All true history is spiritual history, God’s history. The rest is nothingness. We’ll turn our attention now to that great man of history, Elijah. Elijah has been picked out as a standard man, a human manifestation of God speaking and operating in a man.
We’re introduced to him in I Kings 17, verse 1: "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. There was no prior introduction. It is obvious that this was a man already in permanent relation-ship with the Living God because he said, "As the Lord God liveth before whom I stand." Not stood, or will stand, but stand, a permanent condition. In New Testament language we call this union consciousness. His permanent dwelling place is standing in the presence of, and in union and communion with, the Living God.
Now that’s a real person. In that relationship, we understand that we are the agent, the human means, through which God is working out some of His purposes of grace and power in the world. We realize that the conditions of our lives are God pressing us to be concerned about certain things so that we are not caught in self-concern, but in God’s concerns for the world which He has come to redeem and restore to Himself. Therefore, our concern is to move out to that part of the world which is not in this living relationship.
Our Concerns are God’s Concerns
When we are in the relaxed, living, conscious relationship of union with God, what is concerning us in this or that situation is God’s concern, for He has put us there and has caused us to be concerned. It may start only in our own family concern, though God always moves us beyond our families. We are concerned people because we are God-union people and, therefore, God’s love concerns are our love concerns because His and our love are one. The only true life is in God-union because the only person in the universe is God. Therefore, God’s purpose is to bring all men into God-union.
Elijah, living off on the other side of the Jordan, in Gilead, had a deepening concern about the apostasy of Israel. Under the leadership of Jezebel and Ahab, Israel had turned into an idol worshipping center, a Baal center, instead of a Living God center. At that point, Elijah had linked his concern to God’s concern, which was to show Israel they were off-beam. God’s wrath shows us when we are off-beam. It isn’t something God imposes from outside but is God putting us in the condition in which we can see that we’ve got it all wrong. Elijah was led to use the external form (God does this today, although He operates more on the internal forms than the external) so that this would be a means by which the people would know that there was something wrong in the national relation-ship with God. They were supposed to be God’s people. He was the Lord God of Israel.
Although here and there people had found the universal truths, He didn’t become a universal God until after Jesus and Pentecost. In God’s eyes there is one nation, God’s nation, not an American nation or a British nation. We are gradually moving into that now, but in the days of Elijah it wasn’t that way. There was a nation of Israel because God’s purposes had not yet come out in the physical manifestation of Himself and His Son.
Somewhere Elijah got the idea that God would show Israel the dried up conditions of its spiritual life through a drought in the land. God seldom uses that method today because He has inner and better ways to show us our dried-up life than through outer circumstances.
We don’t know much else about Elijah except what was said of him: that "he is a hairy man, with a girdle of leather about his loins." John the Baptist was called "Elijah" presumably because he was the same type. Both had the same special ways of living in the desert in the presence of God.
Faith Equals Certainty
The final point in the introduction was that he was settled in his inner consciousness that this was what God would do. Faith is inner knowing. It’s inner being in relationship to inner fact. Faith is knowledge. The only genuine faith is that it’s a certainty, a settled thing. Now, this was a settled thing with Elijah before he went into the presence of Ahab. This lonely man was going to come up and con-front an idolatrous, back-slidden nation alone. So he had to know exactly what he was going to say and why he said it and be quite certain about it. That’s faith.
With this as the background, Elijah came into the presence of the king and stated as fact what was inner fact to him. He stood before Ahab and made it quite plain of Whom he was the voice: "As the Lord God of Israel liveth." He was talking of a living Person. This self-centered life with all its operations is only death. "As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand." What real standing means is that our spirit stands with God. There was no fussing about or saying, "I believe." He just simply said, "There shall not be dew nor rain but according to my word." That’s pretty strong stuff: no dew nor rain.
Here is a man who knows his union with God. We speak and act as Godbecause we know as born again believers that we are vessels filled with and operated by God Himself. As we speak, it’s we speaking God’s word through and by us. So here Elijah says that this is "according to my word." This is a new quality of holy boldness which leaves behind saying, "Oh, I’m so weak; I’m so poor." I’m strong because my weakness has been joined up to God’s strength and we are one. This is a magnificent presentation to us of the full power of a mature faith, which is the faith of God spoken through the faith of man. Self-concern had disappeared even to the limit of his own human safety because Ahab would try to get Elijah if it did, or even if it didn’t, come off. Faith has no more interest in itself, only God’s interests. And then what happens to us is our glory, even if it is physical death.
