LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF ELIJAH
“Fire on the Mountain”
(Notes from this past Sunday Sermon)
- The Bible passages are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible
- The Scripture passages appear in green
I Kings 18
1 After a long time, the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year: “Go and present yourself to Ahab. I will send rain on the surface of the land.”
2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab. The famine was SEVERE in Samaria.
- 1 year at the brook
- 2 years in Zarephath
- Imagine what it would be like after 3 years of drought and no rain.
3 Ahab called for Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. Obadiah was a man who greatly feared the Lord 4 and took 100 prophets and hid them, 50 men to a cave, and provided them with food and water when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord’s prophets.
5 Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go throughout the land to every spring of water and to every wadi. Perhaps we’ll find grass so we can keep the horses and mules alive and not have to destroy any cattle.” 6 They divided the land between them in order to cover it. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went the other way by himself.
- We can see the desperation of the nation after all these years they are hoping to find even a small patch of grass to maybe save some cattle.
- Ironic that Ahab goes in the opposite direction as Obadiah, another man of God.
7 While Obadiah was walking along the road, ELIJAH SUDDENLY MET HIM. When Obadiah recognized him, he fell with his face [to the ground] and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?”
8 “It is I,” he replied. “Go tell your lord, ‘Elijah is here!’ ”
9 But Obadiah said, “What sin have I committed, that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to put me to death? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent someone to search for you. When they said, ‘He is not here,’ he made that kingdom or nation swear they had not found you. 11 “Now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Elijah is here!” ’
12 But when I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord may carry you off to some place I don’t know. Then when I go report to Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. But I, your servant, have feared the Lord from my youth. 13 Wasn’t it reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord’s prophets? I hid 100 of the prophets of the Lord, 50 men to a cave, and I provided them with food and water. 14 Now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Elijah is here!” ’ He will kill me!”
- Elijah SUDDENLY MET him is, I believe an indication that Elijah “appeared” there supernaturally. I come to this conclusion based on Obadiah’s fear that Elijah will be transported away and leave him “holding the bag” with Ahab coming.
15 Then Elijah said, “As the Lord of Hosts lives, before whom I stand, today I WILL present myself to Ahab.”
16 Obadiah went to meet Ahab and report to him. Then Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is that you, you DESTROYER of Israel?”
18 He replied, “I have not destroyed Israel, but YOU AND YOUR FATHER’S HOUSE have, because you have ABANDONED the Lord’s commandments and FOLLOWED THE BAALS.
- As is typical human response, Ahab sought to blame Elijah for the problems that had befallen him and the nation rather than accept responsibility and make changes. When we disregard the Lord there will be consequences, and usually not pleasant, but the only fix is repentance and restoration, by God’s grace these are available to all of us.
19 Now SUMMON ALL ISRAEL to meet me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah WHO EAT AT JEZEBEL’S TABLE.”
20 So AHAB SUMMONED ALL THE ISRAELITES and gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel.
- If the king summons ALL Israel then who should not be there?
- Who is Jezebel? –Ahab’s wife
- Ate at her table means that she was providing for them and maintaining them. It indicates her approval and support of the rebellion.
Why Choose Mount Carmel?
- Name: Means “Fruitful Field” and it was a fitting place to have this challenge and ultimately to bring an end to the drought, if not of rain then at least of the presence of God—or rather the people’s lack of seeking for God.
- Incredibly High – offered good vantage for the thousands who would be summoned to see the spectacle and ultimately the triumph of the God of Israel.
21 Then ELIJAH APPROACHED ALL THE PEOPLE and said, “HOW LONG WILL YOU HESITATE BETWEEN TWO OPINIONS? IF YAHWEH IS GOD, FOLLOW HIM. BUT IF BAAL, FOLLOW HIM.” BUT THE PEOPLE DIDN’T ANSWER HIM A WORD.
- Think about how this recalls Joshua’s challenge to the people before entering the promised land, “Choose this day whom you will serve…”
Joshua 24:15 (HCSB)
15 But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.”
- Notice the people were silent, unlike in Joshua’s day when the heartily responded to him
The Prophet’s Challenge
22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I am the only remaining prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.
23 Let two bulls be given to us. They are to choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and place it on the wood but not light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the wood but not light the fire. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh. The God who answers with fire, He is God.” All the people answered, “That sounds good.”
25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Since you are so numerous, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first. Then call on the name of your god but don’t light the fire.”
- Elijah is giving every possible advantage to the false prophets so that in the end there will be no question who the One True God is over Israel.
- He gives them first choice of the bull
- He gives them first chance to prove that their god is real
- He give them the whole afternoon to accomplish their challenge.
26 So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they did their lame dance around the altar they had made.
27 At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up!”
28 They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed out on them. 29 All afternoon, they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound, no one answered, no one paid attention.
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near me.” So all the people approached him. Then he REPAIRED THE LORD’S ALTAR THAT HAD BEEN TORN DOWN:
31 Elijah took 12 stones—according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel will be your name”—
32 and he built an altar with the stones in the name of Yahweh.
Then he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold about four gallons.
33 Next, he arranged the wood, cut up the bull, and placed it on the wood. He said, “Fill four water pots with water and pour it on the offering to be burned and on the wood.”
34 Then he said, “A second time!” and they did it a second time. And then he said, “A third time!” and they did it a third time.
35 So the water ran all around the altar; he even filled the trench with water.
Elijah’s Prayer and God’s Power
36 At the time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet approached the altar and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today LET IT BE KNOWN that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have done all these things.
37 Answer me, Lord! Answer me SO THAT THIS PEOPLE WILL KNOW that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back.”
38 Then Yahweh’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, “YAHWEH, HE IS GOD! YAHWEH, HE IS GOD!”
The Steps Elijah Takes
- Why does Elijah do the specific things that he does in preparation for his turn?
- Repair a damaged altar – reminder of how Israel had fallen from their relationship with God, the altar had been destroyed mostly by neglect.
- 12 Stones – point us to the heritage of Israel and remind us of God’s presence and power in Israel’s past which they had turned their back on.
- The Name of Yahweh – This is who it is all about, Elijah will be calling on the covenant God to prove Himself to the people.
- Four Gallons of Water drenches the sacrifice – Elijah is creating a scenario in which God would truly have to show up in a major way to demonstrate His power.
- The Time of the evening Sacrifice – Specific
The Victory on Mount Carmel
40 Then Elijah ordered them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let even one of them escape.” So they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon and slaughtered them there.
41 Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a rainstorm.”
42 So Ahab went to eat and drink, but Elijah went up to the summit of Carmel. He bowed down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
43 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.”
44 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.’ ”
45 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.
46 The power of the Lord was on Elijah, and he tucked his mantle under his belt and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
What would some of the Headlines in the Next Day’s New Read?
- · God Showed Up!!
- · Light the Fire, Lord!
- · (You Fill in the Blank)
The Victory is Clear and Powerful
- The prophets of Baal are executed. This might seem extreme, but it is the punishment for Blasphemy and turning the people away from the Lord, Yahweh.
- Then there’s a startling promise given to Ahab by Elijah. The THREE YEAR drought is about to end. Hurry up and get home cause the rain’s coming.
- Why end it now? Because the people had returned, at least for the moment.
Then….What the Heck Happened?
1 Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “May the gods punish me and do so severely if I don’t make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!” 3 THEN ELIJAH BECAME AFRAID AND IMMEDIATELY RAN FOR HIS LIFE.
(to be continued…)
A Look at The Life of Elijah
God’s Plan of Provision
1 Kings 17:1-24 (Focal 8-24)
- Review: Last week we looked at God’s work in Elijah’s life in the PLACE OF PREPARATION
- 1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from the Gilead settlers, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, I stand before Him, and there will be no dew or rain during these years except by my command!”
14 I will provide rain for your land in season, the early and late rains, and you will harvest your grain, new wine, and oil. 15 I will provide grass in your fields for your livestock. You will eat and be satisfied. 16 Be careful that you are not enticed to turn aside, worship, and bow down to other gods. 17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you. He will close the sky, and there will be no rain; the land will not yield its produce, and you will perish quickly from the good land the Lord is giving you.
- 2 Then a revelation from the Lord came to him:
3 “Leave here, turn eastward, and hide yourself at the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan.
4 You are to drink from the wadi. I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.”
5 So he did what the Lord commanded. Elijah left and lived by the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan.
6 The ravens kept bringing him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening, and he drank from the wadi.
7 After a while, the wadi dried up because there had been no rain in the land.
- God’s Recognized Plan – Specific for Each of Us…we all have a THERE
- God’s Required Part – Obedience…we have to do it
- God’s Released Provision – He gives what we need as we obey
- God’s Revealed Purpose – He moves us when it’s time to go
- We asked last week why God would allow the brook to dry up, here is a perspective from one of my favorite authors, Watchman Nee:
§ “Because of our proneness to look at the bucket and forget the fountain God has frequently to change His means of supply to keep our eyes fixed on the source.”
§ Elijah was about to learn what God could do with empty vessels!
o Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament
· Introduction: Elijah Leaves the Comfort of the Country (8-10a)
8 THEN the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “GET UP, GO TO Zarephath that belongs to Sidon, and stay THERE. Look, I have commanded a woman who is a widow to provide for you THERE.”
10a So Elijah GOT UP AND WENT to Zarephath.
· Then – at the right time in accordance with God’s plan
o Often I want things to happen in my “then,” but God has the perfect “then.”
§ We might carelessly run ahead of God at times.
§ We might cautiously hesitate behind God at times.
o Do you remember when God gave you a “then” moment?
