Hope is on the Way
(Bro. Greg Misko Sr.- North Industry)

HOPE IS ON THE WAY   
8-22-04

As I was preparing my exhortation I had difficulty
trying to figure out what I should title it. As I
passed the family room I heard a speaker introduce
John Edwards on the T.V.  He was being nominated for
Vice President. I stopped for a few minutes to listen
to what he had to say. During his speech he kept
reemphasizing that “Hope is on the way. ”
A little common sense tells us that man can not bring
hope to a world that is spinning out of control.
As the psalmist wrote; “Put not your trust in princes,
nor in the son of man , in whom there is no help.”
 Could there be more fitting words than these that
would fit the days of Elijah in our reading this
morning?
 I had my title.
 
Elijah was commissioned by the LORD to present to the
men of his age as to who they would serve.  Yahweh  or
Baal, the choice would be theirs.
  WITH the enthronement of Ahab and Jezebel, We find
Israel in a very serious dilemma. The existence of two
religions that could not co-exist together.
 It was Jezebel’s desire to make the worship of Baal
the  state-religion.  There were many attempts to
exterminate  the prophets and followers of the LORD,
the apostasy of Israel had reached its zenith.
Indeed, the land was now ripe for God’s judgment.
There is a similarity between the days of Noah and
those of Ahab.

We see the long suffering of God in both cases. As
Noah was then the preacher of righteousness, he had
raised his voice of warning, while giving evidence of
the coming destruction.
 The difference between Noah and Elijah was only that
of times and circumstances, the one was before, the
other after the giving of the Law.
The one was sent into an apostate world, the other to
an apostatizing covenant-people. But there is also
another aspect of the matter. On the one side there
was Ahab, Jezebel, Baal, and Israel - on the other
stood Yahweh. It was a question of reality and of
power, and Elijah , who was  the embodiment of the
Divine Power, the Minister of the Living and True God.
 As Christ was in his day.
 Reading v1 of Kings 17;

“As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I
stand;” there shall not be dew nor rain these years,
but according to my word.”
  Elijah, whose name means “ My God is Yahweh,”
swears by the living God, being in his presence, and
to whom he appeals as the all knowing God, whose
minister and prophet he was, and in whose name he came
and spoke, and to whom he prayed;
  The prophet gives a formal , solemn oath and also a
beautiful declaration when he says “ before whom I
stand”.
                                                    

Elijah who stood unafraid before the king of Israel,
unannounced and uninvited, could do so because he
stood before One whose glory, majesty, and power were
infinitely greater than Ahab’s.

  Elijah announces to the King that a drought was
coming on the Northern kingdom, and it would be
immediately , resulting in famine:

  “ There shall not be dew nor rain these years but
according to my word.”

 We find that these words are in accordance with the
covenant of Sinai under which Israel occupied the
land.


The blessings the nation received at the hand of God
was dependant on their obedience to the will of God
that was stated and manifested in the Law of Moses.
 
It is written in LEV. 26:3,4; “ If he walk in my
statutes and keep my commandments and do them; Then I
will give you rain in due season, and the land shall
yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall
yield their fruit.

On the other hand , if the nation rebelled against the
commandments of God then the rain would be withheld.

 “ And I will break the pride of your power; and I
will make your heaven as iron , and your earth as
brass;  And your strength shall be spent in vain ; for
your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall
the trees of the land yield their fruits.”
LEV.26:19,20.

Elijah’s words came to pass. No rain could be felt in
all the land and the dew that watered the ground each
morning was withheld by the hand of God.
James writes in chapter 5:17   “ Elias was a man
subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed
earnestly that it might not
 rain :  and it rained not on the earth by the space
of three years and six months.”

Elijah’s prayer was answered by God, and the rain was
suspended at his request. This was God’s way of
chastising the children of Israel in the day’s of the
prophet.
  Just as Elijah prayed for the rain to be suspended,
 we should also pray that the land and people will
once again rejoice before THE LORD.

