Elijah Man of God
Elijah – Man of God
- INTRO: Series in Joel just touched on an important principle (Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of יהוה shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as יהוה hath said, and in the remnant whom יהוה shall call.) the remnant, developed in other minor prophets and in Isaiah. Thought I'd deal with where the concept was first introduced, a passage that's always meant a great deal to me: 1 Kings 19. But need to set in context. So I thought I'd do a little series on Elijah [OHP1] - bit different dealing with a narrative passage, a bit of a luxury - always loved a story and great stories in the Bible. So going to tell story of Elijah. Split it into 5: 1/ Elijah - the man of God. 2/ The widow - the Gentile. 3/ Obadiah - the servant. 4/ Israel - the nation. 5/ The Remnant - God's people - I will get around to the point eventually.
ELIJAH - THE MAN OF GOD the prophet. [Read 1 Kings 17:1-20]
- 1 Kings 17:24 the widow calls Elijah a man of God, in 1 Kings 17:12 she knew immediately she saw him that he served יהוה - he stood out as a man of God - do I? Look at some of the characteristics of a man of God [OHP2]
- He speaks God's word (1 Kings 17:1, 14, 16, 24, 18:41)
1 Kings 17:1 - Elijah bursts on the scene, we've never heard of him before, this is the first time he appears. He must have been prophesying for some time and had a reputation, you don't get an audience with the king just like that. But this is the first time the Bible mentions him. Sudden, dramatic, announcing judgment. Elijah is a significant character, the archetypal prophet. The Jews look for Elijah's coming and he prepared the way for Jesus and will do so before His return (Mal 4:5). He was with Moses on the mount of transfiguration and is one of the two witnesses at the end (Rev 11). What was his great significance? - Elijah always ushers in a new era. These chapters describe a watershed in Israel's history and God's dealings with them. Very akin to our own day, it was a time of great prosperity and materialism, compromise with other religions and turning away from the genuine worship of God. They were ripe for judgment! Elijah comes pronouncing judgment - a drought. There is a drought, a famine for hearing God’s word. What sustains in the time of drought?
- the audacity - "At MY word"! who does he think he is?! Not at the יהוה's word but at my word. The strange thing is that it didn't rain for 3 1/2 years - that is because his word was יהוה's word. That is the essence of being a prophet (cf. 1 Kings 17:24). HE SPOKE GOD'S WORD His words had authority and power because they were God's words. - how can he say that it is not going to rain except at my word? - he had simply aligned himself with God's word (Deuteronomy 11:16,17 Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. Or the anger of יהוה will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which יהוה is giving you) The Word of יהוה was in his mouth. We have so many words and we will be held accountable for each of them - if we want them to have power, authority and impact they must be God's words and not our own
The duration of the drought is not given precisely - but it would be long, in the order of years, not weeks or months. Its length would be determined by how long it took for them to recognize that "יהוה is God" (i.e. "Elijah"), not Baal.
- 1 Kings 17:14, 16, 24 - Jesus spoke only what He heard from His Father - are we speaking God’s word, the words He gives us to speak - Christ dwells in us, if His life is living in us, if we are abiding in Him, being led by the Spirit we should be speaking His words - authoritative, powerful, making an impact, life changing, life imparting, truth (1 Kings 17:24) - there are prophecies that do not come about - people are saying “God says” when He hasn’t - there is a famine for hearing the genuine word of God that is true and can be relied upon.
- He hears from God (1 Kings 17:2, 8, 18:1)
1 Kings 17:2 the word of the LORD came to Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 17:8; 18:1) - HE HEARD FROM GOD! A prophet is a man who hears from God and tells other people - no altering, watering down, ad-libbing, explaining - just faithfully saying what you are told to. Elijah stood before יהוה - to stand before יהוה is to serve Him - be in His service, awaiting directions. This is where prophetic revelation comes from - the presence of יהוה, standing in His courts (cf. Jeremiah“But who has stood in the council of יהוה, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened? “I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. “But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.). - Elijah served a living God. יהוה is a LIVING GOD in contrast to Baal who is mere stone, dead, impotent, useless. There is no record of Ahab’s response to Elijah’s announcement (but one can take it was not repentance nor an eager reception) - he said his bit and left. Announced the message God had given him and then departed. Ahab’s response must have been one of anger because יהוה next give Elijah instruction to hide because his life is now in danger.
- you speak to the king like he just had, you don't make yourself popular - especially when it comes to pass. But God protects His own.
1 Kings 17:4 - יהוה provided for His servant - all others would be suffering from the drought but not Elijah. God Himself provided him with drink and food - both by natural and supernatural means. The raven was an unclean bird - yet יהוה fed Elijah by them. This prepared him to be fed by the unclean Gentile widow (cf. 1 Kings 17:9). This had spiritual significance in that Israel would reject her God and His blessing would come to the unclean Gentiles (cf. Luke 4:24-26 And He said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown. But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.). The man of God is called to do some unconventional things - things frowned upon by the legalistic and the religious - wasn’t exactly diplomatic
- He obeys implicitly (1 Kings 17:5, 10, 18:2) - 1 Kings 17:2,3 cf. 1 Kings 17:5; 17:8,9 cf. 1 Kings 17:10; 18:1 cf. 1 Kings 18:2
1 Kings 17:5 The word of יהוה came to Elijah (1 Kings 17:2) and he did exactly as the word of יהוה commanded. It is not enough for a prophet to receive the word of יהוה, even to just pass it on - he must live by it - obey it Elijah did according to the word of יהוה - so may we do also. It is to such that יהוה entrusts His word - to those who act according to it.
