The Chariot of Israel and the Horsemen Thereof
By Pastor Hal Mayer
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Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me today as we study the Bible again. We want to understand the truth of God for these last days, and especially do we want the Holy Spirit to give us His wisdom and power to meet the darts of the enemy. Friends, thank you for your prayers and support. Without it, we could not do the work of helping souls find their way to the kingdom of heaven.
I don’t know about you, but I have often wondered what it would be like to live in the last days just before Jesus comes again. I’ve wondered what it would be like to live through the time of trouble, when my faith would be tested to the ultimate. How would the last events unfold and what shape would they take?
Well, now that we are beginning to see how the prophecies are being fulfilled it is all beginning to make sense. Each day important developments unfold. But we must keep our focus on the spiritual issues. It is easy to look at all the events going on, but at the same time overlook the deeper spiritual responsibilities that God wants us to see. So, take heed to the lessons we learn from God’s word.
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Now, I am going to share with you the last installment on the life of Elijah. Elijah was a man that represented the righteous who are living at the end of time. His life is a type of the times in which we live and the lives we must live. The issues he faced in his day, God’s people will face also. His longing for God must be the longing of our hearts also. His holy zeal and righteous indignation at the abuse of God’s truth and the rank idolatry and licentiousness among God’s people in his day, is a model for us. We have much to gain from the study of the last few years of Elijah’s life on earth. I hope this message today will inspire you with faith and a voluntary decision to yield your life to Christ.
And I have a question for any children or young people that are listening today. How many times did Elijah call down fire from heaven? Was it just once on Mount Carmel? Or were there other times that he did it too? Pay attention to hear the answer.
Before we begin, let us pray. Our Father in heaven, in Jesus name we come to you today seeking a special blessing from the Holy Spirit as we study the final chapter in the earthly life of Elijah. We pray that the lessons we learn from this Godly man, will make us love Jesus more, and help us understand His will in these last days. We also want to understand the issues in our time. So, bless us we pray, in Jesus’ name, amen.
Friends, turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 10:11. I want you to think about the significance of Elijah’s life especially as it relates to us, and this verse gives us a clue. Here is what is says. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
In other words, we learn from the lives of these people of the ancient scriptures lessons and principles that we will again see in the last days of earth’s history, where we are right now. If you want a deep spiritual walk with God, study the lives of those heroes of the Bible. They are types of our times. What they faced, we will face. What they did, we will have to do. What was going on behind the scenes is also going on behind the scenes now. There is no significant difference between the issues then and now.
Listen to this interesting statement from Prophets and Kings, pages 177 and 178. “Through the long centuries that have passed since Elijah’s time, the record of his lifework has brought inspiration and courage to those who have been called to stand for the right in the midst of apostasy.” And for us, “upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11), it has special significance.”
Are we living in the midst of apostasy? For certain we are. Every where you turn it is obvious that the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from men as they reject God’s law for skepticism, rebellion and self-worship. And do we need the Elijah principle today? We certainly do. Elijah called the people back to the law of God. He himself, when he was discouraged and fled into the wilderness, longed to go back to basics, back to the law and the lawgiver. So, he went to Mt. Sinai where the law of God had been given in the first place.
You see, my friends, our job, as God’s people in these last days, is to warn and encourage people to come back to obedience to the law of God. The law has always been at the center of the argument between Christ and Satan. Satan says it cannot be kept, and bends every effort to cause people not to keep it by tempting them with all manner of enticements and arguments, addictions, bribes, threats, coercion, and whatever else he and his imps can think up. Christ, on the other hand, says that man can obey the law of God through His grace. And He bends every effort and engages the hosts of heaven to do everything they can to get men and women to choose to obey voluntarily. This is the central issue. Is man going to trust and obey God, or are they going to trust and obey Satan? That is the great choice we all face in life. And there is no third option. Friend, if you haven’t made that choice, please do so today.
I will read on. “History is being repeated. The world today has its Ahabs and its Jezebels.”
Did you hear that? The world today has its rebellious and determined Ahabs and Jezebels. And it isn’t just the world. It is also the same in the church, just as it was in Elijah’s time. We have to remember that we are the targets of the enemy. He has painted a big round circle on your back with a dot in the middle. He is aiming at you.
Let me continue, “The present age is one of idolatry, as verily as was that in which Elijah lived. No outward shrine may be visible; there may be no image for the eye to rest upon; yet thousands are following after the gods of this world–after riches, fame, pleasure, and the pleasing fables that permit man to follow the inclinations of the unregenerate heart. Multitudes have a wrong conception of God and His attributes, and are as truly serving a false god as were the worshipers of Baal. Many even of those who claim to be Christians have allied themselves with influences that are unalterably opposed to God and His truth. Thus they are led to turn away from the divine and to exalt the human.”
Wow! Today we certainly see this, don’t we? Consider your own life. Are you serving any false gods? What about Hollywood? What about the music industry? What about your belly? Those are just a few.
Reading on. “The prevailing spirit of our time is one of infidelity and apostasy… There is seen a spirit of opposition to the plain word of God, of idolatrous exaltation of human wisdom above divine revelation. Men have allowed their minds to become so darkened and confused by conformity to worldly customs and influences that they seem to have lost all power to discriminate between light and darkness, truth and error. So far have they departed from the right way that they hold the opinions of a few philosophers, so-called, to be more trustworthy than the truths of the Bible. The entreaties and promises of God’s word, its threatenings against disobedience and idolatry–these seem powerless to melt their hearts. A faith such as actuated Paul, Peter, and John they regard as old-fashioned, mystical, and unworthy of the intelligence of modern thinkers.”
