The song “Days of Elijah,” penned by songwriter Robin Mark, is a song of hope and courage sung by many congregations today. On his website the author shared the inspiration for his song: “…the song came from watching a television “Review of the Year” at the end of 1994. This was the year of the Rwandan civil war tragedy which claimed 1 million people’s lives, and also when the first ceasefires in N.I. were declared. On this TV review were a lot of daft stories, happy stories, serious stories, and then absolutely devastating stories like the Rwandan situation. As I watched the review unfold I found myself despairing about the state of the world and, in prayer, began asking God if He was really in control and what sort of days were we living in.”
These are the days of Elijah
Declaring the Word of the Lord, yes
And these are the days of his servant, Moses
Righteousness being restored
And these are the days of great trial
Of famine and darkness and sword
So we are the voice in the desert crying
Prepare ye the way of the Lord
Behold he comes
Riding on a cloud
Shining like the sun
At the trumpet’s call
Lift your voice
It’s the year of jubilee
And out of Zion’s hill salvation comes
Robin continued: “I felt in my spirit that He replied to my prayer by saying that indeed He was very much in control and that the days we were living in were special times when He would require Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal. “These are ‘Elijah’ days”. Elijah’s story is in the book of Kings and you can read how he felt isolated and alone in the culture in which he lived. But God told him to stand up and speak for Him.”
The Gospel writer Mark begins his gospel not with the birth of Christ (like Matthew and Luke), but with the story of John the Baptist.
2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” 3 “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
Mark does not use a lot of Old Testament Scriptures. The only other places he does so is when he quotes Jesus quoting the Old Testament. Many believe he does this because his audience is a gentile one and they would not be familiar with Jewish writings. But Mark starts out by quoting this Scripture, why?
His quote is actually a mixture of Scriptures: Exodus 23:20 & Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3. Mark reveals that the Torah, the Major Prophets AND the Minor Prophets all proclaimed the forerunner of the Lord, John the Baptist. He quotes the Scriptures to declare that the story of Jesus didn’t begin in a vacuum. There is history. This story is the fulfillment of the plan of God.
Remember, the Jews thought a cross was a curse. The Gentiles thought a crucified King was the punchline of a sick joke. And Mark wants us all to know from the beginning: “This is the fulfillment of the plan of God.”
Out of the wilderness of Israel’s journey with God (700 years without a prophet) a voice proclaims the way of the Lord. The world we live in — everyday and in every way– “doesn’t want to hear the message of Jesus!” We can find ourselves “despairing about the state of the world” and pray, asking God if he is “really in control.” Are we as faithful as John to, even in this fallen world, “prepare the way of the Lord?”
As Mark’s lyrics points out, today, WE are the voices in the desert crying: prepare the way for our Lord’s second coming! Why” Because it is we that that have the hope that one day “out of Zion’s hills, salvation comes!”