We should be praying for a new heaven and a new earth
and all that has gone before.
 We should be praying for the day when there will be
an end to the suffering, wars, famine , and death that
men endure.  At that time Jerusalem will be a place of
rejoicing and her people a joy.
 
 It is important to look beyond the natural rain and
look at the rain and dew in symbolic terms. The dew
and the rain point to God’s refreshing doctrine.
 
In Deut. 32:2 we read, “ My doctrine shall drop as the
rain , my speech shall distill as the dew , as the
small rain upon the tender herb, and as showers upon
the grass:”

  If the natural rain causes crops to bring forth life
giving food , then doesn’t it stand to reason that we
should bring forth fruits of righteousness in response
to the Word of God?

  Isaiah writes in ch 55:8-11;  “ For my thoughts are
not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,
saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth , so are
my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than
your thoughts.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven,
and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth ,
and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give
seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,  but it shall
accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper
in the thing where to I sent it.”

  It will be the influence of Jesus as the “latter
rain” to revive the earth by his authority and he will
cause the earth to bring forth fruit to the glory of
God.

 Turning to Ps 72:5,6 we read “  He shall come down
like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water
the earth.”

 We ask what part the gentle dew plays in the life of
the believer?
  If we apply our hearts to God’s Word and allow it to
settle there, then there is a persuasiveness and
gentleness that settles within us.

Israel’s punishment for apostasy  was being fulfilled
in the days of Ahab.    God would not allow it to
rain.

It is written in Deut. 11:17  “ the LORD’S wrath be
kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven , that
there be no rain, and that the land yield not her
fruit;”

 
Elijah’s story conveys in-depth meaning towards the
purpose of God with His people. In REV.ch. 11 .
 Just as the rain was withheld in the days of Ahab ,
John writes about the way that God’s blessings would
be denied the earth because of the curse of Roman
apostasy.
 In verse 4 of Rev. ch. 11 it says of God’s two
witnesses that are standing before “ the god of all
the earth.”
 This system opposed the true word of God and his two
witnesses He gave them the authority to  “ shut
heaven”.

V6 reads, “ These have power to shut heaven , that it
rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power
over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the
earth with all plagues, as often as they will.”

This shutting up of heaven was accomplished by denying
the power of God’s testimony from those who would not
hear it.
Therefore God’s blessings would not come upon them, of
which the rain was but a representation. This would
have continued for a period of 42 months.
 
 Looking back at verse 2 this period of 42 months was
actually a period of three and a half years.
 The same period that the rain was denied from the
apostate system in Israel by the word of Elijah.


It is also note worthy that this was exactly the
period of Jesus ministry.
Isaiah comments in ch 53:2 concerning Christ;

“ For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground: “
What greater blessing could men receive than the Son
of God who “ came down from heaven” bringing blessings
to those that would allow him to saturate their hearts
with his teaching.

There is also something else to consider here.   Not
only would rain come according to the word but the
presence of Elijah would be equated with the sending
of rain.
 Here was a man that God would channel His purpose
through that the doctrine of God manifestation can be
clearly seen.
If there were no Elijah, then there would be no rain.
 
In verse 3 Elijah was commanded by God to travel east
and hide by the river Cherith, a tributary of the
Jordan  whose name means “ cut off”, ‘separation” .
Elijah was directed to a place where he could be free
from the chastisement that the apostate nation would
experience for their rebellion.
It was here at the river Cherith that the prophet
could take advantage of the pure cool refreshing
water.

In addition, the raven brought Elijah bread and flesh
to eat.
How unusual was this, the raven, according to the law,
was an unclean bird and considered an abomination by
Israel.

‘And these ye shall have in abomination among the
fowls: the vulture, and the kite after his kind; Every
raven after his kind;”

Surely the lesson for Israel and us is not to partake
of the unclean characteristics of those animals that
were scavengers.
God asks Job; “ Who provideth for the raven his food?
when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack
of meat” Job 38:40,41.

