Elijah and the remnant
INTRO: - Earnest seeking God - met with Him on Sinai - genuinely discerned His voice, met יהוה face to face! What did He say?
- ? Depressed, low in faith. Away from God, afraid. ?afraid - stood before Ahab and confronted whole nation single handed. ? depressed - had determination and motivation and will power to go 40 days without food and walk to Sinai. ? low in faith - called down fire from heaven, prayed for rain; ? Away from God - fed by angels, twice God aided him on his journey; God spoke with him - close enough to God to know genuine voice and not be taken in by dramatic display.
- God holds Elijah as archetypal prophet - was one of only two in the Bible who did not die, was with Jesus on mount of Transfiguration, will appear to herald Jesus. This is the prophet above all others (except Jesus) that has God’s seal of approval.
- Here is a man who has pressed into God, not been satisfied with trivial answer, surface level. Sought God earnestly - the covenant had been broken, relationship with Gods people was over - what now?
- God asks “why there?” - same reply.
Elijah’s evaluation of nation - does יהוה endorse or correct His servant?
- Elijah’s purpose was to turn people’s hearts back to God - but they had not turned - what now?
Exposition of 1 Kings 19 - judgment, judgment, judgment! - but remnant.
יהוה said precisely the same thing to him as when the word of the LORD first came to him when he arrived at the mountain: "What to you here Elijah?" It confirmed that Elijah had been hearing accurately before. But why did יהוה ask the same question? Was Elijah’s last answer unsatisfactory? Did He expect a different answer after the awesome things that had taken place? Would Elijah say the same thing when standing right before יהוה Himself?
1 Kings 19:14 - Elijah said precisely the same thing - word for word. The same question elicited the same response (cf. 1 Kings 19:10). Nothing had changed - a great demonstration of almighty power, the presence of יהוה Himself didn’t alter the situation. The stat of Israel as a nation in covenant relationship with יהוה was beyond hope, irredeemable. The presence of יהוה didn’t change that, for He had revealed Himself in power to Israel and still they rejected Him in favour of Baal. The covenant was broken, the worship of יהוה obliterated and Elijah remained zealous for יהוה and would not forsake that zeal - he would still seek יהוה and covenant relationship with Him even though the rest of the nation had determined to reject Him.
1 Kings 19:15 - Neither this time, nor the time before, does יהוה argue with Elijah or suggest his evaluation is wrong. When you are in the presence of God you tell the truth! He makes sure Elijah is utterly convinced of his evaluation of the nation but He accepts it. Elijah’s evaluation is that Israel is apostatized beyond hope, יהוה had done everything to turn their hearts back to Him but they would not be turned. Therefore the only thing left for them was judgment. יהוה endorses this evaluation and issues the order for that judgment to be carried out (1 Kings 19:15-17). Israel would be utterly and thoroughly destroyed - יהוה was very careful to ensure none escaped. But also acknowledging that Elijah remained zealous for יהוה, He granted a new covenant relationship - no longer with the nation as a whole - the relationship had changed - now He moved to having that covenant relationship with a remnant - a subset that kept themselves pure in their allegiance to יהוה (cf. 1 Kings 19:18; Rom 9:4-16, 27; 11:1-5). Now God’s covenant promise applies to a remnant - those who He has chosen for Himself by grace, who have kept themselves from idolatry and remained zealous, faithful and true to יהוה - this is not because of their inherent goodness but because God chose them, in His grace and decided and determined that they would remain faithful. "I have kept for Myself ....". It is not us who keeps ourselves (Jude 24; Phil 1:6; Rom 14:4; 1 Thess 5:24). So יהוה gives Elijah instructions to anoint Hazael to be king of Syria. The purpose of this is that he may execute judgment on Israel (see 1 Kings 19:17), killing them by the sword. It shows the international influence Elijah had and the respect in which he was held, if could anoint king someone in a neighbouring country. Hazael means "God sees" - indeed God saw the condition of Israel and it was in accord with Elijah’s evaluation hence the judgment by the sword. He was a powerful king of Syria, God’s scourge to Israel during the reign of Jehoram, Jehu and Jehoahaz. יהוה told Elijah to return to his way of the desert (this doesn’t refer to Damascus (cf. NASB) - a river runs through Damascus) - he was to go to Damascus by way of the desert i.e. east of Jordan, not entering Israel. But more, יהוה was saying that Elijah was to return to the desert - this was to be his place of abode, this is where he would meet with God, in the lonely place apart from the life of the nation (cf. John the Baptist who was also a desert dweller.).
