During a recent devotional time, I discovered that the events in Elijah’s life recorded in 1 Kings 18-19, can be looked at as a parable of the modern Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. Chapter 18 finds Israel in the grip of a prolonged drought and dominated by the idolatrous leadership of Ahab and Jezebel. The showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal is one of the most dramatic scenes in the Bible. Following the people’s acknowledgement of “The Lord, He is God,” rain fell and the drought was broken. Elijah was so energized by the Lord that he ran about 17 miles to Jezreel.
Chapter 19 paints a much more subdued and somber picture. The threats of Jezebel, drove Elijah deep into the wilderness. He sat down under a juniper tree and prayed for death to come. He ate, slept a lot and then went on a 40-day fast. While camping in a cave, still hiding from Jezebel’s reach, the Lord asked him, “Why are you here, Elijah?” Elijah responded that he was all alone in his stand against the idolatrous regime. In response, God sent a strong wind, an earthquake, a fire and finally a still small voice to speak to Elijah. He was again asked, “Why are you here, Elijah?”
The modern Pentecostal movement burst on the scene at the beginning of the 20th century. Within a hundred years, 500 million people around the globe were counted in the Spirit-empowered ranks. As with Elijah on Mt Carmel, idolatry was confronted, broken altars were rebuilt, fire burned, rain fell and the church ran at breakneck speed. Some church historians describe it as the most significant period of impact on the world since the first century.
But over the last couple of decades or so, we have slowed down and cooled off, especially in America. Yes, maybe we needed some time to catch our breath and rest. Perhaps we also have embraced a defensive posture in the face of an increasingly hostile culture. The “spirit of Jezebel” prompts us to cower in our cave, afraid to confront the ugly realities of our day. We’ve heard the wind blow, felt the earth shake, and experienced the fire. But if we listen close, we will hear the clear, still voice of the Spirit asking us, “Why are you here, Church of God?”
I submit to you that God is not finished with us yet. We should thank God for our heritage. But it’s time to ask “Why are we here?” It is time to become reenergized. God is saying to us what He said to Elijah. We need to get moving again (1 Kings 19:15). Stop hiding out and licking our wounds. There’s a Great Commission that calls us to action, just as it did our spiritual ancestors. We must give attention to anointing the next generation of spiritual leaders (1 Kings 19:16). Elijahs must intentionally prepare Elishas to pick up the mantle. It is imperative that we move past a lone ranger mentality. Elijah thought he was all alone in his dedication to God’s cause. The Lord reminded His self-absorbed prophet, that He had seven thousand people besides Elijah who were still faithful to Him. There’s too much Kingdom work to be done, to worry about who gets the credit. We need all of our gifts and talents focused on the harvest.
Enjoy some down time. Get some sleep. Eat some good food. Then listen carefully. There’s a quiet voice asking you “Why are you here?” As you interact with the One speaking, I am confident you will here Him say “I’m not done with you yet!”