Today's sermon is about when Jezebel eclipsed God. Have you ever seen a solar eclipse. I have. I didn't look at it with my eyes. I don't know how our little moon can ever eclipse the huge brilliant sun. The sun is 400 times bigger than the moon yet that little dark moon blocks the entire sun from our sight.1 That's amazing!
The Prophet Elijah ministered well during the most evil time of Old Testament days. Yet one inconsequential woman eclipsed God. How could she do that? And it threw Elijah into one of the greatest crisis of his entire life.
Then weatherman, Elijah, predicted rain. It had not rained in three years. Black clouds rolled in and thunder shook the earth. Then marathon runner, Elijah, ran 20 miles in front of King Ahab's chariot to the gate of Jezreel. He even outran the speeding chariot. What a man! What mighty courage! He was triumphant! He was jubilant! Now he expected Jezebel would be next to die or at least go into hiding. Jezebel was the sponsor of Baal worship in Israel. Elijah had soundly defeated her false prophets. King Ahab rushed into the palace and told his wife Jezebel all that had happened. Look at1 Kings 19:1,2. Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to get you. You won't survive this."
Now, Jezebel was a determined wicked queen. Elijah had just wiped out her entire Baal franchise. This was her business. She was hopping mad. Her messenger found Elijah and handed him an envelope with royal stationary inside. Elijah may have expected a letter of congratulation, but what he got was a death threat. His hair probably stood on end. He began quaking in his jogging shoes. Elijah completely forgot God. Fear replaced faith. Jezebel's wrath had entirely eclipsed God from Elijah's view. A cold fear gripped his heart. 1 Kings 19:3,4. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, Lord," he said. "Take my life...
Suicidal Elijah was one discouraged man. Beersheba was about 100 miles South, as far as you could get and still be in Israel. He went as far as he dared. The great prophet was exhibiting the classic symptoms of clinical depression. Even saints get down. In just a few months he would be translated to heaven on a fiery chariot without seeing death. That just doesn't happen very often, does it. And yet, here he is, just totally discouraged, which proves that event saints can get down. If you see somebody who is really discouraged, that doesn't mean they're not a saint. Fear had eclipsed his faith. Jezebel's evil rage had totally overshadowed the true God. He ran from his problems. He quit his work and resigned from all his positions.
You have seen people do that. They do a powerful work for God but one day someone says something that they misunderstand or they don't quite relate with and they focus on the problem and it seems to get bigger. They are hurt and their emotions begin to take charge. Finally they do as Elijah did and run from their problems. Elijah heard what Jezebel said and made a sudden snap decision to run. In spiritual matters it is exceedingly dangerous to make a snap decision. That's a bad decision. Every decision we make in life should be bathed in prayer. Never make a major decision without praying about it first.
He should have stayed and stood with God. The same God Who protected him from 450 false prophets of Baal yesterday would not let him down today. God stood with him yesterday, why would God forget him today? So often we feel our problems are greater than we can handle. We take tranquilizers or go to the bottle. We run away. Drinking is not the answer. Running away is not the answer.
To run from your problems is about like a dog running from his fleas. Once he stops they are all with him again and the itching starts as bad as it was before. Nothing has changed. The reason we can't run from our problems is that so often we are the problem. They relate to you. If the bills are high and the marriage has problems and the kids are out of control we must look in the mirror and ask: Am I contributing to any of these problems?
Now, Elijah was discouraged because he lacked understanding. He saw things as they really were not. He saw Jezebel and failed to see God. Now you may come to church and you think: This is the most unfriendly bunch of people I have ever seen in my life. They don't care about me. Well, have you tried to make friends with anybody? I think if you show yourself friendly, you will find friends. Actually in Elijah's circumstance this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him to have a great revival for Israel. He had just defeated all the wicked false prophets. Now was the chance to get in there and carry this thing through and have a great revival. But he didn't do it. Elijah ditched his trust in God. The God Who had helped him in the past was ready to help him now. But His faith was gone. How often we see thunderclouds of Jezebel but fail to see the promises of God.
