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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

Run for Your Life

“I, even I only”
Walter Lukic
A fugitive without a cause

An elderly man, exhausted by a long run in drenching rain, finally takes his rest for the day. He will not enjoy the comfort of the royal palace in Jezreel as will his king whose chariot he has guided on foot for several hours. The bare ground outside the city walls will be his bed for the night. Not long after the wearied man falls asleep, a court messenger hastily awakens him and conveys a startling message: Queen Jezebel has just vowed to have him killed the following day!

The much-needed rest is not any more on the mind of the wanted man. Facing the threat of imminent death by that wicked and fiercely determined woman, the man whose name means, “My God is Yahweh (YHWH),” runs for his life. The queen did not hide the manner of death that awaits the fugitive: He will share the fate of the prophets of Baal and Asherah (Ashtaroth) whom, just a few hours ago, he had ordered to be arrested and put to death on Mount Carmel. Not wasting a moment, he journeys hastily in the darkness of a rainy night. In Beersheba he leaves his servant and continues a day’s journey until reaching the Judean wilderness. Utterly exhausted and with heavy thoughts, he sits under a juniper tree and wishes to die.

Some puzzling questions

For centuries, Bible students have wrestled with some puzzling questions that are related to this remarkable man: How the man of God whose prayers had power to shut and to open heavens in the span of 3½? years, whose words brought fire from heaven to consume both animal sacrifice and the military units in pursuit of him, who prayed over a dead child and brought him back to life, how the man with so many evidences of God’s mighty acts could be intimidated and run for his life upon hearing about the threats of an unscrupulous, heathen woman. . . . Did God change His mind about him and forsake him? Or did his enemies obtain some advantage over him, making his position untenable? Or perhaps, for the honor of Jehovah, did this seasoned warrior somehow forget what Israel’s God had just done through and for him? Did he in a moment of weakness let go of God’s hand? We wish to consider these puzzling questions and learn from the sacred history some valuable lessons for our own time.

Political circumstances

The prophet Elijah appears on the biblical scene suddenly, at a time when the united monarchy of Israel had already become a divided kingdom—Judah and Israel. The kingdom of Israel, consisting of ten northern tribes, had established the seat of government in Samaria, with the secondary royal residence at the fortified city of Jezreel. Chapters 15 and 16 in 1 Kings report a major political instability in Israel (the northern kingdom). In the previous chapters we learn that the division of the once united Davidic kingdom was in accordance with God’s will. It is noteworthy that the first two rulers in Israel, Jeroboam and Baasha, both had prophetic designation. But due to their unfaithfulness to God, they could not establish stable dynasties. The first ruler, Jeroboam, and his entire house were exterminated by Baasha, and Baasha’s house was in turn wiped out by one of his officers, Zimri. It appears that Zimri’s reign did not last longer than a week. (1 Kings 16:15–23.) Omri, one of his military commanders, prevailed over Zimri who, seeing that everything was lost, took his own life. It then took Omri several years to quell the warring factions in the land and to establish himself on the throne.

Although the biblical record about Omri’s reign is relatively short (1 Kings 16:23-28), Omri appears to have possessed considerable political abilities. He patterned his policy to a large extent on that of David and Solomon: Preservation of internal peace, friendly relations with Judah, close ties with Phoenicians, maintaining a strong hand east of the Jordan, particularly against the Arameans. Unlike his predecessors, Omri succeeded in establishing a dynasty, though one that was short-lived (three generations). The problem with the reign of Omri from the biblical perspective was the amalgamation of Israelites with the Canaanite enclaves that remained in the land. The mingling of biblical monotheism with Canaanite polytheism led to the blurring of the line of distinction between the Israelite religious beliefs and practices and those of the heathens. This tendency was to be carried even farther by Omri’s most notable son, King Ahab.

