It seems that as we get older and as our life goes on nothing ever changes for the better. As each year passes, we see more of the same things. We struggle in our own lives to do what is right, but often find ourselves just becoming more absorbed in day-to-day living. Few people remain devoted to serving the living God. Instead, it is much easier to get caught up in all that this world has to offer. The things we once learned that are evil are now an accepted part of every day life.
And so it is, just as it was spoken of long ago, perilous harsh and violent times are here. Times that are very difficult to endure. People increasingly occupied with their own lives, seeking their own gain, while putting down others, putting down religion, putting down God. The world is losing respect for natural relationships, and choosing evil over good.
But not today, for today is the day that the forces of good and evil come together. Today is the day when everyone will know the truth about God. Today is the day when those who have suffered for so long serving God will be victorious. Today, those who chose the easier, the more popular way – will die. The illusions of life will be lifted and there will no longer be any question about who is the true God. Today it all comes to an end.
And so all the promoters of evil have come and now they pour out their hearts to that which they devoted their lives to. They will prove that those who worship God are fools and just wasting their time. They will prove that God does not exist and that men should rather give their lives to pleasure. It is an incredible force, 850 times the size of the righteous. It is a large army, imposing and devoted to the cause. From morning to noon, they cry out. They say we are the wise, we understand all things. We know how to make life and have the power to heal life. We know the truth about the origin of life, and all our books testify to the strength of our wisdom. We have great knowledge of science and atoms and DNA, and we control our own destiny. Our forces are strong, our weapons undefeatable. Our ships ready to strike. No one can beat us.
And yet, for all the crying out they do – the fire does not come.
So they jump up and down and cry louder and louder and start cutting themselves so that blood gushes out. And they speak about their colleges and universities and exclusive clubs. They speak about their institutions, their riches and wealth. They speak about their history, their architectural wonders and the great society that they have made. They speak about their monuments, their rockets, their ships. They cry louder about their courts and their laws, their stocks and bonds, their superstars and sport heroes.
But for all their crying – the fire does not come. No one answers. All that they say just goes away into the wind.
Now a lone man gets up. He represents the God of Israel. Up until this day, they hunted him down like a fox. For three years, they sought to kill him, calling him a troublemaker. They laughed at him because he never fit into their world. They laughed at the clothes he wore and the food he ate. This man did not cry out, he did not cut himself, he did not boast of his riches and wisdom. He did not trust in his own strength. Instead, he looked up to heaven and prayed. A simple quiet prayer – and then…. the fire came!
At that point in time the world stopped turning, and everyone could see that the God of Israel was true and those who serve him were right. In the hands of a righteous man, real passionate prayer gains so much. The prayer of the righteous can bring fire down from heaven; it can cause the clouds to produce abundant rain. The prayer of the righteous can cause enemies to flee, the barren to have children, the sick to be healed. The prayer of the righteous can cause sins to be forgiven, and the dead to be raised. This is the day that Elijah had waited for all his life. The people were no longer thinking that he was a troublemaker, they knew now that he was not insane. And they killed the false prophets and testified that the Lord is God, the Lord is God! The rain came, the drought was finally over. What a wonderful day….Elijah is so excited he ran twenty miles to Jezreel. The pain was finally over, the years of hiding out were finally past and now Israel would all turn to serving God again. This is what he wanted so badly, this is what he had prayed for so earnestly. He ran so fast that he ran faster than the chariot carrying Ahab.
But what happens now is frightening. For if it can happen to a man of God through whom God showed his might and power by causing fire to come down from heaven. If it can happen to a man who was so strong in faith that he could cause it not to rain for three years, if it could happen to one of the greatest prophets of Israel, then it could happen to any one of us.
Jezebel, the wicked queen Jezebel. She was so evil that the great events of that day did not even faze her. She was so evil that all she could think of was revenge. She wanted Elijah’s blood and she swore by her gods that she would have it.
One can only imagine the shock and the pain that went through Elijah’s mind when he heard this. His heart not only sank, but he fell apart. He just fell apart. And we see him run again, running fast, but not with excitement. He is running with fear. He is so afraid. He is afraid to be in any town or city, any place where people can see him. Instead, he goes by himself into the wilderness. In his frustration, he says, “It is enough”. “I have had enough”. Elijah IS a man just like us. He has emotions, he has fears, he thinks of himself as being low, almost worthless. He feels alone. “I give up” “It’s useless” “I can’t go on” “I have had enough” “I’m no good”.
Elijah was depressed. He felt alone, unsure, afraid. Elijah knew the power of prayer. He understood that the prayer of faith can save the sick. He understood that whatever we ask in prayer, believing, we can receive. But now, Elijah was praying that he might die. He was praying for something that the Father would not give him. Elijah had had plenty of troubles. Everything was a battle, and he was very tired and afraid, he felt frustrated and confused. He was completely drained and as the tears streamed down his face, exhausted and worn out, he fell asleep.
Those who trust in God do so because they know that regardless of what happens in this life, regardless how dark it may seem, regardless on how far we may feel we have fallen – that our God is there and will never leave us alone. Yes, he gives us the power of prayer so that we can ask him for things. But sometimes all we really need is someone to come to us and put their arms around us and to tell us it is going to be okay.
We read about them, we hear about them. Some say they have seen them. They were there the day man was created; they were there the day we were born. They were there the day we repented and were baptized. They are watching us now, but our eyes are somehow blinded to them. These invisible creatures, the angels of God, are his workers. He has given them charge to look after us, to care for us, to watch over us. Often God’s servants never see them, but now in Elijah’s darkest hour, in this terrible moment when he just wants to die, in this moment when he is to weak to go on ….he feels someone touching him. He opens his eyes and before him, there is an angel.
