v 18 Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!
Poor old Elijah – he thought he was the last of the line of those who remained faithful to God! What feeling you hear behind his complaint to God ‘I’m the only one left now’. He clearly thought the faith of Israel was about to be extinguished and memories of God’s faithfulness would fade. But wait a minute Elijah, there’s another 7,000 like you. You may not know them, but I will preserve this faithful remnant as my witnesses in the nation.
That situation has often been repeated throughout history. Churches have been persecuted and numbers decimated, but God has protected a remnant for himself.
China has provided a massive demonstration of this in recent years. While the state laboured to squeeze faith out of the general population, the hidden, ‘Underground Church’ grew, maintaining a dynamic witness to the life of God. The Roman Empire tried to do much the same in the first couple of centuries, but there too God preserved a faithful remnant of his people.
In our day and age there are those who bemoan the small number of faith-filled Christian believers, or the decline in the number of churches – and we might share some of the pessimism that is prevalent. But the future of God’s people is not in human hands, it is God who declares ‘I will preserve’ and so he will. It does not mean he will protect any local Christian congregation for ever, but it does mean the bigger picture is certain – the church of God will go forward until the day of Jesus’ return.