Summary: I. God sends us out to confront and counter the sins of our nation II. God tests us through His guidance III. God tests us in our hiding place IV. God tests us when the brook runs dry
One of the new terms of our day is “virtual reality.” We live in a day and time filled with imaginary stories, characters, and scenes. These transport us into unreality, a world of make believe, even a world of science fiction that catapults us into another world. We go to an IMAX theater, put on our 3D glasses, and get engulfed in an imaginary world that almost seems real. We put on our virtual reality goggles attached to our phone or gaming system and enter a new 3D world. With all this new technology we can experience a virtual reality that which truly seems real to our senses, minds, and emotions, but isn’t real.
Why? People want to escape the reality of this life.
Chuck Swindoll writes (Living on the Ragged Edge)
In this ragged-edged reality called earthly existence, life is somewhere between sad and bad. All it takes is a quick look around to discover why we line up to watch fantasies that take us to galaxies far, far away. Who wouldn’t want to escape from an existence as boring and painful as ours? For many, it’s downright horrid. It’s drug abuse. It’s sleepless nights. It’s headaches. It’s heartaches. It’s hate, rape, assault, jail sentences. It’s sickness and sorrow. It’s broken lives. It’s distorted minds. Mainly, as Solomon discovered long ago, it’s empty. There’s nothing down here under the sun that will give you and me a sense of lasting satisfaction. It’s planned that way! How else would we realize our need for the living God?
I don’t care how good your job is or how much money you have…when the lights are turned off at night, you’re back to reality--its boring and horribly empty. To quote Solomon the realist, it is like chasing the wind.
You work so that you can make money, so that you can spend it, so that you can work and make more money, so that you can spend it, so that you can get more, which will mean you spend more, and you work harder to make more. So goes this endless cycle called ‘striving after wind.’ Solomon was one of the richest persons ever to live. Anything he wanted, he had it. If he lived today he would have the biggest homes, the fastest cars, the most beautiful friends and lovers, the best food, the most luxurious airplanes, and an endless supply of money. Yet, Solomon said, it is like chasing the wind.
That explains why people will line up by the millions to view a fantasy on film and sit in silent amazement at someone’s imaginary world of imaginary characters who do imaginary things--because life under the sun is so dreadfully, unchangingly boring and dreadful.
To put it bluntly, life on planet Earth without God is the pits. And if I may repeat my point (Solomon does numerous times), that’s the way God designed it. He made it like that. He placed within us that God-shaped vacuum that only He can fill. Until He is there, nothing satisfies.
Are you sufficiently depressed now?
Please turn in your Bible to 1 Kings 17:1-7
1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” 2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” 5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.
Everyone here has probably heard of Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities. Whether or not you’ve read the novel, you’ve likely heard the famous sentence: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The same could be said about the Israelites during the reign of Ahab. Ahab had recently become the seventh King of Israel. From a secular point of view, Ahab was a successful king. He further consolidated and expanded on his father’s achievements. During Ahab’s reign, it was a time of increasing power, prominence, and economic prosperity. It was the best of times from a secular view.
However, the Bible paints a different picture. All kings of Israel were evil, but Ahab was the most evil. According to the historical writer, “Ahab…did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him…. he also married Jezebel…and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.” (1 Kings 16:30-33) It was the worst of times from a Godly view.