From the time of Jeroboam’s death to Elijah’s appearance before Ahab the people of Israel suffered a steady spiritual decline. Ruled by men who did not fear Jehovah and who encouraged strange forms of worship, the larger number of the people rapidly lost sight of their duty to serve the living God and adopted many of the practices of idolatry.” Prophets and Kings, 109. [Emphasis supplied.]
Did you notice the italicized words above? When was it that the Lord raised up Elijah the prophet? What were the leaders at that time teaching the people who professed Ancient Adventism?
The above statement, found in Prophets and Kings, makes it clear that as a direct result of the leaders directing the people into strange forms of worship they lost sight of their duty and adopted many of the practices of idolatry. Many might be surprised to find out that you do not have to worship a figure carved from wood or stone to be guilty of idolatry.
Following is Webster’s Dictionary definition of an idol:
- A representation or symbol of an object of worship; broadly: a false god.
- A likeness of something b: pretender, imposter.
- A form or appearance visible but without substance.
- An object of extreme devotion.
- A false conception: fallacy.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. [Emphasis supplied.]
So brothers and sisters, an idol worshiper can be someone who worships a false idea or a concept, just as much as someone who bows down to a carving of a false god. If this is true, it certainly says something about leaders who encourage others into strange forms of worship—celebration—and those who are willingly ignorant or defiant concerning the true worship of God.
It also makes it very interesting to note that it is at this time that we are told that God would send the Elijah message one last time. It will have the same effect as it had so many years ago. We are told, during this time of Earth’s last moments, that the church (God’s true people) will appear as about to fall, but it will not fall. This statement should give us courage and confidence in our Lord’s ability to save us. But it should also be a warning to all that times are going to get very difficult, and only through God’s help and plan—not man’s—do we have any hope of salvation.
There was a parallel to this in Elijah’s day. In the time of Israel’s great apostasy, the tribe of Judah had a king who served God. King Asa had stood firm during his reign and had led his people away from idolatry and false worship. Many years after King Asa began to reign, Zerah, the Ethiopian, invaded his kingdom. This warrior brought with him a host of a million soldiers, and three hundred chariots. (See 2 Chronicles 14:9.) This army could have easily wiped out the tribe of Judah and King Asa knew it.
During the years of prosperity, King Asa did not waste his time in idle amusement and pleasure, but spent the greater part of his time preparing for just such an emergency as he was now facing. He had used the times of peace to train an army for the conflict, which was now before him. He had bent his energies into educating his people in the faith of the true God and encouraged them to put their trust and faith explicitly in Him. Now the test of battle and trial of their faith was before them.
Because the King and his people had remained faithful to the Lord in times of peace they could now, with confidence, call upon Him in a time of crisis. The odds were unquestionably against them by all appearance. Their army, though well trained, was much smaller than their opponent’s, but the kingdom of Judah could rightfully claim the Lord’s promises of protection and this they did.
Their prayer was given to every Christian as well: “The prayer of Asa is one that every Christian believer may fittingly offer. We fight in a warfare, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. See Ephesians 6:12. In life’s conflict we must meet evil agencies that have arrayed themselves against the right. Our hope is not in man, but in the living God. With full assurance of faith we may expect that He will unite His omnipotence with the efforts of human instrumentalities, for the glory of His name. Clad with the armor of His righteousness, we may gain the victory over every foe.” Prophets and Kings, 111.
The God of the Remnant (Revelation 12:17) is the true God. We can have confidence in Him as long as we are truly cooperating with Him. In fact, the only way we can claim the promises of God is by our willingness to obey what He asks of us. The very good news for Adventism is not that we do not have to fight—that is a lie that most professors of Adventism want to believe—but the good news is that although we have a battle to fight we will win! Not we can win, not we might win, but we will win! This is tremendous news and we need to invest our whole lives in the fulfilling of this eternal promise.
Just as the Lord answered the prayer of righteous King Asa for the salvation of his people against a humanly unconquerable enemy, so today He will answer the same prayer for help to overcome the spiritual wickedness in high places.
It was through the influence of wicked rulers (Ahab and Jezebel), that a gross spiritual crisis had come to the majority in Israel. These two rulers had brought the spiritual worth of Israel so low that only the message of the prophet Elijah could bring revival and reformation. It was their only chance for salvation and salvation would only come to those who accepted the message, with the whole heart, no matter how severe it seemed.
“Alas, how had the glory of Israel departed! Never before had the chosen people of God fallen so low in apostasy . . . Nothing short of the miracleworking power of God could preserve the nation from utter destruction. Israel had voluntarily separated herself from Jehovah, yet the Lord in compassion still yearned after those who had been led into sin, and He was about to send them one of the mightiest of His prophets, through whom many were to be led back to allegiance to the God of their fathers.” Prophets and Kings, 116. [Emphasis supplied.]
It is amazing that the vast majority, even many who claim to continue in the historical paths, do not seem to realize that the Elijah message, with all its seeming harshness, is the chosen method of redemption for certain levels of apostasy. It is incredible that many who support historic Adventism still want to change the methods of God, and either water down the message or do away with it all together, calling and treating it as something sinful.
