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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Elijah Part 3


 1 Corinthians 15:46:  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural and then the spiritual.

Resurrection Life
        God sent Elijah to a Gentile woman in Zarephath to be fed bread and water, and be refined. God told Elijah to go into enemy territory and there a woman would feed him! God can do miraculous things with empty vessels. God wants to empty us of our agenda, will and ways so He can fill us with His will and ways.
        God extended His love and grace beyond the boundaries of Israel from the beginning of scripture. Jesus too went beyond the land of Israel to reveal Himself and save. The Jews and the Gentiles in the early Church helped and supported one another.  (see Acts 11:27-30) 
     Jesus said in Luke 4:24-27, "I tell you the truth, no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian." When Jesus spoke this, the people in the synagogue were outraged.  Jesus is giving these Jewish leaders a hint about their own condition. 
        Those in Israel were God's chosen people, yet God sent His prophet Elijah to a Gentile woman in a wicked land to be fed because of the wickedness in Israel. Gentiles were considered "unclean" according to the Law.  In order to be accepted, Gentiles had to convert to Judaism and go through a cleansing process.  Peter in Acts 10:27-29 said to the Gentiles gathered at Cornelius' house, "You are well aware that it is against our Law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean." God sent the Jew Peter to the Gentile Cornelius' house after having the vision of the clean and unclean animals in one sheet.  (see Acts 10:9-43)  This is a vision of the oneness that God wants for the Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ.  God had prepared the way for this union by giving Peter the vision and speaking to him, and also speaking to Cornelius.  The Bible says that Cornelius is "a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people."  Acts 10:22  Cornelius was a Roman soldier who believed in Jesus.  Perhaps Cornelius is the centurion whose servant was healed by Jesus.  Cornelius explained to Peter that "a man in shining clothes" (Jesus) told him to send for the Jew Peter.  He wanted to hear everything the Lord had commanded Peter to tell them.  Peter said, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right."  Acts 10:34  Peter witnessed of all that Jesus who was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power did.  Peter goes on to say that Jesus wasn't seen by all but by those God had chosen.  They were to preach about all that they saw and knew.  "All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His Name." Acts 10:43  While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.  The Jews who were with Peter were astonished that the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. Acts 10:45  Then Peter water baptized all present "in the Name of Jesus."  
         Jesus uses Naaman, the Syrian (Gentile), who was full of leprosy, as an example also.   Elisha, the Jewish prophet, told Naaman the Gentile that God wanted him to go and wash in the Jordan River. At first, Naaman argued and wouldn't go. After all, there were rivers in Syria where he could wash.  The pride of this Syrian didn't want to go to a Jewish river to wash.   Naaman the Syrian eventually laid down his pride, humbled himself and went to wash in the Jordan River as Elisha the Jew had instructed him. His humility and obedience to God's Word through His Jewish prophet Elisha healed him. Here God sent a Gentile (Naaman) to the Jordan River in Israel for cleansing. With Elijah, he sent His Jewish prophet to a Gentile woman in a Gentile land for feeding and refining.
           By including both of these incidences, Jesus was illustrating that the Jew and Gentile are to come together as one. We must lay down our pride of chosenness and come together for the good and glory of God through His chosen and precious Son Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and pure Truth. We cannot be united under divided Truth.  It is the pure, unadulterated Truth that will unite us. Since Jesus is Truth, all truth is about Him.
        The Jordan River symbolizes the river of the Holy Spirit. Abraham and his descendants had to cross over the Jordan River in order to enter God's Land of promise. The Holy Spirit who was poured out upon all flesh (believers--both Jew and Gentile) will take us into God's Heavenly Promised Land.  He will teach, train and transform us into those who strive with God. The Holy Spirit will cleanse us of sin and pride. Pride of chosenness is as grave as any other sin. Romans 3:27-30: Where then is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the Law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the Law. Is God the God of the Jews only? Is He not the God of the Gentiles too? Yes of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Salvation is based on the Abrahamic covenant of faith and promise. We are chosen and precious in God's sight because of His chosen and precious Son Jesus who is the only holy One to walk the earth. We--both Jews and Gentiles--are all sinners saved by God's grace alone. He alone deserves the glory.
