The Presence Of God In The Midst Of Darkness

An introduction to a brief study of the prophet Elijah and the time in which he lived.

In the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, we read that God has spoken to his people in various ways and at various times. Mankind, of course, has tried to determine a set of guidelines and boundaries within which God can operate, but, in spite of our predispositions and presuppositions, the Lord can and does move in whatever way He feels is necessary to accomplish His will on the earth. The only way there could be any limitations on how He communicates to us would be if He should choose to place any upon Himself.

In the age of grace in which we live, God speaks to us chiefly through His Word, our Bible, and particularly through the New Testament. The complete revelation of His son, Jesus Christ, is contained in those pages. Yes, He still has prophets and preachers and men and women through whom he communicates to certain individuals at certain times, but all prophetic utterance must coincide with what has already been revealed. Nothing can be added to or removed from the Word of God which is forever settled in the heavens. The scripture itself attests to this fact.

In the Old Testament, however, especially during the time of the books of the Kings of Israel and Judah, the amount of written revelation was limited. They certainly had the Pentatuch, the first five books of the Bible, and some of the Psalms. They probably were able to read about the exploits of Joshua and the times of the judges. But they didn't have much else. How then did God let his will be known to the people?

It was through his prophets. Men who were of like passions as we are, yet men who were chosen to convey a divine message. There was no inherent qualification for being a prophet. They were priests and common working men, kings and people in captivity. Their purpose in Israel was a unique one compared to that of the prognosticators and astrologers of the heathen nations surrounding them. Those peoples had their holy men, and those that were called seers or prophets, but the prophetic institution in Israel had the exclusive claim to hear directly from the God of creation.

The Hebrew prophet was distinct from the priest in that the priest was the channel through whom the people could make a connection with God, but the prophet was the person through whom God could make a connection with His people. These men were given a divine mandate to speak God's Word to the nation of Israel.

To understand the common theme of God's revelation to men, we must turn to Paul's second letter to his friend and fellow minister, Timothy. In that letter the Apostle Paul states that all scripture is inspired, or breathed out by God, and is given for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). During the times of the kings, however, when the written word was not as complete as it is today, Jehovah used these prophets as living letters to the people of those times. Whenever His people would lose their vision or commitment, He would send a man with a message. Sadly, it seems that their messages went too often unheeded.

Many of the Old Testament prophets were writing prophets. We have preserved the writings of 16 prophets: 4 "major" prophets and 12 "minor". (The designation of major and minor are more an indication of size and scope of their writings as opposed to their importance.) Each of the writing prophets was used by God to call his wayward people back into a close and loving relationship with Him, with a promise of restoration and fellowship. Men such as Isaiah and Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, Amos and Joel and the rest, all were called to stand as lights in the midst of darkness, proclaiming the mind of God and the coming of His kingdom. These men suffered many abuses for their testimony, yet remained faithful to their call. Because of their faithfulness, we have the richness of the Old Testament as it looks forward to the coming of the Messiah.

As well as the prophets for whom books were named, there are also prophecies in the psalms of King David, in the writings of Moses, and in the historical books of the Old Testament. Some of these prophets are well known, some did not even have their names recorded. Some had ministries that spanned decades, some are only mentioned once in the whole of scripture. But all share in importance, for all have spoken the Word of God.

One of the most important prophets recorded in scripture was one who never set pen to paper. His beginnings were just as obscure as his departure was glorious. His name was Elijah the Tishbite. This little set of articles deals with his ministry to the Northern Kingdom-the renegade tribes of Israel who broke from their union with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin after the death of Solomon. Even though his ministry took place approximately 800 years before the birth of Christ, what he experienced and the message he spoke to that generation are relevant for all time, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness. We also know from scripture that he will play an active and important part in the events that precede Christ's second advent, a claim that no other prophet can make.

We hope that in the following articles we might shed some light on events that are taking place even today: events that might cause some concern in those that are not aware of the ultimate plan of God. It seems that the powers of this world are posturing themselves in an effort to resist the Almighty God and attempt to rule the world without any consciousness of His presence and purpose. The leaders of this world might give lip service to some "god" that they claim to believe in, but in reality there is an effort to establish a "new world order" which will be free from any restraint from the creator of all things. Just as the marriage of Ahab and Jezebel threatened to erase the theocratic soverignty of the Northern Kingdom, so the same marriage of religion and globalism threatens to erase the national soveriegnty of the nations of the world today, particularly the most powerful ones.

In the mind of a twentieth-century civilized human being, such an arrangement might seem desirable. After all, wouldn't such a government bring peace and economic stability to a world that is reeling out of control? In the thinking of anyone who is attuned to spiritual things, however, the idea of a loss of national sovereignty is a chilling prospect. Our distinctly American way of life would be swallowed up, and is indeed at present being swallowed up, by cultural influences from other parts of the globe. The Judeo-Christian beginnings of our nation are being replaced by a secular understanding of religion that looks upon belief based upon a monotheistic foundation as being, at best. just another system of mythology, at worst the source of bigotry and hatred-something undesirable in the system of the "new world order." The effort to establish a world free of "fundamental religious systems" revolves around the attempt to denigrate and dispose of any religious thinking that looks to a transcendent God. Instead, we are being pushed to look for the "god within" and to explore the possibility of mankind actually being it's own god.

Many would consider such an effort to be in line with popular "New Age" thinking, but, far from being something new, the dream of a world governed by one human entity is almost as old as the flood of Noah's day. It was shortly after that tremendous outpouring of God's wrath on the wickedness of mankind that a man named Nimrod, a descendant of Ham, began to establish a kingdom on the earth. His plans were disrupted when the Lord confounded the common language of the followers of Nimrod at the tower of Babel and the people were scattered throughout the earth. This did not stop the effort to establish a world order, however, and Nimrod went on to establish a kingdom that was later Babylon, and which became the fountainhead for all political and religious one-world movements, including the one that exists today. Nimrod himself went on to be deified, and many believe the cult surrounding him is the source of all the mythology and pagan belief systems that have existed through the years.

Is there some way to halt the march toward a one-world government, or is it an inevitable occurrence in God's time frame? What are God's people to do in the face of increasing secularism and hostility toward the basics of the Judeao-Christian ethic? How should we react when it seems that our prayers are to no avail? Will we once again have to wait for divine intervention to stop the march of evil upon the face of the earth?

Many would claim that such thinking would engender a "negative confession" and thwart God's purposes. But we must realize, that not everything we think should happen is necessarily in God's perfect will. We must be open to Him, and ready for anything to happen in this world, even if it seemingly means defeat for God's people. We know that ultimately, the victory has been won by Christ Jesus, and we have nothing to fear. We must be ready to do God's will, whatever it is, and we must be constantly attuned to His Spirit for guidance. If we want to be lights in the middle of darkness, as Elijah was, we must understand that the darkness hates the light. Perhaps we can learn, then, from the life and exploits of this great prophet how we can deal with the present day reality of living in a nation that is being enveloped in spiritual darkness.

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