Back in 1979, probably the most well-known independent Baptist pastor of the 20th century, Jerry Falwell, helped to establish an organization, and really a movement, called the Moral Majority. The premise was that the leaders in Washington, and the policies of the nation had taken a turn away from God and away from Biblical morality. But that’s not where most everyday Americans were. Most people were kind and decent, moral and God-fearing. They were the majority, and the movement was to harness the power of that large voting block to influence policy changes in the nation.
The Moral Majority probably hit its peak when it helped catapult Ronald Reagan to the Whitehouse. After two successful terms, and another Republican getting elected as President, it seemed that the nation was on a good path. And in 1989, just ten years after it had begun, Jerry Falwell disbanded the organization, and optimistically said, “Our goal has been achieved. The religious right is solidly in place and…religious conservatives in America are now in for the duration.”
My, my. How far how country has gone in just 27 years! The Moral Majority literally doesn’t exist anymore. Morality is out of style in America, and we suddenly find ourselves in a dwindling minority. A group that used to place Presidents and shape policy is now relegated to the sidelines. Outdated, irrelevant, and unimportant. What are we to do? How are we to be Christians in a post-Christian nation like this? How do we make a difference when Bible morality has been set aside? For the answer, we look to the Word of God.
The most wicked king and queen to have ever sat on the throne of Israel were Ahab and Jezebel. But God always has a man equal to the times, so in enters Elijah! He said to the king, “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” And for the next 3 1/2 years, there wasn’t a drop of rain in Israel.
Elijah was a fugitive during that whole time, but God sustained him. At first by a brook, being fed by ravens! Then God sent him to a poor widow woman — an unlikely place to be taken care of. But there God took care of both Elijah, and this woman and her son.
I’m sure Elijah consoled himself thinking about how the majority of the people were really against Ahab. When it came down to it, there would be a decision point, and the people would cast off this wicked king and queen, and turn back to God. No doubt he spent a lot of time fantasizing about what it would be like when Ahab was finally dethroned, and Jezebel put behind bars where she belonged! Then they could actually get a good king on the throne, and Israel would get back to its former glory!
After 3 1/2 years, he appeared to Ahab, and told him to gather all the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. There was a showdown that day, and Jehovah proved to His people that He was the only true God, by sending fire from heaven. They made some initial advances that day, but sadly in the end, nothing in the kingdom really changed. Ahab and Jezebel were still on the throne, and Elijah was back to standing alone.
He ran for his life, and ended up at Mount Horeb (Sinai) – the same place where Moses had met with God hundreds of years before. The Lord asked him, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” And he responded, “I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
He had been abandoned. Whereas he used to hold such influence and sway in the nation, and he was convinced most of the people were with him, now he felt utterly alone and betrayed. Everyone had forsaken God and forsaken him. He was the only one left standing. We’re going to see in a minute, that wasn’t really accurate, but it’s how he felt at this moment. Rational or not, this is where he was and how he was thinking.
God told him to go outside of the cave and stand on the edge of the mountain. A great wind came up! Then an earthquake! Then a fire! But the Bible says Elijah knew “the LORD was not in the wind…the LORD was not in the earthquake…the LORD was not in the fire.” “And after the fire a still small voice.” Through that soft voice, God told Elijah to get back to work. He wasn’t finished with him yet. He also had a young man named Elisha that he was to find and mentor. And then God informed Elijah that there were still 7,000 faithful people in Israel who had not compromised, who had not bowed the knee to Baal.
5 relevant thoughts from this Bible account:
1. Realize that God’s plans for our country are not our plans.
If you know your Bible history, you know that Israel never did make a moral and religious comeback. In fact, they were entering into a stage of rapid decline that would end with their destruction
People are always praying God would send revival and bring America back to her former glory, but God’s not the only one involved in that decision. In order for a nation to experience revival, the people have to be willing to turn to God. If they aren’t, it won’t happen. I don’t know what God has in store for the United States. It would be wonderful if a nation-wide repentance and turning back to God is right around the corner. But if it’s not, it could be that God’s purposes for this nation are about done. Let’s not demand that God restore America or else. He may have other plans.
2. Realize that God’s greatest work often doesn’t happen on a national scale, but in the lives of individuals.
Elijah thought that his whole ministry was about the showdown on Mount Carmel, and calling down fire before the nation, but it wasn’t. Elijah’s ministry was actually more about making a difference in the life of a poor widow woman in Zarepath. It was about mentoring a young man in the ministry. It wasn’t about politics, it was about people.
Elisha learned that lesson well. You don’t find him calling down fire, but most often just helping someone. A barren woman and her husband. An indebted widow. A sick child. A leper named Naaman, who wasn’t even an Israelite. God was doing great works through these men, but it wasn’t usually about what was happening to the nation at large, but the people in front of them.
I think we should be willing to think big, but act small. Our success isn’t measured by whether we can “reach America.” It’s about reaching your neighbor. It’s about winning your family. It’s about making a difference in one person’s life.
It’s always fun to be a part of the majority, and some big movement, but often God’s people are just a remnant. Reach one. That, too, is the work of God. How often did Jesus go out of His way for one? That should be us, too. Our nation is important. But nations come and go. The eternal soul of one person is even more precious in the sight of God.
3. Realize that the power of God isn’t found in the spectacular, but in the simplicity of His Word.
It’s not in the wind, or the earthquake or the fire. Usually God’s power and presence comes calmly and even silently, through His Word.
People are always looking for something spectacular. We come to church, and we want to feel something big! We want the church to have this “electricity” to it, and when the preaching comes, we want fireworks every time! Remember that God doesn’t often work and speak through big, miraculous, spectacular displays of His power. He speaks softly. He will speak to you, but you have to be willing to listen on purpose to hear Him.
I believe God wants to do a work through us, and in our nation, but let’s not expect some big “wind” to blow through Washington, DC, and fix everything. Instead, if God wants to do something powerful, He’ll do it little by little, in local churches all across this land, where the simple Word of God is preached, changing lives, one at a time.
4. Realize that God still has a job for us to do.
Just because we feel like we’re losing all the big moral battles on the national stage doesn’t mean what we’re doing is unimportant or irrelevant. When we meet for church, when we gather for fellowship, and when we go out to reach others with the Gospel, it may not feel like a “big deal,” but it is.
As a small-church, small-town pastor, I don’t have a “national platform” to preach from. I’m no Jerry Falwell. And that’s just fine by me. That doesn’t mean the message is less important. Our work is not measured by the number of people it touches, but by the God who sends us. Because it is His work, it’s a great work – whether it reaches 20 or 20 million!
5. Realize that you are not as alone as you may think you are.
I want to encourage you pastors and Christians that you’re not alone – not by a long shot. I know it can feel that way at times, when the whole world seems to be going the opposite direction. Maybe you find yourself in a situation where it feels like no one understands, or no is there to stand with you. But you’re not alone. That’s one reason why it’s good to go to a preacher’s meeting once in a while, or a men’s meeting, or a ladies’ retreat. Whenever you can go do something like that, take advantage of it! You’ll be encouraged just to know that you’re not alone.
Our nation is in decline, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t make a difference! God still has something important for us to do, as long as we’re okay if it isn’t big or spectacular. Our job may be a lot more “close to home.” Maybe like Noah, the way you can make the biggest impact on the world is just by getting your own family “aboard the ark.”
Don’t lose hope or get discouraged. God’s not done yet – not with us or with America. His plans are much bigger than just one election. He’s got it all under control. Let’s continue to stand as members of a remnant – the moral minority. And remember – though our numbers may be small – little is much when God is in it!