vulnerable.
 

The Minister of Miracles

     In chapter 17, at the Lord’s command, Elijah called down a drought in order to get King Ahab’s attention and give a chance to repent.   During this drought, the Lord used Elijah to minister to the material, spiritual, and emotional needs of a gentile woman who lived outside of the nation of Israel.

     Here Elijah as both Minister and Man of Miracles – calling for an end of the flow of rain as well as the endless supply of flour and oil for over 3 years in order to take care of the woman to whom God chose to show Himself through signs and wonders.
 

The Minister of Defense

     Elijah then confronted Ahab and the prophets of Baal and of Asherah.  In looking at these miracles, we must remember that these are not superhuman things.  Scripture tells us in James 5:17 that Elijah was just like us in being able to stop the rain for 3.5 years.  From here, most of us know the story well (as recorded in 1 Kings 18:20-40) where Elijah stands up and calls for two sacrifices of oxen to be prepared – ‘let Baal receive his, and let God receive His offering’.  The result is that Baal was shown as unresponsive and non-existent and God completely consumed His sacrifice. 

     One thing to get from this story as you read if for yourself is that Elijah didn’t play fair.  He set it up to exceed their expectations of what God could do and to utterly defeat their trust in Baal.  He believed so much that God could consume the sacrifice, and that He would show up to consume it, that he had water poured over the offering to drench it three times.  Water collected in the trench dug around it and then Elijah prayed and asked the Lord to receive the offering.

     God  sent down fire to consume not only the sacrifice, but it consumed the wood that it lay on and the water in the trench that ran down over a wet Oxen and wood, as well as, the dust on the ground which by this time was mud.  The fire from God consumed everything in its path until it hit foundation or bedrock. 

     Once the show was over, the people were called to round up the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who ate at Jezebel’s table and they were all executed by Elijah.
 

The Minister Meets the Sinister

     Immediately after the 950 prophets were destroyed, Jezebel called for Elijah’s own death – even by the end of the next day.  Elijah frantically ran into the wilderness and ultimately met God in a cave.   He told God that he ran because Jezebel was going to kill him, that he had done great things for God, and that he was the only one left who had not bowed his knee to the Baals.

     While hiding in the cave God showed him three elements of great power and strength (see 1 Kings 19:11-14): a great wind that destroyed mountains and stones, an earthquake, and then great and dreadful fire – but God said He was not found in those things.  God then allowed for a ‘gently blowing wind’ and a ‘gentle voice’ spoke to Elijah and asked him why he was there in the cave.   God ultimately tells Elijah that his perspective is all wrong and that not only is he not the only one left, but that God has 7,000 people in Israel who have not bowed to or worshiped the Baals.
 

Securing the Breach

     The lesson to learn here is that it is fun and exciting to perform miracles, minister to people and see them get better.  It is also challenging and strengthening to confront those who oppose the Lord or worship other gods.  Being a minister, a miracle worker, or God’ s personal defense attorney or Offensive Lineman can be challenging yet exciting. After all, we all enjoy seeing the kingdom advance and people’s lives changed and impacted for good.  We all get excited when we see miracles, signs, and wonders.

     But signs, wonders, miracles, challenging the enemy on his turf, or even ministering to others is not the most important thing we are here for on this earth.  All of that can be done by anyone who walks in faith.

     Elijah’s greatest strength was in knowing who God was in the world as God over elements, needs, and the enemy.  Elijah’s greatest failure was in not realizing that God was a God from within and not just without.  He was not in outward things such as great winds, earthquakes, or fire but was in the gentle breeze of His spirit that we now know as Holy Spirit who dwells inside of Christians.  Holy Spirit is that God-voice within that leads us in times of distress,  that keeps us humble, and makes us useful for the Lord’s hand.

     Elijah took great pride in his accomplishments (see 1 Kings 19:14) and thought he was the only one left while God had 7,000 others that he didn’t know about.  There is a great breach when we forget that God is God and fully in charge and completely in control of all the circumstances that mankind faces.  Sometimes man retains the right to govern his own deeds and sometimes God intervenes to show His direction.  God does honor free will and intervenes when He sees hope for change. We must respond in the same manner that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego did when faced with a choice to trust God’s present engagement or burn in the enemy’s fire. (Daniel 3:16-18)

16 “Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. 17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  18 “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

 

     Being Christians who minister the gospel message of reconciliation, while  performing miracles that change lives, and confronting the enemy’s camp with vibrant vigor is one thing but we must stand firm when we feel we stand alone.    It is at these times, while feeling alone, that we must remind ourselves that, as Christians, we are never alone when God is with us.  It is at these times that we draw close to God, and gain strength from knowing His presence and knowing ourselves better. Knowing that we are simply to walk faith-full and patiently waiting for the hand of God to move on our behalf.      

     On September 10, 1813, after defeating a British naval squadron on Lake Erie during the War of 1812, the American Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was heard to declare, We have met the enemy and they are ours,” (or they are us).  Perry understood that the key to victory was to defeat the enemy within.    On that day of great victory for Perry, his ship flew a flag that simply read,Don’t give up the ship.”  It was this flag that ultimately immortalized the words of his friend, Capt. Lawrence. 

     Being able to identify your enemy is the first and greatest key to gaining victory.  Like Elijah, sometimes that enemy is ourselves.  Knowing that we can walk in all the supernatural life is the result of the Christ-bought resurrected life but we must never forget that God’s work is primarily in us, and for God, transforming us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ and that is the most important work from His perspective.  He loves us, He knows us, He helps us – we must remember that we are our greatest asset and obstacle from time to time.  Sometimes victory may not be as you expected but, no matter what, Stand Firm, Secure the Breach, and Press on Towards Victory