God has placed us where he has put us to serve him there. No one else can reach your colleagues at work. No one else can disciple your children like you can. No one else can live a gospel life out in front of your neighbours like you can. Don’t mortgage God’s plans for you right here and right now, the places he’s put you to be his light in the darkness, by longing to be somewhere else. But we also need to realise it’s not all on us! Elijah was just one link in the chain. God graciously shows Elijah some more of the links in the chain of his kingdom purposes. God has others in Israel who’ve not bowed the knee to Baal.
So what does God want from his people? We started with that question and I wonder after look at 1 Kings 19, how that’s changed?
We’ve seen that God is passionate for his people, his glory and his gospel and he wants his people to be passionate for that too. But we’ve also seen that passion can get out of kilter as it did for Elijah. That God doesn’t call us to do more than we can. He cares for his people and provides rest and food and spiritual refreshment for his prophet on the run. We can’t minister, we can’t serve, just on passion. God has made us finite, dependent and we need rest, food and closeness to him. We can only ever serve him out of an experience of and enjoyment of him. I wonder if that idea seems strange to you? Enjoying God? What does it mean to enjoy God?
One of the dangers we face in serving in a local church, especially in Yorkshire where less than 1% of the population go to church, where so many are sleepwalking to a lost eternity, is in thinking that we care more about God’s glory than God does.
In v14 God speaks to Elijah again, and repeats his question “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And Elijah speaks again of Israel’s covenant breaking and his zeal. His passion for God’s glory is tangible isn’t it? He’s almost burning up with his passion for God, and yet Israel aren’t, they’re indifferent to their sin, indifferent to God, indifferent to the covenant and their breaking it and are trying to kill Elijah!
So what’s next for Elijah? A hermit-cy in the cave on Mount Horeb? A new location – greener spiritual pastures? Should he be scrolling the FIEC jobs board looking for somewhere where people will actually listen to God and respond? Where his ministry actually produces fruit? What is God’s what next for his passionate prophet?
Here’s God’s what next(15-21). Elijah’s to appoint Hazael King of Aram, Jehu King of Israel, and Elijah as his successor as prophet. God sees and God has a plan, in fact God had that plan all along, he doesn’t start scribbling it down as Elijah sat under the broom tree or even when things didn’t go to plan post Carmel. Elijah’s assessment of Israel’s spiritual state isn’t wrong. And God is going to act; Hazael and Jehu will be God’s means of judgement, God’s discipline of his covenant breaking people, designed to bring them back to him. And Elisha will be the one who brings God’s word to those people.
Elijah, trust me, I’m not done with my people. I’m not finished with them. They may not have turned at Carmel but trust me and my plans and purposes. But notice something else, Elijah is told to go back to where it’s hard and continue his ministry. He’s to keep going because Elijah is just one link in the chain of God’s gospel purposes. Elijah is to prepare the way and pass on the truth to Elisha – whose name means God saves.
Don’t despair, don’t think you care more about the lost God’s glory than God does. And we mustn’t think that we know better what our role in God’s kingdom should be better than he does. God has placed us where he has put us to serve him there. No one else can reach your colleagues at work. No one else can disciple your children like you can. No one else can live a gospel life out in front of your neighbours like you can. Don’t mortgage God’s plans for you right here and right now, the places he’s put you to be his light in the darkness, by longing to be somewhere else.