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If the Lord be God, Obey Him

The Ministry of Elijah  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Elijah's Declaration to Ahab; Time in Wilderness & Zarephath

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Introduction

When God sends a prophet to a nation that has fallen into sin and idolatry, His purpose is to call the people back to true faith. The prophet is sent not just to be a foreteller, but also a forth-teller. In other words, he comes to announce God’s coming judgment and expose the sins of the people.
Let’s take a few minutes today and look at the prophet God sent to Israel during Ahab’s reign.

Elijah the Person (1 Reyes 17:1)

Elijah the Person (1 Reyes 17:1)
El – i – jah
God My Jehovah (Yahweh)
Elijah – My God is Lord
Elijah comes on the scene and right away makes a statement to Ahab just in giving him his name.
We don’t know much about Elijah…who his parents were or what tribe he is from. We can, however, assume that he was either of the tribe of Gad or Manasseh since the area of Gilead was split between those two tribes. We are told that he was a Tishbite of the inhabitants of Gilead. This simply means that he was from the town of Tishbe in Gilead. (SEE MAP)
Elijah was no different that you and I.
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are. Elijah was like you and I, but he didn’t let his emotions control him (other than on his trip to Mt. Horeb.) What makes Elijah such a stand out character in the Bible was his great courage and faith. He was willing to stand up for what is right and obey the Lord’s leading in his life.
Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are. Elijah was like you and I but didn’t let his emotions control him, other than on his trip to Mt. Horeb. What makes Elijah such a stand out character in the Bible was his great courage and faith. He was willing to stand up for what is right and obey the Lord’s leading in his life.

The Reason for the Judgment (1 Reyes 16:28-33)

Elijah, under the leading of the Lord, marches right up to Ahab and says, this is my paraphrase, “Judgment is coming little man.”
READ 16:28-33
Having married Jezebel, an immoral and fanatical pagan, Ahab was further drawn away from the God of Israel. Under Jezebel’s influence Ahab gave up the worship of God and took up Baal worship. His marriage to Jezebel itself was in direct violation of the Bible ().
In addition to building a temple and altar for sacrifice for Baal, he built a grove of Asherah poles. Asherah is the female counterpart for Baal. This new religion was a fertility cult that featured sexual unions between priests and temple ‘virgins,’ practices explicitly contrary to the laws of God.[1]
This is why God said that Ahab is verse 33 that Abah “did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”

The Pronouncement of Judgment (1b)

Why did Elijah pray for judgment upon Israel? Because Ahab had led the people in the worship of Baal. As we said last week, the word Baal means lord. Ahab was telling the people, Baal is your lord, he is God.
Why did Elijah pray that it wouldn’t rain? It was believed that Baal was the god of rain and bountiful harvests. This judgment was a strike at the very heart of Baalism. God showed Israel that He is the God of rain and the harvest and kept His promise to Israel with the judgment.
Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; 17 And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.
The promise of this type of judgment was repeated in Solomon's prayer of dedication of the Temple in
tells us that this period of no rain or dew lasted for 3/1-2 years. It made the land uninhabitable. God used this to prove that He was Lord and call the people to the point of making a decision. This is where we can interject what I believe is the theme verse of Elijah’s ministry.
tells us that this period of no rain or dew lasted for 3/1-2 years. It made the land uninhabitable. God used this to prove that He was Lord and call the people to the point of making a decision. This is where we can interject what I believe is the theme verse of Elijah’s ministry.
Theme verse of Elijah’s ministry:
The call to action is found is this verse…“If the Lord be God, follow him.” The title of this study in the life of Elijah is title that, “If the Lord be God.” As look at Elijah’s life, let’s first address this topic, “If the Lord be God, obey Him.”
The call to action is found is this verse…“If the Lord be God, follow him.” The title of this study in the life of Elijah is title that, “If the Lord be God.” As look at Elijah’s life, let’s first address this topic, “If the Lord be God, obey Him.”
Sticky Statement: If the Lord be God, obey Him.
Transition: When we look at chapter 17, we find two instances where God gave Elijah specific directions that he was to follow. We’re going to look those briefly and see what Elijah’s obedience brought that we too can see in our lives through obedience.

I. Obedience Brings Miraculous Provision ()

When we look at , we find two instances where God miraculously provided for Elijah.