1 Kings 17:6 - Elijah acted in accordance with the word of the LORD and so did the LORD. Elijah drank from the river just as יהוה had told him to (1 Kings 17:4). The natural supply (the river) is just as much יהוה’s faithful provision as the ravens were. The natural means are just as much God’s doing - we are totally reliant on His provision whether the means be ordinary or extraordinary.
1 Kings 17:7 - But as the drought took hold, the natural supply dried up, the river ceased to flow - note it is the natural supply that dried up, not the supernatural supply. Eventually all natural resources upon which we rely will dry up. What then?! Has God failed us? Has what He Himself has told us to do let us down? Are we trusting in the river or the Supplier? (Jeremiah 17:5-8 Thus says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. Psalm 25:3 Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed). Elijah’s faith was tested - where was his trust based?
1 Kings 17:8 - Elijah’s trust was in the Supplier not the supply and he was not disappointed/ashamed. The river dried up but יהוה did not - Hallelujah! Still the word of יהוה came - it is this that sustains life, not some natural resource (Deut 8:3). The river dried up but God’s faithfulness never dries up. The word never dries up - it is always there to sustain the one who trusts in Him. The drought doesn’t touch the one who trusts in יהוה, who waits for His word only. Bless the LORD! But if you forsake the fountain of living water, no longer rely on Him, the drought is devastating (Jeremiah 2:12,13 Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate,” declares יהוה. “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water ; Jer 17:13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord.). Whenever the crisis comes the word of יהוה is there to sustain, direct, show the way to go that leads to life.
1 Kings 17:9 - When the brook dried up the word of יהוה came to Elijah with further instructions of what to do now - his life was wholly directed by what יהוה commanded. the supernatural provision never failed - God’s servant was sustained by supernatural means by God’s direct intervention. Zarephath comes from the root to burn, smelt, refine, test, prove. Elijah would be tested. He had to leave the territory of Israel altogether. Obeying יהוה’s command means overcoming some inbuilt prejudices - first fed by unclean ravens, now to dwell in a heathen land, fed by an unclean Gentile woman. I mean, how does it look? - a man of God living among the heathen, living in the home of a woman? Elijah found refuge and sustenance in the very place from which Jezebel, the cause of all the trouble, came. How does it appear for a man of God to be living with a woman alone? But יהוה commanded and so Elijah obeyed (cf. v.10). the emphasis on יהוה’s command is strong throughout (cf. 1 Kings 17:1, 3, 4, 9). יהוה commanded ravens to provide (לְכַלְכְּלֶךָ) for Elijah (1 Kings 17:4); now He commands a widow to provide (לְכַלְכְּלֶךָ) for him. Those that provided for Elijah did so at יהוה’s command. He was giving His orders to his creatures in order that His servant was taken care of.
1 Kings 17:10 - יהוה said "arise" so Elijah arose; יהוה said "go" so Elijah went - he obeyed exactly and went to Zarephath. So far so good but how does he know who the widow is that יהוה has commanded to feed him? He obeyed what he could and the rest was for יהוה to sort out. And arrange it He did. Hallelujah! Elijah had only come to the entrance to the city and the first person he encounters is a woman gathering sticks - the very woman יהוה had appointed! Coincidence? No such thing! But how was Elijah to know - he sends out a request to see how she responds - is this his "provider"? - so he asks for water - to see how she responds to serving a stranger - testing her heart to see whether there was a generous, giving, serving heart. (Look at the widow and her response next time) but the word of the LORD in Elijah’s mouth proved true.
1 Kings 17:16 - He said the grain and oil would not urn out -The bowl of flour never ended and the pitcher of oil never failed! Hallelujah! Just as יהוה had said. What He says NEVER fails! Hallelujah! He is always true to His word and promises. When Elijah spoke it was יהוה speaking - this is the prophet - when he speaks the words from his mouth are those of יהוה Himself and they cannot fail. If they do he has not spoken from יהוה and is not a true prophet - hence a prophet must be 100% accurate, otherwise he is not speaking יהוה’s words but his own (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.). יהוה speaks through men! They are His prophets.
- flour - ground by human effort - we’ve got to put the work in to process the grain, the Scripture but also need the oil of the Holy Spirit, revelation - these ingredients go into make the living word of God, that revelation that sustains in the time of drought.
- He speaks to God (1 Kings 17:20, 18:36, 37, 42)
1 Kings 17:19 - The widow’s son died -all she had - the man of God identified with compassion to the distress of the heathen - identification unto death (1 Kings 17:21) He took the boy up to his own room and laid him on his own bed - he embraced her death, her tragedy, made it his own and interceded to God. This is the prophet’s role - to identify with the people, to stand in the gap and intercede - to plead to God on their behalf that He would spare them from death. Oh we like the glamour of being יהוה’s mouthpiece, but this messy identification with death and sin, with agonizing intercession? We are more reluctant. We hold ourselves apart as separate, righteous, holy - but to deal with sin and death requires a willingness to be intimately associated with it - to take it upon yourself. - The widow’s son died, Elijah takes the boy to his room - to that sanctuary where he communed with יהוה - spoke to Him and heard His voice. And there he cries out to His God. Elijah cried out to God - he could do so and be heard because he knew Him - he knