Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. –2 Corinthians 6:1-2
The first thing to notice is that Elijah is at Horeb/Sinai on covenant business. Horeb is where God met Moses to commission him to lead Israel out of Egypt in faithfulness to His covenant promises. Horeb/Sinai is where the covenant of God with Israel was given. Horeb/Sinai is where the covenant was broken when Israel worshipped the golden calf. Elijah is at covenant mountain, a place of both grace and judgement, to transact covenant business.
When God asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”, God the Judge is inviting Elijah to state his case against Israel. Elijah is the covenant prosecutor laying charges against his own people for their failure to keep covenant with the LORD. Elijah doesn’t mince words: “For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword.” You might think Elijah should speak for Israel rather than against them. Moses often did. But that’s not what all the prophets do, nor are they only ministers of grace. Jeremiah accuses God’s people of unfaithfulness and God forbids him to intercede for them (Jeremiah 7:16). Instead, he must announce God’s rejection of them (Jeremiah 7:29).
Elijah’s return to Mount Sinai marks the end of one era, one characterized by Divine patience, and the beginning of another, one characterized by Divine purification. The temptation for covenant people is to think God’s patience lasts forever. That is simply not true which means that today is always the optimal day to seek the grace and mercy of God in Jesus Christ.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that God by His Spirit would protect us from receiving the grace of God in vain and that we would do the work of God which is to believe in Him Whom He has sent.
This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional. Rev. John van Eyk is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta.