In the preceding segments, Norman has shown how the graphic illustrations of God’s workings through Elijah demonstrate the "mystery" of His life lived out in the believer today. In his concluding observations, we see how God moves us through the negative outer disturbances to an awareness of His love purposes in a specific situation, to speaking out that purpose, and, finally, to being an agent in the fulfillment of His spoken word.
Elijah said to Ahab, "Get up and eat and drink, for there is the sound of the abundance of rain." The difference between the two was that one life was motivated by what satisfies the flesh, the other was motivated by what satisfies the spirit. This is the total life. Thank God that is what we mean when we talk about union life. We move naturally in certain human conditions, just as we enjoy certain things. We enjoy a meal, we enjoy every-thing, but that is only a detail. It is a beautiful circumference to life. There is a drive, a purpose, a set purpose. Not just to eat and drink, but "the abundance of rain." Christ is the abundance–we cannot have more. Christ is the abundance in us; Christ is the abundance which flows out of us like a river. This is our set purpose.
Jesus saved me in 1914. He came in just a simple way and saved me from hell, and I have never really had any other motive in life since. This has been my one drive, whether in my Army days, college days, missionary days, or these days. You see, God is a total person. And this is our one basic truth, our one basic interest. That is what Elijah knew. There is a symbolic way in which we are all "hairy men girt about with girdles of skins." There is something in us which, underneath, is not interested in things of time and sense. We cannot go along with Ahab in substituting eating and drinking for this. We enjoy eating and drinking, but we give very little attention to it. Our purpose is that Christ may become the true Christ, which He is when He is in human form and when each person becomes Christ in human form and they are part of the same love motivation. It ought to be that the whole universe is loving each other, even the animal world with the lion lying down with the lamb. It is a different type of world we are going into.
So if God’s got you, there is only one purpose: people. When all you are seeing is one wonderful Person and everything we see is an expression of God, then everything is God’s beauty. There is only one way of seeing: you see everything in one thrilling, wonderful Person. The whole universe is interpreted in its infinite expression of giving love. This occupies us, and then, through it, we are part of that. That is what we are: love. We are He in giving love. His motivation has got us somehow. You can’t give what you haven’t got; you can only give what you have got.
What happens is that you become a total person, a satisfied person. This is not a life in which you go hungry. It’s a different kind of hunger, for it’s the hunger of adventure in going on for more, such as a great scientist who, knowing about the fission of an atom, wants to know what the fusion of the atom is. It is the excitement to know a little more about how things work -like laser beams. That is not hunger, it is excitement for enlargement. But you don’t do that when you are hungry. You cannot be hungry when you are the bread. Just recognize that you are the bread, for the bread is He in you. So that hunger we don’t have. Our hunger is the excitement of seeing more happening in this world which will bring it into one with Christ.
The Necessity of the Negative
The totality we see here in Elijah really is symbolic, for we are all Elijahs put in different forms in different ways in different generations. We all are Elijah in the spirit. That is the basis to our union. And God is wonderfully faithful in getting us there. He takes us into all the different Job ways. We are not told how He did that with Elijah, as that was probably in his early days, although we do see it in Elisha. We want to have a liberated self because it is God expressed in human forms, and the human form is in the foreground with God in the background. God is always our back-ground so that we are really human selves.
However, I cannot be my human self unless I find the misuses of myself, taste them, get messed up by them and caught up by them. I have to see the potential of human self in its messed up way and see it messed up because you cannot have a positive without a negative. It is the same self with its same faculties, but it has a new drive. We are new beings with a new drive. Father, Son, and Spirit are expressed by us, so we have to go through where the Spirit of God takes us. We travail in birth until Christ is formed in us. He’s not an embryo; He is a formed Christ, a mature Christ in us. Then we move out to see how He becomes a formed Christ in other people by us as His agents.
So what we see in Elijah is always God’s purpose, a drive which is a heavenly drive, not a drive of strain. Yet, there is a great intensity in his life, as well as in ours. It is a serious life yet, paradoxically, it is a fun life. I always say the fun side doesn’t come out in the Bible too much because we are such self people. We get on the fun side too much and forget the seriousness. I think the Bible doesn’t give us too much of the fun–the joy–side because we would run with that and forget that behind the joy is an intense seriousness in which the joy becomes a part of the seriousness.
Speaking the Word of Faith
Elijah had to say to Ahab that the thing would be completed as God said it would happen. There is a phase in which we are walking in a thing completed, but it hasn’t happened. And there is a certain tension on us in that condition. God had said, "I’ll send rain upon the earth." Then to prepare the people for it and to make the way clear for them to turn officially to God, Elijah had the fire to burn up the falseness. Now he had the word, and he saw it as abundance. That is a great word, "abundance" of rain. Paul uses "abounding," as in "All grace abounds." It is a great word when you are abounding abundantly in the rain. But God hadn’t said that; God had just said "rain." Elijah said, "Abundance of rain." This is the crisis moment, for he had said the thing and it must happen now.
Elijah was up on the mountain with his servant and was in this posture with his head between his knees, a Yoga posture, I take it. And he sent his servant seven times to see if there was any sign of a cloud until the cloud was there, and they could see the rain coming like a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. Now it was coming, and he told Ahab to get out quickly, or it would catch him. Then the Spirit came on Elijah, and he ran all the way to Jezreel.
