Last night I started reading the book Elijah by A.W. Pink. Already I've found this book to be a treasure chest full of little diamonds to gaze at and reflect on. It basically explores the lessons that can be drawn from Elijah's life and ministry and then applies these lessons to our contemporary situation.
Amongst the many jewels tucked away in this book, one in particular captivated my thoughts. In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah describes himself as a man who was "very jealous for the Lord God of hosts." Jealous for the Lord. What does that mean? It meant that the glory of God and the honor of God's name meant more to Elijah than anything else. As you may remember, Elijah lived during the time when God's people had turned aside to serve other gods. And this blatant idolatry and dishonor of God's name burned in Elijah's heart. He knew the truth in Deuteronomy 11:16-17 which says,
"Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the LORD is giving you."
Astonishingly enough, this was the very sin which Israel had committed against the Lord; they had turned aside to worship other gods. And since Elijah was "very jealous for the Lord God of hosts," according to James 5:17, "he prayed earnestly that it might not rain." What an amazing prayer to pray! It was a prayer to bring God's judgement! But did he not care for his fellow people? Did he not understand what kind of suffering would inevitably occur if this prayer was answered? He did. A.W. Pink says, "Elijah was endowed with tender sensibilities and warm regard for his fellow-creatures, yet in his prayers he rose above all fleshly sentimentality. He put the glory of God before everything else, even before his own natural feelings." And so his prayer was simply pleading for God to do what He had said he would do.
So what's the implication for my life and yours? Do we pray for no rain? Do we pray for God's wrath to fall on our sinful world? Probably not. However, I thank God that He has recently given me a burden to be "very jealous for his name." I must admit this burden is not even close to where it should be or else it would affect my prayers and my lifestyle much more than it has. Nevertheless, I want the passion of Elijah. I want to love God and cherish his glory above all else. I want my insides to scream at my sin and be horrified when God's name is not being honored. And then I desperately want to be a man of prayer. A man who simply knows God's heart from his Word and prays back to Him what He has said that He will do. A man who does everything so that God would be made great. O God, give us all the passion of Elijah that your name and your renown might be cherished in our day.