Those who believe they are now God’s new Israel display an arrogance that starkly contrasts Moses’ humility—a man who could have replaced Israel but, instead, prayed for their survival.
The apostle Paul warned the church against the conceit of non-Jews in the family tree of God, “Do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.” (Romans 11:18)
Rather than replacing the tree, Believers are grafted in to an ancient tree. It is quite impossible that God has substituted another people for His Chosen because He has promised that He will never forsake or abandon His people Israel:
“For the Lord will not abandon His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance.” (Psalm 94:14)
Haftarah Ki Tisa (Prophetic Reading)
In this week’s Haftarah reading, the prophet Elijah has a mighty victory on Mount Carmel when he sets out to prove to the Israelites that there is no God but the God of Israel.
He challenges the prophets of the false god, Baal, to a contest.
Two altars are made: one for Baal and one for the God of Israel. Oxen are slaughtered and set on the altars. But they do not light a fire to burn the sacrifice.
The challenge is that the true God will send fire down from Heaven to burn up the sacrifice.
Elijah makes a mockery out of their false god and proves in dramatic fashion without any doubt that YHVH (יהוה LORD) is Elohim.
Elijah effectively turns Israel away from their infidelity and back to the One True God.
But before he does that, King Ahab blamed Elijah for causing Israel too much trouble. (1 Kings 18:17)
In actuality, however, Ahab’s Phoenician wife, Jezebel, had enticed Israel to follow her false god, Baal, into all sorts of trouble before God.
It has been said that behind every good man is a great woman, but the wrong woman can also be a man’s downfall. And we see many examples in the Bible in which a woman have powerful influence for good or for evil.
We need only to look at the examples of Eve and Adam, Sarah and Abraham, Esther and King Ahasuerus, Bat Sheba and David, Abigail and David, and Delilah with Samson to see this truth.
Because of these dangers, God has warned us not to marry non-Believers, lest they turn our hearts away from God.
We see this warning played out with King Solomon, whom God gave such great wisdom, but who nevertheless lacked wisdom in his decision to marry foreign women. In the end, they turned his heart away from God to worship false gods.
Godly women need to be conscious of the influence they can have over the men in their lives and use it wisely in the fear of the Lord.
Queen Jezebel used her powerful influence to lead Israel into the sin of worshiping idols.
Elijah turned Israel back to faithfully worshiping God.
But if we look at their lives, on the surface it could seem that Jezebel was more blessed than Elijah. She had power, position, and prosperity, while Elijah had no lineage, no worldly position, and sometimes went hungry.
He sometimes despaired, believing that there was no one left who wanted to serve God. He longed for fellowship but often felt lonely. There were times he felt so depressed and discouraged, he wanted to die.
He certainly doesn’t sound much like a blessed man, does he? However, we can’t take only a temporal view of life; we need not see this life as the end, for all of eternity awaits us and we may have treasures stored up in Heaven that no eye has even seen!
“Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked.” (Psalm 37:16)
If we look at the lives of Elijah and Jezebel, we see that power, position and prosperity cannot be our end goal; rather our primary aim in life must be to stay faithful to the Lord God of Israel—in sickness and in health, in riches and in poverty, for better or for worse—from this time forth and forevermore!
“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but live in the fear of the LORD always.” (Proverbs 23:17)
We can see that these two people, Jezebel and Elijah, are each zealous in their own mission—one for the Lord and one for a false god—but their lives ended in vastly different ways.
While Jezebel sat applying her makeup, she was pushed out the window by her servants, and she fell to her death. The horses trampled her body, and the dogs savagely ate her flesh. What a horrible end—yet, her eternal destiny is far more horrifying.
But Elijah, who endured great and severe trials in this lifetime, went up to Heaven on a chariot of fire.
Someday, like Elijah, we will be in Heaven and will enjoy God’s presence forever.
Life’s present troubles and trials will fade away. There, we will be comforted on every side, as God wipes away all our tears.
So let us not despair if our lives are not perfect; if we see sinners that seem to prosper in their ways while we struggle and endure hardship.
One day God will show us His glory; and we will be forever safe with Him. In the meantime, His presence and love will bring perfect peace despite circumstances.
So, let us put on the full armor of God, that we may be able to stand firm—until that final day. Amen.