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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Exemplification of This Zeal in the Life of Elijah

1 Kings 19:9, 10, 14; 2 Kings 19:29-31; Isaiah 59:17; John 2:14-17

The key to the life of Elijah may very well be found in this utterance of his: "I have been very jealous for the Lord..." (1 Kings 19:14). I think those two words explain Elijah - "very jealous". That jealousy was related to the Lord having His full place, His full rights in His Own people. That is what Elijah typified, and that undoubtedly is what is meant by the zeal of the Lord. Do you ask what zeal for the Lord means, what it is to be very jealous for in the Lord? It means that a man is absolutely separated from his own interests, from any personal interests, even in the Lord, and completely abandoned to Him that He might have His place and His rights in fullness. It is an utter attachment to the Lord for His interests. That is jealousy for the Lord. You cannot fail to see how Elijah was consumed with that fire of jealousy.

If we take the Lord Jesus Himself Who by His action in the temple caused these words from the Psalm instantly to leap into the minds of His disciples, "The zeal of Thine house shall eat me up" (John 2:17), we have no difficulty in marking that zeal or jealousy for God in His life in such utterances as these: "... not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). "Lo, I am come ... to do Thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7). It is a jealousy that the Father should have His place, and have it wholly, perfectly; that God should come into His rights.

The Link Between Elijah and John the Baptist

We referred in our previous meditation to the link between Elijah and John the Baptist. At the end of the Book of Malachi, in the last few verses of his prophecies, it is foretold that, before the great and terrible day of the Lord, Elijah would be sent. When you open the New Testament you find the disciples referring to that prophecy and asking the Lord Jesus about it, seeing that He claimed to be the Messenger of the Covenant, the Lord Who had come. With that in mind, they were in reality voicing their own perplexity: the prophets said Elijah would come first, but we have not yet seen Elijah! The Lord Jesus pointed them to John the Baptist and said that this was Elijah, that Elijah had come and they had done to him what they would. When you go back to the prophecies concerning John the Baptist, you find this among the things foretold: "And he shall go before His face in the spirit and power of Elijah ..." (Luke 1:17). In thinking upon that second chapter of the Gospel by Luke, in which occurs the account of the birth of the Lord Jesus, and the birth of John the Baptist, you can hardly fail to be impressed with the way these two are brought together in the chapter. It is a most remarkable thing. We are shown Zacharias fulfilling his course in the temple, the angel appearing to him, and all that the angel spake as to the birth of John. Then there is a breaking off, and the record of the angel appearing to Mary is given, and the annunciation. This is followed by the visit of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country, and the two coming together in that way. It was said that John the Baptist should go before the face of the Lord, and that he would do so in the power and spirit of Elijah. You look for the inner meaning and significance of this, and you remember Elijah and what he stood for. Elijah is an abiding example of a consuming jealousy for the rights of God. Now that spirit is transferred to John the Baptist, and he runs before, clears the way, announces the coming of Christ in the spirit of Elijah. He is bringing in the rights of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is, in effect, in purpose, bringing God into His place in the Person of His Son. John the Baptist closes the great succession of the prophets (he is the greatest of the prophets in one sense) by handing the Lord Jesus into the place of God's full rights, and pointing to Him, and saying to all who beheld, "Behold, the Lamb of God ..."  That was to say, in effect, This is the One in Whom God secures His rights; here is God coming into His place. Are you prepared for Him to rule in your life? That was the issue from that time onward.

That is the zeal of the Lord, and that is the way - as becomes instantly patent - to heavenly fullness. When we speak of heavenly fullness we cannot dissociate it from the Lord Jesus. In Him all the fullness dwells, but the question is, How are we coming into the fullness which is in Christ, and of which we saw the life of Elisha to be typical? It is by the Elijah way; by that way wherein God has His full place and all His rights secured to Him. You can see this throughout Elijah's life.

Again, passing in review some of the salient points of his life, you see that his jealousy for the Lord marked every step of the way. The introduction of Elijah is very sudden and abrupt. You are simply told that Elijah the Tishbite confronted Ahab one day and said: "As the Lord, the God of Israel, liveth, before Whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." Thus suddenly, coming from we know not where, appearing on the scene and making his declaration, we meet for the first time this man who stands for the rights of God.

There are one or two things about that very introduction which bear out this fact. "As the Lord, the God of Israel, liveth, before Whom I stand ..." Those last four words speak volumes. The next point is "... there shall not be dew nor rain ..." But later we are brought into the secret place and shown what lay behind such words: "Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months" (James 5:17). You are allowed to see into the prayer chamber of Elijah; to see what was behind this great declaration which closed the heavens.

Now look at that man praying. Listen, if you can, to his prayer. When you have heard him at prayer, what do you come away with as the impression of his prayer life? It will certainly not be that Elijah was asking for blessing for himself, or wandering around the world at will in prayer and giving the Lord a lot of information. NO!The one thing that will be left with you as you have heard Elijah pray is this: How that man is stretched out for the interests of God! How that man is bent upon God having His place in the affairs of men and in His Own people. He is pouring himself out that God might have His rights. It is not Elijah's good, Elijah's blessing, but God's satisfaction that he is after. That was engaging him, and because he was so bent on that he was brought into active cooperation, fellowship, oneness with God toward that end.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2)

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