Dear Joe and Sally,
Someone made the following suggestion, “Think of the time he kissed you for the first time.” No doubt, she saw ‘happy moments’. Then the following, “Think of the time he said these deplorable words, ‘Sweetie, you have the last chop, I’m chockablock, burps!’” I wonder what she ‘saw’.
Elijah, a man of admiration, is introduced in the following manner, Ki 17:1, “And Elijah the Tishbite, of the sojourners of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As Jehovah the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except according to my word.’” He then tarries by the Cherith River and, behold, the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the stream. However, the stream did dry up.
No problem, He got up and went to Zarephath. As he came to the town’s entrance, a widow was gathering wood. He called to her, “Please bring me a drink of water.” As she was going to get it, he called to her again, “Please bring me a piece of bread too.” She said, “I solemnly swear, as the LORD your God lives, I didn’t bake any bread. I have one handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I’m gathering wood. I’m going to prepare something for myself and my son so that we can eat it and then die.” Then Elijah told her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home, and do as you’ve said. First, make a small loaf and bring it to me. Then prepare something for yourself and your son.” Is Elijah still our hero?
That’s not end of story. Elijah, a stranger to her, puts her to the test, “Until the LORD sends rain on the land, the jar of flour will never be empty and the jug will always contain oil.” And she believed, she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she ate, she and he and her household, many days; the pitcher of meal was not consumed, and the jar of oil did not fail, according to the Word of Jehovah that He spoke by the hand of Elijah.
Still, this is not end of story. It would appear that she, having been the mistress of the house, had a skeleton in the closet. For, it happened after these things that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house became sick; and his illness was very severe until he had no breath left to him. And she said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to cause my iniquity to be remembered, and to cause my son to die?
“Give me your son,” he replied. Then he took him from her lap, carried him upstairs to the room where he lived, and laid him on his bed… The LORD listened to Elijah, and the soul of the little boy returned to him, and he revived. Then Elijah took the little boy downstairs from the upper chamber back into the main house and delivered him to his mother. “Look,” Elijah told her, “your son is alive.” The woman responded to Elijah, “Now at last I’ve really learned that you are a man of God and that what you have to say about the LORD is the truth.”
After three years of no rain, the Word of the Lord came to Elijah, “Go and meet with King Ahab. I will soon make it rain.” Now as Obadiah was walking along, he met Elijah. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down, and asked, “Elijah, is it really you?” “Yes. Go tell Ahab I’m here.” When Ahab saw him he shouted, “There you are, the biggest troublemaker in Israel!” Elijah answered, “You’re the troublemaker, not me! You and your family have disobeyed the LORD’s commands by worshiping Baal.” We know the rest of the story, about the fire coming down from heaven and of Jezebel’s message, “May the gods do the same to me and even more if tomorrow about this time I haven’t made you like one of those prophets you had killed.”
And Elijah? Well, he was terrified. He got up and ran for his life to Beer-sheba, which is part of Judah, and left his servant there and ran for a day’s journey deep into the wilderness. He found a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed that he could die. He asked God, “Enough! LORD! Take my life, because I’m not better than my ancestors!”
Strange how varied are the works of God. First ravens came and fed Elijah then, the pitcher of meal was not consumed, and the jar of oil did not fail. This time round the Lord sent an angle to feed Elijah. He rose up and ate and drank, and went in the power of that food forty days and forty nights to the mount of God, Horeb. We know how God then changed the fate of Ahab for the better, how he was victorious over Ben-hadad, Naboth, the God fearing man’s death by Jezebel’s conniving, and of Elijah’s meeting Ahab in Naboth’s vineyard. Of Ahab it was said, ‘No one else sold himself to practice what the LORD considered to be evil quite like the way Ahab did, because his wife Jezebel incited him.’
Nevertheless, as soon as Ahab heard the message from Elijah, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and fasted. He even slept in sackcloth and wandered around meekly. Later, this message from the LORD came to Elijah the foreigner, “Have you noticed that Ahab has humbled himself in my presence? Because he has humbled himself in my presence, I will not bring his evil to harvest during his lifetime, but I will bring evil to his household during his son’s lifetime.”