We see here a very wonderful presentation of a complete and mature operation of faith on its spiritual basis, practical enough to follow. When we take this stand, we never say, "What if it doesn’t happen?" Faith is, "It has happened," even if you don’t see it happen. Faith is affirming the fact that the universe is Father, Son, and Spirit, and we are part of Him in this great form-the human body. These are passing, temporary expressions: not the facts, but forms of The Fact.
Although we begin to live in this new dimension, in our humanity we remain ordinary simple people leading ordinary lives as God expresses Himself by us in normal human ways. When Elijah confronted Ahab, he did so as the Living God expressing Himself in authority. When he left the king’s presence, he left as a perfectly natural human, and God told him to go away and hide himself. My friend, Rees Howells, used to say, "I’m a perfectly natural man except when the Holy Ghost comes upon me." By that he meant that he was always in union with the Holy Ghost and that part of him was just free, fun, working and living his normal life, experiencing God’s sup-ply and provisions in a normal way. Then there were those special times, which come to all of us, when God expressed Himself by him in a very special way.
God’s Visible and Invisible Supply
When Elijah got the word to go away to the Brook Cherish and depend on it for all his needs, he knew it was guidance, and he had to go. God told him that He would supply his material needs by visible and invisible means. We live by both, and both are from God. The visible means was the brook; the invisible was the ravens. The invisible is what is always exciting, and we say, "Oh, look what God has sent!", or "Look at what’s turned up!" The visible is what ordinarily is coming to you, maybe your salary or your job. But you’re not living on a salary or a job. You are living on God’s stream. That’s God’s stream until it dries up. Then we begin to see that what we thought was just an ordinary way of life, ordinary securities, and so on, was not the supply, but the means of supply. God is the supply. There is a test here. And when we are really free, we say, "Okay, this is the river form, so I’ll drink it. If it dries up, it’s still okay because God is going to turn up some other way." There are both the invisible supplies which come along (and are such thrills to us) and visible sup-plies.
Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah that he was to go out beyond Israel to a non-Israelite woman of Zarephath in Sidon. (The Old Testament has interesting little flashes showing that God is the God of the whole world family.) It was a human move for human safety. He was to leave Israel, a human means to keep him out of the reach of Ahab who, in the desperation of his rage, was trying to find this destructive prophet. God said, "I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you." I’ve commanded it! So, again he started out saying, "Okay, it’s coming; God’s got it. It’s coming in this way." He always operated in inner certainty. It will come this way; that’s a certainty. Exactly how it will work out, we’ll wait and see. It’s a combination of inner certainty and outer liberty in how you operate. You operate freely, but behind the freedom is the certainty that it’s coming through. You don’t know the exact detail, but you move and you venture step by step. And behind it all is this certainty, the inner knowing.
So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the city, a widow was there gathering sticks. A single woman out at the gate gathering sticks was probably somehow an indication for him that this was the one. This is similar to the time that Jesus told His disciples to go and pre-pare for the feast and they would see a man carrying a pitcher of water. Elijah called to her to "fetch me some water in a vessel so that I may drink," possibly testing her to see if she would do it for him, and then added, "Bring me a bit of bread in your hand, will you?" Now we’re getting down to the facts of life.
A Faith Ignited
Her response to Elijah, "As the Lord thy God liveth," was a clear indication to him that she knew who Elijah was, affirming that there was a link of faith and that she knew that there was a living God. She was a woman rather like Rahab, who also had this faith. If Elijah could say to her later, "You’re to give me food until the Lord sends the rain," then we know she knew.
However, He wasn’t her God yet in a deep relational sense because she replied, "Oh, I can’t do that. I’ve just come out to gather a few sticks to make one last meal, and afterwards, we die."