And Satan has gone so far today as to “attempt to change the law itself so as to lead men to violate its precepts while professing to obey it.” Prophets and Kings, page 178. He belittles it. He misrepresents its teachings so that it doesn’t seem important. For instance, Satan has most people thinking that it is ok to have sexual activity outside of marriage. He has also changed the Sabbath from the seventh-day to the first day of the week and he gets men to think that the Sabbath of the law is not important. Disobedience is justified on flimsy arguments.
And as men reject the Bible and the law of God, there is a corresponding growth of contempt for all law and order in society. Have you noticed the violence and crime today? It’s like never before. Look at the Muslim extremists like the Islamic State who operate in the name of Allah. Have they lost all fear of God? Have you noticed the deep disrespect for authority and the police in developed countries? In some places there is a seething hatred of law enforcement and attacks and death are the result.
Oh friends, let us learn to live by the grace of Christ so that we can obey all the precepts of Jehovah. Elijah’s work was to restore the Sabbath to the people of Israel. And the third Elijah will have to do the same in the last days along with the rest of the law.
Elijah cried on Mount Carmel, “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21. But today’s message is much the same. “Babylon the great is fallen is fallen… Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Revelation 18:2, 4. That’s a decision that must be made. And the test will come to every soul. In other words, if you are a follower of Christ, you must come out of false systems of worship, and follow Christ and keep His law, and especially respect His Sabbath.
All over the world are people who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They are faithful to the light they have. And when total darkness settles upon the earth, and gross darkness the people, they will shine as the stars of heaven. You won’t know who they are until the test and trial comes. But they are there. God may have their obedience and sincerity hidden away from the naked eye. But when the time comes, they will shine brightly amid the moral darkness of this world.
Elijah had more work to do after he fled Jezebel. God wasn’t finished with him. Perhaps he thought that God could not use him anymore, and in his depression and discouragement he pled with God to end his life. But God had other plans. In blessing and comforting Elijah, God rekindled his desire to understand and appreciate God again and so Elijah went to Sinai where Moses received the law. While at Sinai, God gave him instructions to deal with Israel’s apostasy. And Elijah realized that he was to strengthen the faithful 7000 and work to restore truth and righteousness for a few more years. He was also to appoint and train his successor. How could he leave the scene of action with the reformation uncompleted and no successor ready to take his place? God wanted to cooperate with Elijah in accomplishing these tasks.
There were still huge problems back in Israel. The Bible tell us in 1 Kings 21:25 that “there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” In other words, in spite of the manifest power of God on Mt. Carmel, Ahab and Jezebel continued to do wickedness. Jezebel was the one who stirred up Ahab from the very beginning of their relationship. And now she continued to cast a spell over him that led to violence and oppression seldom equaled in sacred history. Ahab was totally given over to selfishness. That’s what it means when it says that he sold himself to work wickedness.
Ahab saw the lovely vineyard of Naboth, a man from Jezreel, and he coveted it. He couldn’t help but see it. It was right next to his palace in Jezreel the Bible tells us in 1 Kings 21:1. He offered to buy it or trade it with Naboth, but Naboth’s vineyard was highly prized because it belonged to his fathers. It was his inheritance and he no doubt planned to give it to his children. According to the law, an Israelite was to “Keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers.” Numbers 36:7. So, Naboth refused Ahab’s offers.
Ahab was angry at Naboth’s refusal. He was disappointed that Naboth would deny him his desires and it cut him to the heart. He went to bed to pout and would eat nothing. His proud spirit wanted revenge for the indignity of being denied. He thought Naboth’s conscientious regard for his inheritance was worthless and evil surmised that Naboth pretended to consult his conscience as an excuse to turn down his offer.
Discontent is a sin. Paul was content in his prison cell, but Ahab was discontented in his palace. He had everything his heart could want. He had the honors and pleasures of court and the power and glory of a throne. Yet all that means nothing to him without Naboth’s vineyard. What a nice kitchen garden this would be. Friends, contentment is not related to the state of your circumstances, but is a matter of your mind and heart. You must be content in whatever lot or circumstances God has placed you. Discontent chafes at God’s ordained place for you. And therefore it becomes a sin against God. Even when we are abused or persecuted, we are not to be discontented. Oh friends, do we not badly need to practice being content when things aren’t going well?
Ahab told Jezebel what had happened, but he represented Naboth as obstinate, not conscientious. He carefully concealed the reason why Naboth would not make a deal with him. Read it in 1 Kings 21:6. Ahab had no conscience and he couldn’t imagine anyone else having one.
When Jezebel discovered what was troubling Ahab, she went into action. Whenever Jezebel is involved, you can expect mischief. She fans the coals of Ahab’s carnal heart. “Doest thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” 1 Kings 21:7. Jezebel suggests that as king he has all power and can do what he wants by force if he cannot accomplish it by persuasion or by fair negotiations. It is a terrible thing to have people around a ruler that encourage him to be a tyrant and urge him to abuse his power. I think some prominent rulers today have this problem, don’t you?
