Chariots of Fire
‘Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.’ -2 Kings 2
EVERY LIFE IS FULL of days. But not all days are full of life. Ahab and Elijah both end their earthly lives in a chariot: one is a chariot of blood, the other of fire. It is an ending marked with shame for the first man. It is a moment of unparalleled glory for the second man. Elijah lived every day with eternity in view. Now he steps into that place where his heart has long resided.
There are three great moments in the life of every Christian. The first is the day of his birth. Over this moment he has no influence and is powerless to stop it. The second great moment is the day he meets his saviour. The third great moment is the day of his death. We may be powerless to stop the fact that we will die, but we are not powerless to influence how much glory will be in that moment.
For the secularist, there is no glory in death. If we take the material view, then the bio-machine that carries you around and gives you the illusions of consciousness, dignity, beauty, and love merely falters. The sad mystery that is organic ageing ends yet another one of those peculiar accidents that manifested themselves upon planet earth.
By contrast, the Christian will step into eternity knowing, that both by life and by death, he is the sole property of Jesus Christ. Whether the days of his life have been numerous or few, Christ is there at the end. He has been bought with his Master’s blood and the grave does not hold final claim over him. He dies with confidence―not because he thinks that he has been a great Christian―but because he knows that Jesus is a great Saviour.
I do not fully understand how rewards in Eternity work. But Jesus speaks of them. Since eternal life is a gift from Christ, many of us are hesitant to focus on rewards. And yet we must. Scripture demands it. Eternity will be an unspeakable joy for all of God’s hallowed people, but somehow there are things we can do to enrich that.
Jesus commands us to store up riches in heaven. Somehow the sacrifices we make for the name of Christ in this life will greet us a hundred-fold on the other side. Jesus commanded us to use our worldly resources so that eternal friends would be there to greet us in greater number on that final day. Heaven will be great for all. Our Creator will be there and we will see His face. But we are also guaranteed that we will never regret the sacrifices we made here on Earth of in order to give, fast, pray, and witnesses for Christ. Jesus is not only a great Saviour, he is also a great Rewarder.
That is why we must consider Eternity’s chariots. They are more real than anything else in our lives. Those eternal hooves are more solid than the paperback or kindle in your hands now.
A solid vision of eternity changes how we live here on earth―giving us far more strength to serve God, bless others, rebuke fake teachers, and glorify God. Let’s illustrate this. Imagine a friend asks you to do a job for eight hours. He says that if you do it, he will pay you £50 ($60) at the end of the day. You agree and get to work. But no so sooner had you started, then people come in and start making fun of you as you work, calling you rude names. A crack appears in the ceiling above you and it starts raining on you. Your tools break, making the job far more difficult than you thought.
What would you do? Most would leave. The £50 would not seem worth the abuse. But imagine you are promised £50 million for that eight hours. At the end of the day, you will have riches like never before. How would you then experience the difficulties? Very differently. You would be whistling as it rained on you. You would cheerfully wave as the people made fun of you. And the blisters you got from your hard work would be incomparable to the riches that await you at the end of the day.
That’s life. That is our reward. Yet we so often forget it―and we are weaker in life’s difficulties as a result.
Live for that final day. Ask God to print a vision of a chariot on your eyes. If you do, you will live differently. Tribulations that overwhelm others, will only feel to you as ‘light affliction’ (Rom 8). Generosity will come easy, because what you give away is merely stuff that fades. You can endure short hunger pains when fasting, because you see the eternal difference it is making. Your ears can endure the mockery of others, because you are daily preparing your ears to hear ‘Well done good and faithful servant’ from their Creator. Do not leave this life timidly. Rage against hell until your final day. Eternity will be your retirement.
This has been an extract from our book Elijah Men Eat Meat: Readings to slaughter your inner Ahab and pursue Revival and Reform