Bible Readings for October 16th
At the end of 1 Kings 18, Elijah might have believed that he had succeeded in bringing the nation of Israel back to Yahweh. And yet, when Elijah returns after defeating the prophets of Baal, Ahab’s wife Jezebel sends him this message: “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow” (1 Kgs. 19:2). Today, we will explore this question: How can God’s people live faithfully in the midst of deep discouragements in life and in ministry?
To begin, we should notice the extraordinary compassion Yahweh shows to Elijah at a time when Elijah wants only to die (1 Kgs. 19:4). Yahweh doesn’t force Elijah to march straight back into the battle, but instead he cares for Elijah, sending an angel to bring food and water to the prophet (1 Kgs. 19:5–8).
Then, Yahweh speaks to Elijah. He does not speak with an overwhelming display of power—that is, not through a strong wind or an earthquake or a fire—but through a “low whisper,” or, in the memorable translation of the King James Version, through a “still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:11–12). On the mountain, Yahweh gently encourages Elijah with news of a remnant of whom Elijah was not aware: “Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kgs. 19:18).
Finally, Yahweh recruits help for Elijah. Recognizing that Elijah needs a partner in his ministry, Yahweh sends Elijah to call Elisha to be his assistant (1 Kgs. 19:19–21)—and eventually, to take over his ministry in Israel (2 Kgs. 2). We will read much more about Elisha in the coming days.
Yahweh is not a taskmaster. Although ministry often taxes us to the extreme, Yahweh is not interested in breaking us. Even the Lord Jesus often took breaks to be refreshed through time alone in prayer (Luke 5:16)—that is, to escape the busyness of ministry in order to hear the still, small voice of God. More than that, ministry is not solitary work, but God instead gives us the whole body of Christ for our edification and encouragement.
In these times of spiritual melancholy, our greatest encouragement comes from meditating upon the fact that Jesus Christ has already conquered the kingdom of darkness and that he still reigns from his throne. When he calls us to follow him, he does not do so in order to accomplish what he could not—rather, he calls us to be heralds of the victory that he has already won. Today, encourage your weary heart with the words of Jesus: “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.