A little boy enjoyed a day with his uncle every year on his birthday when the uncle visited him. For the past 3 years he had received either a crisp bill or a silver dollar. Finally his birthday came and the Uncle took him to the zoo, the park and just as he was leaving he gave the lad a brown coin. It looked like a dirty penny. He pouted. He dropped the penny and it rolled under his bed. The next day he had a decision to make. He decided to flip a coin. He crawled under the bed and got the penny and when he flipped it he suddenly saw it was a $5.00 gold piece! It was made of gold.
His attitude changed quickly. His feelings toward his uncle turned around 180 degrees. When we can see the complete picture which may not happen until we reach Heaven, we will not be disheartened. Partial knowledge can be dangerous. You want to avoid that. Sometime we might not understand our circumstances until we get to heaven. Sometimes we will never have correct knowledge in this world. Isaiah 55:8,9. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. We can't even think the way He thinks. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." We can't even think the way He thinks. "Neither are your ways my ways."
Elijah became downcast. Why? Well, there a number of reasons.
First- He was physically exhausted! The past three years had taken a toll on the prophet. He had been hiding at the brook and been in seclusion. He was just barely eking out an existence by the brook. It took all his strength to face up to the 450 false prophets. He was breathless from running 18 miles. His energy was depleted. He was shot. When you get physically exhausted, beware.
Number two- Elijah was low because the only direction we can go from a mountaintop experience is down. The mountaintop experience doesn't last forever. Be on guard after a wedding or a graduation or birthday party or a retirement party. After a fun weekend we have a Blue Monday. Beware! The days after Christmas are often bleak. Elijah's mountaintop of victory was followed by Elijah's valley of despair. That's the way it is on this sinful planet.
Number three-Another contributing factor to his discouragement and depression was his personality. I think he had a melancholic temperament: he was a work- alcoholic. 1 kings 19:10. "I have been very Zealous!" Those are his words. He was a workaholic. That's what Elijah is. A successful leader is often very driven. He is very driven. Another clue comes from 1 Kings 19:4(NKJV) where he says, "I am no better than my fathers." I think at one point he thought he was better than his father. He had tried so hard. Many high achievers have a melancholy temperament. He was easily crushed by failure.
Number four- I think Elijah suffered burnout because he thought he was beaten. When we give it our best only to find out that our old problems are still there, nothing has changed, we get down. Jezebel was still very much in charge. God seemed a long way off.
Number five- one problem he made himself: Elijah was alone. He ditched his companion. You can read that in verse 3. You need to be careful. If you retreat from your family or friends you set yourself up for failure. Beware if over the years you have fewer and fewer friends. That's a warning, that's a danger sign. You need to make new friends. If you have fdewer and fewer friends you are going to withdraw into a world of self pity. You need to come to church and socialize. Make some new friends.
If you are you discouraged like Elijah, you're not lone. The book Happiness is a Choice says one out of every 20 people are experiencing depression. Twice as many women suffer from it as do men. So, we need to examine our life and if that's true, then we're going through a tough time and maybe this Bible story will help us out. So examine closely the steps God used to turn Elijah's depression around. These steps are here and we're going to go through these steps. See God's interest in helping Elijah. II Corinthians 7:6. ... God, Who comforts the downcast, God looks them up, He finds their phone number and He helps them. God could not send Elijah to the pharmacy for some little pink or purple pills. But notice that God's ancient prescription is still the antidote for depression. Notice how God helped Elijah. He'll do it for you.
First of all, what happened? God gave him Rest. When you're all burned out, you need rest. You need it. Physical rest. You need eight, nine, ten hours of sleep every night if you are depressed, if you are down, if you are burned out. Elijah was dead tired. If Christians do not come apart and rest awhile they may just plain come apart! Overworking day after day will drag us down. 1 Kings 19:5 says, Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. Then he got up and ate awhile and then he slept a whole bunch more. He was shot. He was dead tired.
He was totally exhausted. One of the eight laws of health is rest. And our kind God invented the Sabbath so we can have some rest. Seventh-day Adventists get eight hours every night, plus Sabbath they get physical and spiritual rest. It's a twenty-four hour segment of time. Every Sabbath, every seventh day of the week, for human beings to get rest. Both physical and spiritual rest. Matthew 11:28, (Jesus said:) "Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." The seventh day of the week is the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11). Every Saturday millions of Christians from all over the world enter into God's rest. What a blessed experience that is. God invented rest to restore us and for us to enjoy. In Psalm 23:2,3 - He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He lead me beside still waters, He restores my soul. Ask God to turn down the speed control of your life and follow Him in His leading.
Second- What did God do for Elijah? He said, "Eat." Christians can't be strong without a daily dose of spiritual food. God knew that Elijah needed nourishment. He had slept a long time. 1 Kings 19:5,6. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank..."
Now, God could have dropped a cardboard carton of granola bars from heaven. The impact of that thing hitting the ground would have awakened when it hit the earth. The granola bars would have strengthened him. But our God is gentle and kind. Elijah awakened to the aroma of a fresh baked cake of homemade bread. One person has said, "A soft touch and a pleasant voice awoke him." A friendly angel had catered supper for God's famishing servant. Apparently he slept more. Then later the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." Did the angel criticize him? Does God criticize us? He understood him.
To overcome despair we must partake of heavenly food. Do you have a daily habit of Bible study? Bible study is a powerful anti-depressant. It will work. 2 Timothy 2:15(KJV). Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Acts 17:11. Bereans...examined the Scriptures every day...
Point three: He rested, he ate and he talked with God. Talk to God. Elijah hid in a cave and there he talked with God. 1 King 19:9. There he went into a cave and spent the night
And the word of the Lord came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" God found him. You know, you can't hide from God.
But God found him. Ps 139:7. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? So he held conversation with God. We call that, 'Prayer.' Prayer is an antidote for depression. It's good to talk with God. The road to recovery must include major doses of prayer.
Number four he Got a vision of God, and God's presence, God's power. I Kings 19:11- 13. He stood up there on top of the mountain and witnessed the power of the true God. He felt a great wind followed by an earthquake followed by a fire and finally Elijah heard a gentle whisper, and that was Gd. Elijah needed to focus on God. When we are surrounded by problems, stop focusing on the problems and focus on God's mighty power! Zechariah 4:6 So He said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." That's how you can be successful in life. That's how you can overcome the problems that depress you.
If you are depressed, go to church and worship God. Elijah went to the Mt. Sinai, the same mountain Moses was on to meet with God. And there he met God and he worshiped God and it brought him out of his depression. A good church is one of the best places to overcome depression. Get near to God and to others. Let them help you. Galatians 6:2. Carry each other's burdens. That's why we're here. If we can't bear one another's burdens then we're not a good Christian. 1 Peter 5:7. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. God gave him a new friend: Elisha. He cured his loneliness by giving him Elisha who followed him everywhere.
Finally, In verse 15, The Lord said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the desert of Damascus." Go back to Work for God. "Get some work done. Go anoint Jehu and anoint Elisha. And anoint Hazoel. Get back to work. Elijah's dis-appointment suddenly became His appointment. (Just change one letter) Stop running away from your problems and get back to work. Go and Anoint Hazael and Jehu and Elisha. Galatians 6:9 ...do not give up... When dark days come upon you, you can always depend on God to bring sunshine back into your life. He did it for Elijah and He will do it for you.
1. Note: The Moon is 3,500 kilometers in diameter, but it is just far enough out there to cover a dot « a degree wide. The Sun is 1,400,000 kilometers in diameter and it is out there far enough to cover a space of « a degree. So when they are line up on the same side of the earth the moon may be covering up the sun which is an eclipse of the sun.
Hymn of Praise: #230, All Glory, Laud, and Honor Scripture: Psalm 107:8-9 Hymn of Response: #65, God Be With You 060520#214
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last updated 21/05/06 by Bob Beckett.