         God has prepared Elijah for his next calling. He has pruned and matured His prophet so he is strong enough in His faith in God to impart resurrection life to another. God must remove all that is not of Him in Elijah so he will be mighty in God. Elijah has been taught, trained and refined by the Anointed Word through a Gentile woman. He knows God in a deeper way and has learned to trust God in all things. Now Elijah will impart resurrection life into another. Our resurrection life begins the minute we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and Word will resurrect us from the death and destruction of our fleshly nature and impart His spiritual nature into us. This is an ongoing process.
        You would think that all would go well with this woman since she was faithful in serving God and His prophet. But tragedy hits! This woman's son gets sick. Her son grew worse and worse and finally stopped breathing. The words of this woman's mouth earlier about fixing bread for her son and then dying came true. We must watch what we speak. Because God created all things through His powerful Word, our words have the power to create what we profess. We must speak words of faith and blessing, not death.
         In the woman's despair over her dead child, she is angry and accuses Elijah of coming to remind her of her sin and even put her son to death to pay for her sin! (1 Kings 17:18) She has forgotten all that God has done through Elijah for her and her son. She accuses Elijah of coming to punish her sin. God did not send Elijah to her to remind of sin or kill, but to save and impart resurrection life into her son. This is a picture of Jesus, God's only begotten Son who came to forgive our sins, die and be resurrected so He could impart His resurrection life into all who love and believe in Him. In order for us to be resurrected, we must first die to our flesh like Jesus did. Then we will walk in His new, resurrected spiritual life. The more we allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to put our sinful nature to death, the greater His light and life will shine forth through us.
        An even greater test than the bread and water is before this woman. She must be willing to give her son to God's prophet in blind faith and trust in God. Elijah said to the woman, "Give me your son." v19 This woman gave Elijah some of her last resources to make bread through faith in God, now she must give him her only son whom she loved with all of her heart. Her son whom she loved was the only one she had left. Her husband had died. Again this woman obeyed the word of the prophet. She had no where else to turn but to God. God will reward her faithfulness!
        Elijah took her son tenderly into his arms and carried him to the upper room (high place) in the house. Then he cried out to God in prayer, "O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?" Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, "O Lord my God, let this boy's life return to him!" vv 20-21 Elijah knew that resurrection life can only come from the Lord--Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three are One and work in absolute harmony and agreement. These three give new, spiritual eternal life. As Jesus intercedes with the Father for us, Elijah interceded with God for this Gentile woman's son and asked Him to restore this boy's life. Elijah laid down his life over this boy three times. A Jew according to the Law must not touch a dead body.  (Leviticus 22:4; Numbers 5:2; Numbers 9:6)  If they did, they had to go through a cleansing process.  Elijah not only touched this young man's dead body, he laid his body upon this young man's dead body. Jesus touched the dead and the lepers even though it was not allowed by Law. On the 3rd time that Elijah stretched himself over this dead boy's body, life started coming back to the woman's son.  He is revived!  New life has come!
            Jesus was resurrected on the third day! Jesus imparts His resurrection power and life into every believer. All of us who were once dead in sin are now revived and alive forevermore in Jesus. Jesus wants us to touch sinners and tell them the good news of  Jesus and His love, forgiveness and salvation. Elijah wanted the Lord to impart resurrection life and power into this gentile woman's only son. Three is the number of the Godhead.  It is the Godhead and the three sections of the Word of God that bring resurrection life to all who listen and obey.  Jesus wants His own to impart His resurrection life within us to others.
        Just before Jesus announced "I am the resurrection and the life," He resurrected Lazarus the Jew from the dead using His powerful Word. Jesus did in the “natural” what He was about to do in the “spiritual.” As Elijah imparted his spiritual, resurrection life within into this woman's son, Jesus imparts His resurrection life into His body of believers. Three times in the New Testament Jesus raised the dead to new, resurrected life--Jairus' daughter (Matthew 9:23-25) (young Jewish girl); widow's only son (Luke 7:11-15) (young gentile boy) and Lazarus (John 11:43-44) (Jewish man). Jesus' resurrection life is for all -- Jew and Gentile, male and female, young and old. Jesus illustrated this in these three resurrections. Jesus is showing that He is the One who gives new resurrection life because He is God. Everything that Jesus did while walking the earth the first time was fulfilling some Older Testament scripture. Why? He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets fully. He is the full personification of the Word of God.