Religious circumstances

Ahab reigned from approximately 874–853/852 B.C. He followed to a great extent the foreign policy of his father, Omri, by creating alliances with Phoenicia, Judah, and even his former enemies, the Arameans. Ahab’s fatal mistake was his marriage with a Phoenician princess, Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, the King of Sidon and Tyre. (1 Kings 16:31.) In the middle of the 9th century B.C., Tyre was at the height of her colonial expansion (later in the century Tyre was to establish a major Mediterranean naval power on the North African coast, Carthage). It should be noted that Ethbaal (“with Baal”), also known in history as Ittoba’al (Ithobalos), was formerly the priest of Astarte (Asherah). He assumed the throne by murdering Phelles, the king of Tyre.

The strong-willed Jezebel was a devotee of the chief Tyrian deity Baal Melqart, god of the underworld and death, ruler of the universe, but in several localities also thought to be the god of the annual cycle of vegetation, “The Lord of Rain and Dew,” the “storm” god, “He Who Rides in the Clouds,” etc., Jezebel also worshiped a major female deity and Baal’s consort, Asherah/Astarte, goddess of fertility. Under the influence of Jezebel, Ahab established the cult of Baal and Asherah in his capital city of Samaria. (1 Kings 16:32, 33.) To appease their god, worshipers of Baal sacrificed animals, and at time of crisis, even their children. The Bible called this practice detestable. (Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:9, 10.)Asherah, venerated as goddess of fertility, was worshipped in various ways, including through religious prostitution in groves and high places. (1 Kings 14:23, 24.)

Through Moses and the prophets, God strictly prohibited any veneration of the pagan deities and any of the abominable heathen practices. (Exodus 20:3; 23:13; Leviticus 20:23; 1 Samuel 8:5, 20.) In 2 Kings, chapter 17, God gives His reasons for allowing the Assyrian king to uproot the kingdom of Israel. These reasons represent a scathing rebuke of the northern kingdom for all the abominable things done in the land for about two centuries. Verse 15 sums up God’s grievances: “And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them” (2 Kings 17:15). About 120 years before Assyria took control of Samaria and wiped out the northern kingdom, the Lord raised up one of the mightiest prophets to stay the tide of evil and to bring the nation of Israel back to their God.

Church and state combined oppose God and His prophet

When we read the story about Elijah confronting King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, we should never forget that Elijah stood up not only against an apostate religion; Elijah in fact declared Holy War on the pagan state and its pagan god. This is best seen in the dialogue between Elijah and King Ahab when Elijah reappeared after 3½? years of drought: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.” (1 Kings 18:17, 18.)

Prior to its inception as a monarchy, Israel had been constituted and operated as a theocracy. The only sovereign king recognized in Israel was intended to be Jehovah—and Israel’s human monarch was only His visible representative. True, the church and state had been distinguished and had their own dedicated office bearers. However, the ten tribes, represented by the state governing structure, embraced as their God the God of their fathers who had revealed Himself at Mt. Sinai. On that mountain, also known as Horeb, the entire Jewish nation had made a solemn covenant with Jehovah, the Lord their God who had brought them out of Egypt, the house of bondage. Therefore, Israel was commanded to have no other gods before Him. (Exodus 20:2–6.)All twelve tribes promised to be Jehovah’s peculiar treasure and His witnesses, to keep His law, and remain faithful to the terms and conditions of the covenant. God, on His part, promised to bless His people in the Promised Land, and to elevate them above any other nation on earth. The division of the united monarchy of Israel in two parts did not invalidate the original covenant made at Mt. Sinai, either for Judah or for Israel.

Israel’s sliding into apostasy was already in progress at the time Jezebel became Ahab’s wife. Jezebel’s arrival only intensified the existing religious crisis and brought it to the breaking point. Being a devoted worshiper of Baal Melqart and Asherah, Jezebel was naturally allowed, together with the servants and Phoenician merchants who followed her in the interest of trade, to continue the practice of her native religion on Israelite soil. As stated before, Ahab, a weak character strongly influenced by his heathen wife, established the cult of Baal and Asherah in Samaria, and built a temple to Baal. (1 Kings 16:32.) Further, Jezebel sponsored at her court 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah (prophets of the groves). All these pagan prophets/priests ate at Jezebel’s table. (1 Kings 18:19.) Jezebel was not only a worshiper of pagan gods, but a fanatically zealous missionary prepared to use any means to spread her native religion. To achieve that objective, she did not hesitate to use force and to purge the realm of the prophets of the true God. (1 Kings 18:4, 13.)

