Vol.5, No. 02 – February 2, 2020
Grooming the One God Uses
1 Kings 17:1
Now Elijah the Tisbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” –1 Kings 17:1
Our experience shows that God is always grooming His representatives for the critical hour. God is never at a loss; He provides for every eventuality. When it seems that things are taking a dark and dangerous turn, when humanity displays their worst, God is not only aware, He is prepared in eternity past, present, and future. Odd, He seems to begin His work in a small place, most often by preparing an obscure person. In our passage, Elijah is that person.
This is dramatic. This “mountain man” is from an obscure town called Tishbe. How would you like to tell people you are from Tishbe? Tishbe is almost hidden in the mountain country of Gilead. It is on the other side of the Jordan River. Yet, when this person comes on the scene, it is like a crash of thunder in the history of Israel. We have severe thunderstorms where I live in Georgia. Thunder gets our attention. Elijah got the people’s attention.
Wherever Elijah appears it seems as though lightning flashes, thunder crashes, fire flames rise, and there is the sound of a mighty wind. He is effective. He is a mountain man par excellence.
However, he is a solitary character, probably graduated Magna cum Laude from Wilderness Mountain University, with a Master’s Degree in Solitude. My doctorate degree does not ring with that sound.
Elijah grew up in the solitude of Gilead; Gilead with its wild, lawless, and unkempt lifestyle. He looked like its persona. With his family, he lived in a rough shelter, and kept sheep. What a life!
One pastor, Dr. C. E. Macartney, called Elijah the loneliest and grandest man, of the Old Testament. Actually, we know nothing of a wife, family, friends, or associates. He could have easily said along with Isaiah:
I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel –Isaiah 63:3
Dr. Macartney considered him grand, actually most grand. Elijah stood for righteousness (especially as compared to an evil king and queen); he faced the organized religion of Baal (the Bull god). This Tishbite was a powerful demonstration of the influence of a single personality. One person.
Rugged mountain terrain, wild country, desolate and deep canyons—they often make for rugged individuals.
God often surrounds Himself with [seemingly] incompetents. The people God uses have rarely been great people, nor have great people been the people God uses. God looks at misfits, milquetoasts, shmucks, and schlemiels. God does not have to make do with a bunch of fools. He [literally] chooses them! –David Roper
Elijah, the “Tishbite Transformer” had three things going for him that we see:
- “As the Lord God lives” – a pointed one-liner that spells out a difference from the dead gods of the culture (not much has changed!). The flagrant idolatry of the culture with its dead gods, pagan priests, and shrines is so much like today’s culture of self-worship and trinkets. Jehovah is a living God, Elijah says.
- There is a presence of whom you need to hear (O king!) –Elijah willingly stands in the presence of the caring, charming, and rich King Ahab. However, Elijah was really in the presence of One greater than any earthly monarch; the One who is Almighty God.
- There is a Name –Elijah’s name has great meaning, for it represents his God. Elijah in Hebrew means, Jehovah is my strength. Names are important; when people think of our name they reflect upon what they know of us. Elijah’s name is key to his life and ministry.
Our lives portray who we are. Are we people who hold to a living God? Are we people unafraid to stand for the truth of Almighty God? What do people know about us that is key to our life and ministry? How much of that is important? All of it!
Just a note . . .
57 years ago today, Donna and I said our marital vows (yes, on a holiday, Groundhogs Day!). We did not date long before marrying (but we have been dating ever since!) I believe that God in His grace and mercy placed Donna in my life. Placed us together. Neither of us
He has never removed us from His hand. Elijah had the same experience of God’s presence.
How do your life experiences fit with God’s presence? He is completely faithful.