Where Are You in the Journey: Taken from the Life of Elijah the Prophet
The Bible teaches that the Scriptures were given to us so we could learn from their example (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Out of all the biblical heroes, there was perhaps no one more enigmatic than Elijah, who experienced all the highs and lows most of us experience in our Christian and human journey. One day he was confronting the enemy; the next day he was running from the enemy in need a fresh word of the Lord to continue his mission.
The following passages on the life of Elijah show various stages all of us go through.I. The Alone Stage (1 Kings 17:1-7)
“And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.”
1. Often those God has called to serve Him feel alone in their journey with the Lord.
A. These are the times when we have to obey God even though we are not affirmed or recognized by others. Examples include: Mary the mother of Jesus when she was pregnant; Paul the Apostle when he first converted and the church didn’t receive him and he was rejected by the Jews; my wife when God first spoke to her to go as a missionary to the Soviet Union during the Moscow Olympics.
2. God often supernaturally sustains us emotionally while we are misunderstood by those who love us the most.
3. We must go by the Word of God during these times and allow the presence of the Lord to keep us on our journey.II. The Needy Stage (1 Kings 17:8-15)
“Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ ” So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.”
1. In this passage God used a poor widow to be the provider/deliverer to sustain Elijah’s life.
2. Many of us reject the very people God is sending to be our deliverer.
A. We don’t like who they are or what they say.
B. They don’t have the credentials we want them to have.
C. Perhaps we think they have nothing to offer us because of their outward appearance or monetary worth.
3. Sometimes all we need is the fellowship of one of the saints in our cell group.III. The Persevering and Testing Stage (1 Kings 17:17-24)
“Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. So she said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?” And he said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?” And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.” Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives!” Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth.””
1. The very person God was using to minister to him now suffered a tragedy.
A. This was a great test for the widow who was blaming God, and also for Elijah who was lodging there and would have to leave her house. This was no doubt a great test for all involved.
2. At first the boy did not come back to life, but only after Elijah prayed over him three times! This shows that often we have to persevere before we receive the blessing we are praying for.
3. It wasn’t until after Elijah passed the test of perseverance that the widow knew he was a man of God.
A. People are sick of seeing “flash in the pan” Christians who come and go, and never withstand opposition and tests!
B. Our friends, family, and neighbors are watching how we handle adversity before they believe in our God.IV. The Great Faith Stage (1 Kings 18:36-46)
“And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there. Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ ” Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
1. In this stage there is faith to call those things that are not as though they were–just like Elijah.
2. In this stage the fire of the Lord and the hand of the Lord are upon you, enabling you to run faster than everyone else as Elijah did.
3. You can stay in this stage as long as you stay humble and focused.
4. In this stage God is blessing everything you do, but once your guard is down you will segue into the next stage.V. The Discouragement Stage (1 Kings 19:1-4)
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”
1. Often our greatest tests come right after our greatest victories.
2. Sometimes discouragement leads to depression and the desire for the Lord to take you home!
3. God sees our humanness and doesn’t condemn us for feeling like this in various times in our life.
4. Satan used the dysfunctional relationship between Ahab and Jezebel as the foothold to go after the prophet. Many of our tests come because of the issues and lack of order in other people’s lives.VI. The Recharging Stage (1 Kings 19:3-8)
“Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.”
1. Sometimes the first thing God does to renew us is to get us to sleep.
2. Being constantly overtired and overworked can lead to burnout and depression. We have to balance our lives with work and physical, emotional, and spiritual renewal.
3. Another facet of self-renewal is to arise and ea; we can’t sleep all day.
4. The strength received during this time of rest and renewal was enough to carry Elijah 40 days to the mountain of the Lord. True rest and renewal should always point us back to the mountain of the Lord, which symbolizes God’s presence and power. Some people say they need a break, and then never return to their calling and mission!VII. The Reassessment Stage (1 Kings 19:9-13)
“And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1. God was able to refocus Elijah by asking him a question.
2. God wanted to aid Elijah in coming to his own conclusions.
A. Sometimes we give discouraged people all the answers. Most of the time the best thing we can do is encourage folks to look deep down inside and find the answers that they already have.
B. When we quickly give people answers we stop them from growing in the Lord.VIII. The Recommissioning Stage (1 Kings 19:13-18)
“So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Then the Lord said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.””
1. When godly assessment takes place it always leads us back to our original commission and calling.
2. Most of us need to be recommissioned by God on a continual basis. Because of life’s trials sometimes we lose our way or focus.
3. God told Elijah the answer he was seeking was to return back the way he came.
4. When he came back his ministry was successful. He was able to anoint two kings over nations and then replicate himself in another prophet who would influence the nation and do twice the miracles he did in his lifetime. (God always pays back the devil; instead of being able to kill Elijah, the devil now had to contend with someone even more powerful than Elijah!)
5. Lastly, God pointed Elijah back to His corporate body. The very body he was critical of God affirmed and praised, and said they had not fallen from His holy standards. Sometimes in our critical spirit we have an “Elijah Complex” in which we think the church is hypocritical and backslidden and we are the only true believers left in the community! This is pride and is not biblical.
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