Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before Me.”
“I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air,
I only know, I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.”
John Greenleaf Whittier
Today’s Study Texts:
“And the word of the Lord came to him (Elijah), saying, ‘Go from here and turn east and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan.’”
1 Kings 17: 2, 3
“The Cherith Experience – Part 1
“You Want Me To Go Where?”
“The man (or woman) who is to take a high place before his (her) fellows, must take a low place before his (her) God; and there is no better manner of bringing someone down, than by dropping (them) suddenly out of a sphere to which (they) were beginning to think (themselves) essential; teaching (them) that (they) are not at all necessary to God’s plan; and compelling (them) to consider in the sequestered vale of some Cherith how mixed are (their) motives, and how insignificant (their) strength.”
F. B. Meyer
Elijah, And The Secret of His Power
Have I ever had a “Cherith” experience in my life where I felt I was really needed at a certain spot and then I found out God had other plans for my life?
If I had been in Elijah’s place, alone at Cherith, what do I think would have been the most difficult part of this situation for me to endure?
“The desert (or alone at Cherith!) is the place where God’s people learn hard lessons of life and faith. It is a place to learn the real priorities and there are no margins for error. In the desert there is no room for luxuries and no respect of human status or strength. To contemplate the desert, then, is to understand the call to walk by faith in God alone. It is a place that simplifies us, down to our true selves, until we are ready to meet the God of life and death.”
“Come, let us pay a visit to this man of God (Elijah) in his new dwelling place. Dead silence reigns, interrupted perhaps by the cry of the solitary bittern, while among the heath and juniper bushes broods the ostrich. All is wilderness and solitude. Not a human footprint is seen.”
F. W. Krummacher
It was from the outlying region of Gilead that Elijah appeared one day, sent to Samaria, the hub of Baal worship in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, to deliver God’s message at God’s moment in time.
We read in 1 Kings 17: 2, that after obediently following God’s instructions, Elijah received another message, which we’re told, “came to him” from God: “Go from here (Samaria) and turn east and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan.”
(1 Kings 17: 3, Amplified Bible).
For any of you who just happen to enjoy the game of baseball like my husband Jim does, there’s an interesting comparison which can be made between a truly star “athlete” on a baseball team who has just hit a grand slam homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning, enabling his team to win the World Series and Elijah’s task given by God. Once the crowd in a stadium goes home and the locker room settles down, what if the team owner came over to the hero of the day and with a pat on the back said: “Good job, you got things done right today. Now go pack up your bags. In fact, don’t even bother bringing your “things.” It’s unnecessary and unneeded where you are going.” About this point in time, I think our star would get a puzzled look on his face as he questioned the owner, “Just where is it that you want me to go?” Now the owner calmly tells his leading man-of-the-hour, “I’m sending you to our Single “A” team in a town called, Nobody Has Ever Heard of This Place.”
This is about what happened to Elijah. After scoring for God when it appeared everybody else was sitting on the sidelines enjoying the spectacle, God’s man was told to get so far off the beaten path that no one, and I mean absolutely no person, would find him.
Some Biblical commentators think this move by God could have been for Elijah’s protection. But with a great deal of study about God’s next, unexplainable relocation of Elijah, I’d like to share the thoughts which I came upon, shared by several scholars, but put into everyday, understandable language by one of my favorite authors, Pastor Charles Swindoll.
His enlightening assessment of the reason God had Elijah turn east of Jordan to the brook Cherith is found in the actual Hebrew term “Cherith.” Here’s how Pastor Swindoll explains the situation: “Although today no one can identify the location of that brook (Cherith), we do know that it derived its name from the original verb Cha-rath, which means ‘to cut off, to cut down.’ The word is used both ways in the Old Testament; as in being cut off from others or from blessings of a covenant, and also of being cut down, as one might cut down tall timber. Thus, while at Cherith, the man who had been a spokesman for God as he stood before Ahab would be ‘cut off’ from all involvement and activities that might prove stimulating to him. At the same time, Elijah would be ‘cut down’ to size as his Lord used that uncomfortable situation to force him to trust Him for each day’s needs.”