Jezebel hated the laws of God and especially thirsted for Naboth’s blood because he adhered to the laws that God gave to Israel. She wickedly sent a message to the magistrates of Jezreel to set up a fake trial of Naboth and sealed it with Ahab’s seal. We would call it a “kangaroo court.” She found willing accomplices among the leaders of the city of Jezreel, the elders and the nobles, the wealthy, the respected. No doubt Jezebel had used them before to accomplish her purposes, perhaps to order the deaths of the prophets of the Lord before the drought. Perhaps the nobles and magistrates own wealth could be traced to their collaboration with Jezebel, for any wicked ruler needs accomplices in important positions and of sufficient influence to achieve their power. Jezebel was no exception.
The way Jezebel treated Naboth was prophetic of how God’s people will be treated when they make a final stand for the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Think about it. Naboth’s vineyard and its fruit was his inheritance and his righteousness got him in trouble with the established apostate spiritual power. Holiness of character and the righteousness of Christ are the inheritance of the last generation of God’s faithful people. And because of it, they too will get into trouble with the established apostate spiritual power.
Now friends, do you think that in the last days innocent people will be condemned to death by spiritual Jezebel and her state magistrates because they adhere to the law of God? Will their enemies thirst for their blood? Jezebel could have merely taken the land from Naboth by force, perhaps by a false title deed or something. Like Haman, in the time of Mordecai and Esther, who went after all the Jews, Jezebel had to go further that confiscate his land. Naboth must die as a malefactor to satisfy her revenge and hostility to the God of heaven.
Do you think there will be false allegations against God’s people in the last days? Of course there will. Will there be a miscarriage of justice? Of course there will. This and other stories are in the Bible so that we will understand what is going to happen in the last days. God’s people have to be prepared to expect the same thing.
Jezebel’s order was to be done under the cover of a religious crime. Jezebel instructed the elders of Jezreel to “proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.” 1 Kings 21:9, 10.
These elders and nobles were to pretend that some great evil or calamity had to be avoided and that Naboth was the cause of it, and that unless he was put to death, the whole city would come under the curse of God. That’s the reason for the accusation of blaspheming God. Fancy that, the very thing of which Jezebel was guilty, she charged upon Naboth. Will God’s people during the final crisis face the very allegations of which their accusers are guilty? Jezebel knew that the people would only support the death of Naboth if they could be deceived into thinking that he had done some capital religious crime.
Believe it or not, the leaders and wealthy officials of Jezreel did exactly what she said to do. Notice that Jezebel knew she was getting men to lie about Naboth. She even told them to find “sons of Belial,” or in other words sons of Satan himself; deceivers, liars and false accusers.
The deed also must look like it has the formalities of justice, legal due process. If he had been assassinated at night along some street, it would have been terrible. But Jezebel intended to make a public example of Naboth by a public trial and execution through the legal process. The legal system is supposed to protect the innocent. But when in the hands of tyrants in the service of religion, it becomes perverted and justice is trampled in the dust.
Jezebel’s allegation against Naboth had two core arguments, both of which were patently false. “Thou didst blaspheme God and the king.” The first allegation, that he blasphemed God, is the basis for the death sentence. This is a religious argument based on Jewish law. Jezebel had no respect for God’s laws. The adulteress violated them with impunity herself. But she accused him by his own religion to achieve her own immoral ends. This charge of blaspheming God, however, would not require the forfeiture of his estate. His children and descendents would still inherit his vineyard. The second allegation, that he blasphemed the king, was designed to remove legal title from his descendents. This was treason and was the basis for confiscation of his property, so that Ahab might have his vineyard.
Notice, Naboth is not permitted to speak in his own defense. Nor is he permitted to cross-examine the witnesses or have legal counsel. There was no jury of peers and no opportunity for appeal. He is immediately taken out and stoned to death for a crime he did not commit. This is a prophetic example of how God’s people will be treated in the last days.
When Naboth was dead, Jezebel told Ahab, who then went down to confiscate the vineyard. Governments and rulers always try to confiscate the assets of those convicted of a crime, whether true or false. We should take note of this. This is the practice today as well. Do you think it would be a good idea to have extra assets in the time of trouble? I don’t think so. Now is the time to get them into God’s work.
But it was even worse than this. Naboth had sons that would have rightfully inherited the vineyard. They too were apparently murdered, perhaps secretly, so that they could not claim title to the vineyard or complain about what had happened. 2 Kings 9:26 tells us that the Lord said of Ahab; “Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons…”
Friends, this sad story reveals the wickedness of the wicked and the power of Satan in the children of disobedience. Will there be justice to the righteous? Not when religious passions are stirred against them. In the time of trouble, the apostate enemies of God’s people who wish to destroy them will accuse them of religious crimes and of civil treason. And they will not have their basic rights and legal due process. They will eventually be put to death for upholding the principles ordained of heaven.
Listen to this statement in The Great Controversy, page 590. Notice that natural calamities and disasters have people thinking that God is displeased and blame the trouble on the servants of God who uphold the fourth commandment.
“And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils… It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity… As the wrath of the people shall be excited by false charges, they will pursue a course toward God’s ambassadors very similar to that which apostate Israel pursued toward Elijah.”
And then from page 615 we read the following, “A decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment, and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death.” That, and more, is in essence what Jezebel did to Naboth.
But, Elijah was still in the land! He was the patriarch of prophets. He was the senior ranking prophet of the Lord. A lower ranking prophet was sent to give Ahab good news. None but Elijah could give him the bad news. And the last thing Ahab wanted was for Elijah to show up in his new vineyard. But there he was, with righteous indignation written all over his face. God Himself had told Elijah what had happened.
“The word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to posses it.” 1 Kings 21:17, 18. God also gave him the words to say to Ahab.
