"What Doest Thou Here?"
retreat on Mount Horeb, though hidden from man, was known to God; and the
weary and discouraged prophet was not left to struggle alone with the
powers of darkness that were pressing upon him. At the entrance to the
cave wherein Elijah had taken refuge, God met with him, through a mighty
angel sent to inquire into his needs and to make plain the divine purpose
Elijah had learned to trust wholly in God could he complete his work for
those who had been seduced into Baal worship. The signal triumph on the
heights of Carmel had opened the way for still greater victories; yet from
the wonderful opportunities opening before him, Elijah had been turned
away by the threat of Jezebel. The man of God must be made to understand
the weakness of his present position as compared with the vantage ground
the Lord would have him occupy.
God met His
tried servant with the inquiry, "What doest thou here, Elijah? I sent
you to the brook Cherith and afterward to the widow of Sarepta. I
commissioned you to return to Israel and to stand before the idolatrous
priests on Carmel, and I girded you with strength to guide the chariot of
the king to the gate of Jezreel. But who sent you on this hasty flight
into the wilderness? What errand have you here?
of soul Elijah mourned out his complaint: "I have been very jealous
for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken Thy
covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword;
and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
the prophet to leave the cave, the angel bade him stand before the Lord on
the mount, and listen to His word. "And, behold, the Lord passed by,
and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the
rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the
wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the
earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a
still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped
his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the
Not in mighty
manifestations of divine power, but by "a still small voice,"
did God choose to reveal Himself to His servant. He desired to teach
Elijah that it is not always the work that makes the greatest
demonstration that is most successful in accomplishing His purpose. While
revelation of the Lord, a tempest rolled, the lightnings flashed, and a
devouring fire swept by; but God was not in all this. Then there came a
still, small voice, and the prophet covered his head before the presence
of the Lord. His petulance was silenced, his spirit softened and subdued.
He now knew that a quiet trust, a firm reliance on God, would ever find
for him a present help in time of need.
It is not
always the most learned presentation of God's truth that convicts and
converts the soul. Not by eloquence or logic are men's hearts reached, but
by the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit, which operate quietly yet
surely in transforming and developing character. It is the still, small
voice of the Spirit of God that has power to change the heart.
doest thou here, Elijah?" the voice inquired; and again the prophet
answered, "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts:
because the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down
Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only,
am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
answered Elijah that the wrongdoers in Israel should not go unpunished.
Men were to be especially chosen to fulfill the divine purpose in the
punishment of the idolatrous kingdom. There was stern work to be done,
that all might be given opportunity to take their position on the side of
the true God. Elijah himself was to return to Israel, and share with
others the burden of bringing about a reformation.
the Lord commanded Elijah, "return on thy way to the wilderness of
Damascus: and when thou comest,
to be king over Syria: and Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be
king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou
anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that
escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from
the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay."
thought that he alone in Israel was a worshiper of the true God. But He
who reads the hearts of all revealed to the prophet that there were many
others who, through the long years of apostasy, had remained true to Him.
"I have left Me," God said, "seven thousand in Israel, all
the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not
experience during those days of discouragement and apparent defeat there
are many lessons to be drawn, lessons invaluable to the servants of God in
this age, marked as it is by general departure from right. The apostasy
prevailing today is similar to that which in the prophet's day overspread
Israel. In the exaltation of the human above the divine, in the praise of
popular leaders, in the worship of mammon, and in the placing of the
teachings of science above the truths of revelation, multitudes today are
following after Baal. Doubt and unbelief are exercising their baleful
influence over mind and heart, and many are substituting for the oracles
of God the theories of men. It is publicly taught that we have reached a
time when human reason should be exalted above the teachings of the Word.
The law of God, the divine standard of righteousness, is declared to be of
no effect. The enemy of all truth
with deceptive power to cause men and women to place human institutions
where God should be, and to forget that which was ordained for the
happiness and salvation of mankind.
apostasy, widespread as it has come to be, is not universal. Not all in
the world are lawless and sinful; not all have taken sides with the enemy.
God has many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal, many who long
to understand more fully in regard to Christ and the law, many who are
hoping against hope that Jesus will come soon to end the reign of sin and
death. And there are many who have been worshiping Baal ignorantly, but
with whom the Spirit of God is still striving.
the personal help of those who have learned to know God and the power of
His word. In such a time as this, every child of God should be actively
engaged in helping others. As those who have an understanding of Bible
truth try to seek out the men and women who are longing for light, angels
of God will attend them. And where angels go, none need fear to move
forward. As a result of the faithful efforts of consecrated workers, many
will be turned from idolatry to the worship of the living God. Many will
cease to pay homage to man-made institutions and will take their stand
fearlessly on the side of God and His law.
on the unceasing activity of those who are true and loyal, and for this
reason Satan puts forth every possible effort to thwart the divine purpose
to be wrought out through the obedient. He causes some to lose
their high and holy mission, and to become satisfied with the pleasures of
this life. He leads them to settle down at ease, or, for the sake of
greater worldly advantages, to remove from places where they might be a
power for good. Others he causes to flee in discouragement from duty,
because of opposition or persecution. But all such are regarded by Heaven
with tenderest pity. To every child of God whose voice the enemy of souls
had succeeded in silencing, the question is addressed, "What doest
thou here?" I commissioned you to go into all the world and preach
the gospel, to prepare a people for the day of God. Why are you here? Who
The joy set
before Christ, the joy that sustained Him through sacrifice and suffering,
was the joy of seeing sinners saved. This should be the joy of every
follower of His, the spur to his ambition. Those who realize, even in a
limited degree, what redemption means to them and to their fellow men,
will comprehend in some measure the vast needs of humanity. Their hearts
will be moved to compassion as they see the moral and spiritual
destitution of thousands who are under the shadow of a terrible doom, in
comparison with which physical suffering fades into nothingness.