There is that setness of God-given purpose that what God says, is going to happen. It is a great word for anyone who is in what we often call the "official service of Christ," but for anyone else, also. I have never accepted it when people say that it is enough for us to be faithful, not successful. When the Spirit of God puts us into some form in which He is going to come out by us, we have to be successful! "Make good success," is what was said to Joshua. Jesus said, "Pray the Lord of the harvest," not the Lord of sowing. We missionaries tend to see the dark side and think we are sowing. But Jesus said the harvest is there. Get the harvest. See the harvest. Don’t take less, for the harvest is there.
So here is a man who completed his intercession. He laid his own life on the altar. God came to him in those days in the fullness of revival expressed in His outer forms, and he "gained his intercession," as my friend, Rees Howells, used to say. No wonder he ran into Jezreel! The thrill was on him, for the thing was gained and completed that he had come to do. What happened was a demonstration that day that God was the Living God, and He cares for His people. He has claimed His people, and He cares for them. We see it today in terms of Jesus having already done it, not "will do" it. We enter into the done thing. And Elijah entered in on the faith level and then the manifested level.
God Means Everything
In the life of Elijah, we now have the sudden influx of what appears to be a soul weakness. But in reality it had behind it a Spirit purpose. There are no gaps in God’s dealing with us, for God uses what may appear to be a soul deviation for some further form of His purpose. We don’t see evil; we only see God’s operation on us. It comes out very famously in Jacob’s life. Out of all that Jacob went through came the twelve tribes which was the first stage in the formation of the nation through which God revealed Himself through Jesus Christ. Even those things which we don’t like in the life of Jacob, the deviations, are God’s ways. And so we get Elijah, whom James said was "a man of like passions as we are," saying, "I’m no different from my fathers." It’s always good to know that God is using my humanity.
One of the great lessons we learn in our union life search is that God means everything. It keeps me from being judgmental of people. I can say, "Well, God means that. That’s God’s purpose," whether it is a negative purpose or a positive purpose. It is a wonderful thing when we begin to say, "God meant that." It may be that if he is an unsaved person, God meant it so that the arrows of conviction of sin and corruption would sink more deeply in. For instance, something might cause a man to become frightened, yet we can see that it was exactly what that man needed and that God has some higher and greater purposes through that experience.
After his experience on the mountain, Elijah was grabbed by fear when Jezebel said to him, "May the gods do to me and more also if I do not make your life as one of these slain people by tomorrow about this time." When Elijah heard her threats on his life, he had the very same fear Obadiah had and ran for his life. But there is a difference between the two, and it is the difference between one who knows union with God and one who is still in the Romans 7 situation. That man does not know how to get out of his problems because it appears that he is a separate person and is in the illusion of fighting his own battles and doesn’t have what it takes to fight them. Supposedly God will help him, and God doesn’t because God can’t help self to be a false thing.
So Obadiah didn’t know how to get out of his situation. But Elijah did. He went for his life out into the desert where he was used to contacting his God. He went into the depths of despair, as we all do, and wished he was dead: "Oh Lord, take my life." That is alright because that was not really Elijah because Elijah was moving into God all the time. Moving into God!
He went to Horeb, the place where God gave Moses the Law and revealed to Paul the reality of the union life. God met Elijah here, and he got a glimpse of the truth in his inner consciousness that the inner God is a still one–that His voice is a different type of voice: not an outer, external thing at all. You have to be still to know God.
As he stood by the cave, he watched the strong wind rend the mountains, and the earthquake, and the fire. But God wasn’t in those things, even though he had just recently seen the fire of God. The only fire of God is to burn Himself up for us. He does not burn people up; it is sin that burns us up. That is the fires of hell, which is self-centeredness. The only fire we ever have is our own fire, which is really the fire of Satan’s selffor-self consuming us.
And God said, "I’m not in the fire; I’m in the still, small voice." That is a strange remark, isn’t it? It’s a contra-diction in terms. A voice is a noise. The nearest we can get in human terms to the knowing of God is that it is beyond outer knowing. There is something beyond words which is the basis of life. It is just an inner some-thing, an inner being. It is rest. In the Oxford group, we used to think of it as a "hunch." It just seems to you to be the next thing you do, and that’s it! A knowing that this is the word.
God then took Elijah into a very great privilege, into the inner sanctuary which Elijah always knew really but was not being brought into focus for him. God told him, "Now your intercession is completed. You’ve done something which is a mark in history. Your day is passing, and I’m going to take you along to give you a successor."
His apparent deviation when he went through a certain period in his murmuring was a beautiful touch, for only in this condition of disturbance where he said, "Only I remain" could the quiet word of God come to him that there were seven thousand left in Israel that had not bowed unto Baal. That has often been a great comfort to people.
In the next issue of The Intercessor, Norman will discuss the life of Elijah’s successor, Elisha.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 12 No 4
- It All Depends On God
- Editor’s Note
- Fooled By Our Souls
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- Free At Last
- Who Will Me Deliver Me?
- Questions & Answers
- Faith Defies Difficulty
- The Mailbox
- Irish Conference Report
- One Requirement
- Tape Talk
- Summer Camp 1996: The Adults
- Summer Camp: The Youth
- See Ye First
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- Words to Live By…