On the Verge

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

1 Kings 19:1-8: Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.


In stressful times like these, we sometimes are going to feel down. We may get so down that we think we cannot get back up. If we recognize that reality, our chances of coping when the time comes will improve dramatically.

Our verses above are just a small part of a long story in 1 Kings about a struggle between God’s prophet, Elijah, and the idolatrous Queen Jezebel. Here’s the irony: Elijah’s fear and ultimate collapse occurred right after a great victory over the Jezebel-sponsored prophets of Baal.

It’s not as strange as it sounds. Elijah had been caught up in what was, for all practical purposes, a war. There was a ritual battle to call down fire from the sky. That, and the slaughter that followed, left him as vulnerable as any soldier who has just experienced fierce fighting.

“The greatest danger is the moment of victory,” said Napoleon Bonaparte of the mental fatigue and malaise that occur when soldiers have fought and then suddenly stop. Even winning doesn’t counter the collapse that can follow.

We need to remember that once this Covid-19 virus is defeated; we may have some odd reactions once the crisis is over.

Elijah ran, but in running, he did one thing right. He cried out to God. The prayer was as simple and inappropriate as “take away my life,” but at least the prophet knew to call on God. And instead of death, he received grace, in the form of angel cake and water, allowing him to be restored and hear more from God.

If you find yourself on the verge of collapse, cry out to God with whatever is on your heart. Grace will come—after all, we worship the God who poured out saving grace, the kind of grace that allows us to keep going for all eternity.

Lord, we are a broken people, but restore to us our best lives so we may serve you better. Amen.

Seven Churches: False Teachings

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

Revelation 2:12-29

As we continue our exploration of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation, let’s deal with the churches at Pergamum and Thyatira together.

In appearance, they were significantly different cities. Pergamum officially was the provincial capital of the Roman Empire, described in other sources as a wealthy and beautiful city. Thyatira lay about 45 miles to the east, and while not considered a great city, it was very commercial, undergirded by a network of trade guilds.

The churches within these cities had the same basic problem. False teaching had made its way inside.

Paganism surrounding the churches exacerbated their situations. Pergamum was a city known for pagan temples set aside for the worship of the Roman emperor and other supposed deities. Several of these temples offered sex with temple priestesses as part of their rituals. No wonder John the Revelator referred to Pergamum as the “city where Satan has his throne.”

In Thyatira, the trade guilds each had a particular patron deity, and their festivals also emphasized sexual revelry. In both cities, there also would have been the consumption of food sacrificed to idols, which implied participation in unholy worship.

These were tough places for Christians to try to live out their basic commitments to marriage as described by Jesus and the apostles. Most people around them would have questioned the Christians’ unwillingness to participate in premarital and extramarital sex.

I have no doubt that at some point, more than one person said to the Christians, “Hey, everybody is doing it!” In our sex-saturated culture, we should certainly understand the struggle, assuming we take our own commitments to Christ seriously.

It’s also not hard to see how dynamic, alluring liars could begin to deceive these churches, convincing their members it was okay to hang out at the temples, fully enjoy the festivities and still be in good standing with Christ. As in any era, it was a message some church members were itching to hear.

In Pergamum, the lies seem to have been carried into the church by organized heretical sects, while in Thyatira, Christ’s condemnation fell upon one false prophet in particular, a woman referred to as “Jezebel” in an Old Testament allusion.

Regardless of who led these Christians toward sin, the solution was simple, these letters said. Repent—stop doing what Jesus and his apostles taught is wrong. And then cling to doing what is right, knowing you will receive your eternal reward!

As old-fashioned as the formula may sound, it remains the best advice for today.

Lord, thank you for the well-established Scripture we now have to clearly instruct us about your will in all things. Where we have been wrong as individuals and churches, may we repent, and may we follow your teachings closely as we proceed. Amen.