When Ahab saw him, he fell into a rage and passionately said to Elijah, “Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?” Ahab hated Elijah and wanted to avoid him as much as he could. But Elijah found him. Seeing Elijah was like the handwriting on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast. He trembled before Elijah. God’s word had become a terror to Ahab, just as the word of the Lord in the time of the latter rain will be a terror to the wicked. And Elijah had a word from the Lord for Ahab just as he was taking possession of his ill-gotten gain. Elijah frequently reproved Ahab. Yet, that is what was needed. How merciful is God to send so many reproofs and warnings? Yet Ahab’s heart was evil and selfish and refused to surrender to God. Ahab feared Elijah.
Those who sin will certainly be found out! “I have found thee,” said Elijah, verse 20, “because thou has sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord. Behold I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity,” verse 21.
Elijah does not hesitate to confront the evil king. “Hast thou killed and also taken possession?” verse 19. Elijah brings him to the judgment bar right there in the vineyard. That vineyard has an encumbrance, which is the blood of Naboth. Ahab has taken possession of the land and its encumbrance. He cannot escape on flimsy excuses that he didn’t know anything about it and that it was done by another. Taking possession placed the guilt on himself because in doing so he approved of it.
And notice too that Elijah doesn’t say that God is going to bring evil upon the king as if to distance himself of God’s judgments. Oh no, Elijah speaks in personal terms as if he himself is the one bringing the evil upon the house of Ahab. But Elijah is speaking for God. It is as if the mouth of Elijah has been taken over by the Holy Spirit and is dictating the very words of God to Ahab. It is God who says, “I found thee.” It is God who says, through the mouth of the prophet “I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity.” It is God who says that Ahab and his fathers “caused Israel to sin,” verse 22.
Elijah is so bold and confident in God that he confronts Ahab with power and courage. It is as if he is already riding in “the chariot of the Lord” with “the horsemen thereof.” The angelic host stood by Elijah to give him strength and firmness. His words were like the sword of the Lord as he proclaimed the deaths of Ahab, Jezebel and their children.
Speaking of the wicked queen and their children he continues, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel. Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.” That’s 1 Kings 21:23, 24. In other words they won’t even get a dignified royal burial. They will be eaten by beasts. They had acted like beasts as they ruled over the people. Now they would be eaten by the beasts and fowls when they die. And the dogs would also lick the blood of Ahab himself in the very spot where they licked Naboth’s blood it says in chapter 22:38.
This was not good news to Ahab. And he felt keenly the chastening of the Lord. He knew that he was wrong and that he had continued in rebellion even though he had been given many opportunities to repent. “When Ahab heard those words, he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly,” verse 27.
This was an outward repentance that was more about the consequences than it was about the sin. It was not a genuine repentance as you can read in later chapters. But God noticed it and pointed it out to Elijah. God used it to magnify His goodness and mercy, perhaps giving Ahab yet another opportunity to truly repent. God came to Elijah and told him that he would delay the promised retribution upon the house of Ahab, verses 28 and 29.
The house of Ahab was to be utterly destroyed because he made Israel to sin. Three years later, Ahab was dead at the hands of the Syrians. And his son Ahaziah ruled in his stead and did more “evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin,” 1 Kings 22:52. Ahab’s son did not learn the lesson.
I tell you, my friends, once rebellion has taken root it is very difficult to root it out. Once defiance of God has overcome the leaders, God has to intervene, and do so very strongly, and even then it is very difficult. It is dangerous to rebel against the prophet of the Lord. Oh, I pray that God’s people today do not go down this same path. Do we have this kind of problem today?
Ahaziah was also wicked. One day he fell through the lattice in his upper chamber and was severely injured. He wondered if he would live through it. So, he sent his servants to “enquire of Baal-zeebub, the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.” The priests of Ekron were mediums to the spirit gods. They were supposed to get information from them. But the information was from no one but the prince of darkness, the enemy of souls. Ahaziah had seen all that happened in Israel under his mother and father. He knew the works of God during the reign of his father Ahab. Yet, he “acted as if these awful realities were but idle tales.” Prophets and Kings, page 209. He still determined to rebel against God instead of humbling his heart.
God sent Elijah to intercept Ahaziah’s servants on their way to Ekron. “Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zeebub, the god of Ekron?” he demanded. “Now therefore thus saith Jehovah, Thou shalt not come down from the bed whither thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.” The messengers didn’t know that this was Elijah, so when they returned to Ahaziah and told him what the “man of God had said,” he asked them about him. Look at 2 Kings 1:7, 8. “And he said unto them, What manner of man was he which came up to meet you, and told you these words? And they answered him, He was an hairy man and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins. And he said, It is Elijah, the Tishbite.” That’s how we know that Elijah had a lot of hair, and at least a little of what he looked like. Ahaziah knew who this was. He had seen Elijah before, and his vivid memory recognized the picture his men described to him.
The awful sentence shocked Ahaziah and upset him. He foolishly thought that perhaps he could intimidate Elijah into reversing the awful sentence. He boldly sent 50 men of war and their captain. Look at verse 9. “Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, “come down,” as if to command Elijah and order him around like a soldier.
“And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.”
