I blush as I look back on how young and naïve we once were! Although we had only been married a few years and our financial stability was, at best, precarious, we were weary of rental homes and desired to set down permanent roots…in a home of our own. We quickly discovered that staying within our budget guidelines, relying on our limited house-buying skills, and finding a livable abode all at the same time was not going to be an easy task. But thankfully we could rely on a knowledgeable father-in-law to arrive on the scene, take out his pocket pen knife, and check out the foundation of our latest real estate gem, because as he was quick to remind us, if you have a good foundation, everything else can be fixed.
I have been pondering foundations quite a bit lately. The world in which I was birthed has dramatically changed since the days of my childhood, the foundations have been violently shaken and eroded. Gone are the days of the simple humor shared between Andy and Barney in that small town of Mayberry, or of the wholesome, dignified lives of the Cleaver, Ingalls, or Walton families. Modesty, morals and ethics are old-fashioned; language filters and dignified dialog are all but non-existent. The value and wonder of life has been lessoned, and any allegiance to God, mocked. A country that had established herself on fundamentals set forth in the Bible has blatantly turned her back on those founding tenets. In desperation, I yearn to join the sweet psalmist, lift my eyes toward Heaven, and lament, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” But God has been gently turning my attention to examples set forth for me in His Word, and one such example is the prophet Elijah. Elijah was a man of like passions as I, a man who had to learn to handle his ups and downs, his fears, his frustrations, and his discouragements. Through his example, perhaps I too can learn how to face the rigors of the crumbling foundations so evident in the world in which I find myself.
In the days in which Elijah lived and ministered, the foundations of Israel had decayed and eroded. Idolatry had subtlety invaded the kingdom, and with the rise of King Ahab, the northern kingdom had reached an all-time spiritual low. This weak king allowed his wicked wife, Jezebel, to introduce the worship of Baal, a Canaanite deity, into the nation’s mainstream. Her ultimate goal was to stamp out the knowledge of the true God of Israel from the national conscience, for Baal could not co-exist with Yahweh. Baal worship included the offering of incense, burnt offerings, human sacrifices (including the slaughter of children), and licentious sexual activity. The moral character had decayed to such a degree under Ahab’s rule that God recorded this dark condemnation for all to read: “and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”
The spiritual battle Elijah faced was not an easy one, and as a result, God’s prophet traveled through the valley of depression, fear, and self-pity on occasion. Elijah felt isolated at times, fearing that he alone was left to engage and to challenge the wickedness surrounding him. But God gently reminded him that he was not alone, that God had “seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal,” and with that infusion of hope, Elijah boldly continued his battle against the forces of evil. He ran his race faithfully, proclaiming the light of God to a dark world until the Master of the universe swept him home in a whirlwind.
Withdrawing is not a course of action for the believer; succumbing to bitterness, anger, or depression serves little purpose for a soldier of the cross; becoming diseased in our attitude is not an option for the child of God, even in the face of the unbridled, godless humanism that presses in on us from all sides. We serve a sovereign God, and be assured that “The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven.” He rules every aspect of our universe, not indifferently, but ultimately working out His purpose and plan for this world that He created. He has charged us with the task of being lights in that world, and we will shine the brightest when our surroundings are the darkest. The foundation of our society may be shaken, but for the born-again believer, our foundation is firmly set upon the Rock, “which is Jesus Christ.” Jesus exhortation to His disciples in the face of opposition is timely for us today, for we too need to have our “loins girded about, and (our) lights burning.”
So shake off your apprehensions, lean upon your joy in the Lord, rest in His sovereignty, fight the good fight, and rejoice in the victory that will one day be ours. I’m encouraged as I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite southern Gospel lyricist: I read the back of the Book…and we win!
Psalm 11:3-4 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.
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