Nevertheless, I have reserved seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him."
I. THE SPIRITUAL WEAKNESS OF WHAT SEEMS MIGHTY. "The Lord was not in the wind ..... in the earthquake, .... in the fire." Let us exemplify this truth -
1. By the experience of Elijah. He had done many mighty works, but the people were startled rather than reformed. No radical and abiding change had been effected. "The wind" may represent the drought, both in its coming and in its ceasing; "the earthquake," the raising of the child from the dead; and "the fire," the answer to prayer on Carmel. It was not these wonders which could change the heart of the people, but "the still small voice" speaking within for God.
2. My the miracles of judgment. Take the plagues of Egypt as specimens. Marvellous enough they were, but in the result "Pharaoh's heart was hardened."
3. By the penalties of the law. Show from the history of Israel, and from the comments made on it in the Epistles, the powerlessness of the law to put away sin. The fear of punishment may check the outward manifestation of sin, but in itself does not conquer innate sinfulness. If a child does not love his father, no orders, however stringently enforced, will make him happy. It was not John the Baptist, but Jesus Christ, who was the world's Redeemer,
4. By the events of Providence. Illness, the dread of death, a startling bereavement, a national calamity, etc., do not convert men, unless through them or after them "the still small voice" is heard. Men may be driven to alarm, to murmuring, to despair, perhaps to suicide; but their hearts are still rebellious under the influence of trouble. It is not the storm, but the voice of Jesus in the storm, saying, "It is I," that brings rest to those who welcome Him.
II. THE SPIRITUAL STRENGTH OF WHAT SEEMS FEEBLE. The still small vice, which only a listening man could hear, was more Divine and more mighty than all Elijah had witnessed before. There was all the difference between God's power and God's presence. "The Lord was not in the fire," but His was the still small voice; concerning which we observe -
1. It follows on preparation. Elijah had heard so much, had been so startled into keen listening for the wonderful, that he did not fail to hear this. So the miracles which had not converted the people had made them ready for Elisha and the school of the prophets. Similarly John preceded Jesus. It is thus in personal experience. The earthquake did not convert the jailer at Philippi, but it aroused him to ask, "What must I do to be saved?" Trouble does not save a man, but it may make him ready to listen to the words of life. Some must lose all before they find all in God.
2. It reminds of secret forces. The most mighty are silent in nature and in grace; e.g., gravitation is far more tremendous than volcanic agency.
3. It typifies the influence of the Holy Spirit. "He shall convince the world of righteousness," etc. How secretly He melts the heart to repentance, faith, and obedience, and changes the whole current of affection and thought.
4. It whispers of the love of Christ. He forced none into His kingdom, but won all His subjects man by man. Not His reproaches, but His look of love, broke the heart of Peter into penitence, after the denial. Paul's inspiration was found not in applause or success, but in this - that he could ever say, "The love of Christ constraineth me."
CONCLUSION. Wait for no resistless influences, for no startling events; but listen to the "still small voice" which speaks within, testifying of your deep necessity and Christ's glorious redemption. - A.R.
I. We may learn from this declaration of God to Elijah, in reply to his complaint, NEVER TO TAKE TOO GLOOMY OR DESPONDING A VIEW OF THE POSITION AND PROSPECTS OF THE CHURCH. However reduced in number and influence and piety the Church of God apparently may become; — however feeble the spark, it cannot be quenched; — it cannot die. The true Israel often and again have been reduced to the lowest ebb; — the bush burning with fire ready to be consumed; but the living God was in the bush, and defied the destroying flames.
Yet I have left Me seven thousand in Israel.
I. THIS UNKNOWN QUANTITY IS A PROVISION MADE BY GOD'S SECRET OPERATIONS. "I have left," or as we read in the Epistle to the Romans, "I have reserved to Myself seven thousand." The Lord thus affirms that their existence in Israel was due to His own arrangements, that He was carrying out His purposes by other methods than that which He had consigned to Elijah, and independently of him. The secret of the Lord s operations may well put shame upon the course taken by so many who profess to be His appointed servants, setting themselves up as judges, and condemning to un-covenanted mercies — which mean too often unpitying wishes produced by the spite of bigoted hearts — those who do not agree with them.
II. THIS UNKNOWN QUANTITY IS AN OBJECT OF CONSTANT INSPECTION BY GOD. He knows when and where their knees are bent; when and where their lips are shaped for a kiss. He sees what resolutions they have made, and that those resolutions have not been broken. All and every one in particular are designated by His testimony as His elected people, even though never ranked with the professed upholders of His kingdom.
III. THIS UNKNOWN QUANTITY ENCOURAGES UNDEFINED HOPES AS TO THE WIDE RANGE OVER WHICH LOYALTY TO GOD EXTENDS. God wants faithful servants far more than prophets, apostles, preachers can. The desire for the extension of His kingdom, which moulds their prayers and efforts, their complaints and despondency, is a desire which is only a minute output from His measureless yearning. They see Him making the Gospel His power to the salvation of men, of whom they had lost hope. Slaves, criminals, cannibals, philosophers lifted up with pride, and ignorant men dogmatic in their ignorance; men and women, over whom the fetid vapours of fleshly lusts hung darkly, and little children, scarcely able to tell that evil soils them, have each and all become known as unyielding props in the earthly house of the Lord. What ground is available for doubting that He has raised many more with His wonder-working grace than have come into our notice?