God commissions the right man at the right time

It was at this critical juncture that God sent the man of His own choosing to confront the apostate King Ahab and his wicked wife, Jezebel. Elijah’s origin and his background are not clearly revealed to us. He was a Tishbite, either from Tishbe near Kadesh Naphtali or from some otherwise unknown Tishbe in Gilead. The territory of Gilead from which Elijah came is a mountainous region situated east of the Jordan River and south of the Sea of Galilee. Today this territory is part of the kingdom of Jordan. As if from nowhere, Elijah abruptly appears in the narrative to announce to 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” (1 Kings 17:1). As suddenly as Elijah appeared before Israel’s monarch, so abruptly did he vanish. The pen of Inspiration says this about Elijah’s faith: “It was only by the exercise of strong faith in the unfailing power of God’s word that Elijah delivered his message. Had he not possessed implicit confidence in the One whom he served, he would never have appeared before Ahab.”1

Picture the scene:

The church and state in Israel stand opposed to this man. He is the mortal enemy to Jezebel and to the prophets of Baal and Asherah sustained at her court. Elijah is now declared the greatest public enemy; all his civil rights are suspended, and he is hunted like a wild beast. As we have seen earlier, Jezebel had already bloodied her hands by killing the prophets of God. The search and arrest warrants are sent to every corner of Israel and even to the neighboring countries. The words of Ahab’s governor, Obadiah, when Elijah appeared to him, convey the intensity and the scope of the search: “And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?  As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not” (1 Kings 18:9, 10).

The fearless prophet

The purpose of this article is not to recount in detail all the mighty deeds which the prophet Elijah carried out at God’s direction. The basic outline of this history is known to most Bible students from their childhood years. We will only remind the readers that no rain or dew descended on the land of Israel until Elijah was summoned by God to show himself to King Ahab “after many days” (1 Kings 18:1). This was to serve as a powerful reminder that it was only at the word of Jehovah’s servant that the fertilizing rains would return to the promised land. Rain and dew are Jehovah’s gift, not Baal’s, though Baal was presumptuously praised as “Rider of the Clouds.” During this long period of several years (as recounted in 1 Kings 17), God first hid His messenger on the banks of the brook Cherith (probably on the eastern side of the Jordan River in some recess of the Gilead uplands). While there, Elijah drank water from the brook and got his food from ravens that God directed to feed His servant.

When the brook dried up in the summer months due to drought, God instructed Elijah to go to the home of a widow in Zarephath, a small Phoenician town under the jurisdiction of Zidon (Sidon). It is remarkable that Elijah was sent to Sidon, the homeland of Queen Jezebel and her god Baal Melqart. This land had likewise been affected by drought and by the food shortages. The paradox of this story is that the life-sustaining blessings are bestowed on Elijah in Baal’s own land, while these blessings are withheld from Israel. The lesson is obvious: God’s blessings will be suspended there where His word is no longer heeded and where Baal is worshipped. The Phoenician widow shared in the blessings because she took the word of Jehovah seriously enough to share her last morsel with His prophet. Even greater blessings are in store for this widow showing hospitality and faith: Elijah intercedes for her dead son and God restores the life to the child!

Showdown at Mount Carmel

Ultimately, God is prepared to end the long season of drought—but not before a dramatic showdown on Mount Carmel. Elijah issues a challenge to the gods of Ahab and Jezebel and to all the prophets of Baal and Asherah. On Mount Carmel Elijah proposes to test their power and the power of their gods in the presence of “all Israel” (1 Kings 18:19). This mount, known for its luxuriant growth, was thought to be a place where the power of Baal was especially potent. Two altars will be set up with animal sacrifices placed on them and presented as burnt offerings, but no fire will be kindled by human hands. The fire which will consume the sacrifice must come directly from heaven by the true God, whichever he is—whether Baal or Jehovah. Therefore, both the prophets of Baal and Elijah will pray to their respective gods asking of him to send the fire from heaven.

