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The Elijah Message
By Brian Pepper
In the LAST BOOK of the OLD TESTAMENT the last two verses God makes a prophetic utterance. Here it is! Malachi 4:5, 6 "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
In order that we may understand what is meant by the Elijah message of the last days, we need to understand the work and life of Elijah when he was here upon this earth.
In 1 Kings 17:1, we read "And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years but according to My word." That was quite an announcement, a very abrupt announcement to Ahab the King of Israel.
Now the people had gone far in idolatry. They had been the people of God; Their basic teachings were the Word of God and the prophets, there is no doubt about that. And they still cling to much of the old religion, but they had mixed with it a satisfying portion of the WORSHIP of the SUN, Baal worship. They had gone further and further in their digression from the commandments of God, until at last the God of heaven said, "You have been worshipping the sun; you have; been putting the sun above the true God of heaven."
And God said through the prophet "Oh, King Ahab, remember this, you have rejected your God; you have turned your back upon the commandments of God. You preferred the tradition of men and the teachings of men; you have honoured the sun above the Lord God, your creator, the creator of heaven and earth, now you may have the sun."
You can just imagine the havoc that it did in Israel. They did not repent; they did not soften their hearts; it did not change them spiritually - not at all. They just grew more and more bitter. Word got around; it was no secret, they had been told plainly, they knew it was punishment from Jehovah - This is because of our disobedience, because of our rejection of the commandments of God. They knew why they were suffering.
But proud man does not like to change. When we have been doing something, we hate to change, we hate to give up our way of living. So they clung to their old way of living in preference to the commandments of God.
After a little over three years, sin was brought to a show down, In 1 Kings the 18 chapter, God said to Elijah the prophet, "Go and show yourself to Ahab. They have had test enough now, Now let them have a chance to decide what they are going to do about it. They have had opportunity enough, give them a chance to make their final decision."
So all these people were gathered together there upon Mt Carmel - that high plateau mountain to the north of Palestine. Here they came, the people of Israel, these individuals still clinging to pagan ways that they had mixed with the words of the true God. Elijah had warned, “If you want it to rain, you must come to God in repentance." And there the people came by the thousands up to the top of Mt Carmel. They poured up the mountain side. Finally came the hour that had been appointed by Elijah the prophet when the people must make their choice and take their stand one way or the other.
Just think of it. There was Elijah the preacher, not a popular preacher, no, by no means. He did not have the backing of the great State Church. He did not have millions of loyal supporters. Elijah did not care what people thought of him, he only cared about God. There he was single handed, without a bodyguard or friend. But he knew that God was on his side and that was all that mattered. He well knew that the fury of the people had reached a high pitch and that their tempers were very inflamed.
And now Elijah appears before the King. The King as referee stood there before those people and listened to the mighty challenge of Elijah. "Now King, you have had a chance. The people have suffered under this scorching sun. It can be changed; the God of heaven will listen if our people will only repent."
There was the appeal. It was very simple and sincere. "Now I will tell you what to do. You choose an ox for the offering of Baal." They were used to that. They always offered the blood of an ox in connection with their pagan ceremonies. They would place the ox high on the grill of the great altar, slaughter it, and as the blood flowed down from that dying bull the people would go into their debasing and immoral dancing, spreading the blood around on all the worshippers. They were used to that, only they were used to having shade for their shady practices on the hillside. But there was no shade now.
Elijah said "Pick your offering and I will take the other." He gave them first choice - he was very courteous. 1 Kings 18:23, 24 "You offer your sacrifice and cry to Baal, asking Baal to hear you. Then, he said, I will pray and the God that answers by fire let Him be God."
The challenge that Elijah brought to the people was very simple and very clear: "Now friends, there is no use to compromise. There is no use to go halfway. If God be God, serve Him; if Baal be God, serve him."
There are many individuals who think that it is possible to mix in a little bit of Baal and a little bit of the true worship of God. They think that it does not do any harm if there is a bit of error, a little bit of falsehood, a little bit of paganism, a little bit of Sun-day, a little bit of tradition, and mix it all up with the worship of God, Oh yes it is alright. But no! Here on the mountain top Elijah calls for a sharp reform, an all-the-way surrender. God hates half-hearted and compromising worship.
As He warns in Revelation 3:15, 16, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."
There are a lot of people today who are living a half-way life. If we are going to hang on to tradition, we might as well go all the way in the world; But if we are going to serve God then we ought to serve Him with all our hearts.
But there was another situation on Mt Carmel. Ahab the King accepted that challenge and he turns to the religious leaders on his side; and do you know how many representatives he had- how many preachers and priests? 850 Eight hundred and fifty!
There they were with their doctor's degrees, their university degrees, with all their theoretical theology and all their ecclesiastical learning, and all the refinement of their pomp and tradition in religious practices. They knew the ceremonies: they knew the rituals; when to sprinkle water and when to offer incense; they knew when to burn the candles and chant the mass. They had practiced the ritual well, and it was a very pompous affair and made a great impression on the people. Eight hundred and fifty preachers or priests. There they were.