§ Doesn’t necessarily fit with my timing or agenda
§ Doesn’t always happen at the most convenient of times
· Get up and Go To… – God’s call is to move beyond where we are.
· NOTICE: “THERE” for Elijah had changed…this happens sometimes
o Sometimes that move is a physical move and sometimes a spiritual move
Move past this habit
Move past this problem
Move beyond this activity
Move away from this relationship
Move away from this sin
\Move away from my own will and plan
Move into God’s will and plan
So…God has the perfect THEN and the perfect THERE
Let me Share sometimes in the Bible When God says “Get up and Go…”
· Noah – Genesis 8.16 (Go out of the ark…it’s cool now)
· Abraham – Genesis 12.1 (Go from your home country…follow me)
· Abraham – Genesis 22 (Go to the mountain and sacrifice your beloved son)
· Moses – Exodus 3 (Go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go.)
· Jonah – Jonah 1 (Go to Ninevah and tell them my message)
· Joseph and Mary – Matthew (Go to Egypt to protect the child…then Go back to Israel)
· Disciples (and us) – Gospels (Go and make disciples, preach the Gospel, win the lost)
Why Zerapheth? – There are a couple things you need to know about Zerapheth to understand a little more about how difficult a choice to follow when God says go can actually be.
· Zerapheth was in Gentile Territory, a place most Jews would avoid going
· Zerapheth was in Enemy Territory, a place that could be dangerous to the prophet near Jezebel
· Zerapheth was where a specific widow lived, among the neediest people of the culture.
God has a Plan to Provide for His Faithful Servants (10b-13)
10bWhen he arrived at the city gate, there was a widow woman gathering wood. Elijah called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup and let me drink.”
11 As she went to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”
12 But she said, “As the Lord YOUR God lives, I don’t have anything baked—only a handful of flour in the jar and a bit of oil in the jug. Just now, I am gathering a couple of sticks in order to go prepare it for myself and my son so we can eat it and die.”
13 Then Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. Only make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. AFTERWARDS, you may make some for yourself and your son,
Remember verse 9 where God said “I have commanded a widow to provide for you there…”
Apparently she didn’t get the memo somehow.
God’s plan might seem a little “crazy” to us!
· God will ask us to give the unexpected thing
· We might be ok with giving some things, but not others…but that’s often what God asks
· It would seem very unexpected to think that God would ask this widow’s last morsel of food
· God will ask us to give the most needed thing
· Food…it doesn’t get more needed than that…but food amid a famine is even more
· God’s plan challenges us to be willing to surrender even the things we need most
· What do you “need” that God might be asking you to surrender to His purpose?
C. God will ask us to give what we don’t want to give
· Looking at our pay check stub and our list of bills can be terrifying
· Then to think that God would be audacious enough to ask for 10% of it…Golly
God has a Plan to Provide for His Faithful Giver (14-16)
14 for this is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.’ ”
15 So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. She and he and her household ATE FOR MANY DAYS. 16 The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry, according to the word of the Lord He had spoken through Elijah.
Trusting God can be terrifying, but if we will trust Him we will see amazing blessings!
A. God will provide us with the unexpected thing – Food in the Midst of Famine
B. God will provide us with every needed thing – Continued Sustenance for our Family
C. God will give us many fold the things we sacrifice – She gave a little and received a load
God has a Plan to Miraculously Bless His Faithful Givers (17-24)
17 After this, [consider what this “after this” means: after the challenge and after the faithfulness to give and after God’s miraculous provision in return…] AFTER THIS…the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. His illness became very severe until no breath remained in him.
18 She said to Elijah, “Man of God, what do we have in common? Have you come to remind me of my guilt and to kill my son?”
19 But Elijah said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him from her arms, brought him up to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord and said, “My Lord God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow I am staying with by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself out over the boy three times. He cried out to the Lord and said, “My Lord God, please let this boy’s life return to him!” 22 So the Lord listened to Elijah’s voice, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Then Elijah took the boy, brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. Elijah said, “Look, your son is alive.”
24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know you are a man of God and the Lord’s word in your mouth is the truth.”
A. God will do the unexpected – who could have even dreamed of this outcome?
B. God will do exactly what is needed – in the culture of that day a widow had so little
C. God will do what it takes for us to believe – in the end God’s purpose is to bring people to faith
So…Your Part in the Story:
· What is the unexpected thing God is asking you to give?
· What is the needed thing that God is challenging you to surrender?
· What area of your life is God working in to strengthen your faith?
What new thing is God calling you to?
Where is God saying to go?
Where in your life are you telling God “No!”?
THE PLACE OF PREPARATION
One of the heroes of faith in my life is the prophet Elijah. Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll be looking at some of the high-points of Elijah’s experience and learn how those same parts of his journey from so far in the past can instruct us in our life journey today.
