When we left off last time, Elijah had spent the night in a cave. An angel of the Lord came to get Elijah moving again.
1 Kings 19:9b “And the word of the Lord came to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
That’s a very good question. What ARE you doing there? Did the Lord send you there? Did the Lord put you there? Does the Lord want you there? Oh, that’s right! You brought yourself here, didn’t you? You got scared because Queen Jezebel threatened to kill you so you ran for your life. You ran out of Israel and fled to Judah.
You made your servant stay back in the city of Beersheba. You ran into the desert alone and sat down under a Broom tree because you needed to sweep. Then an angel woke you up, served you some breakfast and told you to get moving. You travelled forty days and forty nights until you reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
Mt. Horeb is better known as “Mt. Sinai,” the place where the Lord spoke to Moses from the burning bush and the mountain where the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments.
Is this where you really want to be, in a cave, all alone? Do you know where you’re going next? Are you going to try to keep going your own way or are you finally ready for the Lord to take over your life and give you some direction?
1 Kings 19:10a “He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God, Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword.’”
Here we go again. How quickly we start defending ourselves and justifying our behavior when the Lord brings us under conviction. The problem’s not me, it’s them.
1 Kings 19:10b “’I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’”
Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen. But give me a couple of hours and I’ll bring you up to date. Whining may help kids get what they want from their parents or grandparents, but whining never gets us anything from the Lord, at least not when I do it anyway. Has anyone ever gotten something from the Lord by whining? “I am the only one left.”
Is that right? What about your faithful servant and friend who’s waiting for you back in Beersheba? What about Obadiah, the devout believer who’s in charge of King Ahab’s palace? What about those 100 prophets that Obadiah has been hiding in caves, risking his life by keeping them alive and feeding them from the King’s private supply of food and water? Off the top of my head, I can think of more than a hundred others who are just as faithful to the Lord as you are, Elijah. Whining doesn’t work with the Lord, but He let us keep doing it anyway. He just doesn’t respond to it. The Lord continues to ignore it.
1 Kings 19:11a “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’”
If you had a chance to watch the Lord pass by, would that get you out of your cave, out of you hiding place, out of your comfort zone? Before you jump up, listen to this.
“But who can endure the day of His coming? Who can stand when He appears?”
In Psalm 76:7, David asks, “Who can stand before you when you are angry, O God?” David asks again.
“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy presence? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up their hands to an idol or swear by what is false.” (Psalm 24:3-5)
Who can stand when He appears? Who can stand before the Lord when He is angry? Who can stand in His holy presence? Nobody! Absolutely nobody? Nobody is good enough. Nobody’s hands are clean enough. Nobody’s heart is pure enough to stand in the presence of a perfectly holy God. Only a fool would try. No one can stand in the presence of the Lord unless He allows it, unless He makes it possible, unless He provides a way. And the Lord did provide a way for us to stand in His holy presence.
It’s called Grace. Grace is God doing what was necessary so we could stand in His presence. Hebrews. 4:16 encourages us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence.” We can stand in the presence of the Lord because Jesus made it possible. Jesus died on Mt Calvary with clean hands and a pure heart. He shed His blood on that cross so that, if we repented, our sins would be forgiven. Jesus is the only way we can stand before the Lord. He invites us to come out of our caves and stand before Him with confidence.
When we’re ready, because of Jesus, because of God’s grace, we can stand before Him and not be afraid. We can stand before Him and know that we are loved. “for the Lord is about to pass by” How will I know when He does? How will I know what to look for? How will I know it’s Him? What does the Lord actually look like?
We’ll stop here and, Lord willing, we ‘ll answer those questions next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s word with Pastor Buj.