Mercy

Devotion: 1 Kings 18:1-2
The drought that the Lord sent upon Israel because of their sin of idolatry had grown quite severe in the days of King Ahab. Ahab, for his part, was the chief idolator. Ahab was the reason that Elijah, the prophet, the man of God, appeared on the scene and declared in no uncertain terms that there would be no rain except by his word. Such a statement could lead to the mistaken idea that somehow Elijah was graced with supernatural abilities that he could use at his own whim. This mistaken idea unfortunately lives in the church today regarding the matter of spiritual gifts. Yet, the Apostle Paul is clear that the use of spiritual gifts is for the benefit of the whole body of Christ, that is, the Church (see Romans 12:3-8). These gifts are given for the glory of God in service of Christ’s Church. So it is with Elijah’s various miracles. They are not for his glory, but for the glory of his God and in the service of the correction of God’s people.
In due time, the Lord lifts the drought as we read:
“After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, ‘Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.’ So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria.” –1 Kings 18:1-2 ESV
 
So what do we make of the Lord’s choice to lift the drought from his people? First, the Lord’s decision shows that while God is just, He is also merciful. Elijah sojourned in a foreign land for a time while the Lord withheld rain from the region. We are told that the famine had grown very severe. God’s people, disobedient and sinful as they were, were suffering and our merciful God moved to alleviate said suffering. Note that the movement of God in mercy was not predicated on the  prior repentance of either the king or the people. God’s movement to return Elijah to Israel (specifically the capital city, Samaria, of the northern kingdom and its surrounding area) was not a response, but purely on the Lord’s own initiative. Put plainly, the Lord does NOT wait for us to move first and then move.
At this point the most common objection will be regarding so-called ‘free-will.’ The counter-argument will be stated that God did not create us to be robots and therefore we are free to either choose or reject Him. Now, that may have been true for the First Adam, but the children of Adam have not had that luxury. We are locked into the flesh by the sin of Adam and so the Apostle can affirm, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” [Romans 3:23-24]. Our sin is not merely potential (original sin) but actual. We are broken and alienated from God, as incapable of making our way back to God as we are incapable of causing it to rain apart from His mercy and grace. Indeed, the Apostle is clear, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins” [Ephesians 2:1]. The dead cannot help themselves, but rely on the only one who can raise the dead to new life–the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who raised Jesus from the dead!
Elijah has no power on his own, but relies upon the Lord to manifest His own glory through the prophet. God has a big plan for just how rain will return to the land. Yet, the point before all that is that the Lord Himself, the very one who caused the drought and subsequent famine to chastise His people for their idolatry would be the very one out of His abundant mercy, to bring it to an end. The people did not repent. The people did not cry out to God. God simply showed His divinely good character and rained mercy upon them.
It is the Lord who turns to us in mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. He does this out of His own abundant kindness and on His own initiative. So is there nothing to do if we find ourselves being chastised by the Lord? No, we are called to repent and lament and turn to the Lord in times of great need. The prophet Hosea put is this way:
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” –Hosea 6:1-3 ESV
May the mercy of our God rain upon you through the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 
The song this week is “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” from Red Mountain Music.
News for You:
  • The Candlelight Christmas Eve service will be 12/24 at 7 p.m. Please come and celebrate the birth of the Savior with us!
  • A big thank you to all the adults and children who made our Christmas Pageant a great success!
  • Note: I am in the process of migrating my blog to our new website. If you would like to catch up on past posts you can find them at deepdiscernment.info.

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