Is there not a lesson in humility here?
  The ravens were completely dependent upon God
because they had difficulty  finding  food.
 Day after day they would feed Elijah and thus the
lesson of humility he would quickly learn.
Eating the unclean food parallels to Peter's  strong
feelings against the Gentiles being called to the
Gospel of God.  Elijah had to learn that whatever God
had cleansed, they were not to call it unclean.

As the drought continued the brook dried up leaving
Elijah wondering where he would find food so that he
would continue to live.
 The “ word of Yahweh came unto him saying,”
that he should go to Zarephath which belongeth to
Zidon  and dwell there,

“behold I have commanded a widow woman there to
sustain thee. “
This I don’t think would have been Elijah’s first
choice , or second , or third to hide from the
ruthless Jezebel. This was the land that she grew up
in and lived a good part of her life. The LORD  had
brought him to the land that her father ruled over.
 God had a reason and there would be those who would
come to understand and believe the Word of God even in
the land where Jezebel walked that “ hope is on the
way.
Elijah would have to draw on all his faith and
courage. He had been obedient to God up to this point
and he lacked nothing.
He was like the raven, as we are , completely
dependent upon our LORD for all things.

Hope was on the way to a widow women and her son as
well as those who would show great faith.
Zidon means “catching fish’ and immediately we
remember the words of Jesus when he says to Peter;
“Fear not ; from hence forth thou shalt  catch men.”
This is what Elijah was doing in Zidon.
 
Elijah’s walked about a 100 miles from the Jordon to
Zarephath.
When he arrived at the city gate he meets and talks to
a woman who was picking up two sticks which shows the
misery of her situation.

She certainly was not ready nor was she preparing to
greet Elijah , she had no clue who he was.
 God had given her a command that seems to have been
imprinted in her mind by divine will.


The effects of the drought reveals how precious food
and water were.
And yet without hesitation she gives water to a
stranger that she has met for the first time.
 Here is a woman that has great compassion and
kindness for her fellowman. ”love your neighbor as
yourself.”

How many of us would have responded with such
generosity!   She and her son shared with this
stranger.  But under the circumstances death was at
the door in her mind.

Who was this woman ?
 Was she a gentile woman who had  some knowledge of
Israel’s God. Or perhaps we see a similarity  to
Naomi’s life ,or even this woman was a daughter of
Isarel  and married away from the faith.
Who ever she was She says; “As Yahweh thy God liveth.”

There are two truths that she acknowledges in these
words. First “thy God” , she recognized that Elijah is
a prophet of God. Probably from the way he was
dressed.

The second “God liveth”, she believed that there was
only one God and all others were” the work of men's
hands.”

This woman’s faith was manifested in the words she
spoke,
Jesus spoke of this woman’s remarkable faith in Luke
4:26;

“But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto
Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a
widow.”

She was blessed throughout the famine with an
inexhaustible supply of food.
Because she believed the prophet when he said that “
the barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the
curse of oil fail.”
The people of Nazareth should have believed the Son of
God. As the widow woman believed Elijah.

 As she walked toward her home, she says to Elijah
that all she has left is a “ handful of meal.
What is so interesting here is the “handful meal.”
This was the portion that was given to Yahweh of the
meal offering given to the priest , which he burnt on
the altar.

Reading from Lev 2:2, concerning the meal offering,
“ He shall bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests: and
he shall take there out his “ handful” of the flour
thereof , and of the oil thereof, with all the
frankincense thereof;  and the priest shall burn the
memorial of it upon the altar, to  be an offering made
by fire , of a sweet savor unto Yahweh.”
Elijah’s words came to pass the meal and the oil
stayed and the widow’s faith met the demands that were
made upon her by Elijah. She had learned by her faith
to put God first, and his prophet. Just as we are to
put Christ first in our lives. He is God’s prophet,
high priest, and king.
 
