Monday, September 21, 2009

The Days of Elijah - A devotion for Monday, 9/21/2009

The Days of Elijah

"Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite..." (1 Kings 21:28--ESV)

I remember once attending the worship practice at a friend's church when a dispute broke out over a song. The group had just begun to practice "The Days of Elijah" when a congregant (also observing the practice) began to vehemently complain. He forcefully stated "these are not the days of Elijah! That song is theological wrong and we shouldn't sing it!"

The worship pastor smiled and patiently asked "so, what are the days of Elijah?" After some resistance the man ultimately admitted he did not know. With great tact the leader then asked, "well, if you don't know what this phrase means then how can you claim the song is wrong?"

The fact is that these certainly are the days of Elijah--at least in the sense that we (like Elijah) are charged with declaring the Word of the Lord. The entire point of the song is that just like the ancient believers of old, we exist to embrace and live out a radical, counter-cultural faith.
Notice the words of the two main verses of this song listed below:

These are the days of Elijah,

Declaring the word of the Lord:
And these are the days of Your servant Moses,
Righteousness being restored.
And though these are days of great trial,
Of famine and darkness and sword,
Still, we are the voice in the desert crying
'Prepare ye the way of the Lord!

These are the days of Ezekiel,

The dry bones becoming as flesh;
And these are the days of Your servant David,
Rebuilding a temple of praise.
These are the days of the harvest,
The fields are as white in Your world,
And we are the labourers in Your vineyard,
Declaring the word of the Lord!

Will you boldly declare the Word of God as did Elijah?
Will you zealously seek to live in righteousness as did Moses?
Will you embrace the Spirit-given life as did Ezekiel?
Will you build a temple of praise as did David?
Will you labor in service to Jesus as did the apostles?

These are the days.

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  1. David did not build a temple. Solomon did. Ezra rebuilt it. So yes, this song is inaccurate. :)

  2. It never ceases to amaze me how people strain at gnats! :o)

    Certainly Solomon built the temple, but he did so with David's plans and the massive resources David had already acquired. So while we can legitimately refer to it as "Solomon's Temple", we can also call it "David's Temple" (as many of the ancient rabbi's actually did). In fact, in scanning scholarly literature I find it referred to as David's Temple nearly as often as Solomon's. I would argue it is more David's than Solomon's. God gave the dream and plans to David. David did all the preparation. Solomon just hired the workers.

    Ezra's rebuilding has nothing to do with the discussion or song, as the song is talking about we as modern Christians "rebuilding the Temple" (e.g. our own lives being the new Temple).

  3. And what do you do about the days of Moses, and righteousness being restored? Obviously, Moses didn't restore righteousness, at least not to its fullest sense like Christ has done. I would suggest looking at every aspect of the song before you start singing it wholeheartedly in a worship setting. Also, the numerous times that "There's no God like Jehovah" is sung, should be an indicator that any song that has that much repetition, has really lost any relative significance.

  4. Your analysis of Old Testament history is in error, I am afraid. Moses was used by God to restore holiness (via the Law) to God's people. That is why the Pentateuch is THE foundational section of all of scripture. Christ established and fulfilled the holiness that was revealed in the Pentateuch.

    Hence, the very reason we CAN sing "these are the days of your servant Moses, righteousness being restored" is because Christ lives in us, fulfilling the Law of Moses on our behalf and making us His holy people.

    Frankly, the song is deeply theological. It certainly would please Calvin, Luther, and Augustine. I can't imagine why any believer wouldn't sing this song wholeheartedly, unless stemming from his poor theological understanding of scripture.

    As for the repitition, I think an honest assessment of your statement would admit that is just a personal dislike for repitition, and not an argument that carries any weight. Some Psalms are even more repetitious, which certainly doesnt mean they have thus lost significance for being so. I will admit, I think this particular instance of repitition is poorly done, but that is more a matter of my preference regarding poetic and musical style.