Faith & Hope in Troublous Times

1 Kings 19:4-9

[Elijah] went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.

And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God. And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The question God puts to the prophet it, What doest thou here, Elijah? This is a reproof, for his fleeing hither. “What brings thee so far from home? Dost thou flee from Jezebel? Couldst thou not depend upon almighty power for thy protection?”

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): When the Lord interrogated him, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” he thought of nothing but his own services, and the sins of others: yea, when the question was repeated, he returned the same answer. How strange that he should not, on the repetition of the question especially, suspect himself, and acknowledge that he had come thither without any call or direction from his God!

MATTHEW HENRY: Lay the emphasis upon the pronoun thou. “What thou! So great a man, so great a prophet, so famed for resolution.”

CHARLES SIMEON: It is justly said of him, and most probably in reference to these very events, that “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are,” James 5:17. In this part of his history we behold, his unbelieving fear. On former occasions he had shewn great fortitude: he had just before dared to accuse Ahab to his face as “the troubler of Israel;” and to confront alone all the worshippers of Baal with four hundred and fifty of his prophets at their head: he had also put all those prophets to death, and then had accompanied Ahab to Jezreel: but now his faith failed him, and he doubted whether his God could protect him from the rage of Jezebel.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The best of men are only men at best…Is any reader of this paper disposed to be cast down and discouraged, because he loves Christ, and tries to serve Him, but finds himself almost entirely alone? Does your heart sometimes fail you, and your hands hang down, and your knees wax faint, because you so seldom meet any one whom you can pray with, and praise with, and read with, and talk with about Christ, and open your heart to without fear? Do you ever mourn in secret for want of company? Well, you are only drinking the cup which many have drunk before you. Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Moses, and Samuel, and David, and the prophets, and Paul, and John, and the Apostles were all people who stood very much alone.  Do you expect to fare better than them?―Alas! there have always been many like you!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Take a man like Jeremiah. All the false prophets were against him. There is a man who had to stand alone! Poor Jeremiah—how he hated and disliked it! He did not like being unpopular, he did not like standing on his own, and being ridiculed and laughed at, and spat upon, as it were; but he had the truth of God, and so he endured it all. He decided at times to say nothing, but the Word was like a fire in his bones, and he had to go on speaking it. Obloquy and abuse were heaped upon him, but it did not matter; he was God’s spokesman and God’s representative. Similarly Moses had to stand alone when he came down from the Mount where he had met God. To stand in isolation from one’s fellows, but with God, is the great doctrine of the Old Testament in many ways. And it is emphasized in the New Testament also.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It is the easiest thing in the world to believe as everybody else believes, but the difficulty is to believe a thing alone, when no one else thinks as you think—to be the solitary champion of a righteous cause, when the enemy mustereth his thousands to the battle.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Was it not like that at the Protestant Reformation? What hope had that one man, Martin Luther, just an unknown monk?

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I had utterly despaired had not Christ been Head of the Church―Every man must do things alone; he must do his own believing, he must do his own dying.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Faith and hope are the two poles on which all the Christian’s noble enterprises turn.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): We are apt to be discouraged under want of success, as if the sufficiency of the power was of ourselves, and not of God.

MATTHEW HENRY: Despair of success hinders many a good enterprise. No one is willing to venture alone, forgetting that those are not alone who have God with them.

J. C. RYLE: Stand fast, both in public and in private, even if you stand alone. But you will not stand alone.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We may depend upon it, that if we are on God’s side, God is on our side.

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): There is an experience of Luther’s which is suggestive.

MARTIN LUTHER: At one time I was sorely vexed and tried by my own sinfulness, by the wickedness of the world, and by the dangers that beset the church. One morning I saw my wife dressed in mourning. Surprised, I asked her who had died.

“Do you not know?” she replied; “God is dead.”

“How can you talk such nonsense?” I said, “How can God die?”

“Is that really true?”

“Of course,” I said, not perceiving her aim. “How can you doubt it?”

“Yet,” she said, “though you do not doubt that, you are so helpless and discouraged.”

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Hope is never ill when faith is well.

J. R. MILLER: Things were not as bad as Elijah thought.

CHARLES SIMEON: Elijah supposed himself to be the only one in Israel that maintained a regard for God; but God informed him that there were no less than seven thousand persons who had not yielded to the prevailing idolatry.


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