By The Venerable Henry O. Adelegan
Centuries ago, a king ordered that all that are younger than him must be executed. Following that instruction all the elders of the town were killed.
One of the younger men however refused to kill his father but took him to a neighbouring village on the night that preceded the “red-day”. Years later, the blood-thirsty king invited all the young men to the palace and requested each of them to sew for him a garment made with flour within the next seven days and failure to get that done will have death as penalty. The man who hid his father travelled nocturnally to his father to seek his counsel and the old man told him that it was a very easy assignment and should inform the king that he had found a tailor in the next village who sews only garments of flour but that he should collect a sample of one the king already had so as to get the precise measurement of the king. When the King heard, he voiced out that the counsel must have come from an elder because what an elder sees sitting down, it is indiscoverable by a young person even if he climbs Mount Everest. It is this same wisdom of God, a function of age and experience, that avers that nobody is indispensable and in the novel of Ayi Kwei Armah “The beautiful ones are not yet born”.
Elevation to a position of beauty (authority, importance and influence) in life is God’s exclusive prerogative (Psalms 75:6-7). When He decides to lift a person up, He does so without consideration to human requirements of either family background (as He did when He called Gideon, who was a man from a poor and unknown family background Judges 6:14-16), nor does he look for power of oratory (just like when He called Moses, a chronic stammerer to negotiate release of the Israelites from the evil grip of King Pharaoh and lead them through the wilderness Exodus 4:10-12). God does not place premium on one’s physical prowess, countenance or stature (like when He picked the ruddy David as against his seemingly more qualified brothers 1Samuel 16:6-7) or even educational qualification as when He picked fishermen and tax collectors as His disciples – He does not call the qualified but qualifies the called!
Through His unscientific manner of recruitment, employment and placement, it is a truism that there is no person that God cannot appoint to a beautiful position of responsibility. This was what played out in the life of Elijah, who was one of the greatest prophets that traversed this globe – a man who had many firsts in biblical history to his credit. Nothing is known about his background. He just came into Bible history in 1 Kings 17 without reference to his parents, his looks, his mentor, where he was groomed and who his peers were. The only thing recorded about him was that he was a Tishbite of the inhabitants of Gilead.
At his introduction, history was faced with a man who had the mouth of God close to his ears – he heard from God directly. Not only that, he was introduced as a man that God empowered so much that he could to open heaven and close it, whenever he so decided. Literarily speaking, God gave him the key to open and to close heaven at his discretion. He told King Ahab that “…..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” (1Kings 17:1).
The prophet had a very close working relationship with the Almighty God who lifted him up and had to his credit some of the greatest miracles recorded in the Holy Bible. Elijah witnessed daily miracles of seeing birds bring bread and meat for him from the heavenly bakery and canteen respectively every morning and night without fail (1Kings 17:6). He witnessed waking up every morning to see angels bring food to the kitchen of the widow of Zarephath throughout the duration of famine such that when others were dying of hunger, he was getting fresher because of endless daily supply of food from heaven (1Kings 17:14,16). This prophet was also the first person to wake up the dead (1 Kings 17:20-23) and also the first person to call fire from heaven (1Kings 18:37-39) – what a great prophet!
Despite all the beautiful things that God did through him and his knowledge of God, he failed a crucial test of faith in God to deliver and to save him. When Jezebel threatened the man who raised up the dead with death, he abdicated his spiritual duty post, borrowed the feet of an hare – he ran for cover from town into the wilderness (1Kings 19:2-4) and started to sing his heretical old choruses that Obadiah had earlier debunked that he was the only prophet left (1Kings 18:13) and now added another unbelievable stanza that they wanted to seek his life. He spoke about his desire to die but whenever angels brought food to him, even in his cowardly state, he would consume the food (1Kings 19:5-8). After he had failed the test set for him by the angel, God decided to come personally to him through a still small voice and he never abated from singing his famous choruses. He lost his chance and God from our text directed him to “a more beautiful” Elisha who will replace him immediately (1Kings 19:12-16). He sought for Elisha, a man who manifested faith and displayed readiness to work with God and eager to surpass the records of Prophet Elijah. The moment he was anointed, he bid his parents goodbye and burnt his pecuniary bridge by killing his oxens and distributed them among all (1 kings 19:20-21). Elisha performed more miracles than his predecessor.
Beloved in Christ, whatever position you are occupying in the family, church or nation , it is through God’s favour and not predicated on your works. God expects you to be humble, assist the less-privileged, serve Him with all your means and obey Him otherwise you will be replaced. It is instructive to note that God does not operate in a vacuum and no one is indispensable to Him. When He lifts a person up and that being does not perform to His expectation or do His biddings, He replaces. He did it to Saul when He replaced him with David as a result of disobedience (1Samuel 16:1). He also replaced Judas Iscariot with Matthias because of his role in the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:26).
The elders, in their wisdom, agree that the best house is yet to be built. Suffice to say that it is only God’s equal that can not be found in the world. People that are more beautiful than you like Elisha are walking in the wilderness of life. If you misbehave like Elijah, it does not cost God anything to replace you with “an Elisha” that is ready to do that work and get it done better than you leaving behind greater imprints in the sand of life.
During this time of Lent, acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ, who “…. by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16), acknowledge that all you have are gifts from God, have the humble mind of Christ, be ready to do good, take your eyes away from the carnality of this world and have your focus on heaven.
Prayer: Lord, don’t ever let me loose the opportunity you have given to me, in Jesus’ name