Monday, September 11, 2017

"ISAIAH" ~ A Climax of a Literary Art

Many of the prophecies in Isaiah begin with the historical conditions and prophecies for his day and then move forward to a far greater fulfillment prior to the return of Jesus Christ. This is the dualism seen in many of the prophecies of the Holy Book. The first (historical) fulfillment is lesser in scope and is followed by the greater future fulfillment at the end of this present age. The dualism in Isaiah usually pertains to the prophecies about Jesus Christ, Israel, Judah or other nations. Two exceptions would be the prophecies of the coming Day of the lord and the Kingdom of God. These prophecies are singular and point to only one fulfillment.

There are four major themes of prophecy found in the book of Isaiah, and we will consider them in the remainder of this article. Isaiah is widely regarded as one of the greatest prophets of the Bible. His name means “YHWH (the LORD) is salvation.” He lived in Jerusalem and the prophecies God gave him were directed toward Israel, Judah, and other nations. Jewish tradition says he was of royal descent, and he may have been a cousin to King Uzziah. This may have given him access to the kings of Judah in Jerusalem.

The biblical account in chapter 1, verse 1 of the book he authored says he received visions from God during the reigns of four kings of Judah—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. The time covered is from the end of King Uzziah’s reign (Isaiah 6:1) to the Assyrian King Sennacheribs siege of Jerusalem. It was at least a 40-year ministry during the last half of the eighth century B.C.

Isaiah was married to a prophetess (Isaiah 8:3). They had two sons whose names had prophetic meanings. They were Shear-Jashub (Isaiah 7:3, meaning “a remnant shall return”) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:1-4, meaning “speed the spoil, hasten the booty”). Isaiah and his family would be for “signs and wonders in Israel” (Isaiah 8:18). His prophecies are still “signs and wonders” for us today.

Jewish tradition says he was killed by being sawn in two by King Manasseh, the son of King Hezekiah. This seems to be alluded to in Hebrews 11:37While we have very little information about Isaiah’s life, his inspired writings and prophecies have been preserved for generations in the Bible and are most important for us today.

Almost one-third of the chapters of the book of Isaiah contains prophecies about Jesus Christ, addressing both His first and second comings. Isaiah provides more prophecy of the second coming of Christ than any other Old Testament prophet. The following are some prophecies about Christ in both His first and second comings:
  • “He shall judge between the nations” (Isaiah 2:4).
  • He was to be the “Branch of the Lord” (Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 11:1).
  • He would be born of a virgin and be called “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8, 10).
  • He would be a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (Isaiah 8:14).
  • An eternal “government will be upon His shoulder” and He would be called the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
  • The Holy Spirit would “rest upon Him” (Isaiah 11:2).
  • He would be “a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation” (Isaiah 28:16).
Christ is directly spoken of in more than half of the chapters between Isaiah 40 and Isaiah 61. Undoubtedly, the most important chapter pertaining to mankind’s salvation is Isaiah 53. This prophecy explains how much He would suffer during His sacrifice for man’s sins.

Within this section, a description of His first coming begins in Isaiah 52:14, which says, “His visage [appearance] was marred more than any man.” Isaiah 53:2-5 explains that His earthly physical appearance would not stand out, He was “despised and rejected,” and “by His stripes [wounds] we are healed” of our sicknesses.

This pivotal chapter tells us that He would come to give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. The Passover lamb symbolized this merciful act (Isaiah 53:7; Exodus 12:5; 1 Corinthians 5:7). Statements of His death are then repeated: “For He was cut off from the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8). “And they made His grave with the wicked” (verse 9). He was an “offering for sin” (verse 10) and He “poured out His soul unto death” (verse 12).

Through the book of Isaiah, God revealed that Jesus would come to earth first as a human to deal with sin and then again in His glorified state after being resurrected from the grave to establish the Kingdom of God (see also Hebrews 9:28). Not understanding the dualism of Christ’s coming, many Jews rejected Him during His first coming as a human because He did not fulfill the prophecies of ruling over the earth and establishing an eternal government that is to occur during His second coming (Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 40:10).