However, we do know what happened later when Ahab, sent for Micaiah after telling the messenger, “I solemnly swear, as the LORD lives, I will tell him whatever the LORD tells me.” Micaiah tells Ahab, “Attack, you’ll win.” When Ahab challenged Micaiah, Micaiah gave the true story. Yes, God, to achieve his objective, took the advice given Him by the spirit who said he would act as a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets. God works in mysterious ways.
Jeremiah is introduced in this manner, Jer 1:5-, “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I chose you for a special work. I chose you to be a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “But, Lord GOD, I don’t know how to speak. I am only a boy.” But the LORD said to me, “Don’t say, ‘I am only a boy.’ You must go everywhere I send you and say everything I tell you to say. Don’t be afraid of anyone. I am with you, and I will protect you.”
I doubt if any other prophet suffered more than Jeremiah did suffer. Can one blame him for saying, “LORD, you tricked me, and I certainly was fooled. You are stronger than I am, so You won. I have become a joke. People laugh at me and make fun of me all day long. Every time I speak, I shout. I am always shouting about violence and destruction. I tell the people about the message that I received from the LORD. But they only insult me and make fun of me.
“Sometimes I say to myself, “I will forget about Him. I will not speak anymore in his Name.” But, when I say that, his Message is like a fire burning inside me! It feels like it is burning deep in my bones! I get tired of trying to hold his Message inside. And finally, I am not able to hold it in. I hear people whispering against me. Everywhere, I hear things that frighten me. Even my friends are speaking against me. People are just waiting for me to make a mistake. They are saying, ‘Let us lie and say that he did something bad. Maybe we can trick Jeremiah. Then we will have him. We will finally be rid of him. Then we will grab him and take our revenge on him.’
“But the LORD is with me. He is like a strong soldier. So those who are chasing me will fall. They will not defeat me. They will fail. They will be disappointed. They will be ashamed, and they will never forget that shame. LORD All-Powerful, you test good people. You look deeply into a person’s mind.”
Jesus’ introduction, Joh 1:14-, “And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.” He, being in the form of a God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God, but did empty Himself, became obedient, death even of a cross.
Yes, God even had to look deeply into Jesus’ mind as He did into the ‘First Adam’s’ mind. We know that Adam was not deceived, but his wife was thoroughly deceived, and so became involved in transgression. God works in different ways. In Adam’s case God tested Adam to see his reaction if called to book. Adam horribly failed the test, “How did you know you were naked?” God asked. “Did you eat any fruit from that tree in the middle of the garden?” “It was the woman You put here with me,” the man said. “She gave me some of the fruit, and I ate it.” Adam’s statement resulted in varied repercussions, for those of the law even for the Church. Unlike Adam, who had plenty to eat and had a companion to encourage him, Jesus was led up into a wilderness by the Spirit, to be tempted by the devil. And having fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He did hunger.
Notice Jesus’ mind-set when tempted concerning the temptation to ‘provide’ for Himself, “Not upon bread alone doth man live, but upon every Word coming forth from the mouth of God.” Peter’s encouragement is praiseworthy, 1Pe 1:4-, “We have been born into a new life which has an inheritance that can’t be destroyed or corrupted and can’t fade away. That inheritance is kept in heaven for you, since you are guarded by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed at the end of time… Even though you have to suffer different kinds of trouble for a little while now, the purpose of these troubles is to test your faith.
“Although you have never seen Christ, you love Him. You don’t see Him now, but you believe in Him (not as I, who, to my shame, disbelieved his resurrection)…” God revealed to the prophets that the things they had spoken were not for their own benefit but for yours. Therefore, your minds must be clear and ready for action. Place your confidence completely in what God’s kindness will bring you when Jesus Christ appears again. Don’t live the kind of lives you once lived… ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’
“The payment that freed you was the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb with no defects. He is the Lamb who was known long ago before the world existed, but for your good, He became publicly known in the last period of time. Through Him, you believe in God who brought Christ back to life and gave Him glory. So your faith and confidence are in God, having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, because of a spoken Word of God, which lives and abides forever. This Word is the Good News that was told to you.”
