My text tonight comes from 1 Kings beginning with Chapter 17.
Chapter 17 is where the Prophet Elijah comes onto the scene, and tonight I want to look at him and his life. Both his ups and his downs. Elijah as we know, is considered to be one of the greatest Prophets of God.
Not only did he show up the prophets of Baal with fire coming down from heaven consuming a water soaked altar and sacrifice, but he was also involved in the miracle of the unending flour and oil with the widow of Zarephath, the raising of her son from the dead, fire coming down and consuming 100 military men, then he going up in chariot of fire pulled by horses on fire in a whirlwind into heaven. He was a Prophet that was greatly feared because he truly was the mouthpiece of God during his day, and he displayed the power of God where ever God had him travel.
I truly believe just by reading the accounts of Elijah, I would figure he was a man that would have rather stayed home and been a teacher, hung with family, or been left alone, than doing what God called him to do. But Elijah was obedient, that is what marked him, and he knew God, and believed him, and it was evident, and God blessed him, and anointed him, until he honored Elijah by taking him into heaven alive in a blaze of glory.
But even though Elijah walked in such an anointing, he was just a man, but a man after God's heart. How could he be anything less to be the Prophet that he was? Even though Elijah just suddenly shows up in 1 Kings chapter 17, we have to believe that he had a deep relationship with God. You just don't walk up to the King of Israel out of nowhere and tell him that God says there is going to be no dew or rain. Tell the king, a famines coming.
But before I get more into more of my message on Elijah, a little history leading to him.
As we know from the Word of God in the Old Testament, the Kingdom of Israel, once united under King Solomon, King David's son, was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel and southern Kingdom of Judah as noted in 1 Kings 12.
Omri, the sixth King of Israel, or King of the Northern Kingdom continued ungodly policies dating to the reign of Jeroboam, the first King from the split. Jeroboam contrary to the religious law of the Jews, intended to remove religious focus away from Jerusalem and the Temple by encouraging the building of local temple altars for sacrifices in his kingdom. Three times a year, males were supposed to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, as stated in Exodus 23:17 to make sacrifices unto the Lord, but that ended by all accounts in the Northern Kingdom.
King Omri appointing priests from outside the family of the Levites, which was against the Law of God, and allowed or encouraged temples dedicated to Baal an ancient deity in the Canaanite religion to be built in the Northern Kingdom.
King Omri trying to create alliances for national security set a marriage between his son Ahab and princess Jezebel of Sidon who was a priestess of the pagan god Baal.
Sidon is now called Sayda, and is the 3rd largest city in Lebanon today. Sidon was a city state. So we see that this kingdom was on Israel's northern border.
The alliance may have brought security, but paganism was allowed to flourish which came into direct conflict with the law of the All Might God, Jehovah.
When Ahab became King, he built temples for Baal, and his wife Jezebel brought in priests and prophets of Baal and Asherah into the country. In Chapter 17, Elijah come onto the scene as a Prophet of God to combat the all out attempt by Ahab, with the leading of his pagan wife Jezebel to erase the name of God from the Kingdom of Israel.
Unfortunately for Israel, Ahab had come from a line of Kings of Israel who had done evil in the sight of the Lord as the scripture states. Surprisingly, there were a total of 18 king of the Northern Kingdom. Only one king, Jehu whom God used to eliminate Ahab's Heirs, and kill Jezebel, was looked upon as being somewhat aligned with the leading of the Lord, but he too had major faults.
When we read of the Prophet Elijah coming onto the scene his first act as I said earlier is to pronounce a Famine. God said that "there will be no dew, nor rain these years, except by my word. " The famine coming because God had enough of Israel and their kings, and especially Ahab & Jezebel.
Moving to Chapter 18, the Prophet Elijah displays the power of Jehovah to the Children of Israel, by confronting the prophets of Baal, building an altar to God, and God sending fire from heaven that consumes that altar. Through the whole process of the altar event, the people believe in God, and the pagan prophets of Baal are seized, and slaughtered by Elijah.
After the prophets of Baal are dispatched, and the people believe, God moves to lift His hand and end the famine and bring rain. Here God uses Elijah again.
Now my point tonight isn't to speak about the power of the Prophet which was so evident, but to use him as an example for us for the benefit of our lives, and that brings me next to verse 41 of 1 Kings 18.
Lets go there in our Bibles or your device. The Word states: (now this is after the Prophets of Baal have been done away with, and the people have repented.)
"Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a rainstorm. "So Ahab went to eat and drink, but Elijah went up to the summit of Carmel. He bowed down on the ground and put his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, "Go up and look toward the sea." So he went up, looked, and said, "There's nothing." Seven times Elijah said, "Go back." On the seventh time, he reported, "There's a cloud as small as a man's hand coming from the sea." Then Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Get your chariot ready and go down so the rain doesn't stop you.'" In a little while, the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and there was a downpour. So Ahab got in his chariot and went to Jezreel. The power of the Lord was on Elijah,"
It states that seven times Elijah told his servant to, "go back."
The Lord had spoke to Elijah. He gave Elijah a Word. He told Elijah that He was going to lift the famine. Elijah heard the Word, because Elijah had an ear for the Lord. He had to have an ear to hear God to do what he did.
In this, Elijah is showing us something in these scriptures.
1. Elijah hears the voice of God.
Elijah's relationship with God, gave him a hearing ear. He knew the voice of God when He spoke to Him. That hearing only comes from being in the Presence of God.
2. Elijah speaks the Word of God.
He tells Ahab in verse 41, "go up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundant rain."
(When Elijah said this, there was no rain. I do not believe Elijah heard anything outside of the Word from God. But he spoke what God said, in faith. He prophesied the rain. Elijah heard from God, and spoke it as though it happened. If Elijah had kept it to himself and did not act on the Revelation from God, I do not believe anything would have happened. Elijah in his faith spoke and opened the door.
3. Elijah acts on the Word of God.
He travels up to the summit of Mount Carmel. In verse 42, it states that Ahab took off to eat and drink, but Elijah went up on Mount Carmel and he bowed down to the ground and put his face in his knees.
Elijah humbly putting himself in a position of submission and prayer before God.
In faith, Elijah sends his servant out to go look at the sea.
Mount Carmel is located right by the Mediterranean Sea on the northwest coast of Israel. Off of the Northeast end of that range of mountains is the Plains of Megiddo. Nazareth and Cana are near by. Mount Carmel is only 1,977 feet high. You can say it is a high hill by most mountain standards, but anyway, the servant had to travel a bit from the summit to the sea, as they are not right by each other.
I imagine the servant probably had to stand there a bit especially the first time to watch, but returns to say he saw nothing. We see in the Word that this event happens seven times. Yes, seven times, seven, the number of completion. The servant probably was thinking, or I would after a couple times anyway, that probably nothing was going to happen here.
What would you think? At least the servant was obedient to go back. He may have had faith in his Prophet leader.
4. Elijah had Faith in the Word of God.
Here is Elijah still on his knees praying through the whole process, up to the seventh time. Elijah never gave up. He prayed, and believed, by still sending his servant out. This is a notice to us to never give up on the Word of God.
5. Elijah experiences His Faith fulfilled.
In 1Kings 18:44, "Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said,(the servant) "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, (Elijah)"Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you."
Here is more faith from Elijah. The servant said there was "only a cloud the size of a man's hand rising out of the sea." Elijah knew that God had fulfilled His promise. Elijah saw it through. Even though what started out to be small well turned into being huge.
God had given the believing Prophet His word. The Prophet spoke His word in faith. The Prophet prayed in faith for the promise to unfold, and when the promise was unfolding, the Prophet capped off his faith through declaration. Go get Ahab, the rain is coming even though only a small thing could be seen to be unfolding. Eventually in verse 45, it states there was a heavy rain.
There is a huge word in this for us. One, Elijah is us. Yes he is, because Elijah was just a man. Elijah knew God enough to know that God does what He says. That is why God picked him. Are we no different? God picks us. He wants us to know Him like Elijah knew him, or like Moses knew Him..... and yes, how Jesus knew Him.
Let's turn to Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,"
So it says God, the same God of Elijah, who brought fire down from heaven for him like 3 times, that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.Emphasis on every. Then emphasis on "in the heavenly places." So our spiritual blessing is not from the earth, but from heaven. So we have received on us, every spiritual blessing in heaven. Yes, to us who believe.
It says He chose us before the foundation of the world. So these spiritual blessings are eternal. They come from eternity, not from the limits of this world. You see where I am going.
This is something we can't do in ourselves, and God did this according to His good pleasure. He wanted to do this, He wanted to give us this. Just like he worked through Elijah, He wants to work through us today. It is His pleasure to do this. Because we have been adopted as sons and daughters by Jesus, so as sons and daughters, we have the right, and the responsibility, and the authority to operate in these spiritual blessings that come from heaven on this earth.