Interestingly, God also revealed through Isaiah how Christ would be able to come back to life after being crucified. The prophet wrote, “Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise” (
Isaiah 26:19). Also, prior to Isaiah’s time, King David had prophesied of Christ’s death and resurrection (Psalm 16:10).

In terms of content, the largest single subject in the book of Isaiah is warnings to Israel and Judah both for Isaiah’s age and for us today. The first 11 chapters describe many social, moral and religious sins that are similar to the signs that the modern descendants of Israel and Judah are presently committing.

The dualism of the historical setting as a prophecy for the end of the age is apparent in chapter 11, which says, “The LORD shall set His hand again the second time” to bring them back from captivity (verse 11). The timing of this restoration is during and after Christ’s second coming (verses 4-10).

The warnings to Israel and Judah of their national sins continue throughout chapters 41 to 49. The difference is that in these chapters God gives them encouragement that He will eventually redeem them. Here are some examples:
  • “You are My servant, I have chosen you” (Isaiah 41:8-9; Isaiah 49:3).
  • “I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
  • “Even I will carry and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4).
  • The Lord is “the Redeemer of Israel” (Isaiah 49:7; Isaiah 44:22).
In chapters, 56 to 59 God continues to give correction and warning to Israel and Judah for their sins. In these chapters, Israel and Judah are chastised for their hypocrisy in how they worship God. There are two chapters in particular that touch on this religious hypocrisy. They are Isaiah 56, which focuses on keeping the Sabbath, and Isaiah 58, which deals with fasting for the wrong reasons and, again, keeping God’s Sabbath.

The prophecies to Israel and Judah in the book of Isaiah end on a future encouraging note with God’s eventual deliverance and mercy in the coming Kingdom of God (Isaiah 61:3-9; Isaiah 63:7-9, 14).

Prophecies about the coming Day of the Lord can be found in the writings of many of the Old Testament prophets, and Isaiah is no exception. This subject is covered from chapters 2 to 66. Unlike the dualism of the prophecies to Israel and Judah, most prophecies about the Day of the Lord are for an event yet to come. These foretell a time of awesome and frightening events leading to the return of Christ. Many people think of it as “the end of the world,” although it is really just the end of this present evil age.

Isaiah explains that the Day of the Lord will last for one year (Isaiah 34:8; Isaiah 61:2; Isaiah 63:4). The principle of a day for a year in prophecy also applies to the Day of the Lord (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6). It is the year of the “Lord’s vengeance” or God’s wrath (Revelation 6:17).

In the earlier chapters on this subject (2, 13 and 24), Isaiah describes the effects of God’s wrath on this world. Men will hide in caves in terror (Isaiah 2:19-21), the earth will be shaken and possibly moved from its orbit (Isaiah 13:13), and the earth will become almost empty and a total waste (Isaiah 24:1, 3, 6). Isaiah also speaks of the Day of the Lord as a time of war (Isaiah 31:8-9). These events are also described in the seven trumpets of Revelation 8-9.

God further reveals through Isaiah that the “daughter of Babylon” will be destroyed in the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 47:1, 5, 7, 9). These verses are almost identical to those of Revelation 18:7-8, 17-19, 21. This 
Babylon is the final end-time government and its religious system that will be destroyed at Christ’s return.

The time of God’s wrath will come to an end when “the great trumpet will be blown” (Isaiah 27:13) and Jesus Christ will return to the earth (Revelation 11:15). While the Day of the Lord often focuses on the wrath of God (the punishment that will come upon the disobedient for one year before Christ returns), this term is also used in a broader way by John in Revelation 1:10 to describe all the events—including the wrath of God, the Millennium and events thereafter—that will occur after Christ’s return. Virtually every Old Testament prophet who warned of God’s judgment on the Day of the Lord also spoke of restored peace and prosperity that will follow the judgment.

