I want you to turn to First Kings 17. We're going to study a little bit about Elijah.
Elijah was a brave man. One day he barged into King Ahab's oval office and he said, you are the worst hen-pecked king that this country has ever had. You're evil. You worship idols. You married the wickedest woman in the world and I have news for you. It's not going to rain. There won't be any dew until things are changed around here. And with that he stormed out of the oval office and he went and hid. He hid where there was no food. Ran away. He was fed by ravens. I don't know what they fed him. I've often wondered about that. I've seen them eat roadkill. I don't think he ate that, of course. Grasshoppers and what ever. Little scraps of stuff.
FThere was a bad famine because the rain held off. For three years it didn't rain. The famine was so severe that he was sent down to a rich lady and even she ran out of food. As she and her son watched, Elijah ate the last of their food. Finally after three years, God told Elijah to hold a contest on Mount Carmel. Now you know it's hard to get a crowd in today's age with television and all the competing factors, but in those days when you announced that there was going to be a war between the gods and it was going to be on top of the mountain, you could get a crowd. Probably the largest crowd ever assembled in the land of Palestine came to witness this event.
You can read about it here in First Kings 18:19. The battle of the gods. They had false prophets up there. How many false prophets were there? 850. The odds were 850 to one. Altars were set up for the contest and Elijah set the terms. The terms were this. The God who answers by fire is the true God. So he gave the heathen prophets the first whack at it. They went up there and they asked their gods to send fire. Nothing happened, so they cut themselves and chanted and raged and raved and finally by evening nothing happened. All day long they went at it. The ground was red with their blood. It was a terrible experience. Nothing happened. Don't you think that the true angels of God guarded so the devil would not send strange fire?
Anyway, nothing happened so in verse 36 and 37 Elijah got up, and he doused the altar with barrels of water. 12 barrels. He reestablished the altar because he wanted the 12 tribes to be back together again and all that water was there and immediately after his prayer there wasn't any delay. God sent an ear piercing bolt of white-hot lightning streaking down. It devoured the bull on the altar, it devoured the water in the trench and that bolt of fire that was sent from heaven devoured everything. It was all destroyed and consumed.
I want you to notice something interesting. Elijah contributed nothing to the coming of the fire. Similarly we contribute nothing to our salvation. The fire saved his life. Had the fire not come he would have been destroyed. This was a life-and-death matter. You contribute nothing to your salvation either.
Then Elijah personally killed all 450 prophets of Baal. Why didn't he kill the other 400, I don't know. He killed them with a sharp sword. He took them down to the valley and slaughtered them. Next Elijah climbed clear back to the top of Mount Carmel to claim the rain. Six times he sent his servant out. He sent his servant out and said, look at the sky. Do you see any rain coming? And the seventh time what did the servants see? A small black cloud about the size of a man's hand. Elijah said that's enough. It's going to rain. It's going to pour. There's going to be a terrible storm and there's bad weather coming over the Mediterranean sea. He kept on praying as he was running. He must move fast. Ahab's chariot had no headlights. It was getting dark and so Elijah personally ran 20 miles down to town on that stormy night. Climbed the mountain twice. Ran 20 mountain miles. At the gate of the city Elijah and the king separated.
Now there's something interesting here. Half of the prophets were still alive. 400 of Jezebel's prophets that eat at Jezebel's table. He didn't kill them. Imagine the future of Israel if Elijah had gone all the way and had killed all those Idol worshiping prophets. False prophets. Imagine how great the victory would have been. But he only went halfway. I respect him. He's a great man. He was translated. But he only went halfway. Imagine the revival they could've had.
Anyway Ahab went on into the city. Elijah remained outside the walls and there in the blackness of the pouring down rain he probably had some mixed emotions. He felt like God had done something really great day. But he probably also felt very tired from all the exercise that he had. With the false prophets of Baal gone. They were out of the way. The true God was exalted. The way was now totally open for a fantastic revival and reformation.
And by the way, that's what we need in Seventh-day Adventist church today. Things are happening.
We would expect that probably Elijah would be Prime Minister. Like Daniel. Be promoted, because he was on the winning side. But witness what happened. First Kings 19:1-3. Jezebel came into the picture. This shows the power of one wicked woman. She scared Elijah. Now why didn't Jezebel just go out and kill him on the spot as he was sleeping outside there? Why didn't she send a messenger out there? I think she was afraid of what the people would do. Perhaps she was frightened. And Elijah was frightened.
