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Elijah – First Among Seven Thousand (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2022 6:00 am

Elijah – First Among Seven Thousand (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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September 13, 2022 6:00 am

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Can a Christian name one reason to give up? What are you gonna say to Jesus?

Well, here's why I stopped believing you. If he is your Lord, you cannot say that. And if he's kind of sort of your Lord, maybe you have kind of sort of salvation. And if you're willing to risk that at death, you have at it.

But that thought frightens me. And so that when things are overwhelming me and I don't feel like trusting God, I tell the Lord, I say, Lord, my head and my heart are yours. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of Genesis.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings chapter 17, as he begins a brand new study called Elijah, First Among Seven Thousand. Let's turn in our Bibles to 1 Kings chapter 17. How do you begin to prepare a message on Elijah? It's so much, you know, you really have to be asking God a lot, what do I say?

Where do I begin? The miracles, the man, epic life, life in times of a fireball for God. Really, to do justice to Elijah, a series would be appropriate just on him.

If you cannot do a series, an overview would work. We will narrow it down to just a selection concentrating on the beginning of his ministry, the announcement of the drought in Israel, and this leaves a space to do sequels, to return to the man and cover more things about him should the Lord so lead. But the parallels between his ministry, the times where he had to bring God's truth out to the people who were resisting and rejecting God is indeed a parallel to the time which we live in also. And so we look at the prophet Elijah and we're looking at ourselves, of course.

We're trying to always discover as Christians what God wants from us as we study what God has accomplished through others who are his children. This prophet Elijah belonged to the northern kingdom and the kingdom has now been split in two. In the southern part of the kingdom is Judah.

To the north, the other ten tribes known as Israel. It has been about 70 years since Jeroboam brought this division about. A foolish man named Rehoboam had taken the throne or assumed the throne from his father Solomon. Rehoboam was not only weak, he was a fool and he thought he was going to sort of make his own name, a name for himself apart from his father and he did and it was a foolish name in contrast to his father whose name is associated with wisdom in spite of Solomon's political and spiritual failures. But this Jeroboam, this king who was the first king of the ten tribes to the north, he was the one that brought to Israel a kind of false worship of the true God.

It was the right name but the wrong way. It does not trivialize his sin. It just brings out how the people wanted to be manipulated into something else and he thought that their old associations with the southern kingdom, with Jerusalem, with the temple still existed and functioned.

He thought that that association might overpower his newborn subjects. Their loyalty would be divided or lost to himself and so he created places of worship to the north of the kingdom and to the south of the northern kingdom. He erected altars there and what they had was government-funded, government-supported and government-protected idolatry in the name of Yahweh. This happens, has been happening throughout history, state churches, churches that have made an agreement with the government. They're not preaching the truth but they're still carrying on the name of the Bible.

They still use the word church and the symbols of the cross, nothing new under the sun. And so Jeroboam's weak bid for popularity is not forgotten in Scripture. It serves as a warning to all of us that to be popular is not what God is after. There's nothing wrong with being popular in and of itself but if that popularity is bought at the expense of righteousness and obedience, then there's something very wrong with it. Now, that enters big into the story because he sets up this false worship in God's name but by the time seventy years or so pass and Ahab and his wife Jezebel really get their hands into the power of the northern kingdom, the pretense is gone. It's no longer false worship in Jehovah's name, it's just false worship now. We have a phrase today that is thrown around by some, they're out of the closet.

We can just find that closet and get them back in. There is a big difference between sinning and flagrantly sinning and God is very mindful of that. See, the person that sins and sneaks off and sins oftentimes is struggling, fighting that sin, but the person who's flagrantly doing it doesn't care anymore. And this is what the New Testament addresses quite thoroughly. Ahab, who was the king at the time that Elijah shows up, was sent, is the son of Omri. Omri was a military type of king. He was an adventurer when it came to using his military might and he arranged the marriage between his son Ahab and a Sidonian princess named Jezebel. It was the prudent thing to do.

It was good for the economy. It was wise statesmanship. I'm sure all of the power brokers in the northern kingdom and in Sidon, where Jezebel came from, applauded the move. We read about this in 1 Kings chapter 16, beginning in verse 29. In the 38th year of Asa, king of Judah, that's dating the southern kingdom, alongside of the present kingdom that we're talking about in the north, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel. And Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria, 22 years. Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. Interesting, because if you look at verse 25 of 1 Kings 16, verse 25, it says, Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did worse than all who were before him. So Omri, Ahab's dad, was the worst king until his son comes along.

Then his son does worse than him and his thing is just growing worse and worse. Remember, the title of the message is first among 7,000. The 7,000 are those living in the northern kingdom who have not bowed to Baal, the false god brought in by Jezebel and protected by Ahab. Out of perhaps a million people in the north, if we can estimate the population according to the military might of the army, even if you say there's a half a million people in the north, only 7,001 are righteous. Not much of a percentage. Not much of an influence. Where's the power in that?

This is sort of like the times we live in. There are many Christians, maybe not the majority, but still many. The question is, what are they doing? What are they doing in the evil kingdom?

What were the 7,000 doing? Okay, good, you didn't bow to Baal. You know what one was going to do.

