“AND Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”
In these words the Scriptures introduce to us one who stands almost preëminent among the world’s reformers. It will be instructive to glance at some features of the situation in which he is set before us.
Ahab was the king of Israel. Against the king and the kingdom Elijah stood alone. No human arm was raised for his assistance. No votes were cast, no legislation was enacted, in his favor. All the power of the government,—of law, of the courts, of the army,—was at the command of the king. Against all these Elijah dared to proclaim boldly, to the king’s face, and with perfect assurance, the message of a radical reform throughout the kingdom.
Who was this Elijah? The Scriptures answers: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are; and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” James 5:17, 18.
What then was the difference between Elijah and ourselves? By nature there was no difference. He was a man of like passions with us; but in comparing his work with that of the “reformer” of this day, a vast difference is apparent. The secret is revealed in his words to Ahab: “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand.” Elijah lived and acted in the presence of the infinite God. He was a man of faith.
But do not we also stand in the presence of God? Yes; what was true of him is no less true of us. It is true enough, but it is faith that enables us to realize its truth; it is faith that brings it to our minds as a reality. There is a God, the infinite One, Lord of heaven and earth, “before whom I stand.” This is no figure of speech, but a literal fact.
Elijah’s faith grasped the reality of this great truth, and he acted accordingly. Our faith—if we have faith—will grasp it likewise. And if that be so, we shall act as though that Presence were sensible to the natural eye. Faith deals only with facts; faith convinces us of the reality of things not seen.
Who, in the presence of God, and loyal to him, would fear all the power of man? Who in that presence, commissioned by Him to proclaim the truth, would feel weak without the aid of man? Who would seek for help form the legislature? The very fact that such things are done by men claiming to speak for God, is conclusive evidence that they have not faith. Faith hears the “still small voice,” and knows it to be more powerful than earthquake, fire, and storm. Faith knows the “sword of the Spirit” to be more powerful than all the swords of steel.
“The Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand.” That is the language of faith, the language of true reform. The Christian sees in God the true majority; in his law the all-sufficient legislation; in his word the “voice of a multitude,” that is greater than the voice of the ballot. He trusts in the presence of Him who has “all power” “in heaven and in earth.”
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Malachi 4:1. The spirit of true reform in the last days is the spirit of Elijah,—the spirit of faith.
Have you faith?