FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
April 25, 2014
Are We Preparing for the Latter Rain?– Part XXVII
A Praying People
Enoch, the seventh patriarch from Adam who walked with God for three centuries, and Elijah the prophet whom God sent to sternly rebuke Israel at the height of their apostasy, are types of the character of the work, message, and people who will be translated in the last days. Of the latter the apostle wrote: “Elias [Greek for Elijah] was a man subject to like passions as we are [human frailties], and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought for her fruit.” James 5: 17, 18, K.J.V.
E. G. White says: “We should pray as earnestly for the descent of the Holy Spirit as the disciples prayed on the day of Pentecost. If they needed it at that time, we need it more today . . . Without the Spirit’s aid, our efforts to present divine truth will be in vain.” – Review & Herald, Aug. 25, 1896. “Let us with contrite hearts, pray more earnestly that now, in the time of the latter rain, the showers of grace may fall upon us.” – Testimonies to Ministers, p. 590. “A mere attendance upon all the meetings that are held will not in itself bring a blessing to the soul. It is not an immutable law that all who attend general meetings or local meetings shall receive large supplies form heaven. The circumstances may seem favorable for a rich outpouring of the showers of grace. But God Himself must command the rain to fall. Therefore we should not be remiss in supplication . . . . At every meeting we attend, our prayers should ascend, that at this very time God will impart warmth and moisture to our souls. As we seek God for the Holy Spirit, it will work in us meekeness, humbleness of mind, a conscious dependence on God for the perfecting Latter Rain. If we pray for the blessing in faith, we shall receive it as God has promised.” – Ibid, p. 508.
How did Elijah have so much prayer-power with God? Can we possess the same today? Because Elijah had previously done his work and awesome responsibility of fearlessly declaring to King Ahab that it was his sins, and the sins of his fathers that had brought to Israel the terrible calamity of the three-and-a-half-year drought, “I have not troubled Israel,” Elijah boldly asserts, “but thou, and they father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.”
Baal or Baalim, meaning, “lord, possessor, husband” was the chief male sun-god of the Phoenicians and Canaanites; the counterpart of the female goddess Astaroth or Ishtar (from where Easter Sunday comes from) See Judges 10: 6; 1 Sam. 7: 4. This most ancient form of worship was connected with immorality (Num. 25: 1-5; Hos. 9: 10). Incense was burned to (Jer. 7: 9). Kissing the image of (1 Kings 19: 18; Hos. 13: 1,2; rites by priests of (1 Kings 18: 26, 28); children burned in the fire of (Jer. 19: 4, 5); eating sacrifices of the dead (Ps. 106: 28). It dates back to: among the Moabites in Moses’ time by apostate prophet Balaam with Balak, Num. 22: 41); altars built to, during the time of the Judges (Judges 2: 11-14); Jezebel introduces it to Israel (1 Kings 16: 31-33); Elijah overthrows it at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18: 17-40; Athaliah introduces it to Judah (2 Kings 11: 1, 13-20; 2 Chron. 22: 2-4); revived again in Israel and Judah (Hos. 2: 8; Amos 5: 26, K.J.V.); Ahaz makes images to (2 Chron. 28: 1-4); Mannasseh worships (2 Kings 21: 1-3); altars where everywhere (Jer. 11: 13); Overthrown by the boy king Josiah (2 Kings 23: 4, 5); denounced by God’s prophets (Jer. 19: 4, 5; Eze. 16: 201, 21). For historic retrospect and warnings for today, see Rom. 11: 4; cf. 1 Kings 19:1-18. Compare to Revelation 13.
See 1 Kings 17: 18-24; 18: 1-19; Prophets & Kings by E.G. White, “The Voice of Stern Rebuke,”chapter 10.- “Through the long years and drought and famine, Elijah prayed earnestly that the hearts of the Israel might be turned from idolatry to allegiance to God. Patiently, the prophet waited, while the hand of the Lord rested heavily on the stricken land. As he saw evidence of suffering and want multiplying on every side, his heart was wrung with sorrow to bring about a reformation quickly. But God Himself was working out His plan, and all that His servant could do was to pray in faith, await the time for decided action. The apostasy prevailing in Ahab’s day was the result of many years of evil-doing. Step by step, year after year, Israel had been departing from the right way. For generation after generation they had refused to make straight paths for their feet, and at last the great majority of the people has yielded themselves to the leadership of the powers of darkness.”- p. 133. “Anything that diverts the mind from God assumes the form of an idol, and that is why there is so little power in the church today.” –Sons and Daughters, p. 57.
