1 Kings 19:1-18 (Part 3) – Our Culture Is High School All Over Again!

Posted: March 6, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 19:1-18 (Part 3 of 3)

Elijah Flees to Sinai

In our culture today, we have become like high school. The pressure to accept the religion of tolerance that we now worship in our culture is great. Remember high school? It is a time where the pressure for conformity is at its highest in our lives. Things are said about people and that “truth” becomes the accepted reality about that person. Regardless of whether it is true or not, that is the prevailing belief about a kid in school. With simple words, kids in school can become a persona non grata in school – those who are shunned and ridiculed. If you get on the wrong side of a person of influence in high school, you can become a social leper, a person who does not exist. Thus, the pressure to be like the high school culture is insurmountable. Opinions become reality. Truth is often a casualty of opinions. To go against the tide, to be different from the accepted norms of high school culture can lead to social death, to bullying, to making high school the worst time of a person’s life.

Most of us navigated the world of high school by not standing against the tide. Most of us went along to get along. A lot of times, we survived by not rocking the boat, not standing up for people who had been on the wrong end of social wrath. We conformed to get along. Guess what? We are living in the age of high school in the real world now. We live in a world now where we are supposed go along with the prevailing views of anything goes. If you go against the prevailing views of anything goes, you are labeled backwards, out of step with the new way of thinking, intolerant. The new age of tolerance is what we worship. We define for ourselves as a culture as to what we like and don’t like. The pressure to conform to the anything goes mentality is enormous just like when we were in high school. To go against the tide, can result in social death, public ridicule, social media evisceration, and news media spin. Just look at how certain public figures like television stars who have said things that were out of step with the accepted norms of the age of tolerance who have ended up losing their star status in rapid fashion. Again, the pressure to remain silent and just go along with the prevailing beliefs of today’s culture are as great or greater in the general culture at large as they were when we were high schoolers.

That idea of joining in with the flow and not standing out was what I thought of this morning as I read 1 Kings 19:1-18 a third time. Let’s read the passage again this morning with that thought in mind:

Chapter 19

When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai,[a] the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied again, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

15 Then the Lord told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16 Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi[b] to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. 17 Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! 18 Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”

In this passage, we see that God told Elijah to anoint three different people:

  1. Hazael – as king of Aram. God was going to use Aram as an external instrument to punish Israel for its sins.
  2. Jehu – as the king of Israel. Jehu would destroy those who worshiped the false god of Baal.
  3. Elisha – as the prophet who would succeed him. Elisha’s job was to work in Israel, the northern kingdom, to help point the people back to God.

So here, we see that God also says that those who have not bowed down to or kissed Baal will be preserved. The lesson here for us in the 21st century is that we now live in a culture similar to the northern kingdom of Israel. We must remain true to God even in the face of cultural pressures to stray from him. There may not be images of Baal to worship today or Asherah poles to worship today, but we have our false gods. The commonality between then and now is that worshiping false gods and images of them is that we, like them, are worshiping ourselves. In today’s world, our culture worships itself. Instead of God, we call it the universe. Instead of God of the Bible, we morph him into our self-improvement coach. Instead of Jesus as the only way, we make him one of many options. In the end, it is about developing a menu of spiritual guides that allow us to live in the manner we see fit. The pressure to be like the culture in our time is no different than in ancient Israel. However, as the Bible tells us, God will preserve those who worship Him and Him alone.

Just as when we were in high school, we must decide if we are going to go against the tide or join in with the culture. No longer, in our culture, are Christian beliefs the prevailing belief system of the culture. Our Christian beliefs at some point are going to run us counter to the culture. There will come a time in each of our lives as Christians where we must choose between fitting in or standing against that which is not of God but considered acceptable by the culture. Elijah life became difficult because he stood against the tide. The people that God had him anoint were going to have to stand against the prevailing tide of the culture. Elijah’s job was not easy. It was difficult. As we progress through the coming years, the decision to walk with God vs. walking with the culture will be an increasingly difficult one. We will run the risk of being singled out, ridiculed, discarded, and marginalized. Being a Christian going forward in our culture will be increasingly difficult. It’s going to be like high school times a thousand. But as God said here in this passage, He will preserve those who have not bowed down to the culture back then. He will do it now for us. He will preserve us. His Word tells us that timeless message in this passage. We must live in His truth and live for Him and not for the culture (because it’s easier to do that). He will preserve us. It may not be in the comfortable manner that we want, but He will preserve us.

Amen and Amen.

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