After Jericho was destroyed Joshua 6:26 says “Then Joshua charged them at that time”, saying, “Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.
Then 1 Kings 16:34 tells us, Hiel rebuilt Jericho and paid for the foundations with the life of his 1st born son and the gates with the life of his youngest son!
It is really important that we know the word of the Lord and we obey! We tend to believe we can do anything and God’s grace will cover it. But this is not true! When we disobey God the consequences can be very serious – even now.
1 Kings 16 tells us - Ahab 7th King of Israel did more evil than any other King. God had commanded the children of Israel not to intermarry with the people from the surrounding nations. However, Ahab married Jezebel the pagan princess and he joined her in worshipping the pagan gods. Ahab was weak and through him, Jezebel gained control. Together they led the people of Israel deeper into immorality and idolatry.
The scene is set for Elijah one of the greatest and most powerful prophets. Nothing is known of Elijah’s background, except his name = “the Lord is my God”. He was forerunner of John the Baptist and appeared alongside Moses at the transfiguration of Jesus, described in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Mark tells us, when the disciples asked Jesus why Elijah must come first? Jesus said it was because Elijah restores all things.
Malachi 4:5-6 offers an intriguing prophecy: “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.” That’s reconciliation and healing!
So in this season when we are really desperate for the restoration of our nations back to God, I believe it is really helpful to look at the lessons we can learn from Elijah’s life – the Prophet of Fire.
1 Kings 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’
Elijah first appeared in the Bible declaring a drought on the land that would not end until Elijah declared it ended. Elijah boldly came forward in the power and authority of God and with a prophetic anointing to announce to Ahab that there would be no more rain until he said so! Elijah stood in the gap to oppose Jezebel and all she stood for. Elijah engaged with the authority of the day by bringing the word of the Lord.
Elijah declared a drought that would not just result in a lack of rain, but would bring a devastating famine on the land. Famine was not simply a shortage of food but would ultimately bring devastation to flocks, herds, wildlife and crops; bringing sickness, disease and death of every living thing. It would mean people losing their livelihoods and their incomes. We know that communities break down, people lose hope often out of desperation and when help is not there, people take things into their own hands often turning to crime.
This was not an idle threat! This was a very painful word to deliver, as it would affect his nation, his people and ultimately depending on how the people responded, their future. This sounds a familiar issue as we face a drought of resources and finances – there is a danger of desperate people turning to crime etc.
Can you put yourself in Elijah’s shoes for a moment! Can you imagine the guts it would take to declare such a thing?
It would be no good saying to King Ahab – God might be saying that there is a possibility of a drought if that doesn’t offend you….
He faced those in authority with such courage and confidence because Elijah knew God and He knew the authority and power that he carried as he delivered God’s word of truth, knowing that God’s power would be demonstrated as that word was released. Elijah was engaged with the authority of the day bringing the word of the Lord.
Isaiah 55:11 So is my word that goes from my mouth, it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
God was releasing a word with a purpose! God is a God of love and mercy. He is lavish and extravagant. Yet…He is a holy and awesome God. He could not bear to watch people being deceived by King Ahab and Jezebel’s worship of false gods. He had to take some action and He used Elijah to do that.
Elijah also knew that King Ahab and Jezebel had to be challenged, in order that the nation be turned away from the false gods and idols – turned back to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Exodus 20:5 tells us our God is a jealous God!!!!
1 Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
Ponder for a moment - How are we involved with our communities, government and authorities? Are we connected in order to pray and to bring the word of the Lord? Are there things God has been asking us to do? Are there things we need to challenge? Does God want to position us to bring our communities and nation back to God’s ways?