And over here on the other side was the lone prophet of God. Just one, my friend! If they had been voting at that time, he would have been outvoted 850 to 1; That is as far as the religious leaders were concerned. Where did the MAJORITY stand? Almost all stood over on this side.
Later on God gave Elijah some secret information “I do have about 7000 in all Israel who will not bow the knee to Baal.” That was encouraging information. But they were not on the mountain top that day. Up here all the people were siding with the priests. WHY? It says there "'Were the eight hundred and fifty prophets of Baal-- now I want you to catch this phrase, I think that you will get the meaning of it.
Verse 19 “Which ate at Jezebel's table." Do you get the point? Do you see it friends? Why were they over there standing on this side? Why they had sold out their spiritual birth right. Why were they preaching TRADITION? They ate at Jezebels table. They were waxing fat from catering to the popular appetites of the people in that day. There they were: they ate at Jezebels table they were fed by the State. They were STATE PREACHERS, and they preached the way they were paid to preach; they catered to the court and to the fancy of society of that day.
Unfortunately men have a tendency to preach to where the money comes from. Like the minister of a popular Church when he was asked to preach a Temperance sermon in connection with a Temperance appeal he said, "I would not dare preach against liquor in my congregation because some of the biggest supporters of my church are in the liquor business."
Isn’t it a terrible thing when preachers eat at Jezebels table? Selling out the high standards of truth, to wax fat from State favour and popular applause. Just like the man in Sydney who is preaching about Jesus Christ who died on Calvary for you and for me, and when he gives the Church the bill for his services he charges them $200 a week. What a tragedy when preachers eat at Jezebel's table. What an awful thing to preach this gospel for gain and for profit -- eating at Jezebel’s table.
And I tell you that when men eat at Jezebel’s table they are never going to go out and preach the TRUTH clearly and straightly, they are going to do everything they can to hold individuals in tradition, giving them pleasing things that will cater to the natural appetites of the flesh; don’t forget that. Eating at Jezebel’s table is a dangerous thing.
Yes here were these prophets and priests of Baal preaching pleasing things and fables, mixed up with tradition, and the call is given: "If God be God, serve Him. Step over the line and go all the way; if Baal be God, --- if you want tradition, you want the world --go all the way."
So they went ahead with their preparations for the sacrifice. They prepared the altar; they prepared the bull, went through their heavenish incantations and then cut its throat. They laid the pieces upon the altar and then began to pray and to plead. They became very enthusiastic. Verses 26, 28.
They became so enthusiastic that they jumped up on the altar and shouted, they cut themselves with knives or lancets. Some people say that if there is enough shouting, God must be there. They had plenty of shouting and plenty of jumping there. They were all worked up into a great religious excitement and a terrific religious frenzy, leaping and cutting themselves; they were very earnest. You never saw a more earnest group of preachers or a higher pitch of religious enthusiasm. But they were wrong --completely wrong!
Finally Elijah mocked them - it is one of the few places in the Bible that you find sarcasm. A minister must be very careful not to be sarcastic. It is easy to be, and there is a temptation there. There is no place for sarcasm in the pulpit. Verse 27.
But Elijah taunted them, "Saying, I don’t think you are talking quite loud enough. I think that Baal must be taking his afternoon nap. I think if you shout just a little louder, he will awaken." It was just like being stung with a bumble bee! Then Elijah suggests, “I know what it is, he is going out on a hunt. You know the hunting season opened up out there in the mountains, the other day and he has gone out deer hunting. Shout a little louder; send somebody after him and call him back; tell your God you are desperate, you need him right now.
They could hardly stand it. They saw how foolish were their pretenses, yet at the same time they were willing to do anything but obey. That is a remarkable thing; people are willing to do almost anything but just what God asks. I must do what God says, I must do what He asks me. Religion is just that simple, but people say, "But that is too hard. I don’t want to do that; that will make me look peculiar."
Now over here on the side of TRUTH, it is time for the evening sacrifice. Elijah says in verse 30, "Come near; come near." I like that word "Come, don’t you? The Lord says "Come now, and let us reason together." Isaiah 1:18. Elijah called the people, -- "Come".
It says he repaired the broken down altar of the Lord. That is a good thing to do, if men break down the altar of TRUTH just build it up again. Don’t lack courage. Build up these TRUTHS that they have broken down by tradition back through the years. Some people say "Oh, what difference does it make? Let the altar fall. A little tradition won’t make any difference." No. Elijah repaired the broken down altar of the Lord. He put it all back in place and then he put the sacrifice thereon and he offered a very simple a very trusting prayer to his Heavenly Father; Nothing very pompous about it. Just a simple prayer and that is the kind that God answers.
