Since God has had a people, His keenest focus has been on a unique group, who might be described as a remnant. These are those who have been forerunners, who in discerning and embracing God’s heart and priorities, have set the standard for others to follow. Indeed, scripture indicates that God’s eyes roam to and fro through the entire earth to find those whose hearts are loyal to Him (2 Ch 16:9). The Complete Jewish Bible translates the key part of this passage with: “whose hearts are wholeheartedly toward the Lord.” The Tree of Life Version renders it with: “whose heart keeps covenant with Him.”
Deuteronomy 12 and 13 contain a most interesting insight into defining this remnant, the standard-bearers; the ones whose hearts are wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord.
“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared follow their ways by inquiring about their spiritual customs and gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. Then if a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises from among them and gives you a sign or a wonder and he says, ‘Let us follow their ways, ’you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams.’” Deut 12:30, 32; 13:1-3
This sequence in Deuteronomy points to the single-mindedness mirrored by the purity of soul of those discerning and proactively seeking God. It is a warning about the matters that can result when deception is operating and hearing from God can be subjected to fine-line spiritual defilements from subtle cultural customs of those conquered. Among the old covenant heroes of faith there are few who upheld a higher standard and heard from God more clearly than Elijah.
The Fine Line of Obedience
Elijah’s assignment was during an extremely intense and volatile season of change, one actuated largely by Elijah’s obedience. Despite the implications of the admonition “to take care not to be ensnared in following their customs,” the Lord sent Elijah to a Gentile widow in Zarephath, to provide for him during the famine.
So, the warning in Deuteronomy is not a wholesale rejection of non-Jewish culture, but rather the maintenance of the undefiled influence of the Holy Spirit and God’s word of Truth. Clearly the widow acknowledged and obeyed the Lord’s guidance, as the Lord indicated to Elijah that He had instructed her to provide for Elijah.
Taking care not to be ensnared in following their religious customs and practices implies being on the offensive, not the defensive. When resolute and not dabbling or playing cultural oneupsmanship games, that means the Lord can be expected to be our defense.
Following what most consider his greatest exploit in calling down the fire on the pagan prophets of Baal and Asherah, Elijah became subject to the fine line of what this warning in Deuteronomy points to. It came at a time when Elijah’s spiritual resources had been depleted. However, he was aware of this influence.
And no wonder; not withstanding the fire released from heaven at his word, what came next was Elijah administering God’s judgment in executing the crème de la crème of Jezebel’s minions. Yet beyond the impact of Jezebel’s dire threat when Ahab filled her in on what had happened, Elijah’s response was not to grapple in a face-off with his evil counterpart, but to return to His key place of solace with the Lord, to be refreshed and restored. On the way, God supernaturally intervened to strengthen him, as he continued down this volatile corridor between life and death, pulling out the stops of the foundations that came while engaged in his unusual spiritual encounter in the cave.
During that encounter, what was weighing heavily on his heart was a false presumption, which he made known to the Lord … that he was the only one left in upholding God’s standard. A presumption that was not even close to reality. Despite this disparity, Elijah’s retreat to the cave points to the need we have in this hour to carefully guard ourselves from the subtleties of presumption, jumping to conclusions and unduly relying on or being influenced by consensus, our past exploits or the need to be caught in a defensive game.
This humility and retreat to the cave proved to be the very position and mind-set Elijah needed to make the needed transition into the increasingly very strategic role that the Lord had for him in the upcoming season.
Behold, the eyes of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. (ESV) Psalms 33:18-19
During this time in the cave, Elijah experienced the key dimensions of God’s power and presence needed to replenish him …with the wind, the earthquake and the fire … and then that still small voice with the clear guidance to strategically embrace God’s priorities following his passage through this most dramatic change of seasons.
Understanding the Times in the Days of Elijah
The operation of God’s continual search for this unblemished loyalty has long had a bearing on the adjustments needed for the household of faith during changing seasons. This point was of major significance during the days of Elijah.
To better draw insight into the season now emerging, it is instructive to better understand the context of both the days of and what drove Elijah to do the exploits that resulted in his transition from this life … without experiencing death.
Years prior, it had been the basis of God’s intent of restoration for the House of Israel, which had separated from the House of Judah because of the harsh conditions that had followed the reign of Solomon. In doing so, the House of Israel began digressing from the tenets of the Mosaic covenant. At the foundations for its kings was the instruction in Deuteronomy 17:18, 19: “The one who sits on the throne as king, must copy for himself these instructions (the Torah) in the presence of the priests. He must always keep this copy of the Torah with him and read it daily as long as he lives … this will prevent him from falling away from God’s word in the smallest way.”
