Summary: Elijah found his hiding places, but God found Elijah and brought him out to a place of victory. He will do the same for you and I.
By Pastor Jim May
After Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, increasingly severe anti-Jewish measures began. A Jewish family by the name of Frank tried to escape by going into hiding. On July 1942, Otto, Edith and their daughters Margot and Anne hid in this building at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. Their hiding place was the uppermost floors of the back annex of Otto’s office building. They never thought that when they entered that hiding place on July 6, 1942, that it would be two years before they would ever feel the sun on their faces again. After more than two years the group was betrayed and deported to various concentration camps in Poland. Edith died at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Anne and Margot died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945, only a few weeks before this concentration camp was liberated. Otto Frank was the only member of the family to survive and return home after the war. Anne Frank was only 15 years old.
What is a hiding place? Why do we seek to go there some times? A hiding place is a place where we can feel safe from impending danger. It’s a place where we can get away from whatever troubles us. It’s a place where no one knows just where we are and what we are feeling.
I watch the children as they play and Hide-and-Seek around the house. Some of the places they choose aren’t much of a hiding place at all, under a blanket in the middle of the floor, or behind a curtain with their feet showing. Sometimes though, they pick some pretty good spots. Just the other night I walked into my room and noticed that a flashlight was lying under the bed turned on, and I knew that I hadn’t put it there. I looked under there and I all saw was the flashlight, so I took it and turned it off. After it was off, I noticed two little eyes peering at me from between a suitcase and a box that we keep there for storage. She was barely noticeable, but there she was. I think she had a good spot and it would have been really hard to find her except for the light.
Children like to play games with hiding places, but adults have their hiding places too.
Some will hide in a bottle of alcohol, trying to drown their fears in the booze. Some like the drugs to mask their feelings of fear and anxiety. Some like to find a special place where they can get alone, away from the crowds.
There was a prophet in the Old Testament who sought out some hiding places too and I want us to look at his story for a few minutes and see what the Spirit has to say to each of us.
Elijah was a mighty man of God. When he spoke, the whole nation of Israel shook, because he spoke for God Almighty. By his word, the rain stopped for three years and by Elijah’s word, the rain came again. By his word fire would fall out of a clear sky and consume the sacrifice, the stones of the altar, the water in the ditch and the very dust of the ground. When Elijah spoke his words would bring either a blessing or a curse and everyone listened to hear what he had to say.
But there came a day when even this great man of God, this “man of faith and power for the hour”, as Evangelist R. W. Shambach says, began to seek out his hiding place too.
It all began when Ahab, the king of Israel, married a heathen woman from the Sidonians by the name of Jezebel. If ever a man was unequally yoked with an unbeliever, Ahab was the one. Jezebel loved her heathen idols. She was missionary minded too, and established a large number of schools for her idol prophets and priests, and then built a lot of temples in honor of her gods of Baal and Asheroth. Israel was in trouble and God was not going to let his chosen nation go off into idolatry without trying to stop them, so he sent Elijah – his chosen servant – to put an end to it all.
On Mount Carmel, Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal met for their “showdown at the OK Corral. This was drama beyond anything that Hollywood could produce. Here he was, this man of faith and power, a chosen prophet of the most High God, alone against 450 idol prophets, and he was challenging them to “slap leather”.
When the smoke cleared and the battle was over, Elijah stood alone and the 450 prophets that Jezebel had trained were dead. I know that what I am about to say is stereotyping but I can imagine Jezebel as a spoiled brat. Maybe she was a redheaded, feisty woman with one bad temper, that would blow her top at the drop of a hat, and she carried the hat.