The last major theme addressed in Isaiah is the 
Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ will usher in with His return. The term “kingdom” is not used in Isaiah, but this future age is described in many of the chapters from the beginning to the end of Isaiah.
The following are some of the prophecies about this coming Kingdom:
  • The Lord will set up His kingdom over all nations, teach man His ways and judge between the nations (Isaiah 2:2-4).
  • The “Branch” will establish Jerusalem and those who dwell there as holy (Isaiah 4:2-6).
  • “The government will be upon His shoulder.” He will be called “Prince of Peace” and “of the increase of His government, there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
  • All animals will live at peace with man and one another, and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:6-9).
  • The Lord will resettle Israel in their land (Isaiah 14:1-2).
  • The deaf shall hear, the blind shall see, and Jacob’s descendants will “hallow” the Lord’s name (Isaiah 29:18, 22-24).
  • A king and princes will rule in quiet and peaceful habitations (Isaiah 32:1, 15-18).
  • “The desert shall … blossom as the rose,” the infirmed will be restored, and “waters shall burst forth in the wilderness” (Isaiah 35:1-10).
There are numerous prophecies about the Kingdom of God throughout chapters 44 to 66. It is a very important theme in this book. Everything written is leading up to the peaceful eternal government of God and, finally, to “new heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah 65:17).

Aside from the four major themes, there are a few other important subjects covered in the book of Isaiah. These include:
  • Prophecies of judgment coming against numerous nations (Isaiah 13-24).
  • Lucifer’s attempt to overthrow God (Isaiah 14:12-14).
  • Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah, his defeat and death, and the extension of Hezekiah’s life (Isaiah 36-39).
  • Chapters that speak of those who serve and obey God (Isaiah 25-26, 54, 61-62).
The prophecies of Isaiah are relevant in all generations, but they primarily point to the end of the age when Jesus Christ will return and set up the Kingdom of God. The warnings of the Day of the Lord and warnings to Israel and Judah are relevant for us today.

If we will heed these warnings from God, then we can be assured of the promises of mercy that is explained in the book of Isaiah.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"ELISHA" A model in teaching righteousness and faith.

The prophet Elisha     is God's servant, Elijah's successor, upon whom God's Spirit rests and by whom God does great miracles. He is a man of God, presented very positively in the biblical record; it is difficult to find a negative description of him or his actions. He represents all of God's true ministers. The story unfolds among four principal characters: Elisha, God's prophet; Gehazi, his assistant; the Shunammite woman, a wealthy and pious woman; and her young son, miraculously born. The interaction of these four people, each with his or her modern-day counterparts, constructs an intriguing parable with pointed lessons for humanity today.

Gehazi stands for the hirelings (John 10:12-13Zechariah 11:16-17), who set themselves up as ministers of God yet care only for themselves and their well being. This man's greed rises to the surface in the next chapter, when he takes Naaman's money and gifts after Elisha refuses to take them as payment for the Syrian commander's healing (II Kings 5:20-27). For this, God struck Gehazi and his descendants with Naaman's leprosy.

The Shunammite woman is described as "notable" (II Kings 4:8), a Hebrew word that can connote wealth, piety, renown, or elements of each. In the text, however, her piety predominates, as she sets aside a room for Elisha and cares for him whenever he comes to Shunem (verses 9-10). Evidently, she keeps the Sabbaths fastidiously, and her husband shrugs off her visiting Elisha on a normal day (verses 22-24). She is a type of the church as a whole (see Galatians 4:21-31Revelation 12:1-219:7-8).

Her offspring, a boy, is born as the result of an Abraham-and-Sarah-like miracle (II Kings 4:14-17). Other than that he seems to get along well with his father and mother'something read between the lines the Bible tells us very little else about this child. To use a literary term, he is Everyman, and as the child of the type of the church, he represents the individual Christian. Interestingly, the boy's father is an incidental character; he is involved but only in the background. Normally, we might think he represents God the Father, but this conclusion makes no sense in this case. The boy's father plays his bit part because he existed in the historical reality. Parables do not demand that each detail has an exact antitype, for as we all know, all analogies break down if taken too far.

Elijah was divinely directed by God to seek his successor, and Elijah found Elisha out in a field plowing on his father’s farm. Elijah placed his mantle (an outer garment, like a cloak) on Elisha’s shoulders, and Elisha apparently understood this symbolic act as being appointed to the role of a prophet. Without hesitation, Elisha accepted the call to service, leaving the comfort of his family and home to follow a less predictable life that would require personal sacrifice (1 Kings 19:19-21).