Imagine this towering man of faith getting up, hearing that Jezebel was after him, that she would make him like the prophets of Baal by that time the next day. He just quit and ran and fled and went a long way and hid. 120 miles to Beersheba. If you look at First Kings 19:4, he requested suicide. He said I'm no better than my father's. He slept under a juniper tree hoping to die.
Now what would've happened if Elijah would have said to that messenger, you go back and you tell Jezebel that God is in charge and we're going to have a reformation here. We're going to have a revival. The God who consumed the bull, who consumed the stones, who consumed the water is going to protect me and I am not afraid. God won't forsake me. He's my God. He has all power and I'm going ahead with the great Reformation here. We're going to change Israel. Things are going to happen around here.
Sister White tells us something interesting. Prophets and Kings, page 160. Had he remained where he was and not fled he would have been shielded from harm. Do you believe that? Absolutely. Then she goes on. She says a great Reformation would have been wrought. Tremendous revival would have happened. But it didn't happen because he was afraid of one woman. He stood up to all these 850 prophets, but he was afraid of one woman. Probably Jezebel would have immediately gotten leprosy. I think God would've taken care of the situation. Don't you think so? I do.
I think we need a reformation in our church. I don't think we want to go halfway. There's a brand-new book by Mark Finley called Revive Us Again. Somebody introduced this book to me and it is fantastic. Take this book and read it and pray that God will revive you. That God will send a revival into this church. It's our greatest need.
Why did Elijah fail? He gives us the reason in verse four. He said because I am no better than my fathers. He was discouraged. Of course we're no better than anybody else, from the pastor to the backslidden church member, we're all sinners in God's sight. We're all hypocrites. Everyone today is on level ground. He was discouraged. That was his problem. Discouraged. He had climbed the mountain two times. He ran 20 miles in front of that chariots.
Another reason he failed is because he didn't take time for God. He had been out there doing all this and kind of got away and he failed. Without that alone time, the Christian is living very dangerously. Prayer and Bible study are the food and the energy that we need to keep going. He failed because of physical exhaustion. He was exhausted. It's a known fact that when you are physically exhausted, your spirituality is low. You need to take care of your body temple. You need to exercise every day. You need to get your rest, so that you will not become physically exhausted.
I want, as your pastor, this church to have a revival. We've got to have a revival. We go home. We do the same old same old all week. We've got to have a change. We're entering the last days. Do you sense that? We need things to not go on the status quo.
Elijah failed the Lord in many ways, because he didn't go all the way. He ran when he could've had a great victory, Sister White says. Look at God's reaction. What did God do with Elisha. God probably just washed His hands and said, I'm done with you. Is that what God did?
I want you to notice what God does when you're discouraged. You turn your back on the situation. You run away when you should've stood up and had a great change to the whole country. Elijah ran away. God needed Elijah to carry out a great work of reform. Did God forsake Elijah when he forsook God?. No he did not. Does God forsake you when you turn your back on God? When you leave God does God forsake you? He does not.
slept many hours under the shade of that tree, he felt a soft loving
touch. It was an angel who came with
real food. A soft pleasant voice spoke
to him and said, Elijah, you're tired.
Here's some fresh food. Here's
something we made for you. Eat this. Elijah did.
A friend from heaven helped him.
That's what God does. God helps
us when we
dessert Him. He looked and there was a jar of fresh cool water and some nice tasting food and he ate it. He went back to sleep. He was totally exhausted.
Then he woke up again and the angel was there again with some more food. I don't know what that second batch of food was, because it was different than the first. The second batch of food strengthened him so much. It might have been more than earthly food. It was full of power and he, as far as we know here, ran 40 days, 250 miles, 40 days and 40 nights. He did not stop going, with no more additional food that we can see, until he reached a cave up near the top of 7000 foot Mount Sinai. There he went into the cave. Hiding from God. It would have been shorter just to go back home from there, but he didn't.
God did not command Elijah to return back and take care of the situation with Jezebel. This detour was Elijah's devising. It was not God's plan for Elijah to do this. But the Angels assisted him any way. Heaven is so kind to us. We are discouraged, God encourages us. He never leaves us. Have you noticed that at the time that you veer off of God's path that He veers with you and stays by your side. He does. In this cave he was in there by himself, fleeing everything. There in the cleft of that rock, he went to try and find God again, because Mount Sinai is where God used be. God was once there.
I think that's pretty smart. If you lose God, you go back to where you had God at one time. Back to your mother's old Bible. Go back to the church where you were raised and you will find God.
