3/9/16 Sow the Wind

Hosea 8:7 For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

It’s worse than simply the whirlwind. Read it again.

It’s not just sowing the wind. Having been sown, the wind gives increase, thus the whirlwind. And the whirlwind? It has no stalk to bring forth buds; if it has buds, they yield no seed for the mill to grind, and even if it does, another will take by force and eat it: the stranger in the land, the coercers, the usurpers, the vandals, the Huns, the mongol hordes, the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, the Umayyads, the Conquistadors, the colonialists, the slavers…Jezebels and Ahabs, all, with their priests of Baal. There are others. You can insert your favorite whirlwindistas in here anywhere.

Sometimes, a whirlwind just overtakes a generation, though others may have sown the wind, unseen. The whirlwind claims what the whirlwind claims.

We, though, seem to have have been sowing a lot of wind. We are bound to reap the whirlwind, or so it seems, since this is nothing new. Everything works in cycles. In the prophet Elijah’s time, there was much sowing of wind. The whirlwind was Jezebel and Ahab. Elijah moaned.

After Elijah had called fire down from heaven to destroy Jezebel’s priests of Baal, this is what happened according to the biblical narrative:

1 Kings 19

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.

Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.

And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said,

It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.

And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?

And he said, 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.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?

And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because 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.

And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

The wind was sown. The whirlwind reaped. But God was not in the mighty wind. Nor was He in the earthquake. Nor was He in the fire. All of these passed before Elijah, Elijah expecting the Lord in them all. After they had passed, he heard the Lord in the still, small voice. He had to go through all of this to get beyond himself so he could hear the Lord. Oh, he could hear the angel of the Lord, saying, “Take and Eat,” which satisfied his fleshly cravings as well as his need for sustenance. But upon the second angelic command to take and eat, it seems as if forty days were upon Elijah, forty days of fasting and prayer, before he could get to the powerful display of the Lord’s majesty, and then to get through it all to the still, small voice.

“Poor, poor pitiful me. Things are so bad I want to die now,” said Elijah in my words, or rather, in words sung by Linda Ronstadt. It’s not that Elijah never heard the voice of the Lord throughout. He heard it the whole time. But he would not listen because of his own misery and folly at thinking he was the only one left the Lord could depend on and was peering over the edge of the precipice, Jezebel’s hell-hounds hot on his trail. The angel’s “Take and eat” was hearable because it addressed Elijah’s physical needs. “Go to Mount Horeb” was heard because this command got him further away from Jezebel and her host of assassins out to get the only God-worthy man left in all of creation.

Then the Lord then proclaims to Elijah his error, that there were yet seven thousand that had never bowed to Baal, nor kissed his image. The Lord is never, Never, NEVER without people. He never has been. He never will be. As far as I can tell, there has never been a time that God was without a representative among humans, and when humans in a relationship with God stumbled and fell, God, Himself, picked them up. Someone has always had a relationship with Him. Elijah, I suppose, was aghast at the idea that he was not the only one as he had thought. I suspect he was greatly embarrassed, much like Job in Job 38. I know that feeling. Job and I have at least that one thing in common, but that is about all. It is enough.

We are sowing the wind right now. We are sowing the wind by letting liars, demagogues, and charlatans be at the tops of the lists of those we would have serve us as leaders. We will likely reap the whirlwind. When we do, we need not expect to find God there, nor in the earthquake and fire that comes after. He has been right with us all along, whispering in our ear, but the din of the whirlwind, the crash of the earthquake, the roar of the fire . . . the cacophony of the P.T. Barnum-esque spectacle laid out before us drowns everything out, including His voice. Our ears are not attuned to hear. We are too busy reading political trash about trashy politics to see that even if we manage to harvest the fragile bud, another will likely eat it.

God is not on the ballot. His name is not listed on the screen of the voting machine. There is no button you can push for “Truth”, or “Justice”, or “Retribution.” There are only people listed, and in the din of the myriad shouting voices all clamoring to capture your attention, there is the still small voice, never shouting, never coercing, never altering. I have to slow down to hear it. And once heard, I have to struggle to understand what it says, and is it really speaking to me. To me?

God does not watch Fox News or CNN. He does not inhabit the pages of Huffington Post or The Daily Caller. He does not even check out Snopes.com, since He has no need, and if he did, Snopes may likely correct Him from any erroneous ideas He might have. And neither we, nor our pastors, nor our evangelists, nor our teachers, nor those in whom we place the highest levels of confidence are the only ones hearing the still, small voice, for as Elijah learned from the Lord Himself, there are yet seven thousand more. And if seven thousand, why not seventy thousand? Seven hundred thousand? Seven million? Seventy million? Seven hundred million?

I can think on many things: I can turn this into a rant that will excoriate all the things I see wrong in our process, our choices, and our nation…but no one would be served. It would not even make me feel better. So I am going with Philippians 4:8. You must look it up for yourself, or not: you get to choose. If you have read this far, it seems hardly worthwhile to quit now. You don’t even have to go and get your bible. Here’s a LINK.

These are the things I will think about as the world around me goes mad, and the whirlwind passes, the earthquake and the fire pass, and the stranger takes that which I would eat, all of this leaving me seemingly the sole remaining sane one.

I laugh at myself as I think about the seven thousand who existed in spite of Elijah’s ignorance, as if to think that Elijah’s ignorance had any impact on their existence. They are out there, unknown and unseen, likely living their lives not thinking about the things that drove Elijah to despair, but likely those things listed in Philippians 4:8, which can be extremely difficult in any one of many acrimonious election years, all acrimonious election years. This one is not a new one. It is not even the first one to imply something amiss with a candidate’s sexual organs, as John Adams was wickedly accused by an unsavory associate of Thomas Jefferson of being a hermaphrodite. I don’t find where John Adams defended his manhood on national TV, which is likely the only real difference in the Presidential election low-points.

Is there any other kind of election year besides acrimonious?

“We have not yet begun to see acrimony,” may have said the great naval hero John Paul Jones.

There’s plenty of time for acrimony between now and November. There will be whirlwinds of acrimony.

God will not be found in a single one of them.

©2016 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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