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The Story of Elijah: A Chariot and Three Swords

The Story of Elijah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When we last left Elijah he was on his way to Mount Sinai, for 40 days and 40 night Elijah walked through the freshly watered wilderness toward the mountain of God.
Elijah had been sustained for this journey by being supernaturally fed by an angel of God in the middle of the wilderness.
on this journey no doubt Elijah was thinking...
about his battle with the prophets of Baal,
How Baal was incapable of answering the cries of his prophets
Remembering the intensity of the fire that poured down from heaven upon the alter
How all Israel repented and said they would follow YHWH
He was no doubt thinking...
What it could have been like if Israel walked faithfully before God
What it could have been like if Ahab had a spine and was willing to stand up for what is right in front of Jezebel.
However, Elijah’s thoughts always brought him back to this reality:
Israel is cursed.
Jezebel no doubt has killed Obadiah and the prophets he hid in the cave
How no matter what signs God showed them, they would not follow him.
How Israel has become no different than the Canaanites,
And Jezebel wants to kill Elijah, she wants to cut him in to pieces like he did the prophets of Baal
After he looked around and determined that Israel was again under the judgement of God, he walked out of the city.
So as he walks to Sinai, he is thinking through all of these things, and he knows that Israel needs to be destroyed.
Eventually he arrives at Sinai, and finds a cave, and he sets up camp in the cave.
Before we look at what happens in the cave I want you to understand why he went to Sinai.

Elijah Comes to Sinai to Testify Against Israel

Elijah is a prophet, and prophets are part of God’s council.
Whatever God decides to do on earth, he first consults with his prophets.
And when his prophets likewise will come back to the council of God and report concerning the people he is sent to prophecy to.
So the reason Elijah comes to Sinai is to stand before God as a council member and report what has happened in Israel.
Prophets will make suggestions to God as to what should happen.
They will interseed for the people, or they will ask God to judge the people.
So Elijah comes to Sinai to report to YHWH and his council concerning Israel and their hard heartedness toward God.
Paul says that Elijah appeals to God against Israel
this is courtroom language
Elijah goes to Sinai to bring a legal charge against Israel, saying that they are corrupt, and are deserving of judgement.
So Elijah sets up camp in a cave on Sinai and waits for the council to begin.
Ok, Look with me at