1. An impulse to continuous service of the Lord.
2. The guidance for each soul. It is found in the words of Jesus when answering the question, "Lord, are there few that be saved?" He made no attempt at a reply; He sent the questioners into their own consciences, with the injunction, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate."
(D. G. Watt, M. A.)
II. Arising from the lesson just drawn, and suggested by it, we may further learn to BEWARE OF HARSH JUDGMENTS ON OUR FELLOW-MEN AND FELLOW-CHRISTIANS. There was unwarrantable self-sufficiency in Elijah — so boldly averring, "I, even I only, am left!" It was not for him ("the man of like passions") to make so sweeping and unqualified an assertion — repudiating the faith of others, and feeling so confident of his own. The worst phase which self-righteousness can assume, is when we constitute ourselves religious censors; and on the ground of some supposed superior sanctity say, with supercilious air, "Stand back, for I am holier than thou." Elijah's feeling has developed itself in modern times in denominational exclusiveness; — sect unchurching sect. One saying, "I alone am left." I alone am "the Church," because of apostolic descent and sacramental efficacy. Another, "I only am left," for congregations around me are asleep, and mine only has undergone revival and awakening. Nay, nay; hush these censorious' thoughts and hasty party judgments. Who art thou that judgest another? "Who art thou so ready to spy out the mote in thy brother's eye, and seest not the beam in thine own?" There has ever been, and ever shall be, "a hidden Church." "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." There is often pure gold in the coarsest-looking ore; — there is often the rarest pebble in the most rugged rock; — there are often the loveliest flowers in the most tangled brake or remotest dell.
III. Let us gather yet another lesson from this comforting assurance of God to Elijah — THE INFLUENTIAL POWER OF A GREAT EXAMPLE. Elijah's feeling was, that he was alone; that he had toiled, and witnessed, and suffered in vain; that in vain he had uttered his high behests; borne publicly his testimony to the living Jehovah; lived his life of faith, and self-denial, and prayer. His saddening thought was, that he was now going to end a useless, fruitless, purposeless existence; that, for all he had done in the cause of Divine truth, he might still have been roaming a freebooter, or pasturing his flocks as a shepherd in his native Gilead. "Nay," says God, to this mighty harvest-man, "seven thousand souls have been reaped mainly by thy sickle." Wherever there are brave, bold, honest, upright, God-loving hearts in this world, there is sure to emanate a silent, it may be, but yet a vast influence for good. "No man liveth to himself." What may not a word do! — a solemn advice! — a needed caution!
(J. R. Macduff,D. D.)
I. IT IS A LIFE OF WHICH THE ROOT IS HIDDEN, THOUGH ITS FRUITS, AT LEAST IN PART, MAY BE SEEN.
II. SAINTSHIP IS NOURISHED MOST IN TIMES OF DEPRESSION AND OF AFFLICTION. It is Of such a time that God is here speaking: "I have seven thousand which have not bowed the knee to Baal."
(W. Denton, M. A.)
I. THAT MEN MAY BE OFTEN DECEIVED WITH REGARD TO THE STRENGTH OF GOD'S CHURCH. Many have possessed a similar feeling to that expressed by Elijah. They have looked upon the prevalence of sin, in all ranks and conditions of life; they have looked upon the widespread indifference to religion, and that too in the midst of religious privilege and effort; and at such a sight their hearts have failed them; they have thought that the people of God were very few, and they have been tempted to think that their efforts to increase the number were yam and useless, and under such temptation many have relinquished their work.
II. THAT GOD HAS A PERFECT KNOWLEDGE OF HIS OWN PEOPLE. The children of God may be unable to recognise each other, especially in times of persecution, which may restrain men from making an open avowal of their faith. And even in ordinary times there are many who may not feel called upon to make this avowal, so that their relation to God remains unknown to those around them. But God sees and knows them.
III. THAT GOD CAN KEEP HIS PEOPLE AMID THE MOST WIDESPREAD SIN AND EVIL. It is not without reason that Christian people fear for themselves and for others when sin and evil abound, and when temptations are numerous and powerful. They know their own weakness, and they know, too, how many have fallen in the conflict with sin.
IV. THAT MEN SHOULD BE FAITHFUL TO THEIR DUTY, AND LEAVE RESULTS WITH GOD.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Links1 Kings 19:18 NIV
1 Kings 19:18 NLT
1 Kings 19:18 ESV
1 Kings 19:18 NASB
1 Kings 19:18 KJV
1 Kings 19:18 Bible Apps
1 Kings 19:18 Parallel
1 Kings 19:18 Biblia Paralela
1 Kings 19:18 Chinese Bible
1 Kings 19:18 French Bible
1 Kings 19:18 German Bible
1 Kings 19:18 Commentaries