Thursday, November 04, 2010

Where are the Elijahs of God?

The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men. Years back, Dr. Gregory Mantle was right when he said, "No man can be fully accepted until he is totally rejected." The prophet of the Lord is aware of both these experiences. They are his "brand name." The group, challenged by the prophet because they are smug and comfortably insulated from a perishing world in their warm but untested theology, is not likely to vote him "Man of the year" when he refers to them as habituates of the synagogue of Satan!
 
The prophet comes to set up that which is upset. His work is to call into line those who are out of line! He is unpopular because he opposes the popular in morality and spirituality. In a day of faceless politicians and voiceless preachers, there is not a more urgent national need than that we cry to God for a prophet!
 
The function of the prophet, as Austin-Sparks once said, "has almost always been that of recovery." The prophet is God's detective seeking for a lost treasure. The degree of his effectiveness is determined by his measure of unpopularity. Compromise is not known to him. He has no price tags. He is totally "otherworldly."
 
He is unquestionably controversial and unpardonably hostile. He marches to another drummer! He breathes the rarefied air of inspiration. He is a "seer" who comes to lead the blind. He lives in the heights of God and comes into the valley with a "thus saith the Lord." He shares some of the foreknowledge of God and so is aware of impending judgment. He lives in "splendid isolation." He is forthright and outright, but he claims no birthright. His message is "repent, be reconciled to God or else...!" His prophecies are parried. His truth brings torment, but his voice is never void. He is the villain of today and the hero of tomorrow.
 
He is excommunicated while alive and exalted when dead! He is dishonored with epithets when breathing and honored with epitaphs when dead. He is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, but few "make the grade" in his class. He is friendless while living and famous when dead. He is against the establishment in ministry; then he is established as a saint by posterity.
 
He eats daily the bread of affliction while he ministers, but he feeds the Bread of Life to those who listen. He walks before men for days but has walked before God for years. He is a scourge to the nation before he is scourged by the nation. He announces, pronounces, and denounces! He has a heart like a volcano and his words are as fire. He talks to men about God. He carries the lamp of truth amongst heretics while he is lampooned by men. He faces God before he faces men, but he is self-effacing. He hides with God in the secret place, but he has nothing to hide in the marketplace.
 
He is naturally sensitive but supernaturally spiritual. He has passion, purpose and pugnacity. He is ordained of God but disdained by men. Our national need at this hour is not that the dollar recover its strength, or that we save face over the Watergate affair, or that we find the answer to the ecology problem.
 
We need a God-sent prophet! I am bombarded with talk or letters about the coming shortages in our national life: bread, fuel, energy. I read between the lines from people not practiced in scaring folk. They feel that the "seven years of plenty" are over for us. The "seven years of famine" are ahead. But the greatest famine of all in this nation at this given moment is a FAMINE OF THE HEARING OF THE WORDS OF GOD (Amos 8:11). Millions have been spent on evangelism in the last twenty-five years. Hundreds of gospel messages streak through the air over the nation every day. Crusades have been held; healing meetings have made a vital contribution. "Come-outers" have "come out" and settled, too, without a nation-shaking revival. Organizers we have. Skilled preachers abound. Multi-million dollar Christian organizations straddle the nation. BUT where, oh where, is the prophet? Where are the incandescent men fresh from the holy place? Where is the Moses to plead in fasting before the holiness of the Lord for our moldy morality, our political perfidy, and sour and sick spirituality?
 
GOD'S MEN ARE IN HIDING UNTIL THE DAY OF THEIR SHOWING FORTH. They will come. The prophet is violated during his ministry, but he is vindicated by history. There is a terrible vacuum in evangelical Christianity today. The missing person in our ranks is the prophet.
 
The man with a terrible earnestness! The man totally otherworldly! The man rejected by other men, even other good men, because they consider him too austere, too severely committed, too negative and unsociable!
 
Let him be as plain as John the Baptist. Let him for a season be a voice crying in the wilderness of modern theology and stagnant "churchianity." Let him be as selfless as Paul the apostle. Let him, too, say and live, "This ONE thing I do." Let him reject ecclesiastical favors. Let him be self-abasing, nonself-seeking, nonself-projecting, nonself- righteous, nonself- glorying, nonself-promoting. Let him say nothing that will draw men to himself but only that which will move men to God.
 
Let him come daily from the throne room of a holy God, the place where he has received the order of the day. Let him, under God, unstop the ears of the millions who are deaf through the clatter of shekels milked from this hour of material mesmerism. Let him cry with a voice this century has not heard because he has seen a vision no man in this century has seen. God send us this Moses to lead us from the wilderness of crass materialism, where the rattlesnakes of lust bite us and where enlightened men, totally blind spiritually, lead us to an ever-nearing Armageddon. God have mercy! Send us PROPHETS!
 