Elijah Comes to Testify Against Israel

1 Kings 19:9–10 ESV
9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:9 ESV
9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Elijah, lodged in the cave, is startled when the word of the Lord comes to him.
The word of the Lord is delivered to Elijah by an angelic being.
And the angel asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
This is not a condescending question as if he was saying
what are you doing here?
shouldn’t you be in Israel?
Why have you come to this cave?
no, this is an angel asking Elijah to state his business, or his report, before he stands before the Judge of Israel, YHWH himself.
So the angel is asking Elijah to state charges against Israel
And Elijah does so in verse 10
1 Kings 19:10 ESV
10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Elijah starts by saying, “I have been very Jealous for YHWH, The God of hosts (or the God of armies)
When Elijah says he is jealous for the Lord, what this means is that he is zealous for God. He is passionate about the ways of God, and he is dedicated to see God glorified in all the earth.
this is the same sort of zeal Paul has when he states that he is zealous for God
EXAMPLE
Imagine if you were praying to God one morning and all of a sudden, an angel of God appeared to you and asked you, “are you zealous for God? are you serious about your faith?”
Do you serve your king faithfully?
Have you pledged your unyielding allegiance to Christ?
and looking at your life, would you be able to say, as Elijah did, I have been very zealous for God?
You see, when we read and study the scriptures we must not be satisfied with intellectual stimulation.
We must not be satisfied with having our moral compass recalibrated
When we read the bible we are not only interpreting what a passage means, but the passage is also interpreting us.
When we come to the scriptures we must recognize that the Spirit of God is preparing to undo us.
He is preparing to expose us and make us very uncomfortable...
Hebrews says
Hebrews 4:12–13 ESV
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The bible is the living and active word of God - it is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creation is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.
There is no hiding from God, and that very uncomfortable reality that God’s word is about exposing our shame, is nothing less than a marvelous expression of God’s love for his people.
For he is faithful to not leave us in our sin, in our filth, but like a surgeon he is exposing and removing our sinful habits that left unchecked will result in us being just like Ahab - spineless, pathetic, maggots who whore after idols.
So let this passage interpret you…
So, if an angel of the Lord appeared to you and asked, “are you zealous for God, do you take your faith seriously?” how would you answer?
You would have to look at your life, your habits, your priorities.
You would have to evaluate your affections and loves
You would have to see how you spend your time, your money, your influence.
And after this evaluation, would you be able to say your zealous for God?
Would you be able to say that you’re passionate for the things of God?
Would you be able to say that you seek to bring all things under the submission of King Jesus?
The word of God leaves us naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.
The beauty of the gospel is that our nakedness and exposer has ultimately been remedied in Christ.
He has clothed us in his righteousness, and he has secured us in his covenant love.
However, do we live as if thats a reality? Because if you do, than you would be able to answer the angel as Elijah did, “I am jealous for the Lord”
Church, may we, before the one whom we are all to give an account be able to say we are zealous for Christ!
1 Kings 19:10 ESV
10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Elijah contrasts his covenant faithfulness with Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness
Elijah brings three charges against Israel
They have forsaken your covenant (They have not obeyed God)
They have thrown down your alters (They have not worshiped God_
And they have killed your prophets with a sword (They have not listened to God)
He then concludes that He is the only prophet left.
As a prophet this is the report he is bringing to the council of God.
And when the angel hears the report he tells Elijah to go and stand before YHWH and give him this report.
And before Elijah can even walk to the entrance of the cave something terrifying happens…
1 Kings 19:11–12 ESV
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks 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. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
1k 19
What is happening here?
This is the same sort of event that happened when Moses was at Sinai and God came down upon the mountain.
We see often that God is described as traveling through creation on his chariot, and when he arrives he does so with terrifying effects.
So what is happening here? YHWH arrives on his chariot

YHWH Arrives on His Chariot

Elijah is not brought to God in a vision, he does not ascend beyond the clouds to meet YHWH in order to give him his report. But instead, YHWH himself comes down like locomotive!
YHWH comes to mount Sinai riding his chariot.
1 Kings 19:11–12 NRSV
11 He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking 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; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
The same chariot that will again come with fire to take Elijah to heaven. (2 k 2)
The same chariot that God used to come down to mount sinai in the days of Moses with Wind, earthquakes and fire. (ps 68.17; )
The same chariot that he rides to wage war against his enemies and brings salvation to his people ()
1 k 19 11-
The Same chariot that is led by angels in
And every time the Chariot of God shows up, things are not left the same.
EXAMPLE: On my way to church I was hit by an 18-wheeler
And what Elijah Experiences is the hosts of God, his armies, leading his chariot to Sinai.
1 Kings 19:11–12 ESV
11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks 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. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
1 k 19
Elijah stands up to go out, but as he does YHWH himself passed by on his chariot
but he hears this bloodcurdling sound.
Thi
he hears this bloodcurdling sound.
The sound of wind tearing through the mountain, rocks smashing against themselves, trees snapping in half. The wind was so powerful that it tore through the mountains and broke rocks into pieces.
EXAMPLE: Leaf blower on an ant hill
But God had not yet arrived, for he was not in the wind
Then, the ground beneath him began to shake,
and the mountain swayed back and forth, rocks tumbling down the side of the mountain. The quake would have made it nearly impossible for Elijah to continue standing, but would have thrown him to the ground.
But, still, God had not yet arrived. for he was not in the earthquake
Then fire from heaven scorched the mountain,
the temperature in the cave began to rise as fire consumed the already torn up mountain
But yet, God had still not arrived. for he was not in the fire
After the angelic horses of God’s chariot had ridden by in wind, earthquake and fire, everything stopped.
Absolute silence
deafening silence
A silence so piercing that Elijah knew the chariot had stopped, and YHWH had arrived
A silence so piercing that Elijah knew the chariot had stopped, and YHWH had arrived
Could you imagine this moment for Elijah, He just experienced the glory of God descending upon the mountain.
He is in a cave and is now to walk out and give his report to YHWH - The Creator of all things.
Look with me at the end of v. 12 and the first part of v.13

