The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, February 01, 1922, Page 9, Image 9
4 The Commoner v FEBRUARY, 1922 9 .. , with his seal, and sent the letters unto the riders and to the nobles that were In his city, dWAen!in&eWwrote in the letters, saylnp, Proclaim a at ntid set Naboth on high among the. people: 1 Ami set two men, sons of Belial, before him. to i,nr witness against him,, saying1. Thou didst ibien Jnhemo God and th'o king. And then carry him Kft andatono him, that ho may die. Ami It came to pass, when Ahab heard that Na imi was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the" vineyard t of Naboth the .Jezreellte, to take p0AmfStn? word of the Lord came to Elijah the T,Ar?seffoadown to meet Ahab the king of Israel, wHHi is in Samaria: behold, ho is in the vineyard nf Naboth. whither he is gqnb-down to possess it. Ami thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus cnuh the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also' taken nnVspssion? And thou shalt speak unto him., say- . In ff Thus saith the Lord. In the place where dogs iFckedthe blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy b Ami AhabsSd to .Elijah. Hast thou found ,me. a mine enemy?- And ho answered, I have found thee- because thou. hast sold thyself ' tpt work- evil in the sight of tho Lord, .;; : "....- How human are the Bible's greatest char acters! Consider Elijah. With incomparable coura.ge, he had .dared up braid Israel's king for his idolatry. Facing alone the 450 prophets of. Baal; he had proven their god false in the greatest; grayer "v test recorded in history. As punishment fort leading the 10 tribes of Israel from the worship of the Al mighty God, he had ;put ,thoBe . priests of BaaL to the sword. ' i But when word came- to hihV from Ahab's idolatrous queen Jezebel that-tshe would have his life on the morrow, he forgot his faith in the Almighty and fled in 'dismay ran into the wilderness and, in , despair, sat, down -to rest under a juniper tree- There he came to him self long enough to feet the, sting 6t reinorse-. He was ashamed of his cowardice and, recogniz ing his weakness, wanted to die , GOD DOES NOT PESERT US It was an act , dramatically inconsistent with the rest of Elijah's life ryet how human! In considering it, it must be remembered that he was not only frightened but weary. He had undergone a severe trial His contest of faith with the followers of ( Baal had been long drawn out, and then, he had run, before Ahab for 18 miles to the gates of Je.zreel. The flesh is sometimes weak when i the heart is willing. And he was temporarily without anything to do. . But God did not desert Elijah, just as He does, not desert us when, we flee, to the wilder ness in our weak moments; He had other tasks not yet disclosed, ' '- ; , An angel awakened the ,prophe.t and put food before him. After he was. refreshed he slept again, and again food was provided-Jar him. In his restored strength he traveled' 4.0 days and 40 nights unto Horeb, the neurit Of God. There he lodged in a cave, still fearful of the wrath of Jezebel. And there the word of the Lord came unto him in the inquiry, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" Poor Elijah! How natural was his reply. He made the best excuse he could, and to the aver age man it seems a reasonable one. He explained that he had been jqalous for the Lord God of Hosts and foi? the children of Israel, and this was no more than the truth. He felt that he was alone and that his life was in danger. He had suddenly plunged from ex altation to despair. No wonder he forgot to take a census of the faithful. There were 7, 000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal, plain people who had not been so ecstatic in victory or so cast down in defeat. They, are the ones who stea'dy the boat in the, storm: THE STILL SMALL VOICE The Lord summoned Elijah again, sent him upon the mount and taught him a great lesson that has been of unspeakable value to all the generations since that day. Elijah represented rugged strength; the strong arm of the Lord was made ' manifest through him. But now he was taught that God was not always in the wind, nor in the earth quake, nor in the lire, but that He was also in tne still small voice. Then the Lord gave Elijah other work to do, and with new tasks his. strength returned. I am not sure that we will find many lessons oi more practical importance than this: Keep jusy As "Satan finds some mischief still for uie hands to do," so human weakness besets us most between our tasks. As sins abound in we nights that separate the days of toil, eo fur Periods of discouragement and doubt lurk i? dark intervals between our seasons of activity.. . J!7116? E1Iteh fled from the presence of Ahab's jueen he had finished the work that God had put upon him arid jio call had come to new acts w consecration? but just as soon as he hoard l iiiamJ!,ar ToIce of the Heavenly Father about ?hlrS Sf a TiBslon went bold about the Father's business. fuijr A COVETOUS KING nn n n wK Cime t0 ,allotllor Great Bible les son Naboth's vineyard. A wonderful picture A covetous king and the Man of God meet yard m In a murdord man's Xt Ahab coveted the vineyard of Naboth not an unusual thing, Many a man has conceived the 7 rounding out his garden by the purchase of d joining land. And Ahab proceeded in quite a natural and unobjectionable wav He spoke to Naboth about it, explaining his reason for desiring it. It was suitable for a gar den of herbs and near to the king's house. He offered in exchange a better vinoyard or. if Naboth preferred, he would pay him the worth of it in. money. So far, so good. The king may not have thought of any objec tions that Naboth could have. He may huve felt that he was doing all that could bo ex pected, and even more, but to Naboth the place"" had a sentimental value. He prized it as an in heritance from his fathers. The courtiers of the king could hardly understand how any one could refuse so fair a request aB that made by Ahab, but the land belonged to Naboth and he was entirely within his rights when he pre ferred to keep it rathor than to sell it or take another place in exchange. Thus far the story is not unlike many that have been written or might be written. JEZEBEL'S CONSPIRACY But Ahab was provoked and, like a spoiled child, threw himself down upon his bed and sulked, refusing to eat. . It was riot long before his conduct was re ported to Jezebel and she hastened to inquire why he was sad. He frankly explained to her the grievous disappointment that he had suf fered and then his wicked wife gave him a les son In the exercise of authority. She bade him eat and be merry, assuring him that she would give him Naboth's vineyard. Then she pro ceeded to frame a conspiracy against Naboth. Addressing the elders and nobles who lived in his city, she ordered them to proclaim