That will be our text and our starting point, but we still have to introduce some of this. For 22 years, Ahab instituted spineless rule and brought Israel to a new low. Look at verse 31 of 1 King 16, and it came to pass as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nabat, that he took as wife Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbal, king of the Sidonians, and he went and served Baal and worshipped him. And so there he makes the complete severance from Yahweh, or Jehovah, and now he's full-blown into hedonistic idol worship. And the influence upon the land will go beyond the ministry of Elijah and the life of Ahab. And so this politically prudent and economically efficient, this brilliant move of statesmanship that brings the two kingdoms together, applauded by all of the intellectual and power brokers of the land, but not applauded by Elijah. Somewhere in Gilead, in the removed places of that side east of Jordan, was Elijah, and he knew this was going on, and his god was going to raise him up to begin dealing with this, and the beneficiaries of his ministry reach or, should we say, exceed far in scope beyond the people that he lived with. To this day his ministry is still blessing.

His ministry has been blessing ever since it was put into print, ever since people were able to remember it. And simply because smaller kingdoms joining like this, to resist larger kingdoms, simply because that was the idea of the day doesn't mean it's right with God, doesn't mean it's acceptable. And we Christians have to be able to walk the unbeliever through that spiritual, illogical position. We're the ones that have to stand up and say, we don't care if something is prudent, if it is sinful, because it then spiritually is no longer prudent, and that's what matters in the end, and everybody knows it. Not everybody is willing to accept it, though they know it, and not everybody is willing to preach it, though they claim it.

Which side are we on? Now if you claim Christ is Lord, that does not therefore mean you preach Christ as Lord. I mean, to come to church and to preach him around other believers is not preaching Christ.

That's just making a statement. To preach Christ means you're preaching in the face of opposition, opposing thoughts, opposing ideas, cultural inebriation, drunk of the influences of hell. Now remember, Jezebel, this foreign princess, brought with her her deity. Not her deity, but the deities that she worshiped, the gods she worshiped. Now try to, for a moment, be there in the palace of her father in Sidon when she is about to leave and go live in Israel. As she's leaving home, the priests of Baal are urging her vehemently to stick true to the religion of her hereditary, of her inheritance, of her people, of her culture. This economy that the Sidonians enjoyed because of the shipping trade, the ports that were there for them to reach around the Mediterranean were all because of Baal in their eyes. This justified the worship of their false god, what they were able to acquire, the lifestyle that they claimed to enjoy.

So they passionately believed in this demonic concoction that they bowed down to, as do today. Many people passionately believe in concoctions, but without logic. You cannot say, well clinically, the economy is doing good. That's the clinical evidence.

Therefore, I see that, I don't need any further proof. That's not enough. That's not logical. By that, you could say the robber who succeeds at robbing someone is doing the right thing. After all, he was successful in stealing from another and taking what did not belong to him. And so just because one amasses to themselves things that they want does not mean that they're right with God. But this has always been the case. It even began to be the thinking amongst the Jews years later.

But here's a disturbing thing. With this irresistible spell that they had cast over Jezebel, she was quick to obey them. The disturbing part is we watch our young ladies in the church grow up in the church and we ask, are you going to be quick to obey the one who loves you, the one who made you, the one who died for you to take away your sins, or are you going to drift? Why is it that a Jezebel can be loyal to a fake God but our young ladies cannot be loyal to the true God?

This is the battle. This is why the secret of Elijah's power is meaningful to all of us. This is why a study of the life of men and women in the Bible is relevant to the time we live in because others have been through this with God. And so will our young girls be as courageous for the truth as other young girls are courageous for a lie?

And of course, we can apply this to the young boys also. And so the pretense is gone. Verse 32 of 1 Kings chapter 16, then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal which he had built in Samaria. Samaria is the capital of the northern kingdom now, no longer Jerusalem, Samaria. And so in the capital of the ten tribes of Israel, he builds for his wife a temple complete with altar and priest to sweep the land of holiness and to replace it with filth. And that's what their religion was. It was based upon filth, pain to others. And they tossed away the holiness of the law of Moses and in its place the filth of the flesh, the satisfaction of the flesh. And that is the story of sin. Show me a bad marriage and I'll show you somebody in that marriage, if not both of them, that are Christless, that are selfish.

I don't care whose name they're using. They're not following scripture. Good marriages in Christ are good because the people in the marriage obey the Lord. It's really not that complicated. It is made complicated by secret ambitions. It is made complicated by lying to oneself and lying to others. We as Christians, we need to say, the world can't get this.

We need to stand up and say, I tell you, one of the biggest waste of times of a pastor, not in every case, but in most cases, is to give marital counseling to people who have been Christians and know the scripture. What else can you say to them? They know the scripture. They're faking it. They're lying. They're not right. And that's what you tell them. And they don't want that. They want five steps to a happy marriage.

It doesn't matter that it doesn't work. They want you to tell them anyway. So they want to make you a liar also. And then all those around the situation are angry with you because you're not telling them the lie.

Well, pastor, you just said, you know, one, two sessions and that's it. Yeah, because they already know the truth. They know that they're selfish. They know that they're not yielding.

