The President of the United States sits before television cameras, while millions of viewers watch attentively. In "contrition" he confesses to repeated adultery, lying and an elaborate cover up. Are these impeachable offenses, viewers wonder? Within 24 hours of his confession, the prophets of Wall Street announce higher stock prices. Public opinion polls show support for the President, blame for prosecutor Ken Starr. A thousand conflicting voices tell us what to believe. White House spin doctors calmly remind us of the polls. The evening news reassures us not to worry, but to put this behind us and all will be well. Even while the President's voice echoes into eternity, the y2k clock ticks down to 500 shopping days left until rollover into the Year 2000. From among all the thousands of voices speaking to us, is there yet one voice who will give us the truth? Is there yet a voice of Elijah who will tell us how to approach the edge of time, the end of an age, when the clock itself threatens to run out? Where is that voice of Elijah today?
by Jerry Gentry
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Mal 4:5-6).
It is not a pretty picture. CNN and other news organizations just broadcast live President Clinton's admission of an "improper relationship" with Monica Lewinsky, a once White House intern. Monica is now a household name all over the world, all because she caught the eye of the President and was willing to have a repeated illicit affair with him. The President admitted he "misled" us all, a nice way to say he committed adultery and lied about it.
The President who once smoked marijuana but said he did not inhale, now admits he slept with a girl half his age and lied about it. Of course, no one now cares if he inhaled or even if he got stoned on marijuana. For recent offenses, the Bible says he should be stoned on both counts, and that is no euphemism for getting high on drugs. In the Bible, getting stoned is not a marijuana experience. A Bible stoning is a fatal pelting with rocks as a method of capital punishment.
Not one voice among the news media has suggested that our President should be subject to the laws of the Bible and submit to the penalties therein prescribed. The voice of Elijah is not heard in the news media today.
The scene changes. Some three thousand years earlier, with an air of confidence, and after a long absence, "an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins" (2Kgs. 1:8) walks into town. He is immediately recognized by the townsfolk as Elijah the Prophet of the LORD. Little children cautiously peek out from behind their mother's coattails as he passes by. Adults scurry aside to make way for this man of God. From King Ahab's court, the God fearing governor, Obadiah, falls on his face before this man Elijah.
"Art thou that my lord Elijah" (1Kgs. 18:7), Obadiah asks?
"I am: go, tell thy lord [Ahab], Behold, Elijah is here" (v. 8), Elijah replies.
Behold, Elijah is here! He speaks with an uncommon voice of assurance and authority. The spirit of Jezebel has no grip on him. He has come bearing a message for King Ahab: "Thou, and thy father's house. . . have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim" (v. 18). A sacrifice between Baal and the true God is called and Elijah issues the open challenge: "The God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken" (v. 24). The voice of Elijah speaks the truth.
The LORD answers Elijah with fire from heaven, and the people, who initially "answered him not a word" (v. 21), now "fell on their faces: and. . . said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God" (v. 39). He had "turned their heart back again" (v. 37). The people have heard the voice of Elijah and Baal worship is now destroyed, at least for a time.
The scene changes again. Nearly one thousand years pass. Rome now rules the world where Elijah once trod. Herod, of similar Canaanite blood as his predecessor Jezebel, rules as king over Palestine, which is under the Roman Caesar. Out of the wilderness comes a man, who appears much like Elijah.
With "raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey" (Matt. 3:4), this man's name is John the Baptist. Of this man John, Jesus later says, "Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist" (Luke 7:28). John proclaimed: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2).
"For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight" (Mat 3:2-3).
It was commonly spoken among the Scribes that before Messiah, "Elias [Elijah] must first come" (Matt. 17:10). They did not understand that the voice of Elijah was proclaimed through the ministry of John the Baptist. That voice was heard by a few, yet rejected by the masses. That voice of Elijah, proclaimed by John the Baptist, would "go before him [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). John proclaimed "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mark 1:4).
Isaiah had foretold John's ministry: "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (Isa. 40:3).
Just as Elijah brought the singular message of repentance to Israel of his day, John the Baptist received that same "spirit and power of Elias" in order to turn the hearts of the people of his day back to the true God.
The scene changes once again. Another two thousand years pass, and yes, there is one more outpouring of that same "spirit and power of Elias" for the last days. We now live at the conclusion of what the Bible calls "in the last days [when] perilous times shall come" (2Tim. 3:1), when "Saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17), when "the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it" (Micah 4:1). The voice of Elijah prepares the people for such a time.
"And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things" (Matt. 17:11). That "way of the LORD," that "highway for our God," was anciently proclaimed by the literal voice of Elijah, later renewed through John the Baptist, and finally that voice will speak again as the clock of our present age winds down. Can you, friend, hear that voice of Elijah speaking to you?
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD" (Mal. 4:5).
The voice of Elijah. Where is that voice speaking today? Can it be heard in our generation? Will you, brother and sister, hear the voice of Elijah? Can you identify that voice, from among all the thousands of voices speaking words in our day? Is the voice of Elijah proclaimed by Hollywood? By the President and his White House spin doctors? By the joint chiefs of staff? By the news media? Can you hear the voice of Elijah on television or radio? From the pulpits of our land? Where will you go to hear that voice, that will "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17). Once you hear that voice, you will either reject it, or you will join it's swelling refrain in the conflict of the ages.
