Summary: The pandemic seems to go on forever. Instead of getting better, Covid is getting worse. Many are becoming discouraged and depressed because of lockdowns and other guidelines that give us limited mobility.
The pandemic seems to go on forever. Instead of getting better, Covid is getting worse.
We are now deprived of some of the things we are pleasantly accustomed to as a church, and we may soon have to forego some of those privileges we have been able to enjoy for the last few months if the guidance we under for the general good gets more restrictive.
We follow a practice of supporting the guidance coming out of the state and county, but are asking for voluntary compliance, not enforcing it.
It has been months since we have seen some of our most at-risk members.
Then we have the sadness and loss of families moving away because of personal circumstances.
We miss them, and we are shrinking.
Let’s face it. These are tough times. Things look bleak.
Will society as we have known it for years ever return to normal?
We may wonder, is the church suffering irreparably?
Are members who are not coming by their choice to avoid the risk becoming settled comfortably with the absence of regular church attendance?
We are anxious about tomorrow.
As one song says, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow.”
When the kingdom of Israel split in two after Solomon’s reign as king, there was a succession of kings in the north kingdom, which retained the name Israel, and in the south kingdom which became known as Judah.
Judah had some kings who were good and some who were bad.
Israel, to the north, had no good kings. All were bad.
One of the bad kings was Ahab, the 7th in a series of bad ones.
One of the bad things Ahab did was marry Jezebel:
1 Kings 16:31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.
Jezebel, the scripture tells us, killed the prophets of God (1 Kings 18:13) – all but 100 who were hid in a cave by the faithful Obadiah, who feared God.
Elijah was a prophet of God. He prophesied to the evil king:
“As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
Having so prophesied, Elijah was clearly in danger.
God directed him to go to the brook Cherith (seems to have been east of the Jordan river). where Elijah was fed by ravens.
But the prophecy about a famine was true, and the brook dried up.
Next, Elijah is directed to go to Zarephath, where he encounters a widow.
The widow is at the end of the food she had for herself and for her son, but Elijah bids her to make a cake (bread) with the last of the flour and oil.
The widow hesitates to give up the last of her food, but Elijah assures her:
Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’ 1 Kings 17:13-14
Afterward, the woman’s son became ill, and was dead or on the verge of dying.
Elijah took the child upstairs and brought him back down to his mother alive and healthy.
The widow said,
Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.
After these things, God directed Elijah back to Ahab to tell him that he (God) would send rain.
Ahab saw him coming and said,
Is it you, you troubler of Israel?
I have not troubled Israel, but you have…because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore gather all Israel to me at Mt. Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.
You know the story of what happened.
850 false prophets on Mt Carmel!
All of them combined could not persuade their gods to accept the offered sacrifice.
Their efforts went on all day.
Late in the day Elijah set up an altar and placed the bull on it, doused it and a trench around it thoroughly with water, and said:
Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”