a fast and set Naboth in the chief place. Then, by her direction, two base men, sons of Belial, were to be seated before Naboth with instructions to tiring false witness against him. The conspiracy was carried out to the letter: The fast was arranged, Naboth was put in the place of honor, the false witnesses appeared, made their lying accusations, and Naboth was carried out of the city and stoned to death. "HAST THOU FOUND ME, O MINE ENEMY?" Then these willing accomplices in the murder of Naboth reported their success to Jezebel and she immediately conveyed the glad news to the king. He rose up and hurried down to the vine yard to take possession of it. When he arrived he met Elijah for the third time, the same Tish bite who warned him of the coming drought and then commanded him to summon the prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel for the prayer test. The prophet appeared before him at the com mand of the Almighty. Elijah was himself again he was God's spokesman. ' The scene lends itself to the artist, and it is not strange that it has been put upon the canvas. The staging Is perfect. .There is the coveted garden; the former own er being dead, it became the property of the king according to a law, that Jezebel doubtless understood, giving the land to the king when the owner was put to death for blasphemy. In the midst of the garden stands the king, wicked enough to enjoy the fruits of a victory bought by a murder that he was too cowardly to com mit. Before him stands Elijah, stern voice of an offended God. Ahab does not wait for Elijah to speak: his conscience accuses him before the prophet has time to hurl Jehovah's judgment at him. Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" exclaims the king' It is not necessary that one should be a king in order to stand, conscience stricken, before the evidence of his guilt. It is con science that, as Shakespeare says, makes cowards of us all.' THE BEGINNING OF EVIL The outstanding lesson of our talk is the sin of covetousness. Possibly nowhere else is the importance of the Tenth Commandment so em phLized It comes last, but it Is by no means lea" in importance. It is so intimately con nected with all the others relating to man's dealing with his fellow man that its observance is of the very first importance. under which it operates did not divert atten tion from it. When ono stoals, attention is centored upon the act, although covetousness is concealed behind it. Whoa ono commits murder it is often duo to covotousness, although the covotousness Is hidden. Falso witness, too, Is often but tho outward manifestation of an inward covotousness. It is the boginning of evil, and tho beginning Is the thing that needs most to bo watched. Sin Is not difficult to deal with If taken at its inception; it becomes a serious problem when it ripens Intd action. Christ gave tho only .sure cure. Ho taught that tho heart should bo full of love to God. thou shalt love thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," and with all thy strength." No vacuum must bo loft in the heart for evil thoughts to fill. Whon the' heart is full it overflows, and the overflowing heart is tho symbol of a Christian life. THE REAL CURE FOR COVETOUSNESS But there js a second commandment that follows naturally after that which Chr'st do- ' clared to be the first and great commandment, namely, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor ns thy self." That Is the real cure for covotousness; or, rather, it prevents the birth of covotousness. All kinds of wrongdoing follow in tho wake of covetousness. When ono starts out to do evil he nevor knows what crime ho must com mit to carry out his purpose; one evil stop leads to another- until ho finds that "tho wages of sin is death." On the other hand, no ono knows what unexpected pleasures he may invito whon ho travels the path of righteousness. Obedience to tho First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before mo," would have saved Ahab tho experiences that he had at Mount Carmel. Obedience to the last would have saved him from the humiliation visited upon him in tho vinoyard. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." THE MANTLE OF ELIJAH By WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN K BIBLE TEXT LESSON FOR JAN. 28 (II Klnes 11:5-15) And tho sons of the prophets that wero at Jericho came to Ellsha. and said untn hftn TCnnw. est thou that the Lord will tako away thy master from thy head today? And ho answered, Yetf, I know It; hold yo your peace. Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thoe, hero; for the Lord hath sent, mo to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord llveth, and as thy soul llvcth, T will not leave thee. And they two went on. And fifty men of tho sons of tho prophets went and stood to view afar off; and they two went bv Jordan. ' And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped It to rether. and smote the waters and thov wr iifvM. llther and thither, sa that thev two wnnf nvr n ury Kruunu. And it came to pass, wncn they were prono over, that Elijah said unto Ellsha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from 'thoe. And Ellnha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit bo upon me. And he said. Thou hast asked a hard thlncr: nevertheless, if thou sec mo when I am taken from thee, It shall bo so unto thee: but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asun der; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind Into heav en. And Ellsha saw it and he cried. My father, my father, tho chariot of Israel, and tho horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes and rent them In two pieces. He took up also the mantlo of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by tho bank of the Jordan: And ho took tho mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said. Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: And Ellsha went over. And when tho sons of the prophets which were tb view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spfrit of Elijah rest on Ellsha. And they came to meet him, and bowod themselves to tho ground before him. ns Our talk today deals with the taking up of the prophet Elijah into heaven in a chariot of fire a Biblical account that has exerted a mighty influence throughout tho Christian world. Here, too, we have presented one of the most beautiful lessons in history a friendship be tween two great men. They were prophets of God and were much alike in manner and in method. Elijah was devoted to the man "who was to succeed him, and Ellsha was not ashamed to take up the work that . Elijah laid down. The account given in the second chapter of II Kings is marked with great simplicity: . "And it came to pass, when the Lord would - kP 3 V SMf .Jy! ,& jil: .' ..!! 3 tf ' '! ,1 ..,:: f l-" 'kJtkitSsitfjLMutiitM .-..