One of the phrases Elijah used repeatedly was, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand." Standing before the absolute Potentate of the entire universe -- what an awesome privilege! Yet, it is the place God wants every New Testament believer to have. Throne room access was purchased for us by Jesus' blood, but very few of us have it as an experiential reality in our lives. Why? It is about relationship. Although Elijah lived under the old covenant of the law, he managed to tap into what God desires for the Spirit-filled believer today. Elijah knew experientially, vividly, what it meant to "stand before the Lord." What did he have that so many of us -- even baptized-in-the-Spirit, tongue-speaking, faith-declaring believers -- are lacking?
Elijah was a diligent seeker. Hebrews 11:6 says, "... he [God] is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." Elijah went after his God with his whole heart. He listened to the Lover of his soul with intensity, because he loved God's voice. What do you think Elijah did during the years of the drought he had prophesied, while he sat by Cherith Brook (1 Kings 17:5, 6)? He didn't just think, from morning until night, about the next meal of bread and meat that the ravens would bring. He spent time with God, interceding for his beloved people Israel and listening to God's heart.
God holds up Elijah as an example for the rest of us:
James 5:16-18 -- The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. He prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth fruit.
Elijah did not begin his life as an intercessor and listener at Cherith. The time spent alone with God there was an extension of what was already Elijah's way of life. He already clearly understood what it was to stand before the Lord. We know this, because when he first appears in the Bible, a virtually unknown prophet, he tells King Ahab that he comes in the authority of one who stands in the Presence of the Lord. (1 Kings 17:1)
Sometimes people get a wrong idea of what decreeing things is all about. They use Elijah as an example of decreeing and receiving. They say that because we speak, our innate authority as believers makes it happen. I think there might be a little more to it than that.
God did not hold back the rain for three and a half years just because Elijah spoke it. Elijah's decree was established because he was in intimate communication with God, and he knew that it was God's directive that it was not to rain until Elijah said so. He had his decree from the throne room, where he stood and received God's counsel. He spoke what he had heard from God. This is why some Christians decree right and left, yet nothing happens. They didn't get it from the throne room; they just thought it was a good idea.
Jesus Himself said, "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things. ... for I do always those things that please him." (John 8:28, 29) Jesus also said, "I speak that which I have seen with my Father ...." (John 8:38) I think that is what Elijah also experienced: doing and speaking what he had seen and heard in the very Presence of God.
I am suggesting that when Elijah said, "The LORD God of Israel ... before whom I stand," what he was talking about was knowing experientially what it was to stand in the actual throne room of heaven, and it was from that experience that he derived his prayers, his strategies, and the amazing decrees that he so boldly pronounced (and which God backed up with thunderous answers).
Elisha also knew what it was to stand before the Lord. He referred to his relationship with God in the same words as Elijah had used before him, which is not surprising, since he received Elijah's mantle. No doubt during the years that Elisha served as a prophet-in-training, Elijah poured into him all that he knew about having intimacy with God.
I believe Jeremiah and Samuel both "stood before the LORD" as well. God promised it conditionally to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 15:19 -- "... and you shall stand before me." The condition which Jeremiah was required to meet in order to stand before God was that he needed to repent of questioning God's faithfulness and truth. He needed to repent of doubt. He needed to "take forth the precious from the vile" so that he could be God's mouthpiece -- which meant separating out of his life wrong speech and carnal ways of acting and thinking, but especially the speaking part. (See Jeremiah 15:15-19.) Samuel must have "stood before the LORD" also, because "the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground." (1 Samuel 3:19) This involved prophesying and decreeing.
What is standing before the Lord like? In detail, what is involved? I have pondered these questions a great deal, and I believe the Lord has given me some understanding on the subject:
This requires an acute sensitivity to Him. Psalm 123:2 -- Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God ....
I began to wonder just how close to God Elijah stood. Was he standing at a distance in a massive palace, just one attendant among thousands and thousands, waiting his turn and hoping to be noticed and called upon? At first glance this may seem like a foolish question, but since I desired to stand before the Lord like Elijah did, I desperately wanted to know how close I could get! As I pondered my question, God simply spoke to me, "Put your hand in Mine." Mentally I obeyed, putting my hand in the hand of the King on the throne. And then He quietly said, "This is how it is." I suddenly understood what Elijah had experienced. He did not receive his revelation in an impersonal manner from the Lord. He took the hand of the King, gazed intently into His eyes, and they communed over the plans of God. Awesome! It was an entirely new idea for me. It has revolutionized my intercessory prayer life.
When we read Elijah's story, we see that he never said, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I have stood." His words were, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand." It is always a present tense expression of his relationship with his God. I believe that Elijah not only phrased it in the present tense; he lived a present tense experience of continually being in the throne room. That is where God wants to take modern-day believers as well. It is possible to come to the place of being so continually in the Lord's Presence, that it is as though we never step out of the throne room. We commune constantly with the King of Kings. I'm not there yet, but I'm convinced that that's what God desires -- here on earth, not just after we die. It's a goal to reach for, to hunger after, to get as near to as we possibly can.
So, where do we start? Once again, it is the way of the Diligent Seeker: "... He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) I'm on my way. Would you like to come along?
© 2007 by Lee Ann Rubsam. All rights reserved.