Sunday, February 13, 2022

Hebrew Word Study: See Ra'ah

“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.”

Jezebel is absolutely horrified by the fact that this great prophet, Elijah, defeated her false prophets, in his greatest victory for the kingdom of Israel. Elijah had been so bold in facing down all the evil in his time. But when Elijah “saw” that Jezebel was threatening his life, he ran.

And that brings us to our Hebrew word for today, “Ra’ah” which means “to see.” But there is a dual meaning here, because this Hebrew word can also mean to tremble, or to be afraid.

Elijah saw the situation with Jezebel threatening his life. And for him, this meant that he perceived something spiritually, and something physically. He perceived that his life was physically in danger. But he also seemed to perceive something spiritually. The meaning of Ra’ah is dual in that the seeing can mean worldly seeing and/or spiritually seeing. So Elijah runs for his life, but, he runs toward a spiritually defense position. He runs to mount Horeb, the mountain of God.

And that is my first point for you today. If you’re on the edge, if you’re struggling and you don’t know what to do, sometimes it’s OK to simply retreat into hiding for a while. Just make sure you retreat to the right place. Take it to God directly. Elijah ran to meet with God. To the mountain of God, mount Horeb, which was in Judah.

Are you someone who lets fear control your life? For most people of the world, they will by fear. Fear, anxiety, anxious rushing about from one thing to another, and we saw that fear on full display, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fear took over, and rouse so high, it formed a hysteria that some still seem to be caught up in. Will they ever leave it? Or will they be hysterically afraid for the rest of their lives?

That’s the second point today: We can’t let fear control our lives. We simply can’t. But as Christians we will face fear. It’s a reality of this fallen sinful world. But we can’t let fear control who we are. We can’t let it define us.

We can keep fear under the control of God, by fearing God first. If we fear God, and tremble before God, we don’t have to be afraid of any person, or any situation. Yes, we will feel fear from time to time, but we don’t have to be controlled by it. Jesus Christ has broken the power of fear over us.

Elijah was afraid, but he fled toward God, not away from Him. And when He met with God, he was so disappointed in himself, in his own fear, that led him to flee from Jezebel, that he said to God, “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

1st Kings 19:4 “He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

I have said this in my life many, many times to God. Take my life Lord. I’m no better than my ancestors. Usually it’s after I’ve stumbled into some temporary temptation, or if I outright stumble into sin, like we sometimes do as Christians, because our flesh is weak, I find myself, I think rightly saying to God, I’m no better than my ancestors. I’m no better than the people of this messed up world who do so much evil.

But that’s where God’s grace comes in. His scandalous grace. It isn’t the end at that moment, even though it may feel that way, God knows my weakness. And he invites me to turn again to Him, to run to His mountain, which is Him, in Jesus Christ, and to find forgiveness afresh and anew. And despite the fact that it seems true to me, that I’m no better than my ancestors, and I deserve to die, never-the-less God says I’m changing you into the likeness of my Son. You are still like them in your flesh, but in my Spirit you are alive and new and different.

But as we fall at God’s feet in despair, like Elijah did, we can do something very special, which is my next point to you today: Give it all over to God.

Lord I am not enough. I can’t do it alone. I give over all of myself to you, with all my flaws.

Elijah made it to Horeb, after 40 days of journeying, it says in verse 9:

9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

How similar we are to the people of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness with Moses. Just as we turn to enter our promised land, we run for our lives in fear, despite all we’ve seen, we’re terrified and we flee.

What am I doing here? You might ask yourself. Why did I run? Why am I hiding in this cave?

It’s through these baffling experiences of life, of fear, of trauma, of death, of doubt, of sin, of weakness, that as we wrestle with these baffling, shocking realities of life on Earth, we eventually encounter God, as we seek Him through the struggle.

If you are in that dark trial, fleeing, struggling, make sure you seek God in the struggle. And in the abrasiveness, the cold, the oily mess, you may yet find yourself in a cave, and yet a light appears, and the God of the universe asks you, “What are you doing here?”

And after God posed that question to Elijah, God revealed himself in one of the most mysterious scriptures of the Bible, where we see a storm, an earthquake, a heavy wind, and then a soft, small voice. God’s glory comes, and we’re amazed, and transformed by God.

And the journey continues. My final point today: God will transform you through the mess, after you’ve sought him diligently. And then, the journey continues.

The spiritual life is like two dogs, one dog is named fear, the other dog is named faith. They are fighting. One will keep you, one will kill you. Which dog will win? The one that you feed. Feed the faith dog, in prayer, Bible reading, seeking God, church, and so on, feed the fear dog with television, social media, news, drugs, etc. Which will you feed? In the critical moment, seek God, and you will be transformed.