1 Kings 19:14 – He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
After a very public battle with King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, and 850 false prophets on Mount Carmel, Elijah flees for his life and finds himself alone in a cave, feeling pretty sorry for himself. He feels the weight of his calling and feels alone in the world, feeling what one pastor friend of mine calls the “Elijah Complex”, thinking they alone are carrying true faith in the world.
In Romans 11:1–6, Paul writes, “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? ‘Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.’ But what is God’s reply to him? ‘I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”
Paul uses this scene from Elijah’s life as an illustration of the “remnant”. In every age, “by grace”, God preserves at least a few faithful believers who remain devoted to the Lord. Examples include Noah and his family (Genesis 7:23), Joseph (Genesis 45:7), the days of Isaiah (Isaiah 10:21-22), and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:9, 50:20), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 11:13-21), and the future vision of Daniel (Daniel 11:35).
Jesus refers to the remnant as a “little flock” (Luke 12:32) and honors the remnant in the Church at Thyatira as “the rest of you…who do not hold to this teaching…of Satan” and who do not yield to the Jezebel spirit (Revelation 2:20-24).
God tells Elijah about the remnant naming, “seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)
In our day, there is in fact great spiritual apostasy driven by the demonic. However, there are still faithful believers, churches, and Bible teachers who have not bent their knee in surrender to Baal. This should encourage true believers to remain true to God, and to find one another to encourage each another as the days grow darker.
To learn more about the remnant, there are three sermons on the past, present, and future remnant (sermons 23-25) at https://realfaith.com/sermon-series/romans-theology-for-everybody/.
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