And this was the case in Israel. The people knew they were going against Jehovah God, but they wanted what Baal had to offer, which was what? Get rid of holiness. That stuff's in the way. I have other appetites.

I can be satisfied with other things. Why subject myself to the Ten Commandments when I can just go to Baal's temple, put a little offering there, go about my way, and I'm done. That's it. And this is what we find in our own culture, the worship of Jehovah in that land.

One would ask at this time, would it ever again acquire its lost prestige and power with what Jezebel has now brought into the land? Without pretense, it's just full blown now. We're living through this in our culture. We now have a government that says, I don't care. I don't care that you think your children are yours. I don't care that you think you have rights under a constitution. I don't care, I don't care. We'll tell the biggest lie and we don't care if we get caught. We've got the culture on our side.

We have enough dumb voters to do whatever it is we want. That's how it was in Israel for Elijah. This is the relevance of God's word.

That's what he was up against. The scattered remnant of 7,000, the hiding disciples. No, they did not hide from God, but we don't read about them really. Yeah, there was Obadiah and others like them. They did make an effort, but none stepped up like Elijah. We name our children after Elijah. We get excited when we hear a study is on him.

There's something attractive about him. There's not something, it's the holiness. It's the power of God working through a life like Elijah. I want that as a Christian.

I say, but am I really ready? God asks. Well, if they had counted Jehovah down and out of the 10 tribes at this point, it is because they did not factor in God raising up a man with liquid fire in his blood. That was Elijah. You see, Ahab and Jezebel, okay, we're done.

We've established our power in the land. We've gotten rid of the altars of Jehovah, and now who's there to challenge us? There were the people in the land who halted between two opinions. They couldn't make up their mind, I don't know, is bow worship better than Jehovah?

Maybe I can do them both. There were the 7,000 who were nervous Nellies perhaps. I wonder what's going to happen to us if we get caught believing in Jehovah.

After all, the worshippers of Jehovah have been persecuted in this land before by our own kings. They all may have thought that the power and prestige was gone, but they did not count on God raising up this man. That is a signal to me to not give up. Days may be dark, things aren't going my way, I may have suffered loss. There's no reason to give up. In fact, can a Christian name one reason to give up? What are you going to say to Jesus?

Well, here's why I stopped believing you. If he is your Lord, you cannot say that. And if he's kind of sort of your Lord, maybe you have kind of sort of salvation. And if you're willing to risk that at death, you have at it. But that thought frightens me. And so that when things are overwhelming me, and I don't feel like trusting God, I tell the Lord, I say, Lord, my head and my heart are yours.

There are things about me that I can't seem to get under authority. But I am telling you right now, whether I feel it or not, you are my God and there is no other and I have not backed away an inch. That was what the Father was saying to Jesus, not our Father in heaven, but the Father whose child was dying. He said, Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Help me that I have doubt. The Lord honored that. He appreciated that. The Holy Spirit recorded that moment because he knew we all would identify with it.

But he doesn't record it on every page because we would identify with it too much. That would become our Christian motto. I believe, but I am still trying to get to that place where I can say, I believe. That's it.

Write my name down. Faithful. That's a tough place to get to.

It's impossible in the flesh, but it is possible in the Spirit. So they did not count on God raising up Elijah, but we have a saying, do we not? Night brings out the stars and in Israel it was night.

In America it is night. We have such an increase in phony, baloney, Christless Christians who go to phony, baloney, Christless churches where they feel good about being there amongst the people while they do whatever they want. It doesn't matter God has forbidden this. They feel good about it and they get quite irritated when we point to them in scripture and say, this is not what the Lord wants of us. And then when they get irritated at us pointing it out, it's one thing to stop pointing it out because we're led to do so. It's another thing to stop pointing it out because we are afraid to do so. May we not be afraid to do so. This idolatry was rapid, it was prevalent in the land of the Bible.

We're not even in the land of the Bible and it's rapid and it's prevalent. And so now we pause for a moment just to consider the prophet's name. The name of Elijah is made of two words. Eli, my God, and Jah is a truncated, an abbreviated form of Yahweh or Jehovah. Jehovah is my God. That was his name. So now he shows up in the midst of all this idolatry in the land in front of the king and his name is Jehovah is my God, Baal is yours.

Satan is yours. They knew they had Moses scriptures and Moses had already said that all those fake gods are products of demons and all the Jews knew it so. Whether they liked it or not, adhered to it or not, they all knew it was so. The name began to grow on the man like his beard, like his garment. He gave life to the name. Others could have been named Elijah, lived nothing like Elijah. Others could have had that name but burning incense to Baal.

Not this man. Others go around with Christian names and nothing about them is Christ-like. So from false worship of Baal to true worship of Jehovah, the living God, wherever he went he spent his life upholding the truth, holding next to the false worship the true worship. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Pastor Rick is teaching from God's word each time you tune in.

As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, this teaching is available free of charge at our website. Just visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can do so at crossreferenceradio.com or search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app store. That's all for today. Join Pastor Rick next time for more character studies right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-26 04:03:14 / 2023-02-26 04:12:11 / 9

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