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There is a story in the Bible of the prophet Elijah. He confronted Jezebel and turned Israel away from idolatry back to the Lord. Then he fled to safety in a mountain cave. While waiting in seclusion, it came time to meet with God for fresh marching orders. Outside the cave, the Lord caused a wind, a shaking, a fire. But God wasn't in those. The Lord came to him in a gentle breeze. He had to be quiet to hear.

It wasn't a plague that drove Elijah to isolation, it was a threat from Jezebel. In the Bible, other people fled from famines. Seeking safety in solitude isn't new. Some alone time is rejuvenating. It's a time to find sacred space, to be still, and hear from God.

Who knew? While shut in and self-isolating, I've shared the word of the Lord with hundreds of people. This was due to the amazing internet, my iPhone camera, and YouTube. In fact, my videos are still posted and still being viewed. What a strange new world this is! I feel like Elijah preaching from a cave, like a reformer broadcasting from an underground bunker.

The first six-minute clip I produced was about the church being shut in. I had seen how the shut-in was symbolic, an alert from God. This was allowed to happen for a reason. Why? Because church leaders had closed down the saints, so the Lord closed down their business.

What do I mean by "closed down the saints?" The business of leaders is not to preach endless sermons to passive crowds. The business of all pastors is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. This is described in Ephesians 4:11-13. But they haven't been doing that. The pastors are failing in their mission. Therefore, God decided to put a blockage in their business model.

Nothing gets your attention quite like hunger. If you don't have food on your table, your empty belly will grab your attention. That's the way our body is made. Whenever a famine occurs, food becomes scarce. The way the church works, if people can't gather, they usually don't give offerings. The pastor lives off the offerings, so his family goes hungry. The storehouse was bare.

The pestilence, the plague, the pandemic, has caused millions of people to go hungry. Worldwide, it is catastrophic. Most poor people in the world don't have Walmart down the street. The fact is, if you had to pick a place to suffer a famine, there's no better place on the planet than in NW Arkansas - the home of Tyson's chicken, J.B. Hunt trucking, and where Walmart has its world headquarters. The supply chain for food is richer in this place than anywhere on earth.

I'm not saying God caused the pandemic. God doesn't cause evil. But the opportunity for evil does occur in this sin-prone, fallen world where people have free will and danger exists. We are not living in paradise nor is this a utopia. We still live in mortal bodies this side of heaven. Humans are subject to aging, disasters, and disease. However, the Lord has provided a way of escape. He wants mankind to exercise dominion, to make things right that have gone wrong. We are created to do that on the earth. God will show smart people how to defeat this plague and preserve our health.

As the church re-opens, let's take stock in how we carry out the mission. Move to an equipping mode. Train workers. Multiply laborers for the Lord's harvest.

--RON WOOD IS A RETIRED PASTOR AND AUTHOR. CONTACT HIM AT [email protected] OR VISIT WWW.TOUCHEDBYGRACE.ORG OR FOLLOW HIM AT TOUCHED BY GRACE ON FACEBOOK. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.

Religion on 05/27/2020

Print Headline: Reaching Out With The Word Of God, Like Elijah In The Cave

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