Mid-Month Blog—Elijah the Ugly—1 Kings 17—September 2016

Vol. 1, No. 9M – 2016Elijah and Widow

The widow’s son grew weak; worse and worse,  then he died. 1 Kings 17:17

The Liverpool Press made fun of Abraham Lincoln, indicating he had little chance of being the object of hero worship. He had a grotesque figure, long legs, arms made him subject to cartoons; he was ridiculed, and grew a beard to hide his ugliness depicted in his face. Yet, many saw him as faithful, honest, resolute, and courageous—a hero to the many (history writers do not always identify him with great character).

Honest Abe (Rail-Splitter, “The Great Emancipator,” reminds one of an earlier hero, Elijah the Tishbite. Ahaziah, the king of Israel, asked about Elijah, “Who is this man; what does he look like?” They reply was that Elijah was a hairy man with a leather belt. The man, Elijah, had not changed, he was the same man who appeared before King Ahab. He was the same man who lived with the widow of Zarephath and her son. He had not changed in his servanthood to Almighty God.

Elijah seemed to have life on a roll; just your regular leader chugging along and serving those who would abide with him. However, his boss (God) spoke to him and told him to go and live in the village of Zarephath with a widow and her son. The widow welcomed him as a man of God and heeded Elijah’s direction. In a time of famine, the widow’s store of food miraculously remained stable by the hand of God. Good days for the widow and her son.

Then things turn ugly; great sorrow comes upon the widow. Her son becomes sick, then dies. Elijah, the hero, turns into a goat in the widow’s eyes. Just about the time he is going to be awarded the coveted “Man of the Year Award,” he is called a murderer (1 Kings 17:18). It seems that it is all his fault.

It is common for people to depend on their leader, becoming the victim when things do not go well. After all, one must have someone to blame.

The widow takes out her Glock and fires unwarranted bullets:

  1. What have you done?
  2. You came here to make me a victim!
  3. You know about my sin!
  4. You came to cause me grief!
  5. You tricked me into believing in your hope and change!
  6. You were supposed to be The Man!
  7. You have taken the joy of my heart, killing my son!

Elijah, the calm leader, responds:

  1. He carries the burden
  2. He prays over the one he has been given to serve
  3. He serves out of compassion, as a servant-leader

The child is restored and Elijah carries the child back to the arms of the mother—the mother recognizes that Elijah is the servant-leader of God.

Can your mind picture the response of the mother as she lives out her years; in addition, the son’s response as he learns of the servant-leader’s faithfulness even in a time of difficulty.

How is your servant-leadership working for you? It is not how pretty you are, but the direction of your heart.

Profiles in Leadership–Termites in Charge–Judges 2:16

Vol. 1, No. 10 – 2016

They did not drive them out completely.  Judges 1:28

Israel was their show-piece (a sort of Beverly Hills). Thousands of tourists came, looked through the gates at the grand housing and place of worship. Thousands came to live in the land. They became termites in the land of Israel.

The land was demolished because of the unfaithfulness of the tribes of Israel.

There are many termites in our land. Remember Dexter Manly, a pro-bowler and super-bowler for the Washington Redskins? He was banned from professional football because of his drug use. Drugs were his termite.

Termites destroy the home, businesses, schools, and lives of people. The termites can be drugs; however, they can be corruption, politics, lack of integrity, failure to live up to commitments, fading morals, and many other bugs of that nature. Termites cause deterioration and decay; produce seeds for a downward spiral that ends in total collapse.

Termites need to be eradicated. People with homes in the South (including me), treat their homes for termites, or pay a very high price in the losses that occur.

Eight times in Judges 1 there is the impact of the conjunction, but, clearly stated or implied. Each time it is in response to what the Israelites should do, but did not do.  What did they do?

  1. Accommodated rather than annihilate
  2. Exchanged their faith for the disgrace of amalgamation
  3. Compromised, made concessions to get along or use the familiar
  4. Settled for less rather than the best
  5. Walked the tightrope, playing with fire
  6. Left things to chance, dangerous chance

As a result of easy-going procrastination, the outcome carried a four-fold tragedy:

  1. They forsook the One in charge
  2. They listened to and followed the philosophy of the world around them
  3. They began to bow to the ideas of man and provoked the One in charge
  4. In the end, they served under a humanistic basis for decision-making and changed their worldview

Notice the verbs of failure: forsook, followed, bowed, and served.

Years ago, Senator Ashurst, Arizona, wrote to his colleague, Mark Smith: The great trouble with you is that you refuse to be a demagogue. You will not submerge your principles in order to get yourself elected. You must learn that there are times when a man in public life is compelled to rise above his principles.

In Judges 1, Israel became Senator Ashurst, indistinguishable from the secular. A false toleration toward a culture utterly corrupt results in the culture’s undoing (the termites chew and chew).

As a leader, you are accountable to see that your organization neither adopts the philosophy of the secular, and that you do not make alliances that at first seem innocent. Termites destroy, decimate those who would compromise. Businesses, schools, homes, and communities need not copy the behavior and customs of this world; the choice is to be different with the newness that the integrity of the Scriptures offer. Be different in all you think, speak, and do. Romans 12:2

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