We have perhaps in measure been in the place of Elijah, conscious of the tremendous forces against us, human and diabolical, and have felt the need of some putting forth of mighty power, of God to rise up in an earthquake, in a whirlwind for our deliverance. We have looked for that, and, not seeing it, we have been discouraged, and have thought that the Lord had failed us, and we have begun to tell the Lord all about our devotion and our faithfulness - "I have been very jealous for the Lord ..." The Lord has never come to us in a whirlwind, nor in an earthquake. I doubt whether anybody has ever been delivered by an earthquake or whirlwind coming from the Lord, but we have been delivered, we have been set on high, we have been brought out of that tempest of satanic antagonism again and again, and the Lord has done it in such a quiet way. The Lord has not seen the need for an earthquake to deliver us. His weakness is greater than all other strength. He would teach us that, while we are what we are in ourselves, weak, in dependence upon God, we can be set over all the power of the enemy. It is so good that the Lord put it in the way of Elijah to go and do the things which were going to bring both Ahab and Jezebel to their ignominious end. It was as though the Lord said, All right, Elijah, just go along and anoint Elisha and anoint Jehu, and that is the end of Ahab and Jezebel, and you have no more to fear than that: " ... him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay." You see how the Lord is master of the situation, and how He brings His feeble, weak, consciously dependent servant into fellowship with Himself to bring an end to the enemy. There is a lot of history in that.
The Power Is Of God, and Not of Men
The Lord never covered up the weaknesses of His servants. The Lord has not drawn a veil over that paragraph in the life of Elijah, His beloved servant to whom He refers many times, whom He brings into view at the most critical times, not only in ancient Israel but also in New Testament times. John the Baptist came in the power of Elijah. Then Moses and Elijah appear on the Mount of Transfiguration in connection with that other great crisis, the exodus which the Lord Jesus was about to accomplish at Jerusalem, the greatest crisis in the history of this world. No wonder the people, when the heard what the Lord Jesus was doing, somehow or other mixed up John the Baptist with Elijah in their mentality. Herod himself said that John was risen from the dead. That implied something rather bad for him in his consciousness, for he was much in the same place as Ahab.
However, the Lord has not covered up the weaknesses of His servants, or drawn a veil over such incidents as that where Elijah is seeking for a juniper tree and casting himself down, and complaining to the Lord, and asking for his life to be taken away. It is a painful scene, and yet the Lord brings it out in full, clear relief.
Why does the Lord not hide from others our weaknesses? Why does He not hide those wounds which shame would hide, those things about us that we would like to be kept covered up for pride's sake? Why does the Lord let them come out? Well, if the Lord uses a man or a woman He is going to take good care that it is always known that the power working through them is not of themselves but of Him, and that if they for a moment get out of touch with Him it is very clearly revealed what they are, and that stands over against what He is. It is shown that these servants of His are not something in themselves, but that He is their strength.
You and I will never get to the place where the Lord will allow us to be something in ourselves. If ever you and I are in danger of getting there the Lord will very soon let us know that our usefulness to Him is altogether a matter of our dependence upon Him. Usefulness to God in a true way is always arrested when we lose the sense of dependence upon Him.
If Elijah stands out as one of the great peaks of usefulness to God, one that you can never miss as you scan the skyline, there is alongside of that this that we read of him, and you cannot shut your eyes to the fact. You feel you have somehow or other come down from great heights to great deeps when you read this passage about the breakdown of Elijah. Surely, in view of his faithfulness to the Lord, it would have been kind of the Lord to have covered that up and not inspired the recording of it! No! Elijah's name means, "Jehovah my strength." The incident under the juniper tree proclaims what Elijah is in himself. What is to be seen of value and effect in the life of Elijah is to be ascribed to the Lord in Elijah. So it is with Moses, and so with David, and so with all the others. The Lord has allowed the dark passages in their lives to be recorded just to show that men greatly used of God are only so used because of their dependence upon Him, and such records as these are necessary to us.
So then we are beginning to see the starting place of heavenly fullness. That is the first thing. Perhaps it is going a long way around, and saying a lot to indicate just one thing, but how important that thing is! The starting place of heavenly fullness is our emptiness, our dependence, our weakness. The Lord may have to take us right back there. If we have started at any point beyond dependence, beyond emptiness, beyond weakness it is a painful way back to God's starting point. But it is no all a backward march, for that very process of emptying is the way to the fullness. It i only making real to us what is already so clear to Him. It is, in a word, the bringing of us to the place where we know that all the fullness is in Him. Our fullness is in Him, but we never appreciate it, never enjoy it, never profit by it, never really enter into it in a living way, until that has been done in us which has made us conscious that it is so, and apart from this it is a bad look out for us.
It is so easy to say that all the fullness is in Him, to view it in an objective way, and to sing about it, but, oh, to come to the place where, knowing in a deep and terrible way how utterly futile we are in ourselves, we suddenly realize, in the presence of that deep poignant consciousness of our weakness, that that is only one side of things, and that the fullness is in Him for us. We need not stop because of our emptiness and weakness, we need not remain at the end, but that rather can be the place of beginning, and we can go on from there. The very emptiness and weakness is the ground upon which to move into a discovery that will ever keep us in a place of worship and wonder.
The Lord speak that word to our hearts.
(continued with # 1 - "The Exemplification of This Zeal In the Life of Elijah")