Like a fire there appeared the prophet whose words were as a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits; by God’s word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire…You are destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the Lord… Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11
Elijah spoke with power, the power of Almighty God. He could not be ignored since his words were as a “flaming furnace.”
If we are freezing to death, we go to sleep and die. But, if someone finds us and warms our frozen body, we experience great pain. Maybe this has happened to you in a small way if you have ever suffered frostbite on your fingers. As they warm, your fingers hurt. So it is when we have grown cold in our life with the Lord. We can be comfortable and unaware of how far from the source of life we are; our spiritual life has gone nicely to sleep, and we don’t relish being awakened. Like the warming of a cold body, the healing hurts.
When a prophet comes along and awakens us, we feel the pain and usually do not want to listen. That is a prophet’s life – to tell the truth and point the way to the Lord. Imagine how the people felt about the prophet Elijah whose words were described as a flaming furnace! While all the prophets pointed the way to the Messiah, many of the chosen people refused to listen to their messages, and Elijah was no exception.
Elijah came from a humble background, but he believed in God and allied himself with God alone. He wore wild clothing, like John the Baptist did many years afterward, and he spoke truth to the king as John the Baptist did later to Herod. Elijah was driven by the truth and by the love of his brothers and sisters. It was not an easy calling, but he did and said what was right so that his people could experience redemption.
Like Elijah, we are called to speak truth to power. Real commitment to God means caring about others while not necessarily aligning ourselves with the popular view. It means bringing healing even when it is painful. It means being so spiritually alive, so on fire with the Spirit, that our words become a flaming furnace. It means we cannot be intimidated by others if we know we are speaking the truth in love.
Today sometimes people use the phrase “speaking truth to power” when they are simply trying to push their own emotional or political agenda. It is important that we remember Elijah listened and acted on what God told him, not on his personal agenda. So, listening to the Lord is the first step, then acting, and finally, remaining faithful to the end.
Elijah is our fourteenth Ornament of Grace.
Observing the Beautiful Ornaments
Have you ever been uncomfortable speaking truth to someone you love?
Why is it important you discern what is truth by listening to the Lord?