Together with ignoring the warning of Deut 12 and 13 about blending their religious practices with those of the cultures they lived with, the generations leading to that of Ahab lost their focus and direction from the Lord, along with the Lord’s protection due to their deviations from these vital conditions outlined in the Mosaic covenant.
Which brings us to the driving force in the spirit of Elijah. No doubt it had its foundation in keenly understanding and fervently upholding these basic tenets of the covenant in Deuteronomy 12, 13 and 17. Much later, in raising the bar even higher for those who would reach to be leaders, Jesus made it clear that this higher standard incorporated the balance that would come by responding with Spirit and Truth … with the operation of the Holy Spirit that was sent following His resurrection. Elijah distinctly understood these truths which triggered the clarity with which he heard the Lord … leading to the unique standard he upheld in his oneness with and obedience in his walk with the Lord.
Elijah’s steadfast obedience to God actuated the seasonal change required from the impact due to Ahab’s weak leadership under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel. Elijah’s life was marked by him walking a narrow path that few in the history of God’s people, have truly completed: the harrowing corridor between life and death.
Changing Seasons, the Narrow Corridor and the Eyes of the Lord
Simultaneously, Elijah knew his limitations and when to return to his place of spiritual replenishment. Again and again, at the Lord’s instruction he participated in face-offs with death.
These encounters included his exchanges with Ahab, king of Israel … and then that most dramatic encounter with those representing Jezebel’s best … then later with the captains of the fifties, further punctuating the dynamic of the eyes of the Lord in their search for the resolutely loyal, which had followed when Elijah sent a word of judgment to Ahaziah, son of Jezebel and king of Samaria, whose leadership was further undermining the foundations that Elijah’s assignment was restoring.
“Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria, and was injured; so he sent messengers to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether he would recover from this injury. But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah, ‘Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’” 2 Kings 1:2-3
John the Revelator made frequent reference to the Seven Spirits of God. They are associated with the throne of God and the Lamb of God; with ties to the seven stars which signify the angels of the seven churches of Asia. In their association with the Lamb, they are being sent out into all the earth … with it safe to say that their task is consistent with the previous references to the eyes of the Lord: of being alert to the role being served by the truly uncompromisingly loyal.
Not unlike Elijah’s encounter with God in the cave, John described what he saw in his view of heaven in the future and the throne of God with these words.
“From the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Rev 4:5
So, in the glimpse of the resurrected Jesus that followed, He was endued with the seven Spirits of God conforming to the eyes of the Lord sent out into all the earth (Rev 5:6).
Peter understood this dynamic about the eyes of the Lord being focused on the righteous and their response of the path chosen in being mirrors of His priorities; with the result being the Lord’s attentiveness to their prayers, offering a unique dimension of divine protection.
“For Adonai keeps his eyes on the righteous and his ears open to their prayers, with His face against those who provoke evil.” 1 Peter 3:12
This divine dimension of the seven Spirits of God searching for this loyalty reveals the significance as well as the standard represented for those who, as a remnant of leaders, become carriers in activating the priorities of God’s heart.
Discerning the Raised Standard
The standard for leaders has always been higher, yet in this season now upon us, the bar has been raised from what it has been in this last generation. It has been raised, because the assignments and the associated challenges have become greater. It is a wakeup call to the significance of the preparation for the strategic assignments at hand.
Deuteronomy 30 has long been pivotal for God’s people and those leading God’s people.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life that you and your descendents may live, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and the length of your days…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Paul had much to say about the role of believers in this narrow corridor between life and death. He indicated to the Romans that it was a fine line that carnal thinking could defile, resulting in premature judgment being brought upon a believer.
“Having one’s mind controlled by the old nature leads to death, but having one’s mind controlled by the Spirit is to life and peace.” Rom 8:6
He further explained that in the practice of abiding in Him, it would result in the law of the Spirit of Life through Jesus setting us free from the law of sin and death. The most significant mark comprising the power of God and Elijah’s game-changing impact was in his abiding in a place in God where death not only was unable to touch him, but was subject to his authority. We’ve entered a season, not unlike the days of Elijah, requiring a remnant with spirits willing to transcend the traditions and precepts of men to fully embrace the cost of being ministers of Spirit and Truth in the face of death.
In conclusion, another sequence of scripture describing the eyes of the Lord searching for ones with undivided hearts toward Him, offers a vital glimmer into the dynamic that has consistently operated for this remnant. It notes the standard and obedience begins small, yet the very essence of the seed of this loyalty actuates such joy to the Lord’s heart, that it will bring the substance and faith that moves mountains. For it is not by might nor by power, but by His Spirit, according to the word of the Lord of Hosts.
“For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven [Spirits of God] rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They [the seven Spirits of God] are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro through the whole earth.” Zech 4:10
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick equips economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
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