What do you know about Elijah? There are some pretty amazing stories about this guy and his exploits. In the last post I talked about how Elijah called down “bad fire” from heaven to kill captains of the King’s army. Jesus is the one who pointed out to His disciples that Elijah was working from the wrong spirit. Check out the last post for more info.
I feel compelled to reveal God’s heart in these stories of old. I believe it is because of verses like this:
Matt 7:11 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (ESV)
And like this one:
Matt 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (ESV)
And of course verses like this:
John 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (ESV)
Why is it so important to know His will? He made us to be like Jesus and Jesus only does what sees the Father doing:
John 5:19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (ESV)
And where do we find the truth about God’s will? When we know the Father.
John 14:7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (ESV)
I believe if we can “see” how good God really is then we will always know His will in every situation. His “will” brings good to defeat evil. I mean His supernatural manifest “good” or glory. I mean miraculous and saving power. I mean “His actual presence changes everything because He is love” good.
Knowing His will means we must know His love repairs and saves. He never inflicts pain or hurt to make a point. We will find Him in a trial but He didn’t put us in the trial. That would be bullying! My Father, my Abba is not a bully. He is amazing. When we can see that we are walking in His will, His power to save will blast every situation with solutions. If we want to see a world changed, if we want to see the Kingdom come, we must be in agreement with His will. So what is His will? Love God and do good to others in love, always.
Jesus said this:
Matt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (ESV)
So what is being perfect like God?
Colossians 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (ESV)
1 John 4:17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (ESV)
So want to know who the real bully is? Well, the devil of course but…so are we. We are the bullies in the story. Elijah is an example. He was obviously gifted with power to see the future, to call down fire from heaven and to do amazing miracles and feats beyond human abilities. For example James says this:
James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (ESV)
I want to suggest that “a nature like ours” is different from you think. Maybe James is telling us that Elijah prayed for bad stuff and good stuff and still it still worked because he knew he was right with God? “WHAT?”
Look again at what Jesus said in Matt 5? God’s will for us is to forgive our enemies and see the rain fall on the unjust and just. God doesn’t hold mankind to a higher standard than His own standard. God wouldn’t direct us to violate His own commands. So when Elijah called down fire to consume people, he (Elijah) was committing murder. No murder is justified under the law. He wasn’t forgiving his enemies. Likewise when Elijah called for a drought, I believe it was his idea not God’s. Actually in 1 Kings it says Elijah “knew of the coming drought.” Still God is so amazing. Can you see that God takes the blame for the whole thing. Can you see that our fallen nature will put God in the role of fire breather and drought bringer? If you can see this it will blow your mind regarding the love of God.
OK, here is a little more to chew on. This is what God told Elijah when it was time for the drought to be over:
1 Kings 18:1 After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.”
What does Elijah do instead? He has this big show of power against the “priests of Baal.” He builds an altar, tells the competition to do the same and asks them to call down fire from heaven (Elijah’s gift?!?). When nothing happens Elijah wets his altar and calls down the fire that consumes the whole thing. We cheer! Yay Elijah. Then this happens.
1 Kings 18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.
Can you imagine for one moment Jesus doing any of this? Come on. I want to suggest that Elijah is acting out of Elijah’s will and not God’s will. We actually cheer at Elijah’s display of showmanship. Why? God doesn’t need to show off. He is bigger than any of that nonsense. Elijah however is obviously dealing with some power and rejection issues. Again he murders all the priests (450 men). Can you see Jesus with the knife in His hand? If not then you shouldn’t see God with a knife in His hand. Who had the knife in his hand?
Alright I have definitely stretched your noggin to breaking point, but let me leave you with this question: Could God’s “judgment” against Elijah look like this?
1 Kings 19:4 But he himself (Elijah) went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
When Elijah had a moment to reflect, do you believe he was overcome by guilt and condemnation “like his fathers?” Could it be that Elijah saw the blood on his hands and cried out to God in his misery to kill him? Could it be that Elijah was “reaping what he sowed?” You decide.
I’m not bad-mouthing Elijah. He was a great prophet, no doubt and as John the Baptist (and us) he paves the way for Jesus. He was a fallen human like us. The difference is we have Jesus where Elijah did not. We are being saved from all the junk that makes us want to call down fire and murder the other team.
There is a Jesus side to this story also. Our real enemy is not flesh and blood. Jesus is in the process of defeating our enemies all around us. He is working through us and over us to “defeat the priests of Baal” that are working against us. He has access to the fire from Heaven that He uses to burn off the lies and make us new. He is fighting the spiritual battle so we don’t have to fight our brother. Instead we love our enemy and see perfect love cast out our fears and bring salvation to our enemy and neighbor. That is a good fire from Heaven.