Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Josiah's Renewal

14While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses...
Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30He went up to the temple of theLord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord31The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book.
32Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors.
33Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors.

Thoughts: Josiah was the last good king in both Judah and Israel.  He began to show his devotion to God by having the altars and poles set up to foreign gods torn down.  He took offerings (giving much himself) for the Temple and its repairs.  It perhaps is not accident that while they were bringing out these gifts the Book of the Covenant Law (probably Deuteronomy) was found.  Most likely it had been hidden during the terrible reign of Manasseh.
     But the king and the people did not just read the Book, they renewed the covenant and then sealed it with the second restorative Passover (like Hezekiah's).  The ironic thing is this renewal did not save them.  It made them very aware that they were in danger of losing their land because they had forsaken their god.  While the people renewed their faith under Josiah's lead, they fell right back into backsliding away from God after Josiah's untimely death.
     From Josiah's grandfather, Manasseh's, time on the people became like a ping pong ball batted between Egypt in the south and the powers of Syria, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece in the north.  Josiah's effort to battle against the king of Egypt was totally outmatched, and a terrible mistake by the godly king.  Normally Judah fought only defensive wars- but this was an offensive one.  Hezekiah was the last Judean king to win a victory until the Maccabees (a few years before Christ). 

Prayer: let me listen to your law.  Have mercy on us despite our wicked ways,  O Lord.    

Monday, September 28, 2015

Nahum's Specific Witness

5Nineveh summons her picked troops,
yet they stumble on their way.
They dash to the city wall;
the protective shield is put in place.
6The river gates are thrown open
and the palace collapses.
7It is decreedb that Nineveh
be exiled and carried away.
Her female slaves moan like doves
and beat on their breasts.
8Nineveh is like a pool
whose water is draining away.
“Stop! Stop!” they cry,
but no one turns back.
9Plunder the silver!
Plunder the gold!
The supply is endless,
the wealth from all its treasures!
10She is pillaged, plundered, stripped!
Hearts melt, knees give way,
bodies tremble, every face grows pale. (Nahum 2)

Thoughts: Nahum's prophecy seems vague, but it is very very specific and defines a specific event.  The reason it is included in the Bible is it so specifically came true.  Nahum prophesied the fall of Ninevah in 612 BC about 50 years before it happened (660 BC).  Ninevah (Mosul today) was a mighty huge city in the northern Mesopotamian fertile crescent (current Iraq).  Assyria has been considered one of the most brutal,  barbaric empires in the history of the world.  But its power and might were beyond comprehension.  

Yet the way Ninevah was conquered is that the Babylonians (and alliance with the Medes, Persians, Scythians), flooded the rivers into the city and literally washed the filth of the city away.
  This prophecy- noted above- reminds us God is in control, and can tell His prophets what will happen in the future.  The future is in God's hands.  The mightiest human power is weak before God. 

Prayer:  Help me to give myself to you, Lord, knowing you know what lies ahead.  


2“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clansa of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

Thoughts: Micah was prophesying when Israel fell and Isaiah was starting to prophesy.   It was a very scary and sad time.  Micah spoke a lot about the remnant of Israel and Judah- because the power of the nation was not what it used to be.
    Yet Micah gave the very amazing specific prophesy about the Messiah's coming.  Even Herod's wise men and scribes knew of this prophesy.  It is amazing that Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  God used a decree from the Emperor of Rome to enable Joseph and Mary to go back at this time to their ancestral hometown.  God's Word is secure, reliable and specific.  

Prayer: Lord, give me grace to rely and trust on your Word.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Hezekiah's Witness

2He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.
3In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them.  (2 Chr. 29:2-3);
1After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself...6He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate and encouraged them with these words: 7“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. 8With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.
20King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. 21And theLord sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the commanders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into the temple of his god, some of his sons, his own flesh and blood, cut him down with the sword. (2 Chronicles 32; cf. Isaiah 25 and 2 Kings 18; affirmed in Sennacherib's own records). 

Thoughts: Hezekiah was a good- even a great king.  His father, Ahaz, had brought idols into the Temple and even shut the Temple down- locking its doors.  His son, Manasseh, set up Asheroth polls and worshiped Baal in the Temple.  Hezekiah, by contrast cleansed the Temple and invited all Israel and Judah to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  He fortified his land and built up the faith of the people.  It seemed that God should have rewarded him for this- but instead Sennacherib of Assyria saw all the blessings and invaded the land (conquering 46 cities of Judah in 701 B.C.).  Sennacherib mocked God and said the Lord was less than other gods of lands he had conquered.  But Hezekiah was unwavering in his faithfulness, trust and planning.  He blocked the water holes as well as prayed.  He encouraged the people.  The Lord delivered him in a miraculous way.  In the end Hezekiah conquered the mightiest king of his day, showing the glory of God.  We should learn from Hezekiah to be faithful and do the Lord's work to be blessed by Him.  

