Advent Devotion for December 18
Candle Lighter says: “Go and tell your master…”
Response: “…Elijah is here.”
SCRIPTURE: I Kings 18:1-18
1 Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!” 2 So Elijah went to appear before Ahab.
Meanwhile, the famine had become very severe in Samaria. 3 So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Obadiah was a devoted follower of the Lord. 4 Once when Jezebel had tried to kill all the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had hidden 100 of them in two caves. He put fifty prophets in each cave and supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab said to Obadiah, “We must check every spring and valley in the land to see if we can find enough grass to save at least some of my horses and mules.” 6 So they divided the land between them. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
7 As Obadiah was walking along, he suddenly saw Elijah coming toward him. Obadiah recognized him at once and bowed low to the ground before him. “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” he asked.
8 “Yes, it is,” Elijah replied. “Now go and tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”
9 “Oh, sir,” Obadiah protested, “what harm have I done to you that you are sending me to my death at the hands of Ahab? 10 For I swear by the Lord your God that the king has searched every nation and kingdom on earth from end to end to find you. And each time he was told, ‘Elijah isn’t here,’ King Ahab forced the king of that nation to swear to the truth of his claim. 11 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ 12 But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you away to who knows where. When Ahab comes and cannot find you, he will kill me. Yet I have been a true servant of the Lord all my life. 13 Has no one told you, my lord, about the time when Jezebel was trying to kill the Lord’s prophets? I hid 100 of them in two caves and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ Sir, if I do that, Ahab will certainly kill me.”
15 But Elijah said, “I swear by the Lord Almighty, in whose presence I stand, that I will present myself to Ahab this very day.”
16 So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”
18 “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.
SOME THOUGHTS: I wouldn’t be surprised if as you read the above passage that you were wondering, “what does this have to do with Advent?” At first I wondered the very same thing. We are aware that an “Elijah” type was to be the forerunner to the Messiah. Elijah was representative of all the Old Testament prophets. (At the Transfiguration he represented the prophets and Moses represented the Law.) Like all the prophets, he was involved in challenging the leaders of the country in their rejection of God’s rule. All of today’s passages allude to battles between good and evil. The common thread in each of these pericopes is that God protects His people. In this passage, Elijah, whose name means “my God (El) is Yahweh (jah),” confronts King Ahab with his rebellion against God. Like today, the truth of God disrupts the plans of self-focused people. In this case, was Ahab not only absorbed with his Baal worship, he was evil through and through. The birth of Jesus brought a threat to King Herod. The status quo was challenged by the Truth. Like Elijah’s message to Ahab, the power and truth of the gospel means people cannot go on living their lives as they decide or wish. They do answer to one greater than they. The old self will not go down without a struggle. We are foolish if we think we don’t have that battle. The devil’s prime strategy is to persuade us, we are not in a battle. Advent and the eventual coming of the Savior are about a radical re-ordering of life and society. It did so in the time of Christ and is in that process today. The message of the prophet is to change your ways and follow the way of the Lord. In order to do that, one must let go of self-rule. That is the challenge through the ages from the time of Ahab to this morning, December 18!
MUSIC: Let All Mortal Flesh by MYC (YouTube)
PRAYER: (A prayer regarding the challenge of submitting.)
O Changeless God, under the conviction of thy Spirit I learn that: the more I do, the worse I am; the more I know, the less I know; the more holiness I have, the more sinful I am; the more I love, the more there is to love. O wretched man that I am! O Lord, I have a wild heart, and cannot stand before thee; I am like a bird before a man. How little I love thy truth and ways! I neglect prayer, by thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly, by knowing thou hast saved my soul. Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite, who sins more safely because grace abounds, who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them, who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for he is saved, who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives unholy.
My mind is a bucket without a bottom, with no spiritual understanding, no desire for the Lord’s Day, ever learning but never reaching the truth, always at the gospel-well but never holding water.
My conscience is without conviction or contrition, with nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution. My heart is without affection, and full of leaks. My memory has no retention, so I forget easily the lessons learned, and thy truths seep away. Give me a broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.
—from The Valley of Vision, p.72