ELIJAH: Trusting God in Lonely Places


TEXT
: 1 Kings 17:2-8


MAIN IDEAS

  • Lesson in Humility – God is in Charge
  • Lesson in Ministry – God is Powerful

REMEMBER

  • Preparation precedes influence
  • Embrae humility – God in charge
  • Let God be God – minister His way

EXTRA

‘It is doubtful that God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.’ A.W. Tozer

‘We must not be surprised, then, if sometimes our Father says: ‘There, child, thou hast had enough of this hurry, and publicity, and excitement; get thee hence, and hide thyself by the brook – hide thyself in the Cherith of the sick chamber; or in the Cherith of disappointed hopes; or in the Cherith of bereavement; or in some solitude from which the crowds have ebbed away.’ FB Meyer

‘The fact that we are told Elijah “was of the inhabitants of Gilead” is no doubt recorded as a sidelight upon his natural training. The people of those hills were rough and rugged, solemn and stern, dwelling in rude villages and subsisting by keeping flocks of sheep. Hardened by an open-air life, dressed in a cloak of camel’s hair, accustomed to spending most of his time in solitude, possessed of sinewy strength which enabled him to endure great physical strain, Elijah would present a marked contrast with the town dwellers in the lowland valleys, and more especially would he be distinguished from the pampered courtiers of the palace.’ AW Pink

‘Each of us has been programmed in his or her unconscious mind to believe that happiness, worth, joy–all the good things of life–depend upon something other than God. Our flesh (that innate disposition to oppose God) has responded happily to the world’s false teaching that we are sufficient to ourselves, that we can figure out a way to achieve true personal worth and social harmony without kneeling first at the cross of Christ. Satan has encouraged the development of a belief that we can meet our needs if only we had . . . The blank is filled in differently, depending on one’s particular temperament and family and cultural background. An unbelieving world system, energized by Satan and appealing to our fleshly natures, has squeezed us into the mold of assuming that something other than God offers personal reality and fulfillment.’ Larry Crabb

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Elijah explodes on the stage with a making a bold announcement to Israel’s king Ahab (read 17:1).  In order to understand the significance of this announcement, we need to understand its historical setting. The year is about 870 BC.  Israel has been split into two kingdoms for over sixty years: the southern kingdom, Judah, and the northern kingdom, Israel.

Ahab is the idolatrous king of Israel.  This is not a big deal in a democracy, but under God’s Old Testament arrangement with Israel, its kings were obligated to lead and protect the worship of God.  In fact, Ahab has led the Israelites away from God in an unparalleled way (16:29-33).  He not only permitted the worship of false gods; he also married the Sidonian princess Jezebel and they established the worship of Baal as Israel’s official religion, also executing God’s prophets (18:4).  Baalism was an extremely depraved form of idolatry

“Elijah” literally means “YHWH is God.”  Elijah is a prophet, an official spokesman for God to remind his people (including kings) of the agreement they entered into with him, and to call them back to him.  He stormed into Ahab’s presence in Samaria to announce that because Ahab had broken this agreement, God was bringing a drought on Israel as a disciplinary consequence.  This was part of the original agreement (Deut.11:16,17)—Elijah was simply announcing it beforehand so that Ahab and the people (hopefully) turn back to God when it happened. Thus begins a conflict (tension is a key element in any good story) between Ahab and Elijah (which personifies the deeper conflict between God and Baal), and which will reach its dramatic, public climax on Mt. Carmel three years later when Elijah takes on Ahab and several hundred prophets of Baal.  In the rest of chapter 17, God hides Elijah from Ahab and prepares him for this “show-down.”

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