It is imperative that every child of God should know the fundamental principles of Christian service. One could mention many portions of the Word of God to show these principles of service, but for practical purposes and an illustration of highest magnitude we shall consider the prophet in 1 Kings 18. In this passage we are introduced to Elijah the Tishbite, who, while engaged in the work of the Most High, manifested in a very spectacular manner both spiritual power and humility. Let us consider these spiritual qualifications as they are seen in the prophet.
The Power of Elijah:
Retrogression like a canker had set in throughout all Israel. The king, Ahab, had repudiated the commandments of the Lord (v. 18). He had also adopted and was perpetrating the prefidious doctrine of Baal. Elijah saw the nation halting between two opinions (v. 21), so, at the risk of his own life, he called the king, the people, and the prophets of Baal, to a contest on Mount Carmel, in order that once and for all it might be fully demonstrated “The Lord He is God” (V. 39).
The contest was staged and the prophets of Baal were definitely and shamefully defeated. This resulted in a tremendous humiliation of the king in the eyes of Israel. Elijah the man of power won the day for his God, and was the means of turning this indecisive people from a wavering policy to a fixed purpose, for they unitedly and triumphantly acclaimed “The Lord, He is God” (v. 39).
The Humility of Elijah:
Without a doubt the defeat and the destruction of the prophets of Baal caused the people to recognize Elijah as a man of power. They also saw the shame and the confusion of their idolatrous king, and in their minds they naturally would question his lordship and authority. Elijah, with high hopes that the king would foresake his idols and his wickedness, and honour the only true God, immediately sought to restore governmental power into the hands of Ahab, and to place him again in the position of absolute monarch. This he endeavoured to accomplish by doing the humble and menial act of running as a courier before the king from Mount Carmel to the entrance of Jezreel.
In the East this was an ancient custom and it was invariably done by a man of inferior station. He was employed in this capacity to announce the approach of the royal chariot. When we consider the age, character, and office of Elijah, it would appear to be an extraordinary and almost ludicrous undertaking. Nevertheless, Elijah, the man of power, became the man of humility so that the king might regain authority over his people.
For approximately 12 miles this aged veteran with his loins girded ran before the king. What an effect this must have had upon Israel! Under ordinary circumstances this would have been impossible owing to Elijah’s years, but he was strengthened for the occasion like every servant of Jehovah because the hand of the Lord was upon him.
Surely this narrative, illustrates that divine service demands men and women of power and of humility who are willing to jeopardize their lives in order that godliness and liberty prevail.