For many years now, my heart’s cry has been to see and hear in the Spirit as accurately as Elijah and Elisha did. Elisha seems to have been more of the seer, while Elijah was the one who knew the voice of the Lord. I love His voice — more than just about anything.
One of the phrases Elijah used repeatedly was, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand.” Standing before the absolute Potentate of the entire universe — what an awesome privilege! Yet, it is the place God wants every New Testament believer to have. Throne room access was purchased for us by Jesus’ blood, but very few of us have it as an experiential reality in our lives. Why? It is about relationship. Although Elijah lived under the old covenant of the law, he managed to tap into what God desires for the Spirit-filled believer today. Elijah knew experientially, vividly, what it meant to “stand before the Lord.” What did he have that so many of us – even baptized-in-the-Spirit, tongue-speaking, faith-declaring believers – are lacking?
Elijah was a diligent seeker. Hebrews 11:6 says, “… he [God] is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” Elijah went after his God with his whole heart. He listened to the Lover of his soul with intensity, because he loved God’s voice. What do you think Elijah did during the years of the drought he had prophesied, while he sat by Cherith Brook (1 Kings 17:5, 6)? He didn’t just think, from morning until night, about the next meal of bread and meat that the ravens would bring. He spent time with God, interceding for his beloved people Israel and listening to God’s heart.
God holds up Elijah as an example for the rest of us:
James 5:16 — The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. He prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth fruit.
Elijah did not begin his life as an intercessor and listener at Cherith. The time spent alone with God there was an extension of what was already Elijah’s way of life. He already clearly understood what it was to stand before the Lord. We know this, because when he first appears in the Bible, a virtually unknown prophet, he tells King Ahab that he comes in the authority of one who stands in the Presence of the Lord. (1 Kings 17:1)
Sometimes people get a wrong idea of what decreeing things is all about. They use Elijah as an example of decreeing and receiving. They say that because we speak, our innate authority as believers makes it happen. I think there might be a little more to it than that.
God did not hold back the rain for three and a half years just because Elijah spoke it. Elijah’s decree was established because he was in intimate communication with God, and he knew that it was God’s directive that it was not to rain until Elijah said so. He had his decree from the throne room, where he stood and received God’s counsel. He spoke what he had heard from God. This is why some folks decree right and left, and nothing happens. They didn’t get it from the throne room; they just thought it was a good idea.
Jesus Himself said, “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things. … for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:28, 29) Jesus also said, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father….” (John 8:38) I think that is what Elijah also experienced: doing and speaking what he had seen and heard in the very Presence of God.
I am suggesting that when Elijah said, “The LORD God of Israel … before whom I stand,” what he was talking about was knowing experientially what it was to stand in the actual throne room of heaven, and it was from that experience that he derived his prayers, his strategies, and the amazing decrees that he so boldly pronounced (and which God backed up with thunderous answers).
Elisha also knew what it was to stand before the Lord. He referred to his relationship with God in the same words as Elijah had used before him, which is not surprising, since he received Elijah’s mantle. No doubt during the years that Elisha served as a prophet-in-training, Elijah poured into him all that he knew about having intimacy with God.
I believe Jeremiah and Samuel both “stood before the LORD,” as well. God promised it conditionally to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 15:19 — “…and you shall stand before me.” The condition for Jeremiah to get to stand before God was that he needed to repent of questioning God’s faithfulness and truth. He needed to repent of doubt. He needed to “take forth the precious from the vile” in order to be God’s mouthpiece — which meant separating out of his life wrong speech and carnal ways of acting and thinking, but especially the speaking part. (See Jeremiah 15:15-19.) Samuel must have “stood before the LORD” also, because “the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.” (1 Samuel 3:19) This involved prophesying and decreeing.
Next time we’ll talk about how “standing before the Lord” applies to blood-bought, New Testament believers of our day.