1 Kings 19:16 - Elijah maintained that Israel was corrupt beyond remedy - a new order was called for - יהוה gave the instructions for the establishment of this new order. Jehu was to be anointed king of Israel - a different dynasty to that of Omri. Elisha was to be anointed prophet. Jehu’s role was to destroy the Ahab/Omri dynasty (2 Kings 9:1-10). He was the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 9:2 - Nimshi was his grandfather) - i.e."יהוה judges" - note the repeated emphasis on judgment. The time had come for judgment of Israel. יהוה endorses Elijah’s evaluation of the nation. Jehu rid Israel of Baal worship and the dynasty of Omri (2 Kings 10:1-28). תַּחַת may mean Elisha was anointed in place of Elijah, but could also mean under him. Elijah’s ministry had to all intents come to an end - his role had been to turn the nation back to יהוה, now Elisha was to be prophet - his role was that of judgment, but also salvation (Elisha means "God saves") through judgment salvation would come. Idolatry would be destroyed and through the faithful remnant salvation would come.
1 Kings 19:17 - יהוה instructed Elijah to anoint Hazael as king of Syria, Jehu as king of Israel and Elisha as prophet in his place - each was anointed - i.e. Divinely commissioned for the task, the task of executing judgment on Israel. יהוה now outlines their task, the role for which He has commissioned them:- All three were part of the same Divine intent and purpose: judgment upon the nation of Israel - their role was to kill! To destroy by the sword. There was a three layered system to ensure that no one escaped the judgment of the sword. The first line was Hazael, those who escaped his sword would be put to death by the sword of Jehu, and if any managed to escape this second line, they would be killed by Elisha. Elijah continued to minister before Elisha took over; BenHadad ruled for some time before Hazael replaced him; after Ahab came Ahaziah and then Jehoram before Jehu took the throne. This implies יהוה is referring to some time down the track. All three were anointed by יהוה to bring death to Israel. Israel was contaminated, rotten with idolatry, beyond repair - this evil had to be extirpated. The only way to deal with this ingrained, inveterate, idolatry was to wipe the nation out, to destroy the idolaters, bring them to death. How does this line up with our concept of God? He instructed Israel to destroy, completely wipe out the inhabitants of the land because they were irredeemably corrupted with idolatry. Because they did not do so, they themselves became corrupted and ended being destroyed (cf. Num 33:55,56). If we don’t get rid of all evil and destroy it we will meet the fate we should have executed - we ourselves will be destroyed. With evil, with idolatry, it is either ruthlessly destroy or be ruthlessly destroyed. Anointed by God to kill and destroy God’s people - can we conceive this possibility? But God’s plan of judgment was ruthless and thorough - none was to be allowed to escape. This evil had to be utterly purged from His people. God’s will was to bring death to these people, death to idolaters - all those who place something before Him in their life.
1 Kings 19:18 - So then was Israel finished with? By no means - יהוה had made promises to Israel and to Abraham that will never be broken - but not all Israel is Israel (cf. Rom 9:6-29; 10:21-11:10, 25-36). At this stage there is a change in God’s dealings with His people - a change of dispensation as there was at Sinai when Moses went up the mountain. Prior to then יהוה dealt individually with the patriarchs, entered into covenant relationship with them individually and personally; at Sinai there was a change, Israel became a nation, יהוה entered into covenant relationship with the nation as a whole, collectively Now that covenant has been broken, Israel failed to meet the terms by obstinately and continually pursuing idolatry - so now יהוה no longer deals with Israel as a whole but turns to dealing in covenant relationship with a remnant. It is to the remnant that יהוה now transfers the promises. The rest were to be put to death. But He "kept for Himself" (cf. Rom 11:4) 7,000 who had kept themselves pure, untainted by idolatry. This was not their own doing, because they were better, more righteous, than the rest - it was solely due to Gods grace - His gracious choice. He chose, selected certain ones to be kept free from idolatry. At heart man is inveterately evil (Jer 17:9; Rom 3:9-20, 23) but God choses some from among them for Himself so that there is some left for Him to deal with and reveal Himself through to the rest of the world. It is not due to any merit in themselves - the remnant exists because of יהוה’s gracious choice and mercy upon them. They remained free from idolatry only because יהוה had chosen them to remain so and determined that they would be so - it is all יהוה’s doing - so all glory belongs to Him alone. Elijah said that he was the only one left who was zealous for יהוה (cf. 1 Kings 19:10, 14) - was he correct? There was Obadiah (1 Kings 18:3,4) and the 100 prophets he saved (1 Kings 18:4, 13) - but where were the followers of יהוה on Mount Carmel? (cf. 1 Kings 18:21) - no one answered in support of יהוה - Elijah was there alone. Elijah was not lying - as far as he was concerned and aware, he was the only one left. It can seem like that, that you are the only one remaining true to יהוה and not going along out of self interest and selfish motives - where are they that live and burn for God’s glory alone? But there are others - יהוה has kept them for Himself - and they too probably feel as if they are the only one - they are scattered far and wide, isolated form each other - steadfastly remaining true in the overwhelming idolatry that pervades all around. But Elijah may have been correct - no one was with him - יהוה says "I will leave ...." - Elijah may be the only one true, but יהוה would raise up a remnant, in the future 7,000, a perfect number who kept themselves from idolatry. Elijah felt as if he had laboured in vain but perhaps his witness, the drought, the contest on Carmel, the fire, the rain, the persecution by Jezebel, the judgment by Hazael, Jehu and Elisha - perhaps these things would trigger some to see the error of idolatry and the truth and reality of יהוה and so 7,00 would yet keep themselves pure and follow Him. There would be the Elijah’s and Jehu’s in the nation. Elijah’s labour had not been in vain after all, it is just that the fruit was not evident yet (cf. Isaiah 49:4; Gal 6:9) (1 Cor 15:58).
Principle of remnant in Judgment - As it was in the days of Noah
- first mention Genesis 45:7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance
- Noah, Sodom, Exile
Luke 17:26-34 And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.
2 Kings 19:30,31 The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward.
For out of Jerusalem will go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the Lord will perform this.
Remnant in OT - Israel
- Remnant from Israel saved Deuteronomy 4:27 The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord drives you.
Romans 9:27-29 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” And just as Isaiah foretold, “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, We would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”
Romans 11:1-10 God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened; just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, Eyes to see not and ears to hear not, Down to this very day.” “Let their eyes be darkened to see not, And bend their backs forever.”
Isaiah 7:3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field, - Isaiah named his son “a remnant shall return” - return to the land but also return to God
Isaiah 10:21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God
Isaiah 11:11,12,16 Then it will happen on that day that the Lord will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain, from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant of His people who will be left, just as there was for Israel in the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt. - quoted in Rom 15:12 this implies not return from Babylon or Assyria but a return in the Messianic age
Micah 4:7 “I will make the lame a remnant and the outcasts a strong nation, and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from now on and forever.
Micah 5:7,8 Then the remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on vegetation
which do not wait for man or delay for the sons of men. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, among many peoples like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
Micah 7:18 Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love.
- though the nation of Israel is rebellious and deserving wrath - they will be judged but a remnant will be pardoned because of God’s unfailing love.
- blessing for the remnant Jeremiah 50:20 In those days and at that time,’ declares the Lord, ‘search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.’
Jeremiah 23:3 Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply.
Jeremiah 31:7 For thus says the Lord, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O Lord, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.’
Zechariah 8:6,7 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the Lord of hosts. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west;But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,’ declares the Lord of hosts. For there will be peace for the seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things.
Zechariah 14:2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the remnant of the people will not be cut off from the city.
Zechariah 12:10,14 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves.- refers to 2nd coming as quoted in Matt 24:30 and Rev 1:7
The elect NT - In the NT the term "the elect" is used instead of the OT term "the remnant". NT The elect. The only times the word "remnant" occurs in the NT are referring to the nation of Israel – ? is principle of remnant saved in time of judgement in the NT
Acts 15:17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name, - links remnant and the elect, those who the Lord calls. In the NT the remnant are called the "called" the "elect". Rom 11:5 "a remnant according to God’s gracious choice." The chosen, called, elect – that is the true church "ἐκκλησια". Again the idea comes through that only a few will be saved.
Luke 13:23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”
Matt 24 Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. - There are the chosen – but they are a few out of the many.
Luke 18:7 now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”
Rom 8:33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
Election is by grace alone – chosen, that's God's part, gracious choice. Make sure of our election is our part – our response, not bowing the knee to Baal 2 Peter 1:3-11 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
- the elect are by God's gracious choice but we have our part to play – to make sure of His election – so that on that day we are found amongst the faithful few.