We know the outcome of this trial on Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal and Asherah were utterly humiliated and defeated and the God of Elijah, the covenant God of Israel and His servant Elijah, won a major victory. Jehovah is the God who controls the heaven and sky, He can bring fire from heaven as much as He can shut up the heavens and deprive the entire land of rain by the word of His prophet. At the order of Elijah, all the prophets of Baal and Asherah are immediately seized and put to death.

A very important detail at the trial on Mount Carmel should be noted. Elijah asked that all Israel be assembled to witness this major event. Then he challenged the people to choose whom they would serve: “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men” (1 Kings 18:21, 22). God cannot accept half-hearted service and religious “sitting on the fence.” When God appeared in the flesh, He declared the same truth: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). The remnant church of God is sternly rebuked for the same lack of commitment: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15, 16).

The prelude to Elijah’s crisis

When God responded to Elijah’s prayer by sending fire to fully consume the sacrifice—including all the water around the altar, and even the altar stones—the people answered unanimously and in awe: “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God” (1 Kings 18:39). Such collective professions of faith by the people who witness a supernatural event or who are brought to a strait place, should be taken with some reservation. The great multitude assembled at Mount Carmel consisted of individuals with a variety of religious beliefs. Some of them were unconverted Canaanites and unapologetic Baal worshipers; the majority of them were worshipers of Jehovah only in name but in truth were worshipers of pagan deities. A relatively small number of Israelites in the assembled throng worshiped Jehovah in spirit and in truth.

From the events to follow, it appears that Elijah did not make a proper assessment of the spiritual standing of his countrymen. He rather cherished some unrealistic expectations of mass repentance and conversion. “Elijah had expected much from the miracle wrought on Carmel. He had hoped that after this display of God’s power, Jezebel would no longer have influence over the mind of Ahab, and that there would be a speedy reform throughout Israel.”2 Fairly soon he was met with bitter disappointment. Serious illness, famine, horrors of war and personal tragedies subdue human pride and make sufferers feel vulnerable and dependent on help from outside, including divine intervention. Soon after the distressing events are behind them, however, most people tend to forget their indebtedness to God and their need of Him. Elijah was soon to realize that he had hoped for too much too soon.

“I am not better than my fathers”

When God instructed Elijah to show himself unto Ahab, He also promised, “. . . and I will send rain upon the earth” (1 Kings 18:1 last part). Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel to pray for the promised rain. Seven times the servant went to look toward the sea for a sign of the coming rain. Seven times, Elijah’s trust in God’s promise was severely tested. Six times, the servant returned and reported no sign of rain. But the seventh time, a small cloud appeared in the distant sky. For Elijah this was sufficient evidence that God was about to fulfill His promise. He immediately sent the servant to advise King Ahab to prepare his chariot because an abundance of rain was on the way. As the strong winds and heavy rain significantly reduced the visibility, Elijah was supernaturally enabled to guide the king’s chariot by running all the way from Mt. Carmel to the gates of Jezreel. By this act Elijah showed humility and respect for his king.

The last event brings us to the opening scene in this writing. Upon returning to his residence, King Ahab related to his wife with much excitement the amazing events of the day. But Jezebel did not receive well the news from Mount Carmel; rather, she became enraged. Filled with bloodthirsty vengeance, the furious queen threatened Elijah with imminent death. Her message to the prophet of Jehovah was confirmed by a typical Near Eastern oath: “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time” (1 Kings 19:2 last part).

Awakened from sleep on a rainy night, Elijah is in shock and disbelief. Fearing for his life, he immediately sets out on a long journey. Elijah will travel on foot through the night and then for several days the distance of about 100 miles until he reaches Beersheba, the southernmost settlement in the kingdom of Judah. There Elijah leaves his servant and journeys for a day until he arrives in the wilderness of Negev. Physically exhausted and greatly disappointed by the reaction of the nation’s leaders and their subjects, Elijah has no desire to live and to carry the duties of Israel’s prophet. He simply wishes to die. “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4 last part).