Elijah brings down fire from heaven a second time. Ahaziah must have thought this was just a onetime thing. So, he foolishly sent another captain with his fifty to demand that Elijah come down to him. Elijah was no fool. He suspected something was up. Perhaps it was the way in which the captains were acting. Perhaps there was a subtly about them that bothered him. Perhaps the Holy Spirit made him feel uneasy about this whole situation. You know, the Holy Spirit does this. He warns you by feelings and intuition. He speaks to you in the recesses of your mind and points out things that make you feel uneasy or uncomfortable. His presence teaches you whom to trust and whom not to trust. He warns you of circumstances that will cause harm.
You remember what the Bible says in Isaiah 30:21, don’t you? “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left.” This is no doubt an example of this sensitivity we need to have to the Holy Spirit’s voice. Friends, don’t you want that kind of experience with God? You can have an experience so sensitive that even the subtle things will guide you in what you do. Do you think we’ll have to learn to pay attention to the Holy Spirit in the time of trouble? It will be too late then.
Elijah suspected that if he went down with these men, that once they had him under their control, they would probably kill him. The second captain said to him, “O man of god, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.” And Elijah said; “If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.”
Elijah brought fire down from heaven a third time. Is it any wonder that in the last days Satan will try to bring fire down from heaven to deceive people into thinking that his works are the works of God? Listen to it in Revelation 13:13 and 14. “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast…”
A third group of 50 soldiers and their captain came to Elijah, but this time they humbled themselves before God and Elijah. And 2 Kings 2:15 says that “the angel of the Lord said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him.” Elijah went down to see the king.
Now it was clear to the king that he had better not try to be subtle with Elijah. And Elijah wasn’t subtle with the king. If Ahaziah had thought that perhaps Elijah would change the awful sentence of death on him, he was to be disappointed. Elijah gave the same message to him as he had given to the servants who went down to Ekron.
Ahaziah died, just as Elijah had prophesied, and his brother Jehoram took his place on the throne and reigned 12 years. Jezebel, his mother, was still alive during this time and Elijah had not yet been translated. Elijah still had work to do. He was busy re-establishing and nurturing the schools of the prophets. He was also training his successor. But Jezebel was continuing to work her influence on the nation.
Another Jehoram ruled in Judah at the death of Ahaziah and afterward. He had married a daughter of Jezebel and followed Baal too. This was already some years after Mount Carmel. One wonders if Elijah had not fled into the wilderness whether he could have capitalized on the situation in Israel and dealt a fatal blow to the worship of Baal and neutered Jezebel’s brutal enthusiasm. Now it seems as if the rebellion drags on and even infects Judah.
But Elijah realizes that he cannot remain silent. He sent a written letter to Jehoram of Judah. It’s found in 2 Chronicles 21:12-15. This is what the letter said, “Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself: Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.”
The scriptures tell us in 2 Chronicles 21:16-19 that “the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines, and of the Arabians…” They attacked Judah and killed all of Jehoram’s sons, except Jehoahaz, his youngest son. And then “after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases…”
We don’t know what kind of bowel disease Jehoram had, but it must have been miserable. And he died and was buried without the usual dignified burial of a king. Perhaps they were afraid of contagion. Eventually, all the descendents and relatives of Ahab and the house of Ahab and Jezebel came to an end. What a tragedy! Ahab did more to provoke the Lord than all the kings that were before him. And his descendents did likewise. While ever Jezebel was still alive she tried to do everything she could to counter the reform work of Elijah. You might have thought that after Carmel that the apostasy would be over. But it wasn’t. It took a long time.
Do you think that reform can happen quickly? Friends, it is a battle and a march! You must keep at it and not get discouraged. Whether it is health reform, spiritual reform, recreation reform, dress reform, etc., it takes work, hard work. For our hearts are carnal sold unto sin. And if we do not repent God cannot bring His church to the position he wants for them.
While all this was going on in Israel and Judah, Elijah had another work to do. He was to prepare to sustain reform over a longer period of time. God had told him up on Mt. Sinai to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphet, to take his place. Now that rain had returned, the work of planting and harvesting was back in full swing. Everywhere, green was returning to the fields and forests. It was in the mercy of God that he brought rain back to Israel again. The rebellion continued for quite some time, though not as bad as before. God needed another prophet to continue the work Elijah had started.
Elisha’s father was a wealthy farmer who had servants and land. This family had not bowed the knee to Baal and had been faithful to the ancient truth of the faith of Israel. They loved and worshipped God. Elisha grew up in natural surroundings that would teach him about the God of his fathers. He learned the humble tasks of home and farm life and he worked alongside the servants and led them in their tasks. He was not above them, but did the same things they did.
Friends, if you aren’t willing to do the humble tasks in life how will you ever have the respect of men or of angels? If you are going to lead others in the path of right, you must also fulfill the duties of right living. Faithfulness in little things prepares you for the higher calling. Many think that doing the little things are of no consequence. They think that they aren’t doing God’s service if they aren’t out preaching the word, or doing some great missionary work. But really, my friends, God sees your faithfulness. In the last days, He will appoint to a greater work those who have been faithfully doing their humble tasks.
Listen to this powerful statement from Maranatha, page 218. “In all fields, nigh and afar off, men will be called from the plow and from the more common commercial business vocations that largely occupy the mind, and will be educated in connection with men of experience. As they learn to labor effectively, they will proclaim the truth with power.”
And here is another one that I think you’ll find very interesting. It is from This Day with God, page 115. “Some who are regarded as uneducated will be called to the service of the Master, even as the humble, unlearned fishermen were called by the Saviour. Men will be called from the plow, as was Elisha, and will be moved to take up the work that God has appointed them. They will begin to labor in simplicity and quietness, reading and explaining the Scriptures to others. Their simple efforts will be successful.”