He found God. The cave was his schoolroom. God was his teacher there. Notice that God gave him a one question quiz. He said, Elijah, what are you doing here? That's the same question He asked Adam and Eve. What are you doing here? I didn't send you here, Elijah. Here you are in this cave. What are you doing here? I sent you to the brook. I sent you to the widow. I sent you Carmel. What are you doing here? The same question that Adam and Eve basically had.
Notice his answer in First Kings 19:10. His answers are wrong. Elijah fails. He flunks the quiz. Elijah said, Your people are bad. I'm the only one left who hasn't bowed the knee to Idol worship, and they're trying to kill me. Was that the truth? They weren't really trying to kill him. If they wanted to they would've done it.
Next God gave Elijah a science lesson. A three-part science lesson. First there was a wind. A great and powerful wind that tore rocks off of that mountain. Probably a level 10 tornado. This wind was tearing at the mountain. Next God gave an earthquake, and there was Elijah in a cave. Is a cave a good place to be in an earthquake? With those rocks hanging over your head and the earth shaking. That's where he was. My he must've been afraid. And then God sent a fire. And what was not blown away or shaken down was burned up. But God was not in any of those things. God was in the still small voice. That's where God was. God whispered and Elijah heard the whisper. He finally became ready to listen.
God went on like nothing ever happened. God said, Elijah, I want you to go and anoint so and so, I want you to go and continue your work. God pretended as if things were okay again. God accepted him right back. God does that. If you leave God, if you backslide, you run away, God will find you, and if you will listen, He will call you back. He does that every time. What an awesome God we serve. You go and anoint this person Elijah. You know, no matter what we do or how bad we are, if we come back to God, God will always be there to receive us back. That's great. That's good news.
So the Elijah message that I want you to hear today is not the message that Elijah preached, but the message that Elijah got from God. The message was, I love you even though you have quit. Even though you have hid in this cave, I love you. You're my son. I still love you. Jezebel did not kill him. The famine did not kill him. The ravens didn't poison him. God didn't kill him. God took Elijah's punishment and gave Elijah His peace and His victory. Elijah saw how tender and loving God really was. Elijah got a brand-new picture of God.
That's the picture that I want you to get. I want you to get revival here today and I'm going to be earnestly praying that as you read this book, that you will pray before you open this book, you will pray that God will come in and change your life and that you will actually be revived. It can happen. It's not something that preachers just talk about.
The latter rain is going to fall. I think it is beginning to fall, and it might as well fall on us. We need revival. Israel needed revival. Elijah was there but he dropped the ball halfway through. The revival did not come. The national revival.
I hope you can see how nice God really is. Although Elijah made a mistake, the Lord did not cast him off. Jesus came to this world to save people who make mistakes. People who are discouraged. He came to save us, and Jesus came to save sinners. You may leave Him. You may desert Him, but He will never desert you. Our God is like that. I hope you've gotten a new picture of God today. God loves you so much, He will never desert you. He will be your forever friend and He will empower you.
I hope that you, if you have not been baptized, that you will make that decision. Or maybe you were baptized and maybe you're kind of sliding away. Turn around and come back to God and God will be there with open arms for you. Maybe you've almost died. Maybe you've been in the hospital. Maybe terrible things have happened. You've lost your finances, you've lost your job. Things aren't going good for me Lord. If you'll come to Him, He will still be there. He still loves you. We're in hard times and what this nation is going to do with this debt crisis and the Congress and all that I don't know. But we are in a crisis time. How much better in a crisis time that we would come to God rather than just throw in the towel and turn our back on God. Make sure that you put God first in your life.
If the God of Elijah is your God, if you want revival in your life, would you just stand right now. I hope everybody will stand. You want revival in your life. You want the God of Elijah to be your God.
Dear Father in heaven. Please bless this congregation. We are indeed living in the time just before the time of trouble. It seems like it's coming upon us and I pray that You would empower us to not be afraid of the Jezebel's of life but to just cling to Jesus. We might not understand how we're going to get through the days ahead. How we're going to pay our bills. What's going to happen to us, but Lord, help us not to ever turn our back on you. Come into the homes and lives of each of these people and deliver them from the Jezebel's of life and may we stand for you regardless if the heavens fall. Bless us, we ask in Jesus name. Amen.
Hymn of Praise: #90, Eternal God, Whose Power Upholds Scripture: 1 Kings 19:1-4 Hymn of Response: #499, What a Friend We Have in Jesus Sermon Notes: Sermon notes available as PDF
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McDonald Road Sermon transcribed by Steve Foster 08/18/11