Tag Archives: Elijah

In Defense of the Elijahs

Oh, here we go again. Another sermon on Elijah’s failure and how God never used him after that.

I don’t know how many times the story has been spun from our pulpits: “Elijah scored his biggest victory ever at Mount Carmel, and then he blew it. He gave in to discouragement, ran for his life, and that was the end of his ministry. God was so displeased that He immediately chose someone to replace Elijah. And Elijah never did anything important for God again.”

The moral of this concocted version of 1 Kings 19 is, if you allow fear, doubt, or discouragement to get in, you’re done — so don’t ever do that. (Like we haven’t all already done the same thing a time or two!)

In actuality, Elijah continued to have a powerful prophetic ministry after his brief lapse into discouragement. He prophesied to Ahab about the consequences of seizing Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:17-29). He prophesied to Ahab’s successor, demonstrating his prophetic authority by calling down fire from heaven on the king’s soldiers. And he was still around during the reign of the king who came after (2 Kings 1). Furthermore, he established training camps for young prophets in Bethel and Jericho (2 Kings 2:2-5).

Perhaps most importantly, he spent years pouring himself into Elisha, raising him up to be a mighty prophet like unto himself. Jewish historian Josephus indicates in Book VIII of his work, Antiquities of the Jews, that Elijah continued 13-15 years after he anointed Elisha to take his place (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-8.html). Other Bible scholars estimate anywhere from 10-20 more years passed before Elijah was carried up into heaven.

I’m glad that the story as it has been told from too many pulpits is untrue. You see, through the years, I have identified with Elijah a lot. I have repeatedly prayed that God would help me to hear Him with pinpoint accuracy like Elijah did. I’ve desired to be persistent and effective in prayer, as he was.

But I’ve also felt a kinship with Elijah in his temperament, leaning toward the melancholy side, sometimes taking myself a little too seriously, and having a tendency toward despondency if I don’t rigorously guard against it.

I take comfort in the apostle James’ tribute to Elijah (James 5:16-18). He held him up as our example for effective prayer. Apparently, James did not regard Elijah as a washout, and God didn’t either. Besides giving him a nod in James’ epistle, He chose to have Elijah appear with Moses on the mount of transfiguration to encourage Jesus concerning His impending death for mankind (Luke 9:28-31).

Elijah’s story does not end there. In truth, his greatest ministry is yet to come. We are told in Malachi 4:5, 6, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD, and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers ….”

This prophecy was foreshadowed, but not completely fulfilled, in John the Baptist. Some Bible teachers spiritualize the Malachi passage by saying Elijah will not literally come again. They think it will be carried out by a last days’ generation who will collectively carry “the spirit of Elijah.” That may certainly take place, but seeing how Bible prophecy consistently is fulfilled quite literally, I believe we will see Elijah himself accomplish this on the earth, perhaps as one of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11.

What can we take away from Elijah’s story? 

Perhaps you’ve failed. Maybe you got your eyes off Jesus, became afraid, and “ran for your life” when you were supposed to stand in your victory. It’s a lie that God is now finished with you just because you didn’t do it right.

In spite of those sermons, God did not throw Elijah on the garbage heap. (Neither was He done with Peter when he failed to keep walking on the water or when he denied Jesus.) God knows our failings and has compassion on us. “Like a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him, for He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13, 14).

If you have grown discouraged and have run from your calling or your circumstances, don’t buy the lie that God has permanently put you on the shelf. Put your hand back in the Lord’s and keep going. Your most fruitful days can still lie ahead of you.

Christian foundations and the nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

Is Lee Ann Rubsam New Age?

leeannrubsam.com

Today’s post is just for fun.  I like to take a quick glance through the search stats every day to see how people have arrived at this blog.  And, lo and behold, I discovered that I must have achieved some kind of celebrity status.  Somebody is sniffing around to find out, “Is Lee Ann Rubsam New Age?”  I love it!

No, I can’t say that I am, and I certainly don’t want to be.  A younger age might be real nice, but New Age, no!  I love communicating with Holy Spirit, but any other spirits can just take a hike.  No yoga, transcendental meditation, reincarnation, or what in tarnation going on here!  No sitting on the floor with my legs crossed, humming “Ommm….”  Seriously, if I got myself in the pretzel position, the family would need a crowbar to pry me loose.  I’ve been known to say, “Uhmmm” a few times, but it was always when I got to the bottom of the basement stairs and couldn’t remember why I went down there, or when my mind went completely blank right in the middle of whatever I was saying.  I think that is due to fifties-brain, not New Age.

