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Stand Your Ground

The life of Elijah, amongst other things, tells of this incident of king Ahaziah (son of Ahab) who while ruling over the northern kingdom, had an accident at home, got sick, and sent messengers to Baalzebub in Ekron to acquire his future - if he will get better and live.

Long story short - God sends Elijah to intervene with a message that the king will surely die for not asking God about his future. He (Elijah) is later on visited by captains of 50 to be brought before the king (and probably be killed along the way) so he presents the first two captains with sort of a heart motivation test, and not only do both captains fail, but God sends fire and consumes the captains and their company of 50.

When the third captain comes, he is humble and fears for his life, and God tells Elijah that it's safe to accompany him to see the king. When seeing the king, Elijah speaks the same message he gave the messengers at the beginning of the story - the king shall die for not seeking the Lord God, but turning to idols.

This brings me to ponder about several things:

Ahab ruled for 22 years. Elijah started serving as a prophet for at least half of those years (some say he first appeared in the middle of Ahab's reign), and then through the reign of his son (2 more years).

Elijah was so "all-in" for God, so wholesome in how he served God, but we never hear him ask God when these evil kings might be taken away from the throne. He never questions God's plan or timing. Rather, he was willingly sent to the brook Cherith to be trained and fed by God, and right after to Zarphat, to dwell with a widow in a time of severe famine (that he himself pronounced).

Cherith comes from the root Carat, which is to be cut off, separated, severed, but also the same word used for making a covenant; Zarphat comes from the root Zaraf, which means to refine with fire.

During his service time, what we read about Elijah is how he was humble to endure God's first-hand training, how he was always immediate to obey, how he was also human and suffered exhaustion that led to wrong decision making, but how he learned that God was found in the still small voice - that can be discerned when you obey, separate yourself, allow His refinement, wait patiently, and seek/listen to Him.

We also learn that he didn't develop bitterness towards God's supposed slowness in removing wicked rulers, but was quick as a spring to obey His instruction, regardless of the circumstances around him; Elijah also never watered down what the Lord told him to say, and never considered the danger for his life and reputation for speaking such extreme pronouncements to the different kings.

"The heroism of godly men and women is demonstrated in their being willing to face unpleasant conditions, even threatening circumstances, with remarkable calm. They act with firm resolve, even though it means incurring personal unpopularity. Nothing deters their passion to obey their God . . . regardless. His message is paramount. Period.

Elijah rose above his enemies, his king, even himself as he heroically stood his ground, delivered God’s message, and refused to dull its edge. May the man’s tribe increase in this day of shallow, feel-good theology so popular among superficial, backslapping ministries."

(from "Elijah", by Charles R. Swindoll)

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Aug 29, 2022

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