And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak

And when Elijah heard it

1 Kings 19:13 ESV
And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak

What was it that Elijah heard?
Its amazing to me how many sermons, or spiritual lessons, or inspirational quotes I’ve heard or read about this “still small voice” or “quiet whisper”
The sense in the Hebrew is not a quiet whisper or a still small voice, but rather absolute silence.
complete calm. Utter peace. A silence so severe that you could hear a pin drop
I like how the NRSV translates verse 12
1 Kings 19:12 NRSV
and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
The New Revised Standard Version Elijah Meets God at Horeb

and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13

Elijah did not hear a still small voice.
No where in the Bible do we see God having a small voice
We serve a God who speaks with the power to form galexies
We serve a God who speaks and things come into existence
David talks a lot about God speaking in the psalms and he does not talk about God having a small voice… To the contrary
Psalm 68:33 ESV
to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice.
ps. 68
Psalm 29:3–5 ESV
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
Psalm 29:3–9 ESV
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
Psalm 29:2–3 ESV
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.
Psalm 29:7–9 ESV
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. 8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
ps29
ps 29 3-5
Ps 29
No where does the bible talk about God speaking with a still small voice.
1 Kings 19:12–13 ESV
12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1k 19 12
God Speaks Cleary Through His Word
EXAMPLE
This is not a passage that should inspire us to try and block out all the noise of life so we can hear God whisper to us.
We are not buddhists who try and empty our minds so we can hear truth.
There is no spiritual discipline of tuning our ears to hear still small voices.
We are to tune our ears to hear God through the scriptures
We are to tune our ears to hear God through one another
We are to tune our ears to hear God through preaching
But not try and determine God’s will through a still small voice
Likewise, the text says that God was not in the loud wind, earthquake, or fire.
This is also important for us, we must know how God speaks to his people.
And just because we experience something that is awe inspiring, does not mean God is in it.
There are whole churches that seek to conjure a powerful experience hoping that God will meet them in that experience.
But, just because you have an experience does not mean that it is a word from God.
For we have the word of God right here. So if the Bible leads you to an amazing experience than absolutely, listen!
But waiting for and hoping for a still small voice is not helpful. And believing God is always in magnificent experiences is also, not helpful.
For what Elijah heard was sheer silence
1 Kings 19:13–14 ESV
13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
1 Kings 19:13 ESV
13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 k 19 13-
So after experiencing this absolutely terrifying arrival of YHWH, he hears the deafening silence and knows that YHWH is outside and ready to talk.
So Elijah wraps his face with his camel hair cloak as to not be destoryed by the sight of God’s holiness and glory
And he steps the entrance of the cave and God speaks to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
We have already looked at what this voice probably sounded like…
again, not a condescending question, but asking him for his report - what do you have to say to me?
Elijah then goes on to tell God what he told the angel in verse 10
1 Kings 19:14 ESV
14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Elijah reports that Israel has
Thrown down your alter
They have forsaken your covenant (They have not obeyed God)
They have thrown down your alters (They have not worshiped God)
And they have killed your prophets with a sword (They have not listened to God)

Elijah Stands Before YHWH

Because of these great sins, Israel deserves to be destroyed.
YHWH hears this report, and agree with Elijah.
1 Kings 19:13–14 ESV
13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Israel is done. as a nation, they have rejected YHWH for the last time
And God tells Elijah what he plans to do to Israel…

The Three Swords

And gives Elijah some instructions..

The "great and strong wind" would be Hazael, whom Elijah would anoint King of Syria. He would be a scourge to Israel.

The "earthquake" would be Jehu, whom Elijah would anoint as King of Israel. He would wipe out the line of Ahab.

The "fire" would be Elisha, whom Elijah would anoint as his Joshua. Elisha would create the Remnant Church out of the 7000 faithful. He would train new pastors at his "school of the prophets." And he would be a great scourge to the wicked.

The "great and strong wind" would be Hazael, whom Elijah would anoint King of Syria. He would be a scourge to Israel.

The "earthquake" would be Jehu, whom Elijah would anoint as King of Israel. He would wipe out the line of Ahab.