Prayer: Lord, when those before me and after me appear faithless, keep me faithful still.  When mighty enemies come against me, keep me faithful to you.  Bless me for my faithfulness that all the world would see you glory.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Amos' Reminder to Care for the Poor

6This is what the Lord says:
“For three sins of Israel,
even for four, I will not relent.
They sell the innocent for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals.
7They trample on the heads of the poor
as on the dust of the ground
and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
and so profane my holy name.
8They lie down beside every altar
on garments taken in pledge.
In the house of their god
they drink wine taken as fines. (Amos 2)

Thoughts: Amos was a shepherd who prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel at the height of its wealth and power. He was a contemporary of Isaiah who prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah.
Amos rebuked the nation of Israel for being a nation who valued comfort and feeling above all things- even above each other.  Sandals are valued more than people, and justice is less important than silver.  Their love of comfort shows in sexual immorality- denying even common sense boundaries.  They don't care where they drink or what they drink- and they force the Nazarites (who vowed not to drink) to imbibe.  Everyone had to approve of their immorality so that they would not feel guilty.  But God did not approve, and God cared that they not treat the poor like dirt.
Today, ironically, we have a semblance of caring for the poor.  But it is the middle class that are being made poor.  It is a sad thing to watch educated people become poor because they value education and education has been made out of reach financially. Universities are putting students in five star hotels and middle class families cannot afford this- but the students can get all the student loans they want because of the largess of the government loans (which they cannot pay back easily).  Alcohol and drug abuse are epidemics- so that everyone in American complains we have lost the war on drugs.  Sexual immorality has turned morality on its head.  Now it is seen as wrong to even object to sexual immorality- or protest against adultery or sexuality outside of marriage.  The slide of America into a moral mudpit is steep and astounding.  If Amos were around today- he would say similar things. Deja Vu all over again. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to walk in your ways in a time when many have turned away.  Help me to value people above things and selfishness.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Isaiah's Witness

1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
6Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
9He said, “Go and tell this people:
“ ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.a

Thoughts: Isaiah began his witness in the year that King Uzziah died.  Uzziah was a good king that let his pride get out of control.  His son was a better king.  When Uzziah died there was a rebellion of the Ammonites and the world seemed in disarray.  Twenty two years before Amos prophesied and twenty years before (during Uzziah's reign) a major earthquake hit Judah.  Isaiah was willing to answer God's call to prophesy.  The call was not a pleasant one.  It was not that Isaiah was promised the fruit of popularity or repentance.  Instead Isaiah was promised that the people would not listen.  Yet Isaiah was still willing to be faithful to God.
     Isaiah wrote that the people would be taken into exile for judgment because they follow other gods and break the Sabbath.
     Isaiah also wrote that Cyrus would bring them back to the land. 
     Isaiah also wrote that Immanuel- God with us- the Messiah would come, and that He would be a suffering servant.  In short, Isaiah has some of the most profound and comforting  verses in scripture.  His faithfulness and steadfast focus on the Lord led to great beauty and comfort for millions. 

Prayer: Comfort, comfort my people, Lord.  Have mercy on us and draw us back to yourself.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Thoughts on the Pope

Today is the first day of Fall and the first time Pope Francis has come to the United States.  I was there to see John Paul II come to Columbia 9/11/1987 at Carolina Coliseum.  He too asked everyone to pray for him.

Scripture:  11Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.… (1 Cor. 10:11,12)

Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. (Mt. 10:41)

      I have been writing a blog on heroes of the Bible this year.  What makes a person heroic according to scripture- is not an ideology but a strong faith.  That does not mean that faith does not speak to moral issues.  Some on both the left and the right would confine any statements of the church to a building on Sunday mornings.  They do not want any pope or any preacher disagreeing with their platform or script.
    The Reformation problem with the pope is mitigated by people praying for the pope, but it is not alleviated.  When one person is given much power, they can make a mistake and there are no checks and balances or anyone to tell them "No" in a way that can be heard.
     Yet this alone does not mean in and of itself that every Pope is a bad pope.  There were kings labeled as good in scripture because they sought the Lord as David did.  There were prophets and priests labeled as righteous in scripture (see Jesus words in Matthew 10:41 above).  Our job is to recognize righteous people and to welcome them.  So on this first day of fall, as far as I can tell- welcome Francis!  God bless you and God bless the country that you visit today.

Prayer: Help me Lord, to be a welcoming person.    