Elisha began his ministry as Elijah’s student and personal attendant. The young man would first prove himself faithful in small things, such as the humble duty of pouring water on the hands of Elijah (2 Kings 3:11). Elisha’s training under Elijah would gradually prepare him for a work that he would one day take up alone.

The Bible mentions both Elijah and Elisha visiting centers of religious learning in Israel that were attended by groups of men called “the sons of the prophets” (for example, see 1 Kings 20:35; 2 Kings 2:3, 5, 7, 15). Commenting on this phrase, “the schools or colleges of prophets which existed in several of the Israelite, and probably of the Jewish, towns, where young men were regularly educated for the prophetical office. These ‘schools’ make their first appearance under the prophet Samuel 1 Samuel 19:20” On the day that the prophet Elijah understood his ministry was coming to a close and that Elisha would take his place, Elijah said to Elisha, “‘Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?’ Elisha said, ‘Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me’” (2 Kings 2:9).

“The ‘double portion’ is that which denotes the proportion of a father’s property which was the right of an eldest (Deuteronomy 21:17). Elisha, therefore, asked for twice as much of Elijah’s spirit as should be inherited by any other of the ‘sons of the prophets.’ He wished to be acknowledged as Elijah’s ‘firstborn spiritual son’(2 Kings 2:9).

Elisha didn’t ask for worldly honor or for a high place among men. What he really desired was a large measure of the Holy Spirit that God had so freely placed upon the prophet Elijah. He knew that He needed God’s Holy Spirit to equip him for the responsibilities that lay ahead.

Elijah then answered, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10). The Hebrew words in this verse mean that if Elisha would be given the privilege of seeing the miraculous way God would take Elijah away, then it would be a sign that his request would be granted.

“Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and it's horsemen!’” (2 Kings 2:11-12). God had suddenly taken Elijah out of service, and Elisha was privileged to watch the miraculous way in which his master departed.

Elisha reached down and picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from the prophet when he was taken away. This represented the authority God had given His prophet. Elijah had used it earlier that same morning in miraculously causing the waters of the Jordan River to divide (verse 8).

After picking up Elijah’s mantle, Elisha went to the bank of the Jordan River to test whether the spirit of Elijah had really fallen upon him. Approaching the river, he asked, “‘Where is the LORD God of Elijah?’ And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over” (verse 14).

The sons of the prophets also recognized that the “spirit of Elijah” now rested on Elisha, and they bowed before him in respect (verse 15). Elisha then began his prophetic career, which likely lasted some 50 years, as it extended over the reigns of four kings of Israel: Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash.

Elisha’s ministry differed from Elijah’s in some regards. Elijah was commissioned to deliver fearless messages of condemnation and judgment to the king and to the people, warning them to turn from sin. Elisha’s ministry was to build on the work that Elijah had begun by teaching the people God’s ways.

Throughout his long and effective years of labor, Elisha continued to advance the important spiritual education that was so needed at the schools of the prophets. For more understanding of Elijah’s prophetic role, read our article “Elijah the Prophet.”

Elisha’s prophetic ministry included works of healing and restoration. The biblical record also shows Elisha bringing joy to people through miracles from God. His gentle spirit enabled him to have a positive influence on the lives of many in Israel and is revealed in several illustrations in 2 Kings 4-6.

Elijah’s ministry began by shutting up the heavens for three and a half years, whereas Elisha’s ministry began by healing a spring of water near Jericho (2 Kings 2:19-22). This spring possessed certain toxic qualities, and one complained to Elisha that it was unfit for drinking and had destroyed the foliage around it. Elisha asked to have some salt in a new bowl brought to him. Elisha tossed the salt into the gushing spring and the poison of the pool of water was suddenly healed.

The use of the salt was symbolic, as it was God who performed the miracle. God declared through the prophet, “Thus says the LORD: ‘I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness’” (2 Kings 2:21).

Elisha’s second recorded miracle granted an impoverished family of faith a financial blessing. A student of one of the religious training centers died and his wife became a widow. She was very poor and owned just one marketable item of value, a jar of olive oil. She had two sons to care for, and she asked Elisha to help her as she feared her sons would be taken away to pay a debt.

