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Fire at Zeraphath

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Fire at Zarephath

I Kings 17:17-24

Background and Introduction: 

1.       Israel’s Political Condition: I Kings 16:29-31 

Like father, like son, Ahab was the spitting image of his father in wickedness.   Is it not true that what we allow in moderation our children will do in excess?  Needless to say, politically the nation had been weakened by the line of wicked kings.  Omri’s wickedness exceeded them all; Until Ahab took the throne verse 30.  What hope is there for a nation whose leadership is corrupt?

2.       Israel’s Spiritual Condition:  I Kings 16:32-33.  Spiritually the nation had been impacted by the ungodliness of its leaders.  To top off this wicked king he married a woman who was more wicked than himself.  Jezebel, the one who introduced Baal worship, the one who held Gods prophets in contempt, the one whose name, still to this very day, remains will such a stigma that no one names their child “Jezebel”.  At least as far as I know, unless they are not aware of her infamy.    

3.       Israel’s Meteorological (ÇmiùtI«r«ÈldZIk«l) Condition:  I Kings 17:1.  It had been declared that there would be no rain except at the word of Elijah.  What boldness, what faith, what intestinal fortitude to stand before the wicked king and announce such bleakness.

4.       Israel’s Prophetical condition:   The Holy Spirit could write the life of Elijah in two words: “He Prayed.”  They had a prophet who feared nothing but God.  (with the exception of a momentary lapse in faith when threatened by Jezebel)  One writer said that “Elijah lived with God. He thought about sin like God; He grieved over sin like God; he spoke against sin like God.  He was all passion in his prayers and passionate in his denunciation of evil in the land.

In chapter 17 we see that Ravens cared for Elijah.  After the brook dried up God sent Elijah to Zarephath.  The name literally means “refinery”.

Beginning in I Kings 17:17-24 we see faith.

In our study I would like for us to address:     

I.   The trial of Faith

II. The Collapse of Faith

III. The Operation of Faith

IV. The Fruit of Faith

I.   The trial of Faith

II.  The Collapse of Faith

III. The Operation of Faith

IV. The Fruit of Faith

I.       The Trial of Faith.    

A. Trials often happen unexpectedly!    verse 17a

“And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick;”

This thought is supported by James 1:2  James 1:2 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” [1]

¨       to fall into as to be encompassed[2].  Carries the idea of the unexpected!

¨       Many.                                                                                                    Ill A dear Christian lady I know (Mrs. Barbara Snyder) who has given her life to serve the Lord in the local church had a series of trials that came both unexpectedly and severely!  Within approx. six months: her car burned, Her house burned, her brother died and her husband died.  It is important that we prepare spiritually by maintaining our daily walk with the Lord or else such testing my be more than devastating.

¨       Testing

B.      Trials are sometimes severe!  17:17b

“and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him

What did this trial mean to this woman?  What was the impact? What were her choices?

      NT Examples:

      OT Examples:

I.         The Trial of Faith.    

A.   Trials often happen unexpectedly!    verse 17a

B.   Trials are sometimes severe!  17:17b

C.  They always happen purposefully.

It is possible that in this life we may never be able to answer the ominous “why” question, as it relates to our trials; but we can be assured that they are not without Purpose. 

Since God is Sovereign we must believe that there is a divine purpose woven  into the fabric of  our difficulties.

Romans 8:28  is part of the Book we hold in our hands and hide in our hearts!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” [3]

James 1:3,4

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” [4]

¨        1)   to perform, accomplish, achieve

¨        2)   Brought to its end, Finished

            Ill.       A little boy was visiting his grandmother and as she was busily embroidering a piece of cloth, he crawled under the embroidering table.  He was stunned as he looked up to see from underneath, what his grandmother was doing.  He said “grandmother, what kind of a mess are you making?”  “What on earth do you mean!” she responded?  “This thing that you are making has all kinds of ugly knots underneath.”  The grandmother said “I’m sure it does but rest assured that I am looking at it from the top side and all things are turning out all right.” 

This must be what God says to us.  We look at our lives and can’t help but say “what kind of mess is this Lord?”  Through His Word we hear His voice which says all things are working together for good.”