The inspired pen provides us with a fascinating insight into the cause of Elijah’s temporary defeat:

“A reaction such as frequently follows high faith and glorious success was pressing upon Elijah. He feared that the reformation begun on Carmel might not be lasting; and depression seized him. He had been exalted to Pisgah’s top; now he was in the valley. While under the inspiration of the Almighty, he had stood the severest trial of faith; but in this time of discouragement, with Jezebel’s threat sounding in his ears, and Satan still apparently prevailing through the plotting of this wicked woman, he lost his hold on God. He had been exalted above measure, and the reaction was tremendous. Forgetting God, Elijah fled on and on, until he found himself in a dreary waste, alone.”3

The prophet laid down under a juniper tree and fell asleep. Did God still care about Elijah at this dark hour? Again, let us consider from the pen of Inspiration: “Did God forsake Elijah in his hour of trial? Oh, no! He loved His servant no less when Elijah felt himself forsaken of God and man than when, in answer to his prayer, fire flashed from heaven and illuminated the mountaintop.”4 A gentle touch and a soft voice awakened him. When Elijah looked up, he did not see the face of an enemy but rather a compassionate face of an angel of God. The angel brought him bread and water and urged him to eat. As Elijah ate and fell asleep again, the angel came the second time and urged the prophet to eat again because he was soon to embark on a great journey. Indeed, Elijah was to travel for forty days and forty nights without any food until coming to Horeb, the mount of God (Mount Sinai).

“I, even I, only”

While he was sheltered in a cave, a voice came to the discouraged fugitive, asking the question: “What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9). Between the lines, this question implied another, more probing question: “Who sent you, Elijah, from Jezreel all the way to the wilderness of Negev? Why did you not stand by your post but fled before Jezebel? Did you forget what I have done through you for my people and how I have preserved your life in the most trying circumstances?” Elijah’s answer tells us much about the thoughts there were on his mind: “And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10).

On a closer reading, Elijah’s response reveals that he indeed had lost sight of something—who God is, what God has done, and what God could do. The pronoun “I” appears too many times in Elijah’s response, both in respect of his relation to God, and the people’s relation to God and to himself. We could paraphrase Elijah’s words this way: “I have been a faithful and mighty warrior for the Covenant God, but the people have been unfaithful; they have killed your prophets to the point that I am the only one left alive, yet now they want to kill me. There is no hope for Israel and there is no purpose to my ministry and to my life.”

God’s reply to Elijah is truly amazing. God does not speak immediately; He rather wishes to teach Elijah an important object lesson about His own character. Further, God intends to reveal to His servant the secret place where lies human strength and victory. Elijah is invited to step out of the cave and to stand before the Lord on the mount. As he stood there, a tempestuous wind rent the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces, but God was not in the wind. The wind was followed by a might earthquake and then by fire. Yet God was not in them, either. Then Elijah heard a still small voice. Upon hearing that voice, Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle and went out at the opening of the cave. That voice asked again the same question: “What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11–13). Elijah gave the same answer; only this time he addresses God directly rather than indirectly.

With the still small voice, God shouted to Elijah—as well as to all of us—something important about His character: Yes, “our God is consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29), but He is also more than that: “For God is love” (1 John 4:8). Further, Elijah who carried out the most formidable work of reformation in biblical history, learned another lesson: “Not in mighty manifestations of divine power, but by ‘a still small voice,’ did God choose to reveal Himself to His servant. He desired to teach Elijah that it is not always the work that makes the greatest demonstration that is most successful in accomplishing His purpose.”5 The prophet Isaiah expresses the same thought: “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not” (Isaiah 30:15).

What were the effects of the still small voice upon Elijah?“His petulance was silenced, his spirit softened and subdued. He now knew that a quiet trust, a firm reliance on God, would ever find for him a present help in time of need. . . . Here is the answer: Not by eloquence or logic are men’s hearts reached, but by the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit, which operate quietly yet surely in transforming and developing character. It is the still, small voice of the Spirit of God that has power to change the heart.”6

Elijah returns to work with an assurance that he is not alone

God did not directly respond to Elijah’s defense, nor did he argue with him. He simply sent him back to his place of work and provided him with several assignments: To anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, Jehu to be king over Israel, and Elisha to be the prophet to succeed Elijah. (1 Kings 19:15–17.) Elijah’s divine Master even revealed to him which tasks would be performed by the individuals that Elijah would anoint: They were to execute divine judgment upon the rebellious royal family in Israel and upon their supporters. God knew perfectly well what His servant needed in the hour of crisis: “For the disheartened there is a sure remedy—faith, prayer, work. Faith and activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by day.”7

Yet in respect of one point, God responded to Elijah’s defense: Elijah was not the only true worshiper of Jehovah in Israel. “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). This declaration is highly significant for God’s remnant people living today in an age of such rampant apostasy: When we do not see any faithful servants of God around us, let us remember that they still exist, and that God knows each one of them. We are not alone.

“Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are”

The story of Elijah’s temporary defeat was written in the Holy Scriptures for our learning and for our encouragement. This prophet of God is portrayed as any other human being, with both his strengths and weaknesses. Elijah was a man of faith and a master of effective prayers that move the hand of God: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (James 5:17).

At the same time, Elijah was not above the frailties of humanity: “But he who had been blessed with so many evidences of God’s loving care was not above the frailties of mankind, and in this dark hour his faith and courage forsook him.”8 In a rare moment of weakness, he was intimidated, showed a lack of faith, and deserted his post of duty, which prevented God from accomplishing more for His people:

“Elijah should not have fled from his post of duty. He should have met the threat of Jezebel with an appeal for protection to the One who had commissioned him to vindicate the honor of Jehovah. . . . Had he remained where he was, had he made God his refuge and strength, standing steadfast for the truth, he would have been shielded from harm. The Lord would have given him another signal victory by sending His judgments on Jezebel; and the impression made on the king and the people would have wrought a great reformation.”9

If we read the biblical account of Elijah’s moment of crisis with due spiritual discernment, we will learn some precious lessons for our individual lives. “Into the experience of all there come times of keen disappointment and utter discouragement—days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of His earthborn children; days when troubles harass the soul, till death seems preferable to life. It is then that many lose their hold on God and are brought into the slavery of doubt, the bondage of unbelief. Could we at such times discern with spiritual insight the meaning of God’s providences we should see angels seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a foundation more firm than the everlasting hills, and new faith, new life, would spring into being.”10

God is still asking each one of us, as He asked Elijah, “What doest thou here?” Are you true to your post of duty? Are you there where you should be, where your influence is most effective for the benefit of the souls who need to be warned of the coming judgment and gathered in the fold? “Of families, as of individuals, the question is asked, ‘What doest thou here?’ In many churches there are families well instructed in the truths of God’s word, who might widen the sphere of their influence by moving to places in need of the ministry they are capable of giving.”11

Elijah was the man who did not see death, but was translated to heaven alive. Only one other man in the entire history of the Bible was granted that honor (Enoch). Elijah is further a type of the great reformers who were to prepare the way for the first and for the second coming of the Messiah, respectively. John the Baptist fulfilled that role at the first coming of Christ. The saints who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus and who live in the end-time, will prepare the way for Christ’s second coming. They are represented by Elijah in Malachi 4:4, 5: “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

The work of the end-time Elijah will be to call God’s people to obedience to the law of God as it was given to Israel through Moses. The life and ministry of Elijah show some amazing parallels with the lives of Moses and John the Baptist. It was Moses and Elijah who appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mount Tabor) with the glorified Jesus and conversed with Him in the sight of Christ’s three disciples. (Matthew 17:1–9; Mark 9:2–9; Luke 9:28–37.) Moses and Elijah were the most qualified humans to prepare their Messiah for the hour of crisis. Should not their experiences, their defeats, and their victories serve as a lesson book to us? “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). It is the sincere wish and prayer of the author of this article that God may grant that every reader of this magazine would become a part of the remnant community that prepares the way for the Messiah’s second coming!

1 1. Prophets and Kings, p. 121.
2 2. Ibid., p. 160.
3 3. Ibid., pp. 161, 162.
4 4. Ibid., p. 166.
5 5. Ibid., p. 168.
6 6. Ibid., p. 169.
7 7. Ibid., p. 164.
8 8. Ibid., p. 159.
9 9. Ibid., p. 160.
10 10. Ibid., p. 162.
11 11. Ibid., p. 172.