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1 Kings 17:1-7 -

First Preparation of Elijah for his great Mission.

After Elijah's first appearance before Ahab to announce to him the Divine visitation of sterility and dearth which was to come upon the land as the chastisement of his sin, the prophet was sent away into a solitary place to prepare himself for his great and solemn mission, which was to overthrow idolatry and vindicate the worship of the true God. This work of preparation was divided into two great periods.

1 . The preparation of the desert.

2 . The lonely life of the prophet in the house of the widow of Sarepta.

The Desert was, from the time of Moses to the days of John the Baptist, the great school of the prophets. These men of God were trained for their work:

1 . By being brought face to face with their sacred mission in all its greatness, and free from the prejudices and petty influences of human society. There they could steadfastly contemplate the Divine ideal, undistracted by the rude realities of man's fallen condition.

2 . There they were also cut off from all human aid, left to test their own strength, or rather to prove their own utter wetness, and, overwhelmed with the sense of it, to cast themselves wholly on Divine strength. Thus they received directly from God, as did Elijah, the supplies by which they lived, and realized the conditions of absolute and immediate trust in Him. Coming forth from this discipline of the desert, they were enabled to say with Paul, "When I am weak, then am I strong" ( 2 Corinthians 12:10 ).

3 . This loving converse of the prophets with their God brought them into closer fellowship, more intimate union, with Him. Thus they came forth from the desert, like Moses from the Mount of Sinai, bearing unconsciously upon them the reflection of His glory. As St. Paul says," We, beholding as with open face the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" ( 2 Corinthians 3:18 ). Considerations like these have a fit application to the pastor, who ought to be much in solitary communion with God, in order to be raised above the compromises of principle so common in society, and to get his whole nature permeated with Divine strength. Every Christian soul has in like manner a prophet's mission, and ought therefore often to seek the desert solitude, in which the Invisible is brought near, and to frequent those sacred mountain tops of prayer, where the disciple, like the Master, renews his strength ( Luke 5:16 ).—E. de P.

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