Elijah, the tree…
If you’ve been a follower of our streamed Sunday services on the Lincoln Baptist Church website or Facebook pages you might recall an opening welcome segment I did a few weeks ago. In it I likened our Covid-19 imposed self-isolation in our homes to Elijah’s Jehovah imposed self-isolation by the Kerith brook.
Elijah appears for the first time in scripture in 1 Kings 17. Our introduction to him is quite abrupt.
“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.’” (1 Kings 17:1).
Elijah was to become one of the great prophets and miracle-workers of the Old Testament, but not yet. Here he just pops up and makes a proclamation of judgement to Israel’s godless King Ahab and then God sends him away for an extended period of isolation:
“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.’
So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” (1 Kings 17:2-6).
Our Lord calls us too at times to such periods of “coming apart” (Mark 6:31). Perhaps you’ve heard the old saw “One must ‘come apart’ before one comes apart.” He calls us at times to extended seasons of separation from the daily hub-bub… from even our ministry… to rest by that river, to be nourished by it and do nothing… nothing but recuperate, and grow. In fact He calls us to this quite regularly… weekly… He has made it a commandment “
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exod. 20:8-11).
Psalm 1 is a most concise description of this “coming apart.” The psalm says of the one who regularly steps away from this world, and instead absorbs the truth and person of God:
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:3).
Like Elijah we leave our labours, we get alone with God, receive nourishment from Him, and simply, purposefully rest. It is a good thing to do. It is what God Himself modelled following creation, it was the daily practice of Jesus Christ, and it is a command to all who will follow Him.
After this period of apartness God mightily used Elijah. Indeed all he did “prospered” and in the end God took him (2 Kings 2:11). Elijah took the time and obeyed God. He became like a “mighty tree” because of it, and God calls each believer to do the same — including you!