Hope was on the way once more for the widow woman . An
even greater trial would test her faith, the death of
her only son.
  She cried out to Elijah .
 “ What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God?
art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance,
and to slay my son?”
 We surely can see the growing relationship that she
has with God because of her recognition of Elijah.
 It appears that she is held accountable for her sins
and her deep sense of humility which under these
trying circumstances was very commendable. We see this
same relationship when Peter thought it would be a
waste of time to cast his net into the sea again ,
they had caught nothing the first time, “nevertheless
at thy word I will let down the net,” he says to
Jesus.
After catching a great multitude of fishes, he falls
down before his Lord and  says,
 “ Depart from me; for I am a sinful man , O Lord”.


Like Peter we should never fail to acknowledge Jesus
as our master in every aspect of our life.
How are we going to be successful in our walk if we do
not surrender ourselves to our Lord?
 Jesus must have rejoiced,  Peter was learning the
lesson of discipleship and his confession of
unworthiness.
How much more will our Lord rejoice when we truly
comprehend the importance of discipleship. And make
confession of our own unworthiness.  Do we take the
time to look back and reflect on past sins as the
widow woman did?
And yet God was not critical of her.
 It would be the man of God  Not the servant of God as
she saw Elijah in v12 . It would not be by the power
of Elijah that would bring the widow’s son back to
life. In v21 When a prayer is  offered up by Elijah,
he says, “ O Yahweh, my God “
hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I
sojourn, by slaying her son?
“ He stretches himself three times, and cried to the
LORD , and said, O Yahweh my God , I pray thee, let
this child’s soul come into him again.”
God heard the prayer of Elijah and answered it
immediately.
 The child lived and he gave him back to his mother.
 We see the strength of this woman’s faith for she
says,
“ I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word
of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.”

Is our faith properly founded and well developed? If
so, we will  hold on to our convictions, even though
temporary setbacks may work against it.
 Faith is such a big subject, that it follows us every
step of our lives.
We have faith in God that He will perform all that has
been promised.
 The Apostle Paul lays down a principle in association
with the development of faith. He says,

“ Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of
God;”  ROM.10:17


I would like to tell a story of a woman who was a
doctor and how she appreciated music.
 She evidently possessed a natural capacity for
understanding good music, but her ear was quite
untrained and her love for the art had not been
developed.
 The truth was that, like the great majority of people
she had never really listened. 
 

There came a day when she attended a concert with no
expectation of anything more than a very fleeting and
superficial enjoyment. For some unknown reason her
attention was  captured , and for the first time in
her life she really listened to a great rhythmic tune.
It seemed to her that a magic door had been opened,
and she entered a new world of which she had no
previous knowledge, the world of rhythmic poetry.
 No doubt , others have had similar experience earlier
in life, while others will never experience it.
Some people probably lack the capacity to pass through
this doorway, but an even  greater majority fail to
reach it simply because they never try.


If people have the strong desire to make the attempt
at developing their faith, there is  one simple rule
that we must all follow.

 If we want to hear we must listen. We must listen not
merely with our ears, but with understanding also. If
we hear the symphony bar by bar, and we have understood
it, the complete work can be appreciated in our minds.
Let’s not listen to merely the momentary effect on our
ears, but also changing mode and its expression of
feeling and I am sure there is  more to a creative
piece than I can express with my very limited
knowledge of music.
 Any real lover of music will appreciate this
distinction between  the appreciation of a momentary
tuneful effect
and the apprehension of a complete and well-developed
work.
If we want to hear we must listen . The same rule
applies to our faith.
Faith comes through hearing the Word of God, and if we
want to hear we must listen.
Like the widow woman, faith may develop, rule our
actions, form our character, stimulate every virtue,
and finally by God’s grace make us fit for the
inheritance that has been promised.

The bread and wine remind us this morning of our faith
in our Heavenly Father .
 He will  at the appointed time send His Son, Jesus
the Christ , to establish His  kingdom with supreme
power to take the  government of the country into his
hands, and those He finds faithful will assist Him in
the work. Surely those who have believed in him even
in the day of weakness and have worked for him in his
absence. Those people will be those who have
understood his ideals, and have tried to keep
themselves fully informed as to his intentions.
Remember , Hope is on the way.
 




 



 

Greg Misko Sr. - North Industry


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