A. Provision by Ravens ()

1. God says, “Elijah, head east across the Jordan River and hide at the Brook Cherith. I’ll send some birds to you everyday to make sure you’re fed.”
2. How crazy does that sound to you? Yes, verse 5 tells us that he obeyed and seemingly without question!
3. Why, because if the Lord be God, obey Him!
WATER
1. Location of the Brooke Cherith? East of the Jordan River in the area of Gilead.
2. This was at least a thirty mile (48 Km) walk from Samaria.
5. Some believe it was north of Tishbeh and others think it was to the south. But this shouldn’t be a point of contention for us.
6. The point is this, this wasn’t some short journey outside the city of Samaria. This was at least a 30-mile walk.
3. The Brook Cherith was a seasonal brook that would quickly dry up during the dry season but could attain flood stage after a heavy rain or spring runoff.
8. In other words, Elijah, this is a temporary location for you. This brook will dry up but I want you to obey and go.
FOOD
9. So God said, Elijah, I’ll give you water from the brook to drink and I’ll use ravens to bring you food.
4. According to , Ravens are birds that often neglect to even provide food for their young. But God said, “Elijah, they’ll bring food for you.”
5. The Hebrew word for bread is lehem. It means food in general, possibly including berries, fruit, nuts, eggs, etc.[2]
12. The Hebrew word for bread is lehem. It means food in general, possibly including berries, fruit, nuts, eggs, etc.[2]
What learn from this is that Elijah believed that the Lord was God and chose to obey and God miraculously provided for him.
What learn from this is that Elijah believed that the Lord was God and chose to obey and God miraculously provided for him.

B. Provision by a Widow (8-16)

1. The river dries up and God tells Elijah to go to Zarephath, a journal of approximately 80-90 miles (128-144 Km) northwest.
3. What does God do? He sends Elijah to Zarepath, a city on the coast of Phoenicia. Zarepath is just south of a city called Sidon or Zidon.
2. Here is where this gets interesting. Remember, God sent Elijah to the wilderness to hide. We learn in chapter 18 that Ahab and Jezebel have sent out people all over Israel, including to other nations, to look for him in order to kill him.
3. So what does God do? He sends Elijah to Zarepath, a city on the coast of Phoenicia. Interestingly, Zarepath is just south of a city called Sidon or Zidon.
4. According to , this was Jezebel’s home!
5. God said, “Elijah, go to Jezebel’s home area, you the lady that wants you dead. Go hang out of there for a while and I’ll have a widow take care of you.”
6. Again, in our minds, how crazy is that!
7. In that society, a widow couldn’t even take care of herself, let alone someone else.
6. What did Elijah do? tells us that he obeyed.
The Provision
9. Elijah finds the widow woman and quickly learns that she has nothing…she is expecting to make and eat one last meal with her son and die.
7. God would remind Elijah that He is the God of rain and bountiful supply by using someone incapable of providing for herself and out of food.
12. According to verse 12, she, a Gentile, was confirming on the name of Jehovah that what she was saying as true. She, like many others in the land, had nothing left and was preparing to die of starvation. That’s when a prophet comes to her and says, make me some food.
Read verse 13-14
13. She hears the words of Elijah and chooses to obey.
6
8. Notice that obedience brought miraculous provision. It started with Elijah obeying the leading of the Lord followed by this Gentile women obeying the word of the Lord. This obedience resulted in experiencing the miraculous provision of food.
15. It started with Elijah obey the leading of the Lord followed by this Gentile women obeying the word of the Lord. This obedience resulted in experiencing the miraculous provision of food.
16. Think with me…this is a Gentile woman whose people worshipped Baal—the god of rain and bountiful supply. A famine has devastated the land Baal couldn’t make it rain for the crops to grow.
17. But a prophet of the God of Israel comes to her and says that God is going to make your supply bountiful if you obey…and He does!
18. I wonder what entered the mind of the rest of Zarepath when they heard about this.

II. Obedience Brings Opportunities for Ministry

II. Obedience Brings Opportunities for Ministry

A. To Minister to a Widow and the Fatherless by Saving their Lives

B. To Minister to a Widow by being used of God to Raise the Dead

Conclusion

You never know what opportunities for ministry you are missing out on because of your disobedience to the Lord.
The call to action today is this, “If the Lord be God, obey Him.”
For Elijah, his obedience brought miraculous provision and opportunities for ministry. The same can be said of us. When we choose to obey Him, we are choosing to believe that the Lord is God. It’s then that you will see God’s hand on your life. It’s then that you’ll experience his miraculous supply and be used by Him to minister to those in need.
If the Lord be God, obey Him!
[1] Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 22). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
[2] Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Kings. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 523–524). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
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