Summary: Number 6 in a series looking at the imagery in the modern Hymn These are the days of Elijah, looking at all the bits of the song that I couldn’t pad out to a full sermon.
Over the past month we have been looking at the Biblical imagery in the song, These are the Days of Elijah and seeing what lessons of revival or renewal we can learn from it. Tonight we finish the series. While there may be one or two lines that I could force a whole sermon out of, as I was looking at these last few phrases, I found that for most of them, I would be stretching it to preach a whole sermon on just that bit. So instead what I thought we would do, is something a bit different tonight and rather than having on sermon at the end of our service, we would look at each of the remaining bits separately and spaced throughout the service. And we’ll try and reinforce these ideas with Bible readings and songs.
These are the days of Ezekiel,
The dry bones becoming as flesh;
This one is quite interesting because it does very clearly speak of revival. Of God taking the remnants that are dead and making them to be his people in all their splendour and blessings. As a minor side note or annoyance it can be noted that none of this was actually to happen in the days of Ezekiel. The valley of the dry bones was a vision of things that would happen it the future. So speaking of the days of Ezekiel would refer to the promise of revival rather than the reality of revival. But lets not nitpick, much as my background in Science and Science Fiction has taught me to (unless you like science you don’t want to watch Armageddon, the movie not the battle at the end of time with me), and take the message that the song writer meant to give us, that of the days of revival.
This bit basically establishes what the song is about, revival. But the meaning we can take from this is that the situation is never hopeless. God is constantly wanting to breathe new life into dry bones. Do we sometimes feel like dry bones, like there is no joy left, that everything we try fails and God seems to be nowhere. Then God has the power to restore new life. By saying these are the days, we are saying that God is moving amongst us, that the time of dryness is at an end and that God is doing something new and life bringing among us. I believe this to be the case. However, the passage also contains a warning, this is something that God must do and not something we can accomplish alone. We do not make this so by declaring it to be so, but if we see the evidence of God moving than we can declare it to be so.
And though these are days of great trial,
Of famine and darkness and sword,
This bit is just a reminder that times of revival or renewal when God’s Spirit moves are not necessarily trouble free times. In fact more often than not they are times full of trouble. However, I do think that the Bible teaches that there is necessarily a link between times of suffering or prosperity and God’s approval or a moving of the Spirit. One of the big problems I have with some of the Christian TV channels is that quite often they promote what is known as the prosperity gospel or ideas such as “name it and claim it”. The idea being that if we follow God as we should then all things will go well for us, we will be healthy and wealthy. And indeed if you look at the churches that these people come from then they usually are full of healthy and wealthy people. However, this is usually because if a person is not healthy and wealthy there is only so much “you don’t have enough faith” or “repent from your hidden sin” that they can take before they move to a more biblically based church or abandon God altogether. The truth is that sometimes God chooses to heal us and sometimes not. Sometimes God does send prosperity our way, sometimes he doesn’t. It is a fact that for many people when they become Christians their financial situation improves, although this is often due to giving up wasting all their money on gambling, alcohol, becoming more responsible with their lives and money. But there is no guarantee, Christians can and do suffer financially and Christians often are sick and die of diseases. And this is not to be taken as proof that either their faith is small or they are sinners. If financial success bears any kind of relation to spirituality then as a group our pastors must be the most unspiritual groups within the church. Not to mention the fact that Jesus himself must have been really wicked given his financial situation.