The Sentence of Death (continued)
It is not that as servants of the Lord, we move on to another plane. At least, that is not our consciousness; not that we pass from one realm, perhaps to some extent earthly, to another more heavenly: pass from that which has a good deal of the marks of carnality about it to that which is more spiritual. It is something deeper than that. We pass right out, we are finished. That is where Elijah was. There are other factors in his experience, one of which was undoubtedly the physical. God dealt with that by giving him sleep and food and drink. But the whole thing combined, whatever it was, had this effect, that Elijah, in his own heart of hearts, was a slain man. If he asked the Lord to slay him, it was because he already felt the sword in his heart, and it will not be strange to some of you to say that there are some things a good deal worse than facing danger of your life. That was no new experience to Elijah. He was not likely to be overwhelmed by being in danger, but when somehow the bitterness gets inside, the consciousness comes that after all it is all a failure, well that is tasting death. Elijah might have been slain and never have tasted death, but there in the wilderness he tasted death. Had he been a more superficial man, he would have gone on for months in the joy of what had happened on Mount Carmel. Had he been out for self-interest, that would have kept him going a long time, but it was because his heart was set on a real, true work of God that he could never be satisfied with anything less.
The Conquest of Death
Well, of course, there is the rest of that chapter, and something far bigger emerges from this.Elijah was not finished, after all. He was a man delivered over to death; but this is the remarkable thing, that he is a man who never died! Other prophets died; Elijah never died. The man whose life was most sought, the man who from without and from within, by starvation, by the sword, by wicked rulers, by companies of men, was hunted and hounded for his life, that man never died! He went up to heaven in a whirlwind. That is the blessed and wonderful paradox about this life, that, after all you do not die. The Lord did not slay Elijah, nor did Elijah slay himself; he went on. That is the encouragement, the comfort, of it all. Oh, the Lord's purpose, however low He brings us, is not to slay us, not in that sense of a barren end. Elijah may feel, and some of us may feel, that things come to an end sometimes, but the Lord never intends an end like that, and we who are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, we live by Christ, and Christ's life reigns in us. Praise God, that is His intention all the time.
But more than that: the Lord does not need to take you so low just so that you can live. All the people of God will live. In Elijah's day there was seven thousand at least who lived. But have you noticed this further feature of Elijah's life, that, while he did not die, other people died? He slew the murderers; he slew death. All the saints will escape death and live, but I wonder how many of us will overcome death and slay it? That is the purpose of God. Now go through Elijah's life again, and you will find this, that he every time turned the tables against death, and the thing that would slay was slain. The simplest and perhaps the happiest episode, because in this case no human life is involved, i the case of the widow. Do not forget that, when Elijah arrived at her house, she was just making last preparations in order to die:and Elijah came there, a dying man. He had not a crumb to eat. He was one worse than she was in himself; yet the remarkable things is that not only did Elijah live, but the woman and her son lived. Life came into that house: death was overcome.
(continued with # 4)