Elisha instructed her to go to all her neighbors and borrow as many empty jars as she could. A miracle was going to occur that would allow her to fill every empty jar to the top by pouring from her one jar of olive oil. The one jar of oil was multiplied miraculously, and she was able to sell enough of the valuable oil to pay off her debt and live off the remainder (2 Kings 4:1-7).

Two additional miracles were wrought for a married couple dwelling in the town of Shunem. Elisha the prophet often stayed at the home of this childless couple, as his ministry would take him from town to town. As a gesture of appreciation for their hospitality he prophesied that they would have a son who would bring them great joy.

Later, the little boy suffered an illness while out in the field, and his mother went searching diligently until she found Elisha. The prophet went back to her house to see what could be done. The boy had died but Elisha prayed and God raised the boy from the dead (2 Kings 4:8-22; 2 Kings 4:23-37).
Elisha’s life work was in educating people about keeping God’s requirements and His blessings for living in faith. His message is just as important for us today, as we seek to draw close to and become more like the God who worked through Elisha. We must pray for God’s help and seek His Spirit as Elisha did. Numerous articles would be needed to explore each and every lesson we could draw from the life and work of Elisha the prophet. Studying the Bible stories and miracles in 1 Kings and 2 Kings can have an important impact on the diligent reader. In all the service and miracles performed by Elisha the prophet, whether it was in response to sickness, death, financial need, hunger or to give wise counsel to kings, something to note is that God didn’t prevent problems and trials in the lives of His people. Instead, God used these occasions to increase their faith and trust in Him. God often allows problems and trials for our learning, for our experience and for our spiritual growth. 

When we remember these stories, we can draw strength from them and understand that God is willing and able to help us with what we need, when we need it, that He expects us to keep all of His commandments if we are to boldly come before Him in times of need (John 14:12-15).

Monday, August 14, 2017

"PROPHET ELIJAH" A Simple Beautiful Story

This is the real point of this story. God is shaping the man Elijah to do great things, and he is doing so by adversity. It is interesting how this part of the story ends: the brook dries up. Elijah could probably see this coming, but note that the brook dries up before God tells him what to do. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof – and one test leads to another. One of the most striking things about Elijah is that he has no stated ancestry. This is quite unusual in the Old Testament. The Jews were very careful to record ancestry. This has led some scholars to suggest that he might even have been a Gentile. Others draw the parallel to Melchizedek, the priest of God with no ancestry, who is believed to be the pre-incarnate Christ. One thing is certain – he came out of nowhere.

Nowhere, geographically speaking, is the town of Tishbe in Gilead (see map). When a man is referred to by geography rather than by ancestry, it is something to notice. Elijah is from the sticks. But we may note two things about his character which define the man:

  • He is one who serves God. The phrase in the original is that he is one who stands before God. It calls to our minds the picture of the cherubim before God, awaiting His command.
  • He is a man of prayer. So he is a man who combines the outward life of God’s servant – a man of action who defines himself as standing before God, awaiting His pleasure – with the inner life of prayer.
In the combination of these two we see what kind of man God wants to bring to greatness. Many of us are of the opinion that our faith is tested and shown in “great moments.” That may be – but our faith is grown in hard times and small things.

(1 Ki 17:8-16) Then the word of the LORD came to him: {9} "Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food." {10} So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, "Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?" {11} As she was going to get it, he called, "And bring me, please, a piece of bread." {12} "As surely as the LORD your God lives," she replied, "I don't have any bread--only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it--and die." {13} Elijah said to her, "Don't be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. {14} For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.'" {15} She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. {16} For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

Zarephath, in a geography of the time, we see that this city is outside Israel. Elijah is the first prophet to the Gentiles. More than that, Zarephath is the home town of Jezebel – the queen who is the source of most of the trouble. I suspect that no one went looking for him there! But more important is this: it is God’s way of showing us just exactly who is in control. His methods are different from ours:

The evil would see Elijah as a fugitive, running from their power. God sends Elijah, his servant, as he pleases. By our weakness is his power shown; Ahab, for all his power, can’t find the man. And he’s in Jezebel’s home town! It’s a city of Gentiles. The super-righteous might be shocked by that; it’s unclean! But by the unclean things God sustains his people, showing that all things are under his power.
How often we envy the evil, considering them powerful – when in fact they are so powerless that God can protect his children with even the weakest of methods.

