One of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament is Elijah. He makes his first appearance in the Bible in 1 Kings 17:1, which reads,
"Now Elijah the Tishbite, 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.""
Elijah comes as God's prophet to Ahab, who is introduced as the king of Israel at the end of chapter 16. Ahab has a reputation as a bad king, an exceedingly bad king, and the prophecy that Elijah brings to him is a result of the many bad things he has done early in his rule. And in the story where Elijah and Ahab are intertwined this opening verse is just the beginning of the conflict that they will have with each other. But the thing that caught my attention as I read this is that the writer of 1 Kings is very clear where the origin of that conflict really begins. The conflict begins because Elijah is devoted to God. "The Lord…before whom I stand." The prophecy that Elijah brings to Ahab is not Elijah's prophecy, but one that comes through Elijah as he serves God.
As much as we might want to believe otherwise, no person stands with complete independence. For everyone of us there is someone, or something, before whom we yield authority. For Elijah it was the Lord, the same God who was the God of Israel, the people whom Ahab ruled. The continuing story of Elijah shows us the hardship that came his way as a result of his following God. His life wasn't easy but he continued to follow the path he knew was right.
In contrast Ahab shunned his God, the one true God, to pursue false gods, bringing great harm to his people as well as himself. Through Elijah, God continued to call Ahab, but Ahab's heart was hard and he would never listen. Instead Ahab followed a god that let him do whatever he wanted, which really isn’t any kind of god at all.
Before whom do you stand? At the end of the day, or at the end of your life, to whom is it that you ultimately yield authority to?
It is my prayer that each of us would learn that there really is only one place to stand, and that is in the same place as Elijah, for "the Lord, the God of Israel," always has been, is today, and always will be, the One True Lord over all of creation. To yield authority to anyone or anything else is to surrender to a lost cause. He is trustworthy. He is faithful. And He longs for you to enjoy being in His presence.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.