“The king and prophet stand face to face. Though Ahab is filled with passionate hatred, yet in the presence of Elijah he seems unmanned, powerless [like the proud pharaoh in the presence of Moses, and Nebuchadnezzar, in the presence of the faithful youth, Daniel]. In his first faltering words, ‘Art thou he that troubleth Israel ?’ he unconsciously reveals the inmost feelings of his heart. Ahab knew that it was by the word of God that the heavens had become as brass, yet sought to cast upon the prophet the blame for the heavy judgments resting on the land. It is natural for the wrong-doer to hold the messengers of God responsible for the calamities that come as a sure result of departure from the way of righteousness. Those who place themselves in Satan’s power are unable to see things as God sees them. When the mirror of truth is held up before them, they become indignant at the thought of receiving reproof. Blinded by sin, they refuse to repent; they feel that God’s servants have turned against them, and are worthy of severest censure.”- pp. 139, 140.
“Now as in the former ages, the presentation of a truth that reproves the sins and errors of the times will excite opposition. [John 3: 20 quoted]. As men see that they cannot maintain their position by the Scriptures, many determine to maintain it at all hazards, and with a malicious spirit they assail the character and motives of those stand in defense of unpopular truth. It is the same policy which has been pursued in all ages. Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel [1 Kings 18: 17], Jeremiah a traitor [Jer. 37: 12-18], Paul a polluter of the temple [Acts 16: 20; 21: 28]. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to the truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic.”- E. G. White, Great Controversy, pp. 458, 459, 1911.
“Today there is need of the voice of stern rebuke; for grievous sins has separated the people from God. Infidelity is fast becoming fashionable. ‘We will not have this man reign over us’ [Luke 19: 14] is the language of thousands. The smooth sermons so often preached make no lasting impression; the trumpet does not give a certain sound. Men are not cut to the heart by the plain, sharp truths of God’s word.
“There are many professed Christians who, if they should express their real feelings, would say, What need is there of speaking so plainly? They might as well ask, Why need John the Baptist [who came in the spirit of Elijah’s work and message to prepare the way for the first coming of Christ] have said to the Pharisees [self-appointed spiritual leaders of the Jewish nation at Christ’s time] ‘O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come’? (Luke 3: 7). Why need he have provoked the anger of Herodias by telling Herod that it was unlawful for him to live with his brother’s wife? The forerunner of Christ lost his life by his plain speaking. Why could he not have moved along without incurring the displeasure of those who were living in sin?
“’Thou art the man.’ 2 Sam. 12: 7. Words as unmistakably spoken by Nathan to David are seldom heard in the pulpits of today, seldom seen in the public press [and social media as well]. If they were not so rare, we should see more of the power of God revealed among men. The Lord’s messengers should not complain that their efforts are without fruit, until they repent of their own love for approbation, and their desire to please men, which leads them to suppress truth.
“Those ministers who are men-pleasers, who cry, Peace, peace, when God hath not spoken peace [Jer. 8: 11], might humble their souls before God, asking pardon for their insincerity and lack of moral courage. It is not from love of their neighbor that they smooth down the message entrusted to them, but because they are self-indulgent and ease-loving.True love seeks first the honor of God and the salvation of souls. Those who have this love will not evade the truth to save themselves from the unpleasant results of plain speaking. When souls are in peril, God’s ministers will not consider self, but will speak the word given them to speak, refusing to excuse of palliate evil.
“Would that every minister might realize the sacredness of his office and the holiness of his work, and show the courage that Elijah showed! As divinely appointed messengers, ministers are in a position to of awful responsibility. They are to ‘reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering.’ 2 Tim. 4: 2. In Christ’s stead they are to labor as stewards [not merely over tithes and offerings] of the mysteries of heaven, encouraging the obedient and warning the disobedient.With them worldly policy is to have no weight [note other SOP on policy}. Never are they to swerve from the path in which Jesus has bidden them to walk. They are to go forward in faith, remembering that they are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses [Heb. 12:1, of both men and angels, 1 Cor. 4: 9]. They are not speak their own words, but the words which One greater than the potentates of the earth has bidden them to speak [See also Ezekiel, chapters 2 & 3]. Their message is to be, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’
“God calls for men like Elijah, Nathan, and John the Baptist,—men who will bear His message with faithfulness, regardless of the consequences; men who will speak the truth bravely, though it call for the sacrifice of all they have.
“God cannot use men who, in time of peril, when the strength, courage, and influence of all are needed, are afraid to take a firm stand for the right. He calls for men [women, and youth] who will do faithful battle against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [Eph. 6: 11- 17, ‘praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” v. 18.]. It is to such as these that He will speak the words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord.’ Matt. 15: 23.” – E.G. White, Prophets & Kings, pp. 140-2. Pacific Press Publishing Asso., 1917, Mountain View CA . (Continued next week)