KEEP PACE WITH PURPOSE
This June we stay focused on our pursuit of God through understanding purpose. God has His purpose in creating all things. Nothing exists without a purpose. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines purpose as something set up as an object or end to be attained. Purpose is also the reason for a thing or why it exists. Purpose prompts vision (i.e. the expression of purpose), Understanding-(which leads to the questions, why I am here, who I am, where I stand, where I’m headed for, what I am to do & How I should be doing it?). It precedes a thing’s origin, creation or manifestation and goes ahead of the person. You must live in pursuit of purpose and must always strive to keep pace with purpose i.e. its principles, process, present situation etc. Further, appreciating purpose also gives Confidence, a sense of direction, hope, inspiration for pursuit. This knowledge assuages pain of process, enhances focus whilst building encouragement & contentment.
Important to note that purpose must be discovered or recovered. It is knowledge that must be acquired to prompt understanding of who, how, what & where in life. Purpose must be pursued or run after. Weariness kills pursuit of purpose. When a person with purpose loses purpose and faith, it’s dangerous. God calls us to walk with Him by principles of His word and not the whims & caprices of our emotions. Always ask the question; what does God say in this matter and what is God’s intention with regard to this situation? He has provided the direction that will safeguard our understanding of His purpose in His word thus He calls us to live by faith and not by sight or signs.
Elijah was a great prophet and a spiritual giant. His origins are inauspicious in scripture perhaps designed by God to communicate that where we hail from or originate from is inconsequential in the work and pursuit of purpose.
The background, setting and narrative to our text in 1 Kings 19:1-18 is 1 Kings 17 &18. Elijah is fresh from having declared to Ahab that rain and dew would be stayed off the land till he said otherwise. By prayers of faith as per James 5:13-18, he sustains the climatic injunction upon the land, upholding the judgment of God through prophetic intercession. He has a showdown with the prophets of Baal and overcomes idolatry in the land upon Mount Carmel. By sheer force of prayer, he invokes rain to return upon the land and his victory is uniquely won largely by his stance alone (not many people dared align with him or God). Fresh from such spectacular triumph, Elijah receives negative message directly from the evil Jezebel that she intends to execute him. Fear grips Elijah and he flees to Horeb the mountain of the Lord. Here at this mountain the Lord pointedly asks him twice; “what are you doing here Elijah”. To which his answer simply was that he alone had been faithful to God and done his best for the cause and purpose of God but now was threatened with death. His statement in prayer about preparedness to die is an indicator of the frailty of his mindset at this time. He has lost sight of purpose, with it his faith and ability to stand. Anxious, fearful, semi-depressed, defeated, worn out and near suicidal thoughts flood his mind. What allows a mighty intercessor to fall from the lofty heights of faith and grace and sink this low into a quagmire of despair?
Significant to note that John the Baptist walked in the spirit of Elijah and that same anointing is promised to us as intercessors and lovers of God. It is this imperative to be alert that what befell Elijah; only of the three personalities on the Mount of Transfiguration could befall us too if we fail to keep pursuing after or keep pace with purpose. Purpose travels on a road with twists and turns but its destination remains a surety. Horeb was the place where Moses first encountered God in Exodus 3:1; received the Ten Commandments and also encountered the rock that contained water in Exodus 17:6. Paul confirms that the rock was Jesus in 1 Corinthians 10: 4. It was a place of such spectacular happenings that it carried huge cultural and spiritual significance in the mind of Israel and Elijah. Once his state of mind “collapses” he seeks the familiarity of a spiritual landmark believing that he will encounter God there. But in Deuteronomy 1:6 God had ordered Israel to move on. God does a new thing every time and cannot be confined to places, rites or rituals. God uses a place for His purpose but God is not restricted to a place nor is God bound to the familiar that we are comfortable with. Thus, though Horeb was a place of God’s presence, divine encounters, receiving divine direction, hearing from God etc.- God uses a place but God is NOT limited to a place.
There are certain elements that portend danger for purpose. Hearing wrong words or information is one. Elijah hears Jezebel’s threats and this starts the downward spiral. Also, fear. Fear kills faith, shakes confidence and conviction, shackles hope, leads to poor decision making, kills the grace of leadership (Elijah abandons his servant at Beersheba), flees to the familiar. There are also particular circumstantial and character weaknesses that result in Elijah losing sight of purpose. These are numbered below:
Loneliness; He never built relationships Habakkuk 2:2; Amos 3:3; Eccl.4:9-12
Attack; Ps.34:19; Isa, 8:9-10; Isa. 54:15-17
Words (of threat) 1Kings 19:2; Rom 10:17
Fear Is.35:4; Josh 1:9; Ps.27:1; Ps.118:6; 2 Tim 1:7
Unmatched expectations Jer.29:11; Pro.23;18; Pro.11:23; Mark 9:23
What was the result of losing sight of purpose to Elijah?
Panic and fear gripped him.
No prayer; he came into powerlessness. The prophet who once declared that “I stand in the presence of God” lost his ability to pray but now tied God’s presence to a place, Horeb.
He grew weary- Pro. 29:18 where there’s no vision (expression of purpose) people perish
Prayed wrong prayers
Made wrong confessions
Took terrible decisions
Forgot that his power was in his faith & prayer
Self-righteousness & self-importance v14
Dismissal – go back the way you came v15- He missed out on seeing things and hearing things because he lost focus of his purpose-assignment etc
Anointed Elisha, he was losing his position v16