The Word of God declares this. We cannot deny it. We must only believe it.
Elijah trusted God, that is why he did the things he did. He knew God, and God knew him. God expects as His children, we do the same. We trust, because we know.
Ephesians 1:13-14, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, the Holy Spirit of promise. We trust after hearing the Word, and we move in that trust just as though the promise received will happen.
Elijah lived that way. So should we. Romans 10:17, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."
So we see looking back at Elijah and how he believed and sent his servant back seen times to see the small cloud, then as it says in 1 Kings 18:45, "in the meantime, the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was heavy rain."God did what He said he would do to Elijah.
This brings me to another point about Elijah that shows his humanity.
Elijah was used as an instrument of the Lord again and again as we read about him. You would think that Elijah would be on cloud nine, especially after the fire on the altar and the rain event believing nothing is impossible with God. I don't know, I would have been thinking, "Lord we really kicked butt today."
That wasn't the total case, there was another side to Elijah. Right after all of that. Ahab tells his wonder wife Jezebel all that Elijah did, and how Elijah killed all of her pagan prophets. Jezebel didn't like that, and since she had the spirit of Satan in her, she had no fear of Elijah, nor of The Lord God, so she threatens Elijah with death through a messenger. So lets read it.
1 Kings 19, "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."
What I like about what she said was she was self-prophesying her future death at the hands of Jehu. God did to her and more also. It states in 2 Kings 9: she was thrown down from a window and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses there; and Jehu trampled her underfoot with his horse. When men went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. Guess you do not mess with God, do you!
So after she says this to Elijah:
"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!"
You wonder why this great man of God came to this? What caused him to run?
You would think after what he had just accomplished, he would be high on God right? Maybe Elijah just thought I have had enough of this fight. We don't know, but we in our humanity come to points in our life when we just say, "stop!"
Maybe he was there. There are events in our life that stop us in our tracks and we want to retreat, but we serve a good God.
It says that Elijah lies down and sleeps, "Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat."
Did God ever leave him? No. God does not leave us. He is always there with us. Even in the moments when we doubt ourselves. Elijah did say, 'It is enough, I am no better than my fathers." He was feeling low, but God as the good Father had plans to lift Elijah's Spirit.
"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. 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."
There was God revealing Himself to Elijah. Elijah had seen the power manifest in front of him, in front of the children of Israel, but now he would see God in person, by himself, the Presence of God coming in and encountering him. Encountering him in the still small voice. It brought revelation to Elijah. God showed himself big to Elijah, but He also showed Himself intimate, and close, and small.
it was in that moment that the Lord then set Elijah's path straight. Elijah thought he was alone in this journey, some times we think that way too that the weight of our life, or the weight of our calling is too great at times, and we are crushed by what we see or hear.
But who works in the Spirit, who moves in the Spirit, who activates in the Spirit, and has everything under control even when we don't see it? Yes our God.
Elijah received revelation from God that he was not the only prophet left, that there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed to Baal. God was still going to us Elijah, and Elijah would see that his work was not in vain, and that God would protect him, and also use Elijah to raise up others, primarily Elisha.
We can't believe always in what we see, and we cannot always believe in what we see. We are not the creators of our own universe. God is. He is in charge. He changes things. It is our task, our responsibility actually to believe. We have purpose and a calling that we in the power of the Holy Spirit with His guiding and leadership must fulfill. But it is only fulfilled in faith.
Elijah fulfilled his purpose and was taken into heaven in fire. Wow! God did not leave him, nor forsake him. In Elijah's darkest hour, God raised him up. God is no different with us. We only have to believe.
God sent Elijah to be an agent of change in a dark world that wanted to extinguish any thoughts about God. God wants us to be agents of change here for the same reasons. As Elijah was used to turn the hearts of the people toward God, God wants us to be those people, and He wants to do it like He did with Elijah, and Elisha, and Moses, and Jesus, and the Apostles and Prophets and sons and daughters of God who have been before us. We are together in this journey.
Lets us believe, and let us do, and I prophecy that over us. That we are believers. We believe in what the Word says, and we will operate in faith to allow God to use us in such power that people will know there is a God in heaven who loves them. When we are stressed with life, we hand over those stressful things to Jesus and continue our journey. We walk in faith, not by sight.