How good that must of felt knowing that he was not alone, and just as a mother will care for a sick child, the angel prepares a cake for him to eat and gives him a jar of water. The angel gave him comfort, the angel gave him strength.
They are spirits sent forth to help us, to assist, to minister to us on our journey to the Kingdom. They were there with Adam on the day of creation; they visited and ate with Abraham. They rescued lot from the destruction on Sodom by pulling him by the hand. When Hagar cried out in pain and tears an Angel was there to save her and her child from certain death. Angels were there and gave comfort to Jacob when he was so afraid of meeting Esau. It was an Angel that appeared to Moses in the bush. And a angel led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the sea. It was an angel who stood before Balaam and his donkey to warn him. An angel of the Lord talked with Gideon and caused fire to come from a rock. An angel appeared to the parents of Samson and went up in the flame of the altar. An angel was there to protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. An angel was there in the den with Daniel and shut the mouth of the lions. An angel appeared to Zacharias while he was in the most holy place and spoke of a child that would be born to him. An angel greeted Mary and spoke of the birth of the son of God. An angel brought news during the night to those who were watching their sheep about the birth of the savior. An angel was there and open the doors and led the apostles out of prison. It was an angel who led Philip to the man of Ethiopia. It was an angel who appeared to Cornelius and warned him what he needed to do.
Throughout the pages of scripture and even today, I believe that there are angels among us. They watch over us and they provide strength to us during our darkest moments. We are told to “take heed that you do not despise, that you do not scorn, that you do not look down on, or hate one of these little ones; one of these servants of mine, because in heaven THEIR ANGELS do always behold the face of the Father.” We are told to not be forgetful to entertain, to consider, and to be friendly with the stranger; because some of those strangers we meet on the street or in the stores or at work may actually be angels of God. Through out history, angels have been actively involved in the affairs of the world. They are all around us, they are around us NOW whether we see them or not.
Angels Among Us
I was walkin' home from school on a cold winter day.
Took a short cut through the woods and I lost my way.
It was gettin' late, and I was scared and alone.
But then a kind old man took my hand, and led me home.
Mama couldn't see him, but he was standing there.
And I knew in my heart he was the answer to my prayers.
When Life held Troubled times and had me down on my knees,
There's always been someone to come along and comfort me:
A kind word from a stranger, to lend a helping hand,
A phone call from a friend, just to say I understand.
But ain't it kind of funny, at the dark end of the road
Someone lights the way with just a single ray of hope!
They wear so many faces.
They show up in the strangest places.
They grace us with their mercies in our time of need.
OH, I BELIEVE THERE ARE ANGELS AMONG US
SENT DOWN TO US ... FROM SOMEWHERE UP ABOVE
THEY COME TO YOU AND ME... IN OUR DARKEST HOURS ...
TO SHOW US HOW TO LIVE...
TO TEACH US HOW TO GIVE...
TO GUIDE US WITH A LIGHT OF LOVE!
(As Sung By Alabama )
Now another lone man gets up. He represents the God of Israel. Up until this day, they hunted him down like a fox. For three years, they sought to kill him, calling him a troublemaker. They laughed at him because he never fit into their world. They laughed at the clothes he wore and the food he ate. This man did not cry out, he did not cut himself, he did not boast of his riches and wisdom. He did not trust in his own strength. Instead, he looked up to heaven and prayed.
This lone man is our Lord Jesus Christ, who during his darkest hour he turned to the Father in prayer. This hour was the hardest time he ever faced. He trembled and he cried. His disciples had never seen him like this. They did not understand, they could not give him comfort. He pleaded with them to stay with him, to stay awake with him. He knew what was coming and he just did not want to be alone; he just wanted someone there with him to help him through this. But all his companions were asleep. He prayed to the Father – asking, pleading that the cup, the sacrifice, the suffering – the pouring out of his blood…..he pleaded that there could be another way.
He could already feel the cold hard hands slapping across his face, he could already feel the sharp whip tearing the flesh from off his back, and he could already feel them pushing him down, laughing at him. He could feel their anger and their hatred. His hands could already feel the nails being driven through them; he could already feel the pain of having to lift his weak and bloody body up just to breathe.
Please Father he begged, Please Father he prayed, Please Father please don’t let them hurt me, don’t let them kill me.
This man whose prayers healed the sick, this man whose prayers stop the wind and waves, this man whose prayers raised Lazarus from the dead was now praying for something that the Father would not give him. And in that cold dark moment, during the hardest time that he faced, when no one was around that could give him any comfort, when everyone had just left him alone, when all he really needed was someone to just come and put their arms around him, and on that night when there was no one in the whole world who could be there for him, an angel came there and spent that difficult time with him – giving him comfort, giving him strength, giving him love.."
And so it is now, just as it was spoken of long ago, perilous harsh and violent times are here. Times that are very difficult to endure. People increasingly occupied with their own lives, seeking their own gain, while putting down others, putting down religion, putting down God. The world is losing respect for natural relationships, and choosing the evil over the good.
Now it is our time. Now its time for us to get up! We are the lonely ones who represent the God of Israel. The world wants our life and it laughs at us when we don’t fit in. We can feel lonely, we can feel afraid, we just want to just give up sometimes, and our journey can feel to long. But God never forsook His servants of old and God certainly has not left us alone either.
So during those moments when you feel to weak to go on, during those moments when you just can’t hold back the tears, during that dark moment when you just want to die, when no one is there that can give you any comfort, when everybody has left you alone, when your world has crashed down all around you – during those moments look around you….look around you and see…
.. That we “are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and there is all around us a very large number of angels.”