I wouldn’t know what New Age music sounded like if I heard it.  I’m told it is a lot of ocean waves, bird twitters, and wind sounds, and I have no problem with that, since God made those sounds, but somebody told ignorant little me that there are subliminal messages in the background.  Not wanting any subliminal weirdness, I just decided to suppress my curiosity about what New Age-style music sounds like, and live on in my ignorance.  If I want any messages, I’ll read my Bible and listen to Holy Spirit’s promptings, thank you.  I’ve heard real ocean waves, bird twitters wake me up most mornings, and boisterous wind sounds make me nervous.  Boy, I hope listening to the real stuff doesn’t qualify me as a New Ager.  And I guess I’m a little like Elijah — haven’t heard God in the wind, earthquake, or fire — but I’ve heard Him plenty of times in the “still small voice.”

Channeling: now there you’ve got me.  I guess I’ve done that.  You see, our basement kept flooding, and we had to have all new drain tile channel installed to fix the problem.  It’s been dry as the Sahara down there ever since.  Yep, we did drain tile channel.   But getting a pipeline to familiar spirits?  Ewww.  Wouldn’t even think of going there!  The witch of Endor  and Hezekiah’s son Manasseh did that.  I don’t think it sat real well with the Lord.  Yes, I’ve certainly stayed away from what they were into.  Does channel surfing count?  We don’t have a TV, so I don’t do that, either.

Do I soak?  Not in the tub — hate bubble baths.  As for soaking prayer, just read my blog series on it.  It will probably set your mind at ease — but if it doesn’t, I just can’t help you.

Back to something more serious next time.  This was fun!

leeannrubsam.com

The LORD God … Before Whom I Stand (Part 2)

Yesterday I talked a little about Elijah’s intimate relationship with God being a “throne room experience.”  It was in the throne room, where he stood before the Lord, that Elijah received how to pray, what to decree, and the powerful answers to those prayers and decrees.  Today, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to “stand before the Lord.”

What is standing before the Lord like? In detail, what is involved? I have pondered these questions a great deal, and I believe the Lord has given me some understanding on the subject:

1.)
  It is standing at attention before Him in His throne room as His servant,
a.) watching for the least gesture of His hand or the least eye contact,
b.) knowing what He wants and moving to do it.

This requires an acute sensitivity to Him. Psalm 123:2Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a  maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God ….

2.) It means having face-to-face relationship with God (intimacy).

3.)  It means to be one who is invited into His war council room, to take counsel with Him for His strategies.

4.)  It is a place of honor, and is not to be taken casually. Although it is every believer’s potential privilege, not everyone achieves this kind of intimacy with the Lord.  It is not an easy place to come into. It requires a total abandon of all self into the Lord’s hands. It involves painful refining at His hand.

I began to wonder just how close to God Elijah stood. Was he standing at a distance in a massive palace, just one attendant among thousands and thousands, waiting his turn and hoping to be noticed and called upon? At first glance this may seem like a foolish question, but since I desired to stand before the Lord like Elijah did, I desperately wanted to know how close I could get! As I pondered my question, God simply spoke to me, “Put your hand in Mine.” Mentally I obeyed, putting my hand in the hand of the King on the throne. And then He quietly said, “This is how it is.” I suddenly understood what Elijah had experienced. He did not receive his revelation in an impersonal manner from the Lord. He took the hand of the King, gazed intently into His eyes, and they communed over the plans of God. Awesome! It was an entirely new idea for me. It has revolutionized my intercessory prayer life.

Notice that Elijah never said, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I have stood.” His words were, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand.” It is always a present tense expression of his relationship with his God. I believe that Elijah not only phrased it in the present tense; he lived a present tense experience of continually being in the throne room. That is where God wants to take modern-day believers as well. It is possible to come to the place of being so continually in the Lord’s Presence, that it is as though we never step out of the throne room. We commune constantly with the King of Kings. I’m not there yet, but I’m convinced that that’s what God desires – here on earth, not just after we die. It’s a goal to reach for, to hunger after, to get as near to as we possibly can.

So, where do we start? Once again, it is the way of the Diligent Seeker — “… he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) I’m on my way. Would you like to come along?

Previous: The LORD God … Before Whom I Stand (Part 1)

Lee Ann’s book, Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God

BeforeWhomWeStandsm

  Full Gospel Family Publications

Character Building for Families

The LORD God … Before Whom I Stand (Part 1)

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 5:16The 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.

Next: The LORD God … Before Whom I Stand (Part 2)

Lee Ann’s book, Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God

BeforeWhomWeStandsm

leeannrubsam.com
Full Gospel Family Publications
Character Building for Families