Summary: Disillusioned Christians need to acknowledge God's latent remnant people.
Theme: Let's acknowledge God's latent remnant.
Have you ever felt all alone when standing for the truth? Elijah sure felt that way when Queen Jezebel issued a sentence on his head for showing her up at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18-19). He hightailed from Jezreel, up in the Northen Kingdom of Israel, clear down through Judah, past its southern desert outpost of Beersheba, all the way to rocky Mount Horeb [or Mt. Sinai] in the Sinai Peninsula. There, he hid in a cave until God came to talk to him, first using a sensurround multimedia presentation, followed by a verbal elaboration. Notice the parallel:
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God wanted Elijah to know that He always reserves for Himself a remnant in every generation. Things may look bleak and hopeless from our human point of view, but God has everything under control and He may not run things the way we think He could or should. Those Yahweh preserves are often unknown, unremarkable, but unquenched in their loyalty to Him.
I. A Remnant Unknown 19:9-10, 13-14
A. Only one person has apparently been obedient to God: Elijah.
B. Everyone else has apparently been anti-God.
C. Now everybody is seeking to kill that one obedient person (1 - 1 = 0).
1. Implication 1: The very existence God's witness on earth is threatened.
2. Implication 2: God's enemies are irresistible.
3. Implication 3: God's power to protect His people is limited.
4. Implication 4: There's no other conclusion, unless God does something drastic!
II. A Remnant Unremarkable 19:11-12, 15-17 (God's presence signifies His primary activity.)
A. Outblown by the strong wind 19:11
1. Ruthless Hazael would be Israel's external (Syrian) nemesis.
2. Elisha wept when anointing Hazael as Syria's new king, foreseeing him burn down Israel's walled cities, slaughter the young men, crushing the heads of infants, and ripping up the pregnant.. 2 Kings 8:11-12
[Examples of ferocious desert winds in North Africa and the Middle East: Harmattan, santana, khamsin, sirocco, simoom, etc.]
B. Outpunched by the earthquake 19:11
1. Jehu would be Israel's internal (Israelite) nemesis.
2. He would remorselessly eradicate Israel of Baal worshippers and promoters (i.e. Ahab's dynasty). 2 Kings 9:1-10:32
[Examples of lethal earthquakes in remote areas of China and Texas]
III. Outscorched by the fire 19:11
A. Elisha would be Israel's spiritual nemesis (Abelmeholah is located about 16 km south of Bethshan in the Jordan Valley.).
B. Heading a "school of prophets" (2 Kings 2:9-15), he would be instrumental in inaugurating the "strong wind" (Hazael, 2 Kings 8) and "earthquake" (Jehu, 2 Kings 9) as well as doubling the spiritual ministry Elijah had started.
C. The fire association seems appropriate, as Elisha had the ability to repeatedly summon fire from heaven (2 Kings 1:10, 12) and appeared protected by "fiery horses and flaming chariots" (2 Kings 6:17).
IV. A Remnant Unquenched 19:12, 18
A. Their virtual imperceptibility ("still small voice": gentle breeze, soft whisper, hardly a sound--a hiss, a rustle? It's hard to find an equivalent in English for the threshold of audibility, estimated between 0-20 dB.)
1. An anticlimax in stark contrast to the three preceding cataclysmic phenomena from which Elijah had understandably retreated (he had to be resummoned from the cave!)
2. Elijah, by covering his face, clearly recognised and acknowledged the divine presence/activity associated with it.
[Illustration: Desert archery is a modern golflike game offered exclusively in the Israeli deserts at Mitzpe Ramon. The tourist pitch boasts "the beauty, excitement and silence of the desert."]
B. Their number: 7,000
C. Their stand: refusing to compromise their faith under pressure
D. Their Protector: God ("I")
E. Their lessons: God's kindness selectively directed at a stubborn people (Rom. 11:1-10)
There is no further mention of the latent remnant of 7,000 dissidents to Baal worship. But we know that there is no cause to feel solitary in serving God. From the sketchy walk-on roles overshadowed by the more-spectacular political and spiritual events, we know that God was quietly but powerfully at work through His remnant faithful within the overwhelmingly idolatrous society of Israel. These unlikely but undeterred believers included various anonymous prophets, the widow and sons of one of them (2 Kings 4:1), a rich couple and their only son (2 Kings 4:8f.), Elisha's servant Gehazi, an unnamed bread donor from Baal Shalishah (2 Kings 4:42), and the like. Then they fade back into the woodwork until Paul's allusion in Romans, in reference to God's keeping a faithful remnant in the midst of His overall judgment on Israel.
When things get rough and lonely, do you trust God's working for you, with you, and in you in ways you don't know of? Can you be that spiritually effective "still small voice" when everybody's on the lookout for a big bang?
P.S. We can only speculate why Elijah did not obey Yahweh's command to hike all the way up north to Damascus, Syria, to anoint Hazael, and then to backtrack to Israel to anoint Jehu and Elisha. But we know that he did appoint Elisha to succeed him, who then carried out the assignment God had given Elijah. Your feedback on this, please?