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Jotham- Faithful Focus

1Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. His mother’s name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. 2He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the Lord. The people, however, continued their corrupt practices. 3Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the Lord and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel. 4He built towns in the hill country of Judah and forts and towers in the wooded areas.
5Jotham waged war against the king of the Ammonites and conquered them. That year the Ammonites paid him a hundred talentsa of silver, ten thousand corsb of wheat and ten thousand corsc of barley. The Ammonites brought him the same amount also in the second and third years.
6Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God. (2 Chr. 27)

Thoughts: Jotham reigned mostly while his father, Uzziah, was still alive- though ridden inactive because of his leprosy.  He exceeded his father in that he did not enter the Temple to make a sacrifice, but respected the Lord and His wishes.  Jotham was a godly leader in a corrupt time.  Jotham built up the nation.  He added to the Temple and wall of the city.  He defended the people against an Ammonite rebellion after his father died. But the key is verse 6: "Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord."  God blesses those who are faithful to Him.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to be faithful to you.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Uzziah's success and downfall

CHe sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear[b] of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success...16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 Azariah the priest with eighty other courageous priests of the Lord followed him in. 18 They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is for the priests,the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the Lord God.”

19 Uzziah, who had a censer in his hand ready to burn incense, became angry. While he was raging at the priests in their presence before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy[c] broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the Lord had afflicted him.

21 King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house[d]—leprous, and banned from the temple of the Lord. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.(Chronicles 26)

Thoughts:  Uzziah, known as Azariah, started out well.  He conquered many, got gis pride got in the way.  He contracted leprosy because  of his pride.  He cinquered long time foes like the Philistines, but in his pride he was not able to discern his limits.  He wanted to be a high priest too.  He started to offer a sacrifice in the Temple in the place reserved for high priests.  There he contracted leprosy and he spent the rest of his life in regret and misery.  When God blesses us, we should accept His blessings with humility and give Him glory, being content with our lives. 

Prayer: Hlep me to do your will and to not have prdie when you bless me Lord.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Amaziah- the Danger of Half Hearted Witness

1Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan; she was from Jerusalem. 2He did what was right in the eyes of theLord, but not wholeheartedly... 14When Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought back the gods of the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them. 15The anger of the Lordburned against Amaziah, and he sent a prophet to him, who said, “Why do you consult this people’s gods, which could not save their own people from your hand?”
16While he was still speaking, the king said to him, “Have we appointed you an adviser to the king? Stop! Why be struck down?”
So the prophet stopped but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.” (2 Chronicles 25)

Thoughts; Amaziah wasn't all in.  He was half in.  He started out great, listening to the Lord, and even sacrificing his income in order to do what was right.  But when he had conquered the Edomites he took their gods as his own, bringing their idols back to Jerusalem.  A prophet confronted him, but he wouldn't listen to him this time.  He was tired, perhaps, of obeying God.  Instead of giving thanks to the Lord for helping him, Amaziah started worshiping the gods of the land that he conquered and refused to hear any rebuke.  If we go at faith half-heartedly, we will give up and tire of doing what is right.  But wholehearted devotion knows the blessing- and then the continues blessing of the Lord (like Jehoshaphat).  

Prayer: Lord, let me be fully devoted to you. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Haalf Witness of Joash

 2Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years of Jehoiada the priest....
17After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. 18They abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. 19Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.
20Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? You will not prosper. Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’ ”
21But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of theLord’s temple. 22King Joash did not remember the kindness Zechariah’s father Jehoiada had shown him but killed his son, who said as he lay dying, “May the Lord see this and call you to account.”
23At the turn of the year,a the army of Aram marched against Joash; it invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the people. They sent all the plunder to their king in Damascus. 24Although the Aramean army had come with only a few men, the Lord delivered into their hands a much larger army. Because Judah had forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, judgment was executed on Joash  (2 Chronicles 24)

Thoughts: Joash was saved by Jerhoiada the priest and his wife from death and elevated to the throne by Jehoiada.  Joash destroyed the Temple of Baal and the fertility worship.  He built up the Temple of the Lord.  But when Jehoiada died at 130, Joash listened to the ways of the Baal and Ashtoreth worshipers.  He neglected the Temple of God and worshiped false gods because everyone else was doing it- and there was no Jehoiada to hold him to account.  Jehoiada's son confronted Joash, but Joash put him to death.  Perhaps Joash was angry at God for allowing Jehoiada to die.  Perhaps he was only faking allegiance to God until the priest died.  
     God did not stand idle as Joash rebelled and turned away.  The opposite of what happened with Jehoshaphat (who conquered a huge army) happened.  Joash's huge army lost=against the odds to the Syrians.  Joash was assassinated.  No one liked him.  He was inconsistent and ungrateful.  

