‘Because the journey is too great for thee’
Dennis S. Parrack, Bognor Regis, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
1 Kgs. 19. 7.
Elijah’s journey was a divine provision
The words spoken to Elijah by the angel were not meant as a rebuke for him being on the journey to start with. Because he was running away we might think that in his case one was due. The opening word, ‘because’, shows clearly that the divine intention was to make a provision for His servant the prophet that he might be able to take this journey. Elijah, using his own resources was in no way capable of continuing, or completing his journey. God saw and knew this and that’s why He sent the angel. It would be something that Elijah could do only with God’s help.
Our spiritual lives can be seen as a journey, long or short, for which we need help
Believers too are on a journey; it commenced when they first trusted the Lord Jesus who brought them on to ‘the way which leadeth unto life’. As He also warned, that way is a ‘narrow way’, Matt. 7. 14, and we too need to be assured that sufficient resources have been made available for the whole of that journey however long or protracted it may be.
For some believers it might be short. Think of Stephen, who though his Christian life was long enough for him to be recognized as ‘a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit’, Acts 6. 5, as the first recorded Christian martyr, found himself at what must have been a comparatively young age, and certainly a short life as a believer, being welcomed into heaven by the risen Lord Jesus, Acts 7. 55-60. For Paul, on the other hand, it was only at the end of a long life of dedicated service, concerning which he could say honestly, ‘I have fought a good fight . . . finished my course . . . kept the faith’, that he recognized, ‘the time of my departure is at hand’, 2 Tim. 4. 6, 7.
However much we may want it we do not have a personal choice in this matter. Of David it was said that, when he ‘had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep’, Acts 13. 36 NIV. Whether our own journey is long or short depends on God’s purpose for us. What we should be aiming for is to deserve those coveted words, ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord’, Matt. 25. 21-23. But, as with Elijah, we cannot take the journey in our own strength. So remembering that ‘whatsoever things were written aforetimes were written for our learning’, let us now look at the provision God made for Elijah and see how closely we can equate it with any such provision made for us.
What Elijah found when he responded to the invitation
He was invited to, ‘Arise and eat’. It was just ‘a cake baken on the coals’, vv. 5, 6. God was going to provide sustaining food for His servant. Well, that might not seem much, not at least until we take into account that the whole surrounding area was in a famine situation. Remember how the widow in Zarephath, who was in such distress on account of the lack of food that she quite accepted that her next frugal meal would be the last for both her and her son, 1 Kgs. 7. 12. Remember too that Elijah was in a wilderness, v. 4, and that is not the kind of environment where an abundance of food is to be expected.
Implications of being fed with spiritual food
How about us then, for we too are, as believers, in a wilderness situation and are not going to get anything to satisfy our inner and spiritual hunger from this world, however attractively packaged things may be? But with our God there is always provision. There had been a time, again in a wilderness, when God ‘had rained down manna’ on the Israelites and ‘man did eat angels’ food’, Ps. 78. 24, 25. That supply was kept up right until they reached the Promised Land where it was no longer required. This affords for us just a picture, and we know that the reality is always greater than the picture used to portray it. The Lord Jesus said, ‘Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world’. He went on, ‘I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger’, John. 6. 32-35. Now, that surely is a clear and unambiguous promise that He will constantly supply our spiritual hunger with food to satisfy it.
‘Ah yes’, you may say, ‘but I am still conscious of a continuing hunger, so does that evidence a lack of faith on my part?’ Not at all, because our needs are ongoing and just as the Israelites had to collect manna for themselves every day, except for the Sabbath, so we need to find fresh sustenance from the full provision available to us on a constantly recurring basis. It is of that ongoing need and its fulfillment that we are encouragingly told, ‘Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled’, Matt. 5. 6.
But how do I get to feed on this provision?
By what means then is this spiritual food made available to us? We truly believe that it can come only through, and because of, the Lord Jesus, but we still need to know how, in practical terms, we can share in and benefit from what has been so fully provided.
When God wanted to emphasize the reality of famine, He spoke of breaking ‘the whole staff of bread’, Ps. 105. 16, so showing man’s utter dependency on food for his physical existence. The Lord Jesus was referring to things way above physical existence when He said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’, Matt. 4. 4. He was quoting from Deuteronomy chapter 8 verse 3, so, feeding on what God says is not a new concept introduced for New Testament believers. It is what God always wanted and intended and made available for His people of all dispensations. The food that is there for us is in God’s word and we need to feed upon it by reading and meditating every day.
I hear what you say, ‘But it doesn’t work for me’
Accepting all of that though, do you find at times, just as the Preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes found, that ‘much study is a weariness of the flesh’? Eccles. 12. 12. Do you sometimes read the scriptures without feeling that you are getting very much benefit from them? How can we deal with such problems, especially if our memory is a little slow and we can’t concentrate well?
First of all, talk to God about it and ask Him to speak, not just to your mind but to your heart. One promise given by the Lord Jesus is, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you’, then, to show the outworking of that promise and how it is based on God’s love and consideration, He continues, ‘What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will give him a stone . . . if ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things (e.g., sustaining bread rather than a burdensome stone) to them that ask him?’, Matt. 7. 7-11.
We are not just dependent upon what we can get for ourselves
But even then we all at times feel the need for help in finding just the right spiritual food; what then? Remember that crowd of ‘about 5000 men beside women and children’, who were not capable of finding food for themselves. When the disciples pointed out the need they were told, ‘give ye them to eat’, but they could only muster ‘five loaves and two fishes’. Nevertheless, when they had first given this little to the Lord Jesus for His blessing, He ‘gave the loaves to his disciples and the disciples to the multitudes’. So the disciples were still the channel of giving and that command ‘give ye them to eat’ was effectively carried out.
We need to be concerned with giving to others as well as getting from others
That is a challenge to those equipped with spiritual gifts to cultivate them and to share the benefits with their fellow believers. That is how Paul saw things, especially as regards those evidently unable to assimilate the whole range of spiritual food, 1 Cor. 3. 2. The inability to digest the meat, for whatever reason, made the milk even more essential. Take pains to discover the needs of your hearers and their ability to take in what you say. Respond to the probably unvoiced plea, ‘feed me with food convenient’, by considering your older, as well as your younger, listeners or readers, Prov. 30. 8.
In the end the issue is one of complete dependence on the Lord
So, whatever your age or however long your personal journey through this life may be, just as for Elijah, there are more than ample supplies to see you right through to the very point at which you are aiming. We have God’s firm and unshakeable promise that ‘even to your old age I am HE’, Isa. 46. 4. The capitals are deliberate because what we have here is really a divine name or title. The same word in Psalm 102 verse 27 is translated in the New Testament as ‘Thou art the SAME and thy years shall not fail’, Heb. 1. 12. JND. This quote comes in the middle of a whole section where the primary purpose of the writer is to demonstrate from scripture exactly who the Lord Jesus is, including, ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever’, the constant and unchanging one.
So, since He is the one ‘with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning’, Jas. 1. 17, we can confidently rely on the assurance given ‘that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’, Phil. 1. 6. Isaiah goes on with God’s promise, ‘even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you’, Isa. 46. 4. That surely is ‘grace upon grace’..
Grace taught my wandering feet
To tread the heavenly road,
And new supplies each hour I meet
While pressing on to God.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Dennis Parrack is a valued and regular contributor to Precious Seed and to other U.K. assembly magazines. After spending most of his working life in Cambridge he did two masters’ degrees, one researching Müller‘s Homes of Bristol.