So, don’t think that if you aren’t doing something grand for God, that you aren’t preparing for God to use you. Keep at your work. God needs you right where you are. And when He sees that he needs you in some other spot, He will take your “unexpected talent” and surprisingly transform you into a messenger for Him. He may put you in connection with an older experienced person and they will teach you how to work and then send you forth to labor for the Master. But if that doesn’t happen and you are called to continue your labors as they are at present, let God worry about that. You just be faithful.
When Elijah found Elisha, he was plowing the field behind a pair of oxen. He wasn’t in the school, he wasn’t reading, praying or sacrificing. He was plowing. He was working. That’s important. He was doing the work that lay nearest. Though we need time to study and pray, we should also be plowing. Work at whatever your hands find to do. And the Lord will take you from there. Elisha was a quiet and gentle spirit, quite different from Elijah and he had no expectation that he would be called to the prophetic office. By cooperating with his father, he was also learning to cooperate with God.
Elijah took his mantle and placed it on the shoulders of Elisha and walked away. Elisha knew about Elijah, and now the Holy Spirit moved in on him, and he understood the significance of what Elijah had done. This was a signal to him that God had called him to be Elijah’s successor. Imagine, my friends, what feelings must have gone through Elisha’s heart. What a stunning surprise it must have been! What a privilege, he must have thought, to serve the most famous prophet of the Lord! How humbling.
By casting his mantle on Elisha, Elijah was symbolically telling him that he would take him under his friendship, instruction and spiritual care. The two of them would be one in their work of reform, one in the same Spirit, one in the same mission. They would wear the same burdens, carry the same load, experience the same inconveniences and suffer the same troubles. They would be as one. And after Elijah went to heaven, Elisha would have the whole mantle upon himself alone, under the guidance of heaven. Casting his mantle on Elisha meant that Elijah was putting some of his honor upon Elisha. And what an honor it was!!
Listen to what the sacred writer says Elisha did. 1 Kings 19:20. “And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
With a deep sense of responsibility and purpose, Elisha ran after Elijah. He did not walk. He did not concern himself with where the oxen were going. He asked him no questions about his calling to the prophetic role, where he would live, or what he would be required to do. He just accepted it. The only question he asked was merely that he might kiss his parents goodbye as a responsible son.
Elijah’s comment was not to repulse him but to test him, to see if he had resolve. He was to go back and think about it all, count the cost and decide whether to accept the call. Remember, Elisha came from a wealthy family. He would have to leave all of that behind, his inheritance, his properties, his assets. But there was more. He would have to face the rigors of an itinerant ministry. He would also be exposed to the malignity of “that woman Jezebel,” as the Bible refers to her in Revelation 2:20. Elisha’s decision had to be his own act.
The Bible says in 1 Kings 19:21, “And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”
It is interesting that Elisha made a farewell feast for everyone. Perhaps all the neighbors heard of Elisha’s calling and came to the feast. But this was a symbol of the work he was going to do, instead of working the soil, to sow the seed of the word. He would no longer need the oxen, so he made a feast of them for the people as a type of the apostles who left their nets to become fishers of men.
At first Elisha had small duties with Elijah. He “ministered” to Elijah. In 2 Kings 3:11, we are told that he “poured water on the hands of Elijah.” That means he looked after many small matters that would make the prophet’s life easier. Perhaps he cleaned his clothes, prepared his meals and cleaned up after him.
For several years they worked together as Elisha gained more experience and confidence in God. He was also preparing for his work. They worked to restore the schools of the prophets; those seminaries of religion and virtue that Samuel had founded and which had fallen into disuse during the height of Jezebel’s power. They were not like the seminaries in the time of Christ, the schools of the rabbis that were speculative and theoretical. Oh, no, practical godliness was taught there. How to listen to the Holy Spirit; how to do the work of a prophet; how to teach the people the way of the Lord; that’s what was taught in these holy schools. There were at least three of them, one at Gilgal, one at Bethel and one at Jericho. There may have been more, but they are not mentioned in the scriptures.
As they made the rounds of the schools, Elijah offered Elisha the opportunity to turn back. “Tarry here, I pray thee, for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel,” he said in 2 Kings 2:2. But Elisha refused to leave the prophet. “Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” So they went down to Bethel. Then at Bethel, Elijah said, “Tarry here, I pray thee, for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho.” But again “Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.” And a third time, Elijah said, “Tarry here, I pray thee, for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan.” But a third time “Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” Elisha would not be separated from Elijah while ever he could learn something from him or be better fitted for his work.
Elijah didn’t know that the Holy Spirit had revealed to some of the students and to Elisha himself that he would be translated to heaven. Consequently, Elisha was anxious to be with Elijah so long as he was on earth to gain as much from him as possible. And while Elijah and Elisha went to the Jordan River about 50 of the young men followed them and stood afar off. They wanted to witness Elijah’s ascension if they could. (See 2 Kings 2:7)
God had told Elijah to cross over Jordan. Crossing the Jordan has been a symbol of God’s people passing through this earth and into their heavenly home since ancient times. It is also a symbol of death and the first resurrection when the dead in Christ shall rise to meet him in the air. But most of all, it is also a wonderful prophetic type of God’s last generation on earth, the third Elijah, whom the prophet Elijah is a type. They will go through the deep waters of tribulation, the time of trouble and will be taken to glory on the other side.