Widows of this time were a symbol of poverty and a common one. It is normal for women to live longer than men; in this time women were often married to a man several years older than themselves. That almost guaranteed widowhood to a woman; the poor you will always have with you. But what do we know about this particular widow?

She’s gathering sticks. If you’ve ever cooked over a campfire, you know that sticks are kindling – not firewood. Whatever she’s going to bake, it’s not going to take long. She’s rather a fatalist. She’s accepted the fact that she and her son are going to die of starvation. She has given up hope. She is appointed by God to keep Elijah.
Now, what kind of appointment is that? Surely God could find someone with a better attitude? But no; he chooses the small, the poor and the hopeless so that we might see his power. Her main qualification for the job is that she has no qualifications other than faith. See how she greets Elijah: “As the Lord your God lives” – she is not Jewish, but she recognizes the living God. It’s probably pretty obvious to her that Baal, the god of rain, thunder and good crops, has been of no help lately. The word has probably gotten around that it’s Yahweh who’s responsible for this drought. So this woman is probably not a worshiper of God. But she knows who He is. She has faith – without hope. Not being Jewish, she has no access to the living God. Therefore she has no hope of remedy at his hands. But she knows; she believes. It is a pittance of faith, with neither hope nor joy – but it is enough. She takes the prophet at his word and shares her last meal with him.

What does the prophet ask?

A drink of water. It is a small request, and much honored, for it would be discourteous to refuse. Bread too – the simplest of foods, a bread without yeast made only of oil and flour – is so small. He asks it of a woman who has so little. Notice that he does not tell her that her supplies will not fail until the end of his request.

It is a small, simple thing – but consider the reward God gives. Our Lord tells us that to receive a prophet is to receive a prophet’s reward, and she will receive the same food Elijah gets – and his company as well. It may not seem like it, but this meeting is a test for Elijah as well.

He is tested by her lack of supply. God did not tell Elijah that he was going to work this miracle; he just said go. Can’t you imagine that Elijah felt he had the wrong widow? He is tested by her lack of hope. Most of us are heavily influenced by the attitudes around us, and Elijah is no exception.

And this is the message: Elijah answers the challenge to his faith. “Do not fear.” Fear was the original reaction to sin in the Garden of Eden, for sin breaks the bond of trust with God. He challenges her to step out on faith, and give of her little. One is reminded of the widow’s mites in the New Testament – a great faith, a great gift. He assures her that God will multiply what she has. As our Lord taught,

(Luke 6:38) Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your lap. For with the same measure with which you measure, it shall be measured to you in return. (Matthew 10:42) "And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."

 “God’s work, done in God’s way, will receive God’s supply.”

It is an
unchanging nature of God. All this comes back to trust in God. If you trust him, you must know him.

You must know his infinite supply. He is the God who created all things, and if you are doing His work He wills, as a saying goes, “tax the farthest star in the universe” to maintain you. You must know His constant supply. It is not to your benefit that He supply you with everything at once, for then you might grow content and forget Him. But He will supply your daily bread. You must know His will, for it conditions His supply. His will is that you should have faith. This widow did, and she met God-who-supplies three times a day. This is his love for us.
All this happened a long time ago. What lessons are there for us today?

The world is a stage.Things are not always as they appear– or as they will be tomorrow. That which seems sure today may be gone, like so much dew.
  • Does evil seem overwhelming? It often did to Elijah. But where did he hide? Jezebel’s home town – and stayed there almost three years, undiscovered.
  • Does it seem you’re out of supplies? Not on God’s watch you aren’t. You will not hunger – neither will you need to build a barn to hold things.
Faith is tested in small things are the crucible from which God forges great believers. Most of us believe that if some great crisis of faith came around, we’d rise to the challenge. Therefore, we think, we needn’t bother with the small stuff, since we can handle the big things.
It is not so. God prepares us for the big challenges of faith in the small ones. If we will not be diligent in answering the small challenges, we will not be able to answer the great ones. Faithful in little, faithful in much.