as of individuals, the question is asked, "What doest thou
here?" In many churches there are families well instructed in the
truths of God's word, who might widen the sphere of their influence by
moving to places in need of the ministry they are capable of giving. God
calls for Christian families to go into the dark places of the earth and
work wisely and perseveringly for those who are
spiritual gloom. To answer this call requires self-sacrifice. While many
are waiting to have every obstacle removed, souls are dying, without hope
and without God. For the sake of worldly advantage, for the sake of
acquiring scientific knowledge, men are willing to venture into
pestilential regions and to endure hardship and privation. Where are those
who are willing to do as much for the sake of telling others of the
trying circumstances, men of spiritual power, pressed beyond measure,
become discouraged and desponding, if at times they see nothing desirable
in life, that they should choose it, this is nothing strange or new. Let
all such remember that one of the mightiest of the prophets fled for his
life before the rage of an infuriated woman. A fugitive, weary and
travel-worn, bitter disappointment crushing his spirits, he asked that he
might die. But it was when hope was gone and his lifework seemed
threatened with defeat, that he learned one of the most precious lessons
of his life. In the hour of his greatest weakness he learned the need and
the possibility of trusting God under circumstances the most forbidding.
while spending their life energies in self-sacrificing labor, are tempted
to give way to despondency and distrust, may gather courage from the
experience of Elijah. God's watchful care, His love, His power, are
especially manifest in behalf of His servants whose zeal is misunderstood
or unappreciated, whose counsels and reproofs are slighted, and whose
efforts toward reform are repaid with hatred and opposition.
It is at the
time of greatest weakness that Satan assails the soul with the fiercest
temptations. It was thus that he hoped to prevail over the Son of God; for
by this policy he had gained many victories over man. When the will power
weakened and faith failed, then those who had stood long and valiantly for
the right yielded to temptation. Moses, wearied with forty years of
wandering and unbelief, lost for a moment his hold on Infinite Power. He
failed just on the borders of the Promised Land. So with Elijah. He who
had maintained his trust in Jehovah during the years of drought and
famine, he who had stood undaunted before Ahab, he who throughout that
trying day on Carmel had stood before the whole nation of Israel the sole
witness to the true God, in a moment of weariness allowed the fear of
death to overcome his faith in God.
And so it is
today. When we are encompassed with doubt, perplexed by circumstances, or
afflicted by poverty or distress, Satan seeks to shake our confidence in
Jehovah. It is then that he arrays before us our mistakes and tempts us to
distrust God, to question His love. He hopes to discourage the soul and
break our hold on God.
standing in the forefront of the conflict, are impelled by the Holy Spirit
to do a special work, will frequently feel a reaction when the pressure is
removed. Despondency may shake the most heroic faith and weaken the most
steadfast will. But God understands, and He still pities and loves. He
reads the motives and the purposes of the heart. To wait patiently, to
trust when everything looks dark, is the lesson that the leaders in God's
work need to learn. Heaven will not fail them in their day of adversity.
apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that
feels its nothingness and relies wholly on God.
Not alone for
men in positions of large responsibility is the lesson of Elijah's
experience in learning anew how to trust God in the hour of trial. He who
was Elijah's strength is strong to uphold every struggling child of His,
no matter how weak. Of everyone He expects loyalty, and to everyone He
grants power according to the need. In his own strength man is
strengthless; but in the might of God he may be strong to overcome evil
and to help others to overcome. Satan can never gain advantage of him who
makes God his defense. "Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I
righteousness and strength." Isaiah 45:24.
Christian, Satan knows your weakness; therefore cling to Jesus. Abiding in
God's love, you may stand every test. The righteousness of Christ alone
can give you power to stem the tide of evil that is sweeping over the
world. Bring faith into your experience. Faith lightens every burden,
relieves every weariness. Providences that are now mysterious you may
solve by continued trust in God. Walk by faith in the path He marks out.
Trials will come, but go forward. This will strengthen your faith and fit
you for service. The records of sacred history are written, not merely
that we may read and wonder, but that the same faith which wrought in
God's servants of old may work in us. In no less marked manner will the
Lord work now, wherever there are hearts of faith to be channels of His
To us, as to
Peter, the word is spoken, "Satan hath desired
to have you,
that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith
fail not." Luke 22:31, 32. Christ will never abandon those for whom
He has died. We may leave Him and be overwhelmed with temptation, but
Christ can never turn from one for whom He has paid the ransom of His own
life. Could our spiritual vision be quickened, we should see souls bowed
under oppression and burdened with grief, pressed as a cart beneath
sheaves, and ready to die in discouragement. We should see angels flying
quickly to the aid of these tempted ones, forcing back the hosts of evil
that encompass them, and placing their feet on the sure foundation. The
battles waging between the two armies are as real as those fought by the
armies of this world, and on the issue of the spiritual conflict eternal
In the vision
of the prophet Ezekiel there was the appearance of a hand beneath the
wings of the cherubim. This is to teach God's servants that it is divine
power that gives success. Those whom God employs as His messengers are not
to feel that His work is dependent on them. Finite beings are not left to
carry this burden of responsibility. He who slumbers not, who is
continually at work for the accomplishment of His designs, will carry
forward His work. He will thwart the purposes of wicked men and will bring
to confusion the counsels of those who plot mischief against His people.
He who is the King, the Lord of hosts, sitteth between the cherubim, and
amidst the strife and tumult of nations. He guards His children still.
When the strongholds of kings shall be overthrown, when the arrows of
wrath shall strike through the hearts of His enemies, His people will be
safe in His hands.