Then Elijah added this to her: "If you will go and do what I tell you and make a little cake first and bring it to me, then afterwards there will be some for you and your son. The Lord God of Israel said for me to say to you, ‘A barrel of meal will not waste, the cruse of oil will not fail until that day when the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’
With that, her faith came. I’m sure she knew because you don’t move out into faith like that unless you’re prepared spiritually. The likelihood was that she had an inner sense in her that this was the prophet of God, and if he said that this was God’s word, then this could be relied upon. She took her step of faith and did what Elijah said. They ate many days and the amount of food and oil did not change, according to the word Elijah had given.
Inner Faith Must Replace Outer Faith
Now, though she had a living faith, it was an external faith which was not unified yet because she couldn’t operate like Elijah could as God doing it for her and by her. That wasn’t God’s purpose. God has to bring us to an end of that divided self which grabs us and prevents us from seeing a God interpretation. It results from the Fall where we began seeing good and evil. When you’re in God, there is only one power. Satan’s power is only God’s power. It’s God’s because there is only one power in the universe. Satan is a form of God’s power. Satan’s going the wrong way still shows God’s power behind the Satan distortion. The difference is that God has a purpose in love behind him. If He can’t change Satan, He’ll use him anyhow. So every time that God’s love comes through, that’s union. We don’t see evil, we only see one person, one power, one grace, one light and love through everything and everybody. That’s union. But we can’t have the union until the last holds of self have been exposed and we’ve seen them where they belong, cut off in the Cross of Christ. But we have to we them before we see them cut off.
Self Exposed and Union Realized
So here was God having an incidental work of grace through Elijah in his private life in getting this woman into this God-union life. It had to come about through something which would bring her to the point of seeing her desperate self-concern, and the desperation hung on all that she had, her son. Suddenly, he fell sick and was apparently dying. Now, that roused up in her an area in which she didn’t yet know, as we would say, a total crucifixion with Christ in a union with Him.
There was an undelivered area which was blocking her, hidden away, apparently, some sin. Perhaps it was something in her life which she knew had been a sin and was like a guilt between her and God, so she had a guilty faith. I’m not talking about her like we talk about a lost person, but as if she was a redeemed person in which there is some blockage in her life, something which she hasn’t totally cleared up and is trying to run away from. It had to come out, so she said, "What have I to do with you, 0 man of God? You’ve come to call my sins to remembrance." She didn’t accuse, and it’s interesting how real she was. She was on the right track. She wasn’t blaming God or blaming Elijah, for she was saying, "I know I am to blame, but why must you have brought up this hidden thing I have tried to escape?"
God has to have ways of demonstrating Himself and His faithfulness. When we are on the level of KNOWING God, we have no need of demonstrations such as miracles, public prayer, or the like. Jesus had to per-form miracles because He needed to demonstrate that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. But the real miracle today is God living and expressing Himself through human forms. Because Elijah had no way in which he could show this woman that God loved her such as we might through scripture or experiences, he moved in to get the child healed. He took him up to the loft and started with a negative: "0, Lord, hast thou brought evil on this woman? Surely, that’s not so." Though Elijah started negatively, it was not wrong because a positive must have a negative to push it into focus, to bring it into manifestation. You could not see light unless there was darkness to be swallowed up. It wouldn’t show. It has to swallow up dark to make light. That’s the only way.
So he stretched himself out on the lifeless form of the child and said, "O God, I pray, now let this child’s soul come back." What he meant was that the child was going to come back, of course. This was again moving in from a little touch of the negative into the positive confidence that God was doing this thing. The Lord heard Elijah, and He brought back the child.
This really got the woman’s attention, and she said, "Now, by this I know that thou art a man of God and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth." Now she was there because it wasn’t Elijah but the word that she saw. The sin business was no longer there, and she could say, "He’s my God now. This word is true to me, and I can now operate as one with the Person who is all in all. It is He and I together and He by me." So, right in the hidden life of Elijah, the natural life, there comes out the natural source of supplies, whether by the irregular or by the regular brook way, and the redeeming grace of God goes out to the individual as this woman is brought into what we call the fullness of life in union with God.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 12 No 1
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Weekend in New York 1995
- The Letter to the Romans
- The Mailbox
- God’s Promises
- A Look at a Book
- Questions & Answers
- The Walk Through The Bible
- God’s Wonderful Plan
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- Excerpt from After C.T. Studd
- Tape Talk
- Words to Live By