When they arrived at Jordan, Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and smote the waters. They divided and they walked together on dry ground. It is as if the Lord wants us to understand that if we are faithful to him, whether we die, or are translated to heaven, it will be a safe passage to our eternal home, some waiting the resurrection and others being caught up in the air at the second coming.
When they reached the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee.” Elijah demonstrates that praying to the saints is worthless. If any man would be a saint of God, it would be Elijah. Yet he does not give any basis for praying to him after he is gone.
Elisha didn’t hesitate for a moment. Listen to what it says in the book Prophets and Kings, Page 226. “Elisha asked not for worldly honor, or for a high place among the great men of earth. That which he craved was a large measure of the Spirit that God had bestowed so freely upon the one about to be honored with translation. He knew that nothing but the Spirit which had rested upon Elijah could fit him to fill the place in Israel to which God had called him, and so he asked, ‘I pray thee, let a double portion of thy Spirit be upon me,’” 2 Kings 2:9. Elisha was coveting earnestly the best gift,
1 Corinthians 12:31.
“Thou hast asked a hard thing,” responded Elijah, “nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not it shall not be so.” It was hard, not for God, but for Elisha to expect of God so much power. Elijah also wanted Elisha to value something that was hard to achieve.
Soon after as they walked and talked together, suddenly there was a noise like a whirlwind, and there, between them, was a chariot of fire and horses of fire. And to the astonished eyes of Elisha, Elijah stepped on the chariot and off he went into the heavens.
Why didn’t the angels just appear and pick him up in their arms and carry him away? Friends that would have been like carrying a child. They appeared as a chariot and horses of fire. Elijah is to ride in state, in triumph, like a prince and a conqueror. Think about this for a minute. Of what did that chariot and horses consist? The word Seraphim means “fiery ones.” Isaiah 6 explains this in Isaiah’s vision. And Psalm 104:4 says, “He maketh his angels spirits: his ministers a flaming fire.” These are Seraphim.
Cherubim are described as chariots. Psalm 68:17 says, “The chariots of God are… even thousands of angels…” and Psalm 18:10 says that God “rode upon a Cherub.” So, you put Seraphim and Cherubim together and you have a fiery chariot. That tells us who came to collect Elijah, Seraphim and Cherubim.
Elijah had burned with holy zeal for God and His honor. He had a heavenly fire in his bones to defend the true worship of God. He called fire down from heaven on the alter at Mt. Carmel and on the offending king’s captains and their men. Now, he was to triumphantly leave this world in a whirlwind of heavenly fire, riding as an honored dignitary over which gravity has no power.
In astonishment, Elisha exclaimed, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” Elijah disappeared, but his mantle fell from him as if to give Elisha the fulfillment of his request for a double portion of the same Spirit that was on Elijah. He picked up the mantle and returned to the waters of Jordan.
As if to test the Lord to see that the same Spirit was upon him, he smote the waters of Jordan. They parted, and he returned to the other side. Now he was to work alone, but not really alone at all. God was by his side as He had been with Elijah.
My friends, listen to this powerful statement that reveals to us the reason why the story of Elijah is in the Bible. It is from Prophets and Kings, page 227. “Elijah was a type of the saints who will be living on the earth at the time of the second advent of Christ and who will be “changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump,” without tasting of death. 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52. It was as a representative of those who shall be thus translated that Elijah, near the close of Christ’s earthly ministry, was permitted to stand with Moses by the side of the Saviour on the mount of transfiguration.”
You see, my friends, the things you read in the story of Elijah will be repeated in principle in last days. From the rule of spiritual Babylon, through the surveillance society, persecution, false worship, the death penalty for disobeying the laws of men which are in conflict with the law of God, the confrontation with the powers of earth over true worship, the latter rain, the tender mercies of God, and the translation of the 144,000, these are all predicted, and more, in the wonderful story of Elijah. We need not fear that we will not have God by us in the time of trouble. When it is necessary to confront kings and rulers, lawmakers and bureaucrats, the Spirit and power of Elijah is ready to be poured out on God’s people. Don’t you want that? I do. If your life is pure and holy, you will have that Spirit of God in your soul. It is the latter rain power. Give your life to Him now. Plead for His Spirit to purify your heart and life so that you can be part of the third Elijah.
The very last words of the Old Testament are for us, because they refer to our times. Listen carefully to Malachi 4:5, 6. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
May God bless you and keep you by His grace. Yield your life to Christ, my friends. Your survival depends on it. May He purify your soul and mature your character. And may the Spirit and power of Elijah be yours. Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank You for the story of Elijah. What a man of prayer and faith! What a man of power! Father, we need the spirit and power of Elijah. We need a double portion of his spirit upon us in these last days. We long to be righteous and live godly lives. We long to have a sense of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Oh Father, help us to hate sin, and despise it with all our hearts. May we too, if it is Your will, be translated as he was. Purify us. Create in us a holy yearning to live as he did. In Jesus’ name, amen.
We hope you have been greatly blessed by this month’s message. Your prayers and gifts mean much to us. Thank you for your support. The song you have just heard is called No Other Friend, sung by Mellissa Collett and Michele Chai is recorded on a CD with other beautiful hymns called Worthy is the Lamb. This lovely CD is available from Keep the Faith Ministry. If you would like to have a copy of this CD or copies for your friends or family, just send $16 each post paid to U.S. addresses to cover the cost, and we will gladly send them. Please mention the Worthy is the Lamb CD. Our international listeners should send $20 USD.
