Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Elijah Solution

In the days of Elijah the people of Israel had turned their hearts from God. They were worshiping other god’s, instead of Jehovah. Evil reigned in Israel, and broke Elijah’s heart. Determined to stop the national evil of idol worship, the Lord weighted Elijah's heart with a message of repentance designed to turn the hearts of the people back to God. In allowing these wicked traits of character to go unchecked, King Ahab was directly responsible, for he himself set the example which his people were following. Thus the people had turned their hearts and minds away from God, while assuming that they were still following Him. You see, Baal worship was similar to the worship of the true God, Jehovah. After all, Baal only meant 'lord,' or 'husband.' So the people thought they were calling on God the way they had always done. Yet in reality, they had switched allegiances unaware. They could have known but by choice they did not. In the days of John the Baptist, evil also reigned in Judah in the form of greed, selfishness, sensual pleasures, and nationalistic pride.

At present -- the last days to be exact -- the Lord has said that people would be “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power." We were further admonished to 'have nothing to do with them' (2 Timothy 3:2-5 NIV). Isn't this precisely the case both with professed Christians in various churches, as well as with the unbelievers and the unchurched? Sadly, God's evaluation of the condition of the last church as stated in Revelation 3:15 -17 (NIV) is accurate --

Revelation 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I
wish you were either one or the other!
Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold --
I am about to spit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not
need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are
wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Professed Christians think themselves ‘good,’ because they do not behave in the obviously wicked ways that 'bad' people do. Our problems however, are deeper and greater than our behavior indicates. At issue is our human nature which, naturally bent towards evil, is manifested in evil imagination, attitudes and thoughts, continually. Human nature is filled with iniquity which naturally pulls us as a riptide pulls its victim downward and outward to the sea. As this is true of all human beings, the only possible difference between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people is the supernatural power which controls them. Not one of us in and of himself or herself is righteous, for as the Lord stated through Apostle Paul, good people are as bent toward evil as bad people are. “Good” people have learned to hide their evil ways. Living in denial they are deceived as to their true condition. Furthermore, they disbelieve any evaluation that is contrary to their opinion of themselves.

In the days of the prophet Elijah, God sent him to spare the people from suffering a three-year drought. God's solution was Elijah's message, and that is what Elijah preached. “Repent for judgment is near," was his constant cry; yet it was to turn the hearts and minds of the people back to the true worship of God. In the days of Jesus, John the Baptist was sent to “prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him” (Luke 3:4 NIV). John the Baptist was given the privilege of preaching the message of repentance ("Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near," Matthew 3:2 NIV) just as Elijah was sanctioned to preach to his generation. Both messages were not only proclaimed with authority, but the power to transform human hearts and minds was inherent within the Word itself. So potent was this message that hard hearts were melted, while lukewarm ones were heated up to white hot. Folks, the hearts and minds of those who genuinely accepted the message were turned to one another, “the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts and minds of the children to their parents." Thus the people were prepared to receive Jesus as their long awaited Messiah. Those who rejected the message ultimately rejected not only Jesus, but His Father whom they professed to serve. As the scripture says, to be without Jesus is to be without the light and life. Thus the majority of Jews, indeed the Jewish nation itself, sealed their personal and national eternal condemnation.

In our day, the last great message to go out to the world is the message of the righteous character of God's agape - love. Bound up in the good news of the righteousness of Christ is the three angels' message of Revelation 14: 6-12 in verity (EGW). This message has of necessity been given to the Elijah's of this time. And as in the days of old, inherent in the message is the power to change the hearts and minds of the people to Christ, to one another, from children to parents and vice versa. This is the power that is lacking in our Laodicean churches. The solution is therefore not more and better programming; it is not more dollars thrown at the various outreach ministries, nor is it greater local, national or global recognition. The solution is in the message. Hearts and minds who willingly, eagerly and attentively listen are transformed by the Agape - love of Christ. False worship is put aside, and the genuine article of faith comes to reside in the souls of the people, causing them to light up the globe with the splendor of Christ's character (His glory) as they go from place to place sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My friends, the Elijah solution has been given to all. Just how many years do we have to go on in barrenness, weary and wilting? If we are willing to receive the message as God desires us to, it will do the work He has designated, for He has said, "So shall My Word be that goeth forth of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where to I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).

Maria Greaves-Barnes & Raul Diaz
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