Concerning ‘our feeding’, Peter writes, “Like newborn babies, thirst for the pure milk of the Word so that by it you may grow in your salvation. Surely you have tasted that the Lord is good!” This latter statement need not necessarily refer to an ‘enjoyable experience’. Rather, one, more often than not, experiences the goodness of God only after being protected during difficult times, “Joseph’s master listened to what his wife said, and he became very angry. So Potiphar put Joseph into the prison where the king’s enemies were held, and that is where Joseph remained. Nevertheless, the LORD was with Joseph and continued to show his kindness to him… Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I now make you Governor over all of Egypt.’”
“Do I need to give you more examples? I don’t have enough time to tell you about Gideon, Barak,Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets…. With their faith, some people closed the mouths of lions. There were women who lost loved ones; they were raised from death… Others were tortured but refused to accept their freedom. They did this so that they could be raised from death to a better life… God was pleased with all of them because of their faith. But not one of them received God’s great promise. God planned something better for us. He wanted to make us perfect. Of course, He wanted those great people to be made perfect too, but not before we could all enjoy that blessing together,” Heb 11:32-.
However, 1Co 10:13-, “There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, He will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape. But, my dear friends, it is like the sin of witchcraft, to rebel: and like the crime of idolatry, to refuse to obey. I’m talking to intelligent people. Judge for yourselves what I’m saying. When we bless the cup of blessing, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? When we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one Loaf, we are one body, although we are many, all of us share the one Loaf.” So, ‘Trust and obey, For there is no other way, To bring glory to Jesus, Than to TRUST AND OBEY.’ The prayer, Jesus taught his disciples, has been fulfilled, ‘Give us, our daily Bread.’ ‘They’ received ‘their’ Manna, Johannes.
P/S May I again make use of this opportunity to enclose my letter to my two friends, Jan and San?
Dear Jan and San, 2012
I do trust that you are well and happy, you, whose motto is: We will die with our boots onL. This reminds me of the other ‘Johannes’, John the beloved’s writing Gaius. I, too, do not want to write concerning ‘retiring’ but rather on Solomon’s way of putting it, Ecc 12:6-, “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is snapped, the golden bowl is broken, the pitcher is smashed near the spring, and the water wheel is broken at the cistern. Then the dust of mortals goes back to the ground as it was before, and the breath of life goes back to God who gave it. ‘Absolutely pointless!’ says the spokesman. ‘Everything is pointless!’”
Can you believe it, the sun ‘stopped’? Fortunately the sun did, as I, in my day, was taught concerning the ‘forward salute’. One, I was taught, comes to a smart halt, salutes, returns the salute, do a brisk about turn and do a ‘quick forward march into ones future. Likewise, providentially, the sun, ‘after it did return the Salute in honour of God, its Creator’, did the about turn and, sped forth.
Now, the Maya-calendar supporters expect that, at the next ‘salute’ the sun will not return the Salute; its ‘silver cord will snap’ and the light will be switched off. Just maybe the Maya people’s ‘prophesy’ has been misinterpreted. It’s not the sun’s light that will be switched off but that it rather may have had reference to, first, Psa 133:1-, “A Song of Ascents; of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, which ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard; that came down upon the skirt of his garments. Like the dew of Hermon, that cometh down upon the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life (and light) for evermore.”
Secondly, it may have had reference to the parable of the ‘five wise and the five foolish’, “Those who were foolish, having taken their lamps, did not take oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels along with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. And at midnight, a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those arose, and they trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ The wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for you and us but go rather to those from who you bought oil, and buy for yourselves.’”
I fear the ‘body of Christ’ is no longer, because of the thousands of denominations, in unity, no longer ‘that one loaf’. ‘The precious Oil’ from the mouths of the spokesman have been watered down, 2Ti 4:2-, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all patience and teaching. For there will be a time when they will not put up with sound doctrine, but according to their own lusts, they will heap up for themselves teachers, tickling their ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to myths.”
Yes, the Bridegroom is delayed, 2Pe 3:14-, “Take great care then, my loved ones, that when He comes you may be in peace before Him, free from sin and every evil thing. And be certain that the long waiting of the Lord is for salvation.” Yes, I know we are all sons of light and of the day; we are not of the night or of the dark. But, we may become drowsy and fall asleep. However, let us be like the wise with ‘undiluted Oil’ and, when ‘trimming time’ comes, we’ll ‘find our way’, 2Ti 3:13-, “For evil men and impostors shall advance worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you learned them for knowledge of the holy Writings are able to make you wise to salvation,” Johannes.