The "fire" would be Elisha, whom Elijah would anoint as his Joshua. Elisha would create the Remnant Church out of the 7000 faithful. He would train new pastors at his "school of the prophets." And he would be a great scourge to the wicked.

1 k 19 13
1 Kings 19:15–18 ESV
15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
1k 19 15-18

The Three Swords

God tells Elijah that he going to raise up three men, three swords, that will bring Israel to their knees

The "great and strong wind" would be Hazael, whom Elijah would anoint King of Syria. He would be a scourge to Israel.

The "earthquake" would be Jehu, whom Elijah would anoint as King of Israel. He would wipe out the line of Ahab.

The "fire" would be Elisha, whom Elijah would anoint as his Joshua. Elisha would create the Remnant Church out of the 7000 faithful. He would train new pastors at his "school of the prophets." And he would be a great scourge to the wicked.

First Sword: Hazael

Hazael will be anointed king over Syria
Hazael becomes one of the most barbaric persecutors of Israel.
Before Hazael becomes king Elisha was giving him a prophecy concerning the king Ben-hadad. and right after he gets done talking Elisha stares as Hazael until Hazael become embarrassed.
finally, Hazael, breaks the awkwardness and asks Elisha whats wrong, and Elisha begain to weep.
Hazael asked why he was weeping and Elisha said that he had just seen the evil Hazael will do toward Israel and it was so bad that it caused Elisha to weep.
Hazael asks Elisha whats wrong, and Elisha said that he has seen the evil he will do toward Israel and it was so bad that it caused Elisha to weep.
Hazael is like a strong wind through Israel who smashed Israel into pieces for 42 years.
And this is God’s judgement on Israel

Second Sword: Jehu

Jehu is to be anointed king over Israel
Jehu is an awesome character in the Bible (He’s like the mad max of Israel)
Right after one of Hazael’s attacks on Israel Jehu steps in as king and begins to destroy all of Ahab’s family
I don’t want to say to much because Jehu’s story is going to be the concluding sermon in this series, as he is the one who brings Jezebel to her end
But Jehu is like an earthquake in Israel
he divides the nation and destroys the enemies of God.

Third Sword: Elisha

Elisha is Elijah’s disciple
He will continue the prophetic work that Elijah has begun, and he will go on to do even greater works than Elijah
In fact, Elisha is introduced in the next passage. We will get to know Elisha next week.
THe Earthquake
Elisha is like fire that consumes Israel as he pronounces judgement on the cursed nation.

The Faithful 7000

So God hears the report of Elijah, and agrees that Israel must be punished, so his plan is to raise up these three swords, Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha to bring judgement upon Israel.
The Fire
However, God does tell Elijah that not all Israel is bad, but that he still has 7000 who have not bowed to or kissed Baal.
This 7000 becomes the remnant church that God then focuses on redeeming
You know, these 7000 that God has elected to save, did not find favor in God’s eyes because of their good works
However, God has saved for himself 7000 out of the house of Israel.
God did not look on them as being righteous because they didn’t bow the knee to Baal.
You see, even when Israel was completely faithless, God is faithful to leave there 7000 who have not worshiped Baal
It was because of God’s sovereign grace and choice to elect these 7000 that kept them from worshiping Baal.
God sovereign choice of these 7000 is what preserved them in that day.
But when Hezekiah becomes King of Judah he reestablishes temple worship
This whole passage is an awesome testimony to God’s sovereign grace toward his people.
Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking, mainly the promises and blessings of the covenant.
However, God’s elect, the 7000, did obtain it. They obtained the promises of God and salvation.
My Friends, Likewise, you are not followers of Christ because of your own righteousness, your own right decisions.
My Friends, Likewise, you are not followers of Christ because of your own righteousness, your own right decisions.
you follow God because he has by grace chosen you out of a corrupt world to be his witnesses, to be his ambassadors, to be his children, to be his bride!
And now we are to live in such a way that is in keeping with the grace God has freely poured out upon us.
May we be men and women who have humble hearts thankful to God for the grace he has given us.
And may we be men and women who are motivated and emboldened to live our lives as God’s faithful elect.
Lets pray.
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