        Jesus spoke His Anointed Word in the New Testament and the dead were raised to new, resurrection life. He also touched people and they were raised from the dead.  God laid down the life of His own Son to give us eternal spiritual life. Elijah also imparted spiritual life into this boy by laying his body upon him. Jesus also carries us to the high places with God in His resurrection power and life, as Elijah did with this dead boy. Elijah believed God for what seemed impossible as did this Gentile woman. Jesus like Elijah will carry us every step of the way as He breathes His spiritual resurrection life into us.
        The Lord heard Elijah's cry and the boy's life returned to him. Elijah then picked up the child and carried him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother alive. God rewarded the faithfulness of his Jewish prophet and this Gentile woman. Together, the Jew and the Gentile -- male and female--brought resurrection life to the next generation. God calls the elders of the church -- both male and female--to mentor the next generation and pass down the wisdom and knowledge they have gained through their walk with Jesus. This is a very important role that matured Christians are to carry out. Jesus came down from the highest place with the Father to die that we might have eternal resurrection life. He wants us to impart that life and power into others through the teaching of the Anointed Word and walking it out in our lives as an example.
        Jesus will carry us higher and higher as we draw nearer and nearer to Him. The obedience of Elijah, the Jewish Prophet, and the Gentile woman was resurrection life in the Son! This son is to pass God's resurrection life on to the next generation.
          As Elijah brought resurrection life into the house of this gentile woman, Jesus wants to bring resurrection life into the house of His Bride so it can be passed on to the next generation. God must deplete our own strength as He did with this gentile woman, and breathe His power and life into us. If we are willing to pick up our cross and die daily and follow Jesus, our reward will be great. It was the faith and obedience of this Godly man (Elijah) and woman that brought new, resurrection life into her son. It will be the faith and obedience of Christ's Bride that will breathe resurrection life into others in preparation, power and authority to defeat the forces of hell.
        This woman's tears of sorrow were turned into tears of joy. God allowed this trial so she could see the power and glory of God. God used the death of Lazarus also for His glory. Jesus said to Martha, Lazarus' sister, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" John 11:40 Raising Lazarus from the dead was Jesus' crowning miracle. He illustrated in the "natural" (on earth), what He would soon do spiritually in His own life and then into our lives. As Jesus used His Word of authority and power to call Lazarus from death to life, He uses His Word of authority anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit to call us to new, resurrection, eternal life.
         God brought the Savior and the One who gives new, resurrected life--Jesus--into the world through the Jews, just as Elijah the Jew brought resurrection life to this gentile woman's son.  God honored the Jews in spite of their sinfulness, just as God honors all believers even though they are yet sinners.  We owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people for this as well as preserving the Word of God.  But the honor goes to God who knew the plan before the foundation of the earth.  God is the One who brought this all about.
        If this Gentile woman had any doubts about Elijah's God, they were removed through the miracle of her son's resurrection. The woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth." 1 Kings 17:24  A man of God will speak the Truth as Elijah did. Those who witnessed the resurrections that Christ performed should have also recognized that the words from Jesus' mouth were Truth.  John the Baptist was the last Older Testament prophet.  Now we are to listen to the Son Jesus. This does not mean that there are not still prophets of God who are led by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to speak a word from God.   The Law came through a servant, but grace and truth come through the Son.  A son is heir to all that belongs to the father, not a servant!
        The power of God through His faithful servant brought resurrection life in Baal's own territory. The power of God will also expose and defeat Baal in God's own Land of Israel so His people will turn from the false god Baal to the true God. God does this today also through the Body of His Son.  All that Elijah has been through has been to prepare him to take on the false god, his false prophets and the wicked to reveal the true Lord of glory and power. God first had to see if Elijah would allow himself to be hidden away and minister privately before He will bring him out publicly. Elijah passed the test!


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