The Unknown Quantity
1 Kings 19:18
Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him.

We cannot know what a man is merely by what he does. He may be a painter showing to us his pictures; that sight gives no idea as to whether he is inwardly beautiful. He may be a tradesman with whom we deal; that does not tell us whether he is occupying himself with his Lord's talents until He come. He may he a mechanic who executes some manual labour for us; that does not signify if he is labouring for the meat which perisheth, and also for that which endureth unto everlasting life. We need to get more than a man's doings to enable us to perceive what he is. We must learn what his real thoughts are. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." We must be able to form clear ideas of what he likes and dislikes; what he finds fault with in others, and would fain accomplish by them. In just such a condition we are as regards our knowledge of God. His works in nature do not inform us of what He is.

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.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

WEB: Yet will I leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him."

The Seven Thousand
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