There are tell tale signs identifying the voice of Elijah. Many think they hear that voice amidst reports of great cataclysms of the twentieth century. Yet that voice is not to be heard in reports of hurricanes and earthquakes of our time, as the LORD made plain to Elijah.
As Elijah stood on top of a mountain, "The LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake" (1Kgs. 19:11).
The voice of Elijah will not be heard, even when California breaks from the mainland and sinks into the Pacific, even when the New Madrid earthquake fault again shifts and shakes the midwest and changes the course of the Mississippi, even when Mt. St. Helens again rumbles deep inside the earth, spews her lava and boils her blackening clouds of ash and smoke into the skies. The voice of Elijah is not to be found in great natural disasters, if we will believe the Bible.
"And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire" (1Ki 19:12).
The spring of 1998 brought some of the greatest fires in the history of the United States. A pale of dirty, throat clogging smoke and haze hovered for weeks in the skies from Mexico to Missouri. Forest fires south of the border raged out of control, creating a pale of smoke that covered much of the Southwest with a sun darkening thick cloud of haze. Meanwhile, Florida suffered drought and unprecedented forest fires over millions of acres, while floods threatened California and the Midwest, and hurricanes pelted the Atlantic seaboard. Hundreds of news men and women lifted their voices and reported these disastrous events. Yet did you hear the voice of Elijah amidst the reports, even one time? No, the voice of Elijah is not to be heard in reports of hurricanes and earthquakes, floods and fires of our century.
"And after the fire a still small voice" (v. 12).
Elijah listened attentively to that still, small voice, though he did not understand that voice at first. It is a voice to be heard only by a remnant, only by a chosen few. As Jesus later said, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 11:15).
"And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?" (1Ki 19:13).
Elijah already knew that not a single human soul had spoken up in that recent showdown for truth against Ahab and Jezebel and the 450 prophets of Baal. It was the voice of Elijah against the world. After that great victory for the LORD who "turned their [the people's] heart back again" (1Ki 18:37), this faithful man of God "arose, and went for his life" (v. 3). He retreats to a cave, even as all the other prophets had previously done. Weariness and loneliness has set in. Solitude is the easy way out, he thinks. But God has other ideas for Elijah. God has more work for him to do. The voice of Elijah must rise up and speak again.
As he stands there in the mouth of a cave, where he has fled, God says: "What doest thou here, Elijah?" What are you doing here, Elijah?
Elijah responds: "I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away" (1Ki 19:14).
This man of "like passions as we are" (James 5:17), has come to the end of his life vision. But God has "a still small voice" yet for Elijah to hear and then speak again.
Will you today hear that same "still small voice," that voice Elijah heard and spoke? It is the same voice the prophet Samuel spoke to compromising King Saul: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1Sam. 15:22). It is the voice Isaiah recorded, through whom God said: "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. 66:2). It is the voice of the apostles Paul and Peter and James and John, who records: "Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (Rev. 22:7). The voice of Elijah foremost commands obedience to the Word of God.
"And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
"And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room" (1Ki 19:15-16).
"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" (v. 18).
God makes known to Elijah a great truth. Among all those silent masses, there are yet 7,000 who have refused to bow down to Baal. From among these, God will raise up voices in time who will carry the banner of truth to another generation.
Soon Israel enjoys great victory in battle against Syria. Ahab nationalizes the homestead and vineyard of Naboth, whom Jezebel caused to be murdered. Again Elijah catches up with Ahab and delivers a final message from the LORD: "Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession?. . . Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine" (1Ki 21:19).
"And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD" (v. 20).
The voice of Elijah, in contrast to all the popular voices of the land, confronts Ahab's sins against the LORD. The voice of Elijah always confronts sin and never placates that spirit of Jezebel. Will you hear the voice of Elijah? Are you willing to confront sin that comes before your eyes? Are you willing to proclaim, "The LORD, He is God?" Will you stand and speak as one voice against the world, and proclaim the message of Elijah faithfully, even as a "still small voice" for truth, among the thousands of other voices lifted in array against the God of the Bible?
Will you silence the demons of Baal, as Elijah did, and as Jesus did, by saying, "It is written. . ."
Behold, Elijah is come, where the voice of Elijah is heard. Though it be "a still small voice," one that must be heard attentively, that voice of Elijah sorts out the conflict of the ages, truth versus falsehood. That voice proclaims "The LORD, He is God," and his Holy Word, against all worshippers of idolatry and voices of iniquity.
The voice of Elijah is heard today, where the word of God is spoken. The voice of Elijah is heard where Christians confess their sins and turn back to the true God. The voice of Elijah is spoken today where the supreme Word of God is identified and read from the King James Bible. The voice of Elijah is heard today where men and women are focused on rearing Godly children, and where they themselves build their life vision "upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:20). That voice of Elijah is the voice of God throughout all time.
There is a great promise to those who will hear Elijah's call to follow the only true God: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father" (John 14:12).
The voice of Elijah will be heard again, a third time, in our age, as sure as that voice was heard by Ahab and Jezebel; as certain as that same voice was heard by the Scribes and Pharisees through John the Baptist in preparation for Christ's first coming. Now for a third time, that voice of Elijah will be heard among "a remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom 11:5), "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17).
The voice of Elijah prepares the way of the LORD. Every genuine Christian today must hear, heed and receive that voice of Elijah of old. Brother and sister, the voice that speaks for the true God today speaks with the voice of Elijah.