Prayer: Lord, keep me faithful to you.  Help me to honor those who taught me the faith and their relatives.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Jehoshaphat's Witness

20Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of hisc holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
22As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
24When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. (2 Chr. 20)

Thoughts: Jehoshaphat was one of the great and godly kings.  He was not embarrassed to tear down the idols and ask for God's blessing.  Indeed God blessed him with peace until this episode except when the ungodly king of Israel enticed him into an offensive battle against Syria.  After God's clear deliverance, Jehoshaphat was not attacked again.  
This is one of the great stories of God's deliverance when the people had no hope.  The surrounding people of Moab, Ammon, and eastern nomad tribes outnumbered the army of Judah probably 10 to 1.  There was no ally to call on for help, for Israel was weak. The people looked to their greatest resource: God.  It is a lesson for us.  When the stress and the odds are stacked against us we should look to the Lord our deliverer.
     So, instead of hiding behind the high walls of Jerusalem where they stood more of a chance, they marched out.  Instead of marching out in fear, they marched out with thanksgiving.  Now perhaps their enemies heard their thanksgiving and thought another army was coming to save them.   The passage says that "the Lord set ambushes" against the men.  It doesn't say what kind of ambushes.  It could have been angelic deliverance or it could have been human ingenuity that the Lord used or confusion within the ranks of the enemy.  No details are given.  Whatever was used was seen as clearly from God- and He was given glory.  There is power in giving thanks to God.  It gives courage and it also allows God to work.  When God works- through whatever means- He should get glory.

Prayer: Lord, you are worthy of our praise and thanks.  You are the lifter of our heads and our hope.     

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Elisha's Vision

13“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
18As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.
19Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria.
20After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then theLord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria.
21When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?”
22“Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” (2 Kings 6)

Thoughts: Elisha was able to see the power of God at work in his mentor, Elijah.  He saw the power of God take Elijah to heaven; sweeten brackish water; raise the dead; defeat an army; heal the general of their adversary's army of leprosy.  Elisha's servant did not know of God's supernatural power.  Elisha reminded his servant of the power of God that is often unseen.  The statement, "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them."  The angels revealed did not fight directly, but blinded the whole enemy army making them vulnerable.  We all need to understand that God is more powerful than any individual, or even any army.  God being with us is not to be taken for granted.  God's angels are around us, and His power is with those who believe.  God's people are protected. 

Prayer: Lord, give me ears to hear that your being with me is more powerful than anything else.  Help me to rest and trust in your protection and love.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Elijah's Witness to Unity

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but theLord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.13When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
14He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
15The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19)

Thoughts: Elijah ran from Mt. Carmel to the desert- in fear of Queen Jezebel, the worshiper of Baal and Ashtoreth, who threatened him after he had the Israelites kill the prophets of Baal.   He prayed that he would die there.  He was exhausted and lonely.  He felt he was the only one left- the only one with any zeal for God.  Everyone else seemed to be apathetic to the Lord and His way and were willing to synchretize the faith with the fertility and false gods and goddesses of Baal worship.  Along with Baal worship, went sexual immorality and the visiting of prostitute-priestesses of Baal.  The temptation was just to pick the easy way and merge the religion of Canaan with the religion of Israel.  Why would God care?  It would help everyone to get along better.  But Elijah knew the Lord was a jealous God and that He cared that people not fall into sexual immorality or make up their own ways of worship.
     God appeared and saved Elijah and helped the weary Elijah make a plan-- anointing Jehu, Elisha and Hazael to help with His work.  But there was also a remnant- 7,000-- that Elijah was to keep, lead and mold into a revival of the true faith.  Seven thousand is not meany.  My little presbytery has about twice that many.  But God can change the world with seven thousand really devoted followers who are willing to risk everything for the purity of the faith- and for the truth.  There are many today who say there is no truth, and that those who uphold the idea of truth are narrow minded and are intolerant of others.  There is some truth.  If everyone if jumping off a cliff, truth holders refuse to jump too.  Getting along while we are going over the cliff doesn't work well.  Saying that there is no danger when the cliff is there doesn't work well either.
     But neither did Elijah seek (nor was he told to seek by the Lord) to start a new nation- or to leave the worship of Israel.  Even in the face of being the only one left or only having 7,000 Elijah stayed true to his people.  The Bible does not encourage going out and starting new denominations and churches.  Instead we are called to stay in and work so that life may begin again.  The history of the church is the story of a thousand resurrections.  

Prayer: Lord, help me to stay true.  Help me to stay true to you, your way and your truth but also to your people- where you have placed me.