1 Kings 19:11-18
But I will leave seven thousand in Israel—every knee that has not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him (19:18 CSB).
We must realize the crisis through which the Lord planned that Elijah must walk. It had been a lonely path. God had sent him to a ravine to hide, where his only companions were the raven that brought him food twice a day. Next, God led him out of Israel to stay with a Gentile widow (Luke 4:25-26) and her son. He was away from the people of God for about three years. He was far off from Jerusalem and worship. When he returned, he saw God’s people devoted to false gods. It was too easy for Elijah to draw the conclusion that he was the only one faithful to the Lord. Yet God always has a people.
God raised up other men for the ministry (19:16). First came Elisha and Micaiah, and after them many others appear. We must not give up when we appear to be alone. How foolish we sometimes feel and act! Our goal should not be to count noses, but to stand for God and his truth, trusting him to bless his word in our generation. When by grace Luther “rediscovered the gospel”, he had no intention of starting a movement. He merely wanted to testify to the truth of the Scriptures. God sent the revival.
Hopefully, Elijah’s heart was filled with joy to know that God had another man to carry on his prophetic ministry. Regardless of how Elijah was affected, The Lord taught him the doctrine of sovereign grace (19:18). Lesson to what the Spirit later said through Paul. I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me.” And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace (Romans 11:1-6 NIV).
Things had looked dark from Elijah’s limited perspective. We only have a small window on the world, a window that is limited by space and time. God was saying to Elijah, “Come here, son, and look through my very large window.” Every time we read the doctrines of grace in the Scriptures, we ought to think, “This is really cool! I’m able to look through my Father’s window.”
There was a remnant because of God’s gracious choice. God did this: I have reserved for myself. “If any are preserved from false worship … it is by his special influence and agency” (Haldane). The Lord did this completely by grace; he did not consider the works of any whom he had chosen. All of us only deserve one destiny, eternal punishment for our countless acts of rebellion against the living God. But thanks be to God, in Jesus Christ he has freely chosen to be gracious to us. How did God restore Elijah? By teaching his prophet about sovereign grace. We do not have a weak God, who is bound by the fickle dictates of the corrupt wills of a fallen people. We serve a God who is infinitely powerful and who is able to save. What has he taught you of his power to save?
Are you discouraged? Then learn what God taught Elijah. Turn your thoughts from your own limited self to the unlimited God. You and I must have the proper starting point for our doctrine and practice. Are you without hope? There is only one way to face the future properly. You need to have hope, confident expectation. You cannot find this in yourself or in the things and activities of this world. God gives certain hope to people like you and me in Jesus Christ. Turn from your sin, which can only bring you to everlasting sadness and despair. Turn to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in him for eternal life. Then you will have a hope that will never perish, spoil or fade!
Grace and peace, David