We see also the characteristics of God’s providence. Little is rewarded with much. God’s nature is to provide a liberal reward for those who trust him with the little they have. His providence is always adequate, but it can never be stored up. Like the manna of the ancient Israelites, it’s for today only. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof; but also, sufficient to the day is the blessings of God. His providence is based upon his eternal nature: He is infinite, he is unchanging and he desires fellowship with us. Therefore, there is no limit to his supply, either in amount or time, as long as we keep faith with him.

The key to the character of the prophet is this: God does not hide his intentions from the prophet, but rather uses him to proclaim those intentions to the world. It’s instructive to see Elijah’s approach:

  • He did not go to the people and tell them of the impending drought. 
  • He went instead to the source of the problem, the king.
This sounds a lot like church discipline, doesn’t it? Elijah is doing this God’s way, in the hope of producing repentance.

Having delivered his message, Elijah’s purpose and direction is instructed to retreat. Indeed, he is to go and hide in the wilderness! Why? The instruction is similar to Christ’s instruction to flee persecution. We might look at this and think that a man who would later call down fire from heaven to fall on his enemies would have little fear of a king like Ahab. Perhaps God knew his man; Elijah is a man who calls down fire – but just afterward will run for his life.

Why, then, did God have him flee to the wilderness? Surely there would be cities in which Elijah could be safe. I think God was preparing him for greater things:

  • First, in the wilderness, he was safe from the temptation to intercede with God on behalf of a pleading people. This would harden him to do what needed to be done later.
  • He also needed to learn God’s providence. The ravens brought him no stockpile; he learned to live from one meal to the next.

I suspect he also learned the difference between necessity and desire. The prophets of Baal probably dined in higher style than Elijah. Elijah was fed as befits a servant of God, not in luxury but in necessity.

Elijah stood up boldly for God in a time when idolatry had swept his land. In fact, his name means "My God is Yah(weh)." The false god Elijah opposed was Baal, the favorite deity of Jezebel, wife of King Ahab of Israel. To please Jezebel, Ahab had altars erected to Baal, and the queen murdered God's prophets. Elijah appeared before King Ahab to announce God's curse: "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1) Then Elijah fled to the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan River, where ravens brought him bread and meat. When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to live with a widow in Zarephath. God performed another miracle there, blessing the woman's oil and flour so it did not run out. Unexpectedly, the widow's son died. Elijah stretched himself on the boy's body three times, and God restored the child's life.

Confident of the power of God, Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the false god Asherah to a showdown on Mount Carmel. The idolaters sacrificed a bull and cried out to Baal from morning until nightfall, even slashing their skin until blood flowed, but nothing happened. Elijah then rebuilt the altar of the Lord, sacrificing a bull there. He put the burnt offering on it, along with wood. He had a servant douse the sacrifice and wood with four jars of water, three times until all was thoroughly soaked. Elijah called , and God's fire fell from heaven, consuming the offering, the wood, the altar, the water, and even the dust around it. The people fell on their faces, shouting, "The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God." (1 Kings 18:39) Elijah ordered the people to slay the 850 false prophets.

Elijah prayed, and rain fell on Israel. Jezebel was furious at the loss of her prophets, however, and swore to kill him. Afraid, Elijah ran to the wilderness, sat under a broom tree, and in his despair, asked God to take his life. Instead, the prophet slept, and an angel brought him food. Strengthened, Elijah went 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb, where God appeared to him in a whisper. God ordered Elijah to anoint his successor, Elisha, whom he found plowing with 12 yokes of oxen. Elisha killed the animals for a sacrifice and followed his master. Elijah went on to prophesy the deaths of Ahab, King Ahaziah, and Jezebel.

Like Enoch, Elijah did not die. God sent chariots and horses of fire and took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, while Elisha stood to watch.

Under God's guidance, Elijah struck a heavy blow against the evil of false gods. He was an instrument for miracles against Israel's idolaters.
Elijah had incredible faith in God. He loyally carried out the Lord's instructions and struck boldly in the face of enormous opposition.
After a stunning victory on Mount Carmel, Elijah fell into depression. The Lord was patient with him, however, letting him rest and regain his strength for future service.
Despite the miracles God performed through him, Elijah was only human, like us. God can use you in amazing ways as well if you surrender yourself to His will.