Our need to be honest with the Elijah message is paramount if we will ever have any hope for salvation. First of all we should admit that it is God who is calling for the Elijah message and not men who have nothing better to do than go around shouting at everybody. We must understand that it is God’s plan to use men to give this message, men of His own choosing. These men will not find the job any more agreeable than did the prophet whose name the message bears. The job is so disagreeable that God has a hard time finding anyone who will do it and that is why there have been so few throughout the earth’s history who have taken on the task. After we have properly analyzed these truths, we must ask God to give us the conviction and the courage to support the message and the messengers that God Himself has raised up to give His message. We must not find ourselves fighting against God while professing to serve Him. To continue to do this would lead to self-deception so deep and so dark that one becomes eternally blinded to the light before him. The role of Elijah is the one of a man who fights the depths of apostasy head on and in the very strongholds of hell. He does this because he has been equipped to do so by the God Who is the author of the message he gives and because he wishes God’s people to live and not die. The reason the love of these messengers is so easily misunderstood is because it is not based on feeling but an abiding principle that most people have rejected.
“As Elijah saw Israel going deeper and deeper into idolatry, his soul was distressed and his indignation aroused.” Prophets and Kings, 119.
“To Elijah was entrusted the mission of delivering to Ahab Heaven’s message of judgment. He did not seek to be the Lord’s messenger; the word of the Lord came to him. And jealous for the honor of God’s cause, he did not hesitate to obey the divine summons, though to obey seemed to invite swift destruction at the hand of the wicked King.” Prophets and Kings, 120, 121.
Even though the words of Elijah were coming true before Israel’s very eyes, they would not repent of their apostasy. But can we truthfully say anything different about present day Israel? Although much evidence continues to come forth explaining and bringing the apostasy of modern-day Israel into clear focus, how many have allowed themselves to judge honestly the truth set before them. How many have repented of their stubbornness or rebelliousness toward the God of truth? We are repeating the same history as our ancient counterparts.
Those in power, those who were encouraging the “New Theology” and “Celebration Worship” of their day, not only refused the invitation of the Lord to repentance but went further into the depth of their apostasy agenda—an agenda to ruin Adventism from the inside out. It would be advantageous for us to recognize that when Jezebel could not kill the Elijah message by seeking out and destroying the one who gave it, she then set out to kill all those who supported it. Dear friends, do you realize that the Lord has been most gracious by giving us this true story from history? Why do you suppose He wanted us to have it? Could it be because He knows that we are repeating the history of man from the inside of “the church” and we are on a course that will bring the same results.
God has given us all the power and moral right of personal choice in all these matters. But having the right to make a choice should not be understood as having the benefit of choice without its corresponding consequences. We can, and most do, choose to ignore or willfully disbelieve that God means what He says. We can choose to believe that God loves us “too much” to destroy us in our sins. But this choice totally ignores the fact that God loves us and everyone too much not to punish sin. God has proven His love in a myriad of ways, not the least of which is giving His Son to die and giving us the freedom to choose our own way. But those who think that God would ignore what has happened over the last six thousand years with the sin problem that has >brought devastation to heaven and this earth, and killed His Son, are covered with self so heavily that they either will not or cannot think logically. Why would God sacrifice the safety of the entire universe because He loves us “too much” to get rid of sin and sinners who refuse the better life of victory? The only reason we sin is because we love it more than we love God. So, in reality, it is not God’s love which is in question but who or what the sinner loves.
The apostasy of ancient Adventists and modern Israel was and is so deep and so dark that the only way for people to have a real opportunity for life is through the Elijah message. If this were not so, then why would God choose it? It will serve its intended purpose, but far too many people look toward the unconverted among us and, because of a lack of response from the crowd, blame the Elijah message. This is not only a misguided conclusion but can be fatal if not discontinued. The apparent failure or division is never the fault of the truth, but of a rebellion against the truth! Even in the face of apparent failure, true faith dictates that the Elijah message will succeed.
“God had sent messengers to Israel, with appeals to return to their allegiance. Had they heeded these appeals, had they turned from Baal to the living God, Elijah’s message of judgment would never have been given. But the warnings that might have been a savor of life unto life had proved to them a savor of death unto death. Their pride had been wounded, their anger had been aroused against the messengers, and now they regarded with intense hatred the prophet Elijah . . . In the face of the calamity they continued to stand firm in their idolatry. Thus they were adding to the guilt that had brought the judgments of Heaven upon the land.” Prophets and Kings, 127–128.
“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this will cause a shaking among God’s people.” Testimonies, vol.1, 181.
Two things we can see in the above quotations for sure. The Elijah message, in the face of great spiritual darkness among God’s chosen people, and their hatred for truth, will fulfill its intended purpose. The Elijah message, the pouring forth of the straight testimony, will receive decided opposition from those that hate its exposure and this rebellion is what causes the shaking—not the truth.
Elijah was under a heavy burden for his people who he wished to see come to salvation. He did not want to see them die. He took on the terrible task before him because he knew that it was God’s message and not his own. He accepted the calling because he believed that the message would accomplish the purpose God intended it to and he was willing to leave the consequences with God.
Because God has seen fit to place this event in the written history of the Bible we can have confidence that He knows what He is doing. Just as the Elijah message met the crisis thousands of years ago it will have the same results today. There was nothing that anyone did or could do in the days of Elijah to stop the message given and today, when we find ourselves steeped in apostasy for one last time, is there anything that anyone can do to stop God from His work? It may be true that few who now call themselves Adventists will respond, and certainly the majority of those in the Adventist movement will end up being the most aggressive in seeing to it that the true and faithful are exterminated if possible. However, our faith must not be like that of the apostate or the half-educated infidel, but instead like that of the prophet who, with child-like faith, does what God asks of him even though it might be disagreeable.
Let us never forget that “we have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” Life Sketches, 196. Let us remember that Elijah is now in heaven and represents those who with his message will be translated without seeing death. Let us be wise unto salvation and press toward the mark of our high calling, with confidence in the Author and Finisher of our faith.