“Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” (Romans 10:5)
Yesterday we left Elijah at the mouth of the cave where the Presence of the Lord passed by. Elijah was lamenting that know one seemed faith to the Lord anymore – their righteousness was gone and they no longer lived according to the law. So Elijah had to be “zealous” and stamp out the disbelief, and eradicate those who fostered and lead this disbelief. Paul says, however . . . .
“But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?'” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”(Verses 6 – 11)
Elijah speaks of the Israelites as a whole group whose disbelief condemned them as a whole. And the sins of those who were most vile have broken the covenant with the Lord for all. Paul, on the other hand, considers each individual person. Now he was writing to a whole group who lived in Rome, but his message and exhortation is focused on the individual. Moreover, it was not just the called and chosen people of Israel that this applied to, but all people. And the covenant rested not on the behavior and beliefs of the individual but the redeeming action of Christ.
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Verses 12 – 15)
In the twenty-four hours since I wrote yesterday’s post, I have been thinking about it. Turning over in my mind Elijah’s statement before and after the Presence of the Lord past before him. The statements are identical. I am leaning towards concluding that Elijah is worn out and used up. Elijah does not do much for the reminder of I Kings; he does pronounce a judgment against King Ahab and his wife. Being his time draws short, and Elisha is being mentored to become a prophet himself.
It would be interesting to contrast further Elijah and New Testament apostles. But I do not wish to present such a contrast. At some point the Yahweh of the Old Testament gives way to the Lord God of the New Testament, and Jesus the Christ becomes the new symbol and exemplar. The Israelites were encouraged by the prophets who testified during the occupations and exiles of the Israelites and Judahites. Again, tracing that transition would be interesting. But again, I do not wish to trace such an evolution.
We have enough to contend with in our modern lives. Those who are of such an age can look back and see how humanity has traveled in the past decades. Christians who are of such an age can look back and see how Christianity has changed over the years. I was ready to say where we were then gave us not portent to where we are now – but that is not true. I saw it, and I am sure others saw it. But what we were to do?
Maybe Elijah had the right of it, in a way. Run away from impending doom, and run towards the Lord. But, beloved reader, we MUST allow the Divine to inform and guide us. When things are at their dim us and most forlorn is when the Presence of the Divine can be the most evident. Not in the chaos and upheaval, but in the quiet and the calm. There we will get our direction, and we can move forward to where the Divine would have us be. Do not give up hope, beloved reader. Remember there are still many who have not succumbed to the evil of the land. Shalom & Selah!