I.         The Trial of Faith.    

A.   Trials often happen unexpectedly!    verse 17a

B.   Trials are sometimes severe!  17:17b

C.   They always happen purposefully

A careful study guides us to this conclusion:

Romans 8:29

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. [5]

God’s will, if you are a believer, is not illusively hidden from His children.  God does not coach us along life’s road saying things like “you are getting warmer” or “look over there”.  God has so oclearly laid out what His will is for our lives and here it is, that we be “conformed to the image of His son”

Hebrews 12:10

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  [6]

II.   The Collapse of Faith

¨       A collapsed Faith defined: When a believer who is a the place of refining, takes theirs eyes off of the Lord and onto the problem.

¨       Note the Evidence of a collapsed faith:

1.       Her God was Blamed.  1 Kings 17:18

“And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?” [7]

To blame Elijah is to blame God.

2.       Her Blessings were Forgotten. 

a.       She forgot who saved her and her son during the famine.

b.       She had forgotten who was the author of there sustained meal and oil supply.

Ill.  Who else in scripture had a collapsed faith?  Peter  exhibited great faith when he stepped out of the boat an onto the water.  Then he exhibited a collapsed faith when he turned his eyes away from the Lord and onto the problem.  The result was that the problem became worse!

III. The Operation of Faith(How Biblical faith operates in the face of trials) vs 19-22

A.      Faith keeps calm when the blow falls.  Vs 19

A calmness is implied.

Ill   I believe we see this type of calmness in the life of Job.  When all was lost for Job he kept calm!

Ill.       Pastor Pelky lost his three year old daughter.  He told the story and my heart just broke for him and his wife as they talked about it.  The thing that has stuck in my heart was the peace that they said God initially gave them when the news of her passing came to them.  He said that they were just enveloped in the grace and love of God so much so that initially neither of them broke down and cried.

B.  Faith relates the trial to God Immediately  vs 20

Here Elijah is not reproaching God, he is expressing his broken heart on behalf of this lady who has so cared for him.  All of this sprang forth from his faith and love for God.  When trouble came he went to his best friend for help!

C.      Faith requests of God the humanly impossible  vs21, 22

            For Elijah it was to request of God the life of the boy.

What Faith this man had.  The Bible tells us that “he was a man of like passions” 

      Ill.           A preacher I know had a desperate need for $5,000.  He prayed and prayed.  His dead line was drawing close.  Finally the day of his dead line had arrived.  No money, no checks, no hope for it now because the mail had run.  Shortly before he left the church an older man came in and spoke to the pastor.  The preacher had seen the man around town and learned that day that the man had just lost his wife.  The preacher knew he needed encouragement, besides, there was nothing he could do now about his financial  short fall.  After praying with the man the older gentleman said that he appreciated the pastor taking the time encourage him.  As he left he placed a folded check into the preachers hand and said “this is what my wife and I wanted to do for the church.”  It was  a check for five thousand dollars

I.         The Trial of Faith.    

A.   Trials often happen unexpectedly!    verse 17a

B.   Trials sometimes happen severely!  17:17b

C.   They always happen purposefully

II.   The Collapse of Faith

1.   Her God was Blamed

2.   Her Blessings were Forgotten

III.    The Operation of Faith

      A.   Faith Keeps Calm when the blow falls

      B.   Faith relates the trial to God Immediately

C.   Faith Requests the Humanly Impossible

IV.   The Fruit of Faith vs 22-24

1.       Prayers that are answered! Vs 22“And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah.” 

 

2.       Hearts that are rejoicing!  Vs. 23“Elijah said, see, thy son liveth”  As if to say “see what God can do.” 

 

3.       Others that are strengthened.  Vs 24

 

 

Conclusion:  Dear Christian:  Are you at Zarephath?  Has your faith been tested? Pray this prayer: Lord I am in thy furnace with purpose, take away the dross cause thy own image to shine forth.  Help me that in the trial my faith would operate like Elijahs: calm, relates the trial to you and then prays, trusting you!

 


----

[1]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[2]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[3]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[4]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[5]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[6]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[7]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

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