Today we look at how God called Elijah aside to prepare him for the purpose God had ordained him as a prophet.
1 Kings 17:1-9
1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from the Gilead settlers, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, I stand before Him, and there will be no dew or rain during these years except by my command!”
2 Then a revelation from the Lord came to him: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward, and hide yourself at the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan. 4 You are to drink from the wadi. I HAVE COMMANDED the ravens to provide for you there.”
5 So HE DID WHAT THE LORD COMMANDED. Elijah left and lived by the Wadi Cherith where it enters the Jordan. 6 THE RAVENS KEPT BRINGING HIM BREAD AND MEAT IN THE MORNING AND IN THE EVENING, AND HE DRANK FROM THE WADI.
7 After a while, the wadi dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Get up, go to Zarephath that belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Look, I HAVE COMMANDED a woman who is a widow to provide for you there.”
Elijah, by the power of God declares that there would be no rain until he spoke and caused it to come. This is a judgment on Ahab, the wicked king, for turning his back on the Lord and leading the nation into sin. Shortly after this the word of God came to Elijah and called him off to a remote place. The following is an outline of the lesson learned by that brook in the wilderness.
I. God’s Recognized Plan (1-3)
* ‘hide’ not hide in fear but rather be alone.
Consider: God’s command to “hide yourself” would bring a second drought to the people, a drought of God’s word and work among the people. Their disobedience had brought this judgment. Oh, how difficult the days when there is no Word from the Lord.
11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, But rather for hearing the words of the LORD. 12 And people will stagger from sea to sea, And from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, But they will not find it.”
9 We do not see our signs; There is no longer any prophet, Nor is there any among us who knows how long.
* God’s plan is that we must be prepared for ministry by
spending time alone with Him.
II. God’s Restricted Promise (4)
- ‘there’ is the key.
- Are you where God has called you to be?
- Are you THERE?
We all have a “there” in our live. The most important thing we can know is that we are “there” in the “there” God has for us.
III. God’s Required Prerequisite (5)
- Elijah was obedient.
- God will only bless us in obedience.
IV. God’s Released Provision (6)
- *God is Faithful when we:
- 1. Spend time alone with Him in prayer.
- 2. Are in His will. (We are there.)
- 3. We are obedient to Him.
V. God’s Revealed Purpose (7)
- Why does God allow the brook to dry up?
- To teach us to trust not in His gifts, but in HIM! (8-9)
Take This Home With You:
- God has a Specific and Personal Plan for you that Includes Place, Provision, and Purpose.
- It is your responsibility to seek God’s will and plan for your life and to be obedient when you find it.
- The time may come when the Lord moves you on to something new. Trust God and follow.
Next week we’ll pick up the story from here and…well, let me just say that you don’t want to miss the lesson from Elijah’s experience next Sunday because it’s a lesson that will encourage and equip us for some of the “drought seasons” we all face through life.
How do I even start to tell about what God did in my world this evening? I started off before our youth group meeting feeling a mix of excitement and disappointment—an odd combination to be sure. I was excited because I love seeing the kids come out on Friday nights to the youth group and studying the Bible and connecting with each other. I was also disappointed for a variety of reasons, all of which link back to the symptomatic smallness of my faith.
- Financial resources we need but don’t have
- People not committing and serving when it’s so needed in our community
- Kids who had just let me know they weren’t coming tonight
So, I was feeling a little low and talking my concerns over with Andie, Pat, and Heather before the start of youth group. No one gave any answers or berated me for feeling the way I did, just silently listened and silently prayed. I know they prayed because unknown to me at the time within the next fifteen minutes God was going to show up and show off in a dramatic and affirming way.
One of the big concerns that I had shared with them was that I didn’t know how we were going to rent the theater as we had hoped to for our Easter Sunday service, or if we even should be trying to do that because the commitment has been so slim among our little congregation.
LESS THAN FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER I WAS HOLDING A TOTALLY UNEXPECTED CHECK TO PAY THE FULL AMOUNT OF THE RENT FOR THE THEATER!!!
In addition there was a commitment of help in the process as well.
As I had wondered if we would have more than one or two students join us for youth tonight with the number of kids who had messaged me that they were going to be involved elsewhere tonight. By the time they all arrived we had 11 youth and four adults present for the evening! We missed a number of the kids who had been coming, but we had two new faces, and before we concluded for the night one young lady had believed in Jesus and become a Christian!!
We have been tired, burdened, ill, frustrated, discouraged, and more….but God showed up tonight to remind us that we CAN TRUST HIM and did things in our midst this evening to affirm that we CAN TOTALLY BELIEVE HIM.
Sometimes when God shows up in the midst of our life circumstances He does that to show off, and I am so glad that He did that tonight.
It’s been a long week, but if all that I have faced in the course of this week was to lead me to this point I count it all worth it.
2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.