"Where are the ELIJAHS OF GOD?"
 
To the question, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" we answer, "Where He has always been - on the throne!" But where are the Elijahs of God? We know Elijah was "a man of like passions as we are," but alas! We are not men of like prayer as he was. One praying man stands as a majority with God! Today God is bypassing men - not because they are too ignorant, but because they are too self-sufficient.
 
Brethren, our abilities are our handicaps, and our talents our stumbling blocks! Out of obscurity, Elijah came on to the Old Testament stage, a full-grown man. Queen Jezebel, that daughter of hell, had routed the priests of God and replaced them with groves to false deities. Darkness covered the land and gross darkness the people, and they were drinking iniquity like water. Every day the land, fouled with heathen temples and idolatrous rites, saw smoke curling from a thousand cruel altars.
 
Elijah lived with God. He thought about the nation's sin like God; he grieved over sin like God; he spoke against sin like God. He was all passion in his prayers and passionate in his denunciation of evil in the land. He had no smooth preaching. Passion fired his preaching, and his words were on the hearts of men as molten metal on their flesh. Brethren, if we will do God's work in God's way, at God's time, with God's power, we shall have God's blessing and the devil's curses. When God opens the windows of heaven to bless us, the devil will open the doors of hell to blast us. God's smile means the devil's frown!
 
Mere preachers may help anybody and hurt nobody; but prophets will stir everybody and madden somebody. The preacher may go with the crowd; the prophet goes against it. A man freed, fired, and filled with God will be branded unpatriotic because he speaks against his nation's sins; unkind because his tongue is a two-edged sword; unbalanced because the weight of preaching opinion is against him.
 
Preachers make pulpits famous; prophets make prisons famous. The preacher will be heralded; the prophet hounded. Ah! brother preachers, we love the old saints, missionaries, martyrs, reformers: our Luthers, Bunyans, Wesleys, Asburys, etc. We will write their biographies, reverence their memories, frame their epitaphs, and build their monuments. We will do anything except imitate them. We cherish the last drop of their blood, but watch carefully the first drop of our own!
 
Oh, my ministering brethren! Much of our praying is but giving God advice. Our praying is discolored with ambition, either for ourselves or for our denomination. Perish the thought! Our goal must be God alone. It is His honor that is defiled, His blessed Son who is ignored, His laws broken, His name profaned, His book forgotten, His house made a circus of social efforts.
 
Does God ever need more patience with His people than when they are "praying"? We tell Him what to do and then how to do it. We pass judgments and make appreciations in our prayers. In short, we do everything except pray! No Bible school can teach us this art. What Bible school has "prayer" on its curriculum? The most important thing a man can study is the prayer part of the book. But where is this taught? Let us strip off the last bandage and declare that many of our presidents and teachers do not pray, shed no tears, know no travail. Can they teach what they do not know? The man who can get believers to praying would, under God, usher in the greatest revival that the world has ever known.
 
There is no fault in God. He is able. God "is able to do according to the power that worketh in us." God's problem today is not communism, nor yet Romanism, nor liberalism, nor modernism. God's problem is - dead fundamentalism! "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth." - Rev. 3:16
 
Sin today is both glamorized and popularized, thrown into the ear by radio, thrown into the eye by television, and splashed on popular magazine covers. Churchgoers, sermon-sick and teaching-tired, leave the meeting as they entered it - visionless and passionless!
 
Oh God, give this perishing generation ten thousand John the Baptists! Just as Moses could not mistake the sight of the burning bush, so a nation could not mistake the sight of a burning man!
 
God meets fire with fire. John the Baptist was a new man with a new message. As a man accused of murder hears the dread cry of the judge, "Guilty!" and pales at it, so the crowd heard John's cry, "Repent!" until it rang down the corridors of their minds, stirred memory, bowed the conscience and brought them terror-stricken to repentance and baptism!
 
After Pentecost, the onslaught of Peter, fresh from his fiery baptism of the Spirit, shook the crowd until as one man they cried out: "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Imagine someone telling these sin-stricken men, "Just sign a card! Attend church regularly! Pay your tithes!" No! A thousand times no!
 
"Oh, my God! If in our cultivated unbelief and our theological twilight and our spiritual powerlessness, we have grieved and are continuing to grieve Thy Holy Spirit, then in mercy spew us out of Thy mouth! If Thou cannot do something with us and through us, then please God, do something without us! Bypass us, and take up a people who have not yet known Thee!"
 
 
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