Pastor Swindoll goes on to call Elijah’s place at the brook, Camp Cherith -- a boot camp where Elijah went from being a spokesman for God to a man of God, and there can be a big difference between the two.
At boot camp, you learn to get the basics down before you become a specialist. And in God’s world, in His Boot Camp, the most basic fundamental which needs to be learned is who are we going to trust? Will we, have complete faith in God every minute of every day or are we going to try and take things into our own hands and run our lives without God’s total intervention?
The question of who we are going to let take control of our lives boils down to an interesting reason why God sent Elijah to a brook and not to a river.
One of my first thoughts as I read this story repeatedly was this: “Since God knew the brook would run dry, why didn’t He simplify things and remove Elijah from the bustle of Samaria, to a place of security by a year-round river like the Jordan? Instead, Elijah was sent to Cherith or the “wadi” Cherith as it was called, a seasonal brook that runs through a gully or ravine during the rainy months but is often dry the rest of the year. Is there a lesson for us? The answer is “Yes!”
There’s a lot we can learn from “Camp Cherith”, God’s boot camp for Elijah. I found one lesson apparent in the words of Charles Elliott, whose insight sheds light on God’s use of Cherith as a training ground, preparing Elijah for a ministry so great, I’m certain he couldn’t have imagined what God was up to. As Elliott explains: “It’s tough in the desert (or at Cherith where you are all alone!). It’s bewildering. It’s destructive. It’s hellish. Yet the testimony of the Old Testament, and ever more strongly, of the New, is that out of it comes new growth, new insight, new certainty that a God of love is at home among us.” What an important lesson this is!
It may be that right now you find yourself uprooted and alone. Placed in a spot where your survival depends on a trickling seasonal spring that looks as though it could run dry at any minute. As F. B. Meyer so poignantly explains, you may find yourself by a brook and your Father says: ‘Hide thyself in the Cherith of the sick chamber; or in the Cherith of bereavement; or in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away.’ Happy is (she) who can reply, ‘This Thy will is also mine; I flee unto Thee to hide me. Hide me in the secret of Thy tabernacle; and beneath the covert of Thy wings.’”
If you feel right now that you are inhabiting a lonely spot beside a little brook where you are confused and struggling to get by, never forget that as William Petersen so beautifully acknowledged: “Throughout Scripture we learn that God leads us to where He wants us to be and then cares for us. Even in the commonplace tedium of Cherith, we will see His daily miracles, if we look for them. That little brook with feeble supply of water sustains us!
God didn’t bring Elijah to Cherith just to “chop him down to size.” In fact, God’s goal was completely the opposite. By learning to totally trust in his heavenly Father, Elijah found an inexhaustible resource in his God who was his river that never could run dry. You and I can find the same strength by our brook for God has sent us there to learn to trust solely in Him.
“One evening, as we may imagine, Elijah reached the narrow gorge, down which the brook bounded with musical babble toward the Jordan. On either side the giant cliffs towered up, enclosing a little patch of blue sky. The interlacing boughs of the trees made a natural canopy in the hottest noon. What a lesson was this of God’s power to provide for His child! In after days, Elijah would often recur to it, as dating a new epoch in his life. ‘I can never doubt God again. I am thankful that He shut me off from all other supplies, and threw me back on Himself. I am sure that He will never fail me, whatever the circumstances of strait or trial through which He may call me to pass.’”
F. B. Meyer
“Heavenly Father, thank You for what You have done for me in the past. You have led me in my earlier life and will also lead on into the future. Deepen my confidence and trust in You. Help me to adjust to all change, knowing that the best is yet to be. In the name of Your Son, our great unchanging Christ. I pray.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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