Selected Sunday Scriptures- #81

Recent events led me to think about God’s Remnant. Several passages of scripture stand out when that theme is concerned. Here are a few, starting with the Prophet Elijah:

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke 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. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a] 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

(1 Kings 19:9-18)

Then we move to the Prophet Isaiah:

20 In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 For though your people Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. Destruction is decreed, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For the Lord God of hosts will make a full end, as decreed, in the midst of all the earth.

(Isaiah 10:20-22)

Finally, we have St. Paul writing to the Christian community in Rome:

 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham,[a] a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that would not see
    and ears that would not hear,
down to this very day.”

And David says,

“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
    and bend their backs forever.”

(Romans 11:1-10)

Something that has been difficult for me in the last few years was not having any fellow believers whom I could meaningfully talk with and connect with. As my faith was being reinvigorated during that time, the absence of the truly devout become ever more noticeable. Fortunately, over time I was able to find brothers and sisters in Christ who had not knelt to Baal. Some were discovered here, in this neck of the woods. Others I met in “real life”, in parishes that were off the beaten path. Discovering these people was something very reassuring to me, which is to my shame. I, like Elijah, had not trusted that God would save a faithful Remnant.

But I’ve met many among that Remnant, as of late. The recent Desolating Abomination which was raised in the US seems to have acted as a galvanizing force. Those few among the Remnant have, at least from my experience, been seeking one another out. In the past few days I’ve met many more than I had found in most of the previous year. More than a few were actively what could be done to adapt to the present age. Among most of the devout believers I’ve talked to in the last few days, there was a general consensus that things were going to get worse. My priest today echoed their thoughts, and said during his homily that persecution was coming. The matter of fact tone he used to describe what was coming wasn’t what was disturbing, however. It was the fact that, from what I could tell, no one in church was in the least bit surprised, much less shocked, by what he said. We know it is coming. In the meantime, these words of St. Paul seem appropriate:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; 16 above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…

(Ephesians 6:10-18)

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