The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, February 01, 1922, Page 9, Image 9

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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
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