In the entire classroom, you are the only Christian. In the office, there are but a handful of believers. You are surrounded by atheists and non-believers. Society’s ethical and moral standards are shifting further away from the biblical worldview, and mainstream culture is moving in a direction that directly opposes biblical teaching. What should you do as a Christian?
You must understand that living in enemy territory is not only God’s plan for you, but it is God’s mission for you. It is God’s plan, because this is the will of God. Jesus told his disciples “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3), and the Bible says “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Jesus’ disciples have been set apart from the world, and do not belong to the world (John 17:14). Consequently, we are now enemies of the evil one, living in enemy territory, like lambs among wolves.
This is also our mission, because God wants us to go into the world so that we can bring others out of it. The Lord said to Paul, “I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18). Brothers and sisters, God has given us a mission to enter the enemy’s land so that we can bring others out of it, that they may be rescued from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, and be brought into the kingdom of the Son He loves (Colossians1:13) Now that we look at it from this perspective, it no longer seems unusual that we are surrounded by enemies with opposing beliefs and worldviews, because we are in fact living behind enemy lines.
Jesus is the light of the world. This light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light (John 3:19), so much so that they nailed Him to a cross. Dear brothers and sisters, our Lord has gone through everything we are going through. But He loved the world and willingly gave His life up for them, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. We must follow in His footsteps and be on mission for God, to lead others to the light.
Go, and Stay There!
In the land of Zarephath of Sidon, there was a widow gathering sticks for firewood. A man approaches, someone who has journeyed from afar. From his attire, he seems to be an Israelite. But why would an Israelite come to Sidon?
The king of Sidon at that time was Ethbaal (1 Kings 16:31), who served the pagan god Baal. The worship of Baal was prevalent throughout Canaan, and their practices were evil and detestable. The king of Sidon had a daughter named Jezebel who grew up immersed in the Baal religion, and later married Ahab king of Israel. Influenced by Jezebel, Ahab began to worship and serve Baal. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria, and set up other idols as well. He turned the people into an idol-worshipping nation and led them to walk astray from the one true God.
He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him. (1 Kings 16:32-33)
The Lord sent Elijah to warn Ahab that there will be a drought and no rain for several years. Ahab did not heed Elijah’s warning and continued to worship Baal. Israel was shrouded in darkness, and the forces of evil continued to strengthen. It was then that the word of the Lord came to Elijah:
“Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” (1 Kings 17:9)
Sidon was King Ethbaal’s domain, and also the place where Jezebel grew up. God told Elijah to go to Sidon, directly into enemy territory, in order to receive food from a widow. Elijah obeyed and set off on a long journey. When he arrived, he was tired and thirsty, so he called to the widow who was gathering sticks there, and asked her “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” The woman saw that this was a traveler from afar, without a jar to carry water, and so she went to get him some water. Just as she was going to get water, Elijah called out again, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” (1 Kings 17:10-11)
The Widow of Zarephath
She was not an Israelite, yet this Israelite asked her for water. She was so poor that there was only a handful of flour at home, yet this Israelite asked her for bread. She said, no, I only have a handful of flour, and it is our only source of food for myself and my son. We are ready to starve to death after we finish it. But he said, first make a small cake of bread for me, and then make something for yourself and your son with what’s left over (1 Kings 17:12-13). What an audacious request! We only have such little food left, not even enough for us to live by, and you want us to first make you bread? She was about to express her indignance and reject him when he said something surprising.
“For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.” (1 Kings 17:14)
Did he mean this? She may not have comprehended what he meant by “the day the Lord gives rain” but she sure understood “the jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry”. The woman looked at Elijah with puzzled eyes: should I trust him? I’ve heard that those who serve God can perform miracles. Perhaps this man is a servant of the Lord? Well, we are about to starve to death, and this may be a chance at life. The woman decided to do what Elijah said.
Jezebel daughter of the king of Sidon spread the worship of Baal to Israel, but the God of Israel sent His servant into Sidon. Elijah made an absurd request to a poor, starving widow. When the widow decided to do as he said, a miracle occurred:
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:15-16)
From the moment that the widow gave food to Elijah, miracles occurred daily. Just like manna from heaven, the flour and oil silently and faithfully appeared in the jars, as a manifestation of the power of God. The Lord God of Israel, according to His name, and faithful to His word, let miracles occur daily in enemy territory! Although not as spectacular as the parting of the Red Sea, these miracles were ongoing and continuous. Day after day, there always appeared flour in the jar and oil in the jug. Just as a ray of light pierces the darkness, God’s power can break through the stronghold of the enemy’s land, and enable His servant to live powerfully behind enemy lines.
Jesus sent out his disciples like lambs among wolves, and gave them this instruction, “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.” (Luke 10:8) When the disciples accomplished their mission, they returned joyfully and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” (Luke 10:17) These disciples experienced the supply and the power of God, just as Elijah did.
The disciples reaped a harvest in a land dominated by the devil, while Elijah lived by God’s power in a land dominated by Baal. They did not know it at that time, but there was an even bigger miracle waiting to happen:
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. (Hebrews 11:35)
The experience of Elijah teaches us:
- God sends us to live beyond the enemy line.
- God’s supply and power are with those whom He sends.