Our first item this month: Majority of U.S. Republicans want Legal Christianity
Though liberal leaning and, at times, a little offbeat with its questions, the Public Policy Polling (PPP) organization is considered to be a very accurate polling company. Recently PPP polled Republicans and found that 57 per cent of them want to establish Christianity as America’s official creed. Only 30 percent opposed the idea while 13 per cent were unsure. Sixty-six percent of Republican women and 49 percent of Republican men favored making Christianity official.
Though Republicans defend the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights when it comes to gun ownership (second amendment), they aren’t as prepared to defend the first amendment, which expressly prohibits the government from favoring one religion over another.
The first amendment of the Bill of Rights states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Making Christianity the law of the land would directly violate the first and indirectly violate the second part of the amendment.
The poll also included questions about science and evolution, global warming, favorite republican primary presidential candidates, attitudes toward Benjamin Netanyahu, etc. to gauge Republican views. The sweeping takeover of both houses of Congress by republications, who are typically more religious and conservative, in the most recent election cycle has liberal democrats on the defensive.
Making Christianity the established faith would be a foundational principle leading to national Sunday worship laws. The present rapid decline in morality in America is creating circumstances that could lead to a strong reaction among conservatives and a major push to get America back to God, especially if there are some major disasters.
“The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected. In the soon-coming conflict we shall see exemplified the prophet’s words: “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17.” The Great Controversy, page 592
Next: Jordanian Pilot, Others Burned to Death
Captured Jordanian F-16 fighter pilot Mu’ath AlKassasbeh was burned alive in a cage by the Islamic State. His jet crashed in IS controlled territory in Syria. Images of the highly-choreographed video posted to the internet, showed the pilot in an orange jump suit in a cage with a trail of fuel leading to him. A masked IS militant lights the fuel and the cage bursts into flames.
Mr Al Kassasbeh was killed by a “coward terrorist organisation… that behaved in an extremely wrong, criminal, and prejudicial manner that has nothing to do with Islam,” said King Abdullah of Jordan. Jordan vowed and “earth shattering” response. Including the execution of jihadists held in Jordan.
The United States strongly condemned the killing and said it stands in solidarity with Jordan. President Obama said the U.S. would “redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of the global coalition to make sure” the jihadists are “ultimately defeated”.
Emma El Badawy, a Middle East expert from the University of Exeter, told Sky News: “Burning someone alive is absolutely barbaric and it is expressly forbidden in Islam.
Then In mid-February the Islamic state burned 45 to death in Iraq near the town of al-Baghdadi. They are reported to be security personnel. The IS fighters had captured much of the town in recent days.
If the papacy is ever going to be able to burn people at the stake again, the global public must be desensitized and tolerant of death by burning. The Islamic State is providing ample opportunity for the western world to get used to it.
“[The papacy] is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures, in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike.” Great Controversy, page 581.
Next: Iranian Women to Join Pope in Philadelphia
The Vatican has announced that a high-level delegation of leading women from Iran including Shahindokht Molaverdi, Iran’s vice-president for Woman and Family Affairs, will join the pope in Philadelphia in September for the World Meeting of Families. The idea arose from a Vatican-hosted event between a group of Iranian and Catholic women to discuss family issues and the promotion of women. The Iranians suggested the idea of a delegation of prominent Iranian women to go to Philadelphia, which the Vatican accepted and issued a formal invitation, in spite of political tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
“The family isn’t just a Catholic concern,” said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family.
“Improvement in US/Iran relations must involve ending… ‘unjust and inhuman’ sanctions on trade with Iran,” Molaverdi said.
The Vatican hopes the presence of the Iranian women will be a “sign of hope.” “It’s absolutely positive, and it can’t help but make it easier to make changes also in the political sphere,” Paglia said.
Molaverdi said she’d be open to the idea of Pope Francis trying to help improve the climate between the United States and Iran as he recently did in with regard to U.S./Cuba relations. “Certainly this pope has an ability to bring people together, which can also influence governments,” Molaverdi said. “I’m actually optimistic about the prospects for normalizing relations between the United States and Iran,” she said, describing it as something “realistic” fairly soon.
Perhaps the Vatican will again use its global influence with governments and “kings of the earth” to secretly intervene between the U.S. and Iran.
“And all the world wondered after…” Revelation 13:3
Next: First-ever U.S. Special Envoy for LGBT Rights
“Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally — the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Kerry was referring to the Obama administration’s appointment of Randy Berry, a gay senior diplomat, to the first-ever U.S. special envoy to defend and promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
Berry will work to reduce violence and discrimination against LGBT people around the world, including those in some 75 countries where homosexuality and same-sex relationships are criminalized.
The United States with all its global influence and political muscle is now exporting gay rights and promoting it globally. Notice that Kerry said that this new push to export homosexual rights is the “heart and conscience of our diplomacy.” Does that mean all U.S. diplomacy will now have this “heart and conscience” as part of its underlying agenda? Perhaps many Americans would object to Kerry’s vision of America.
“As it was in the days of Lot…”
Unfortunately, our time is up. Remember, there are more Prophetic Intelligence Briefing’s on our website at ktfnews.com. It has been a great pleasure to spend this time with you. I hope you have been encouraged to live for Jesus for we are near the end. Remember that God has a plan for your life and that right now you can make a new start with Jesus. Thank you for your prayers and support. And until next time, may God bless and keep you and your family in His loving and protecting care. Keep the faith!