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Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Ministry of Elijah # 3

Divine Authority

Some of the reasons for that are clear. Elijah's ministry was one of Divine authority. There were powers at work which were more than human powers. The case with Israel was not simply one of spiritual declension. It was not merely that the people had lost a measure of spiritual life and were of a lower level than they should be, so that they had to have a deepening of the spiritual life. That was not the position at all. Baal had a mighty footing in Israel, and the evil powers, the forces of darkness, were back of this state of things. The situation demanded more than merely spiritual help to Israel. Something more than a ministry of exhortation and of spiritual food, something more than a convention for the deepening of spiritual life was called for. A ministry of Divine authority was needed, to deal with a spiritual situation back of the condition in which the people were found. There were mightier forces at work than merely human faults and failings. The mighty power of satan was there represented by Israel's state. Elijah, therefore, must needs fulfill a ministry of Divine authority, and the very first public utterance indicates that that is what his ministry was:

"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" (1 Kings 17:1).

There is a position, and there is an authority by reason of that position. James says that by Elijah's prayer the heavens were closed. That is going beyond the merely earthly, human situation. And again, by his prayer the heavens were opened. That is authority in heaven.

Secret Preparation

Now that ministry of authority was born in secret preparation before it came out in public expression. The Apostle James tells us quite definitely that "Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently (you have no mention of that in the historic record in the Book of Kings) that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again; and the heaven gave rain ..."

There is a secret history with God. He came into his public ministry with abrupt announcement. He simply stood there upon the platform of the universe, as it were, and made his declaration. But that is not all. There is a secret history with God behind that. All such ministry of Divine authority has its beginning hidden from the public eye, has its roots in a secret history with God. That kind of ministry, born out from that secret history with God, needs very special government by God to preserve its safety, to safeguard it from all those forces which can destroy it, and that is why Elijah, having such a ministry, needed to be governed in every step by God. There must be no generalization of movement in his case, there must be specific movement, God dictating every step. So God preserves that authority as He produces it, that is, by a hidden life. Such a life and such a ministry must not be exposed, otherwise it will be destroyed.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 4 - "Separation From the Self-life")

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