Romans 11: 3-4 -“Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”
We’re in chapter 11 of the book of Romans, and Paul continues with Israel’s rejection of Jesus, the Messiah. As I was pondering on the chapter, I thought, what more is there to pull out about their rejection of the Savior? It’s plain as day to every Christian alive that the Jews still don’t accept Jesus as a nation. But when I tried to figure out how the key text fits in this discourse, the Spirit of God spoke to me! I love it when He does that!
Being the only one in anything has both its advantages and its disadvantages. Being the only one with a copyright on a new piece of technology can catapult you into fame and riches! Being the only one in a jungle when you meet a pack of wolves could be your demise. But when you are the only one to stand for Jesus, or think you are, know that in truth, you really are not!
In order for us to get the picture, we must turn our attention to Elijah, the prophet, in 1 Kings 18. Elijah was alone when he faced Ahab and Jezebel’s 450 priests that day on Mt. Carmel. Although, Obadiah had already told Elijah that he had saved the life of 100 prophets, Elijah announced that he was the only one to Ahab:
Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.1 Kings 18:22 NKJV
At this point, Elijah is feeling pretty good to be the only one. 450 false prophets against one prophet of the only true God. Those false prophets did everything they could: dancing, cutting themselves, and wailing to get their god to respond with fire. Nothing happened. Elijah repairs the altar, cut the bull, and have the men pour twelve buckets of water over the wood and the sacrifice. He prays a simple prayer and “voila,” fire!
Now in actuality, Elijah wasn’t the only prophet. Obadiah had just spoken these words to him:
Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid one hundred men of the Lord’s prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water?1 Kings 18:13 NKJV
So there were others he could have had there assisting him. But at that time, it didn’t feel so bad to be the only one, this was his advantage! But then Jezebel heard of what he had done:
Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.1 Kings 19:2-3 NKJV
I have never understood how Elijah was able to withstand 450 prophets, see fire from heaven fall on water and dry it up, and then run from Jezebel! Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened. The bible is clear in letting us know that at this point in Elijah’s life he is feeling pretty defeated, to the point of wanting to die. Twice God sends an angel to him to feed him and provide water for him. The second meal lasted for forty days until he arrived at Mt. Horeb, and then God asks him, what are you doing here?
So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”1 Kings 19:10 NKJV
Now Elijah, in his solitude is feeling pretty sorry for himself. His disadvantage. He has already forgotten that Obadiah told him that there were 100 prophets of the Lord! I often wonder how things would have been different for Elijah if he had connected with the other prophets that Obadiah had told him about! That’s for another blog one day! Suffice it to say, God was not pleased with Elijah’s attitude! He told Elijah to get up and to go and anoint a new king and a prophet to take his place! Can you imagine telling God you are the only one serving Him and He responds by telling you that He is done with you? And then He tells Elijah:
Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”1 Kings 19:18 NKJV
Now let’s return to Paul. Paul reminds the Israelites of this very incident in their history that they were all aware of. Why? As a nation they were not serving the Messiah, but there was a remnant! Thank God for the remnant! That remnant was being persecuted, (not by being talked about and made fun of), but actual life taking, in a murderous rage, persecuted!
- Peter and John were thrown in prison for sharing the gospel, after the lame man was healed at the gate called Beautiful! Then they were beaten and released!
- The apostles were arrested and put in jail, but an angel released them!
- Stephen is martyred at the feet of Paul!
- James the brother of John was killed with the sword!
- Christians were placed in the Colosseum with wild animals to tear them apart!
Paul knows this, because for us it is history, but for him it was the reality of the day to day, life concerns, as a believer in Jesus! It was tough being a believer!
“Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”Romans 11:3-4 NKJV
This text was relevant then, and it is relevant now! Paul was reminding them that there would be times that they would feel like they were the only ones facing the attacks of the enemy, but in reality, they were not! Just as God had 7,000 men who had never bowed when Elijah was whining, He has a remnant, from Israel, who is standing strong in their conviction about Jesus! Yes, it is tough! Yes, some have given their life, and others still will, but you are not standing alone in your faith! So don’t give up, and don’t give in to the pressures of the enemy! God sees you and God knows! I believe that was the purpose of Paul’s reminder of Elijah.
Isn’t that truth still pertinent for today? How many times have you felt like you were the only one standing? The only teen in your church who was truly committed? The only one in your family who truly loves God? The only one on your job who is living for God? The only one in anywhere you are at, who truly believes God?
Well, I have good news for you! Keep standing alone in your situation, because you are not alone in your faith! While there may be only one third of the world’s population who profess Christianity, that is still a whole lot of people! And just like with Elijah, God didn’t need 450 prophets to make a point, He made it quite well with just Elijah! So what if you are the only one standing? God may have an assignment that you are the only one who can complete it! He doesn’t need a lot of people to do great things! And if He doesn’t use you to do great things, I commend you and encourage you to keeping standing and to stand strong! Wonderful Jesus!