All of a sudden the skies were split in two and down the corridors of heaven came that bolt of heavenly lightning, kindled by the glory of God; it came down and devoured the sacrifice, the altar, and all. Over here on the side of Baal the people began to shout: Verse 39. "The Lord, He is the God; He is the God." Right away they swung over. Elijah had said, "Choose whom ye will serve”. The death sentence was passed upon these 850 false religious leaders and they were immediately slain, as all the disobedient will be in the judgment day.
In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets.” Do you remember that? As long as heaven is overhead or earth under foot, so long must the law endure. And then He goes on to warn that the very lowest, counted as the very least in heaven is the man who teaches individuals to break the commandments of God. I will tell you it is a terrible responsibility. Why it is bad enough to do wrong yourself; but it is all the worse to teach others to break God's commandments. So they all suffered under the death sentence.
And now Elijah calls for a special season of prayer. Cry to God and He will turn the curse He has placed on Israel. Yes He will turn back this terrible famine, this terrible drought. He went up on the mountainside alone to pray. Looking toward the sea, he prayed persistently, perserveringly. He cried to God again and again and pleaded with God.
And after a while the young servant brought back the report, "There is a little cloud, not very big-- about the size of a man’s hand." That wasn’t very much to tie your faith to was it? Hard to get a storm out of a cloud that size. But it was enough for Elijah’s faith. Now that is what I like about faith, it can hang upon very small evidences, but faith holds on and God honours faith.
Elijah arose from his place of prayer and called "Tell Ahab to get ready, get into his chariot. He better be on his way or he will never make it in time; a great storm is coming." Imagine a storm out of a little tiny cloud about the size of a man's hand. But it was enough for faith. So Elijah girt himself up and stood before the king and said, "Oh king, I will go before you." It says “He ran before the chariot of horses," and he ran all the way as the king’s crier.
And what is the pronouncement before the king? Verse 46, "Prepare the way, the king is coming. Out of the way with all stumblingblocks. Out of the way, the king is coming!" They did that in those Oriental countries.
Yes ELIJAH WAS THE VERY SYMBOL of the LAST MESSAGE to all the world announcing the coming KING. The Bible says that the Elijah message will again go to the world in the last days-- another appeal- again crying, “The King is coming, The King is coming! Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” I think it is a wonderful privilege to be the forerunner of the King, don’t you? Elijah was a type of the people of God who live in the last days just before Jesus comes back.
Revelation 12:17. "And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the Remnant of her seed which keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
Don’t you see it friends isn’t it plain? The Elijah people of the Last Days stand out for God. They are in the minority, for as in Elijah’s day Elijah was outnumbered by 850 to 1. Don’t you fall for that old catch of the Devil, "The majority are always right they must be, surely they all can’t be wrong!" The Big CHURCH preachers were wrong then and they are just as wrong today.
Do you know something else that happened to Elijah? We have to admit it; he did go through a period of discouragement. Word came to him that Jezebel read sworn vengeance on him and he fled for his life, and then in utter discouragement, out under a juniper tree in the desert, he prayed, "Lord just let me die." Just imagine what would have happened if God had answered his prayers as he wanted them answered? Why it would have brought disgrace on the recent reformation.
God sent an angel to find Elijah out there in the wilderness where there was no food. God has promised that our bread and our water shall be sure, and Elijah found that He meant it just exactly the way that He said it. Yes God will take care of you too if you launch out upon His promises, and obey Him. You will not starve because of obedience.
A little later with Elisha, he crossed on over the River Jordan. Suddenly once more the sky was split wide open. Not this time with a bolt of lightning, but this time by a heavenly chariot. Elijah was swept up and Elisha saw him as he was taken up into Glory.
He is one of the very few that ever left this world without tasting death. The only one that we know of outside Elijah is Enoch.
Only one or two have been taken from this world without seeing death, and Elijah became a type of the people of God in the Last Days --- just before Jesus comes who will be TRANSLATED. They are carrying that message to the World today, "The King is Coming; prepare the way of the Lord; get ready for the end, Jesus is coming back."
Many of them will live right on through the time of trouble; their bread and their water will be sure. Angels will take care of them during that awful TIME OF TROUBLE when the Bible says that drought will cover the land and the cattle will be lowing because there is no water. In fact there is no food. But God's people are promised that THEY will be cared for: their bread and their water will be sure. God never forsakes those who have been true to Him and kept His commandments.
Then at last when the Lord comes as KING OF KINGS, it says that they are taken home to heaven without DYING. For remember we are told that Elijah is a type of that LAST people of God living on the earth in the Last hours of Time. His Remnant people.
Revelation 14:12. "Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS of GOD, and the faith of Jesus." And then John the Revelator looks up into heaven and this is what he saw: Verse 14."And I looked and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle."
Friends are you going to stand like Elijah, true to God, upholding His commandments? Then you will be keeping His commandments. That is the qualification of the people that Jesus carries with Him back to the Glory land. Let us determine that as Elijah stood true to God in the midst of apostasy, we too will stand true to God in these Last Days.