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—I KINGS 19.—FEBRUARY 19.—
"They that wait upon the Lord shall
renew their strength."—Isaiah 40:31 .
SO signal a victory of Truth over error, of God over Baal, doubtless greatly encouraged Elijah, the Prophet. It was God's victory and Elijah rejoiced on that account, and because he had, in so large degree, been the Divine agent in the matter. But soon he learned that Queen Jezebel was as implacable a foe as ever. She viewed the matter, not as a combat between the Almighty and Baal, but as between her prophets and Elijah. When she learned that her prophets had been slain, she was enraged and sent word to Elijah that his fate must be the same. So unexpected a turn of affairs Elijah had not anticipated. He had the courage to meet the King and to denounce the eight hundred and fifty priests of Baal, but a mere message from a woman sapped his courage. He fled into the wilderness—there, strangely enough, to pray the Lord to take away the life which he had run away to protect.
Let us not forget, however, the suggestion in the previous study that the course of Elijah was intended to be typical—to foreshadow the experiences of the Church during this Gospel Age. Let us examine this feature a little further and note the type and antitype:
Not only is Jezebel referred to in Revelation as symbolizing a corrupt Church system, inculcating false doctrines amongst the Lord's nominal people (Ahab, her husband, as representing the civil power and Elijah typical of the saintly class of the Church), but let us also note that the time of no rain was also typical, as mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Four times is this same period of three and a half years referred to as the period in which the true saints of God were hidden from the eyes of the world in general in a wilderness condition. And during the same period there was a great drouth and famine, spiritual, amongst the people. Those three and a half years, in Revelation, are styled three and a half times, and again, twelve hundred and sixty days, and again, forty-two months.—Rev. 12:14; 12:6; 11:3; 13:5.
In Revelation, however, these various references to three and a half years are symbolical—each day for a year—and hence signify twelve hundred and sixty years in the antitype. Many believe that those years began to count in 538 A.D. and that they ended in 1798. Those who thus understand the matter recognize the increased interest in the Bible which followed 1798 to signify the time of rain (refreshment and blessing), which for the past century has brought great enlightenment to the whole world. But, however we may apply those three and a half years, symbolical years (twelve hundred and sixty literal years), most evidently they cover the antitypical period represented by Elijah's wilderness experiences.
If this be a true application it implies a measure of fear and cowardice for a time on the part of God's saintly people. As Elijah again went into hiding it would imply that the saintly ones became obscure. While they were in this wilderness condition a second time, God directed their course and taught them some important lessons, represented in Elijah's experiences related in this lesson. He was shown a strong wind, tearing the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks, but this was not the Lord's manifestation of himself, but merely an illustration of power. The next lesson was an earthquake, but neither was this the Lord. Next came a fire, but not in this could Elijah fully discern the Lord. Finally came the still, small voice and wonderful message of grace and Truth. In this Elijah recognized God as he did not recognize him in the other manifestations.
The antitypical Elijah, God's saintly people, are today learning to discriminate between different manifestations of Divine power through different agencies. Windy strife of words, which comes even as a hurricane, bringing devastation to the present order of Society, is not the voice of God, but the voice of humanity. The earthquake, representing a great time of social unrest, disturbance, upheaval, is not God's message to Elijah, but, nevertheless, is a manifestation of another power which he has in the world, by which, ultimately, the present order of things will give way before the Kingdom of his dear Son. The fire, representing consumption, destruction, anarchy, is not the Lord, but merely human passions which he will permit. The Elijah class are to understand God through the still, small voice heard by the ears of their hearts—the voice of Truth, the voice of God's Word speaking to his people today most wonderfully, yet unheard by the antitypical Ahab, Jezebel and others, intended only for the antitypical Elijah class.
Notwithstanding this voice, Elijah felt disconsolate and desired to die, thinking of himself as being alone consecrated to the Lord. But the Lord answered him, "I have left me seven thousand in Israel who have not bowed the knee unto Baal." Similarly today there are two classes in spiritual Israel. One class is in the wilderness condition, separate from the world. Another, a large class, is still more or less associated with and bound up in Babylon, although at heart they do not acknowledge any but the true God nor bow the knee to others.
Some day, some glad, sweet day
We shall be like our blessed Lord
And see him as he is.
Soon we shall strain our
Weary eyes no more
To catch, beyond this earthly
House of fettering clay,
A gleam of heavenly glory
From his radiant face.
Some day, some fair, sweet day
His loving hand will wipe
Away our tears. His tender
Voice will thrill our souls
With rapture, when we
Hear him say, "Well done,
Dear heart, Well done,
My joy is thine; for thee
The victor's crown is won.
"Thou hast been faithful,
Thou hast borne the cross,
The thorns have pierced thy feet;
But now the Night is past—
The Day has come—bright,
Glorious Day of endless joy and love.
The trial time hast proved thee true,
And thou art safe, beloved,
In thy Father's home."
O, glorious Day, for thee we long!
We will be faithful, will the
Burdens bear, sustained by grace Divine.
In meek submission to thy holy will,
Dear Lord, by faith we clasp thy hand
As side by side we tread the Narrow Way
And wait—for it will surely come—
Some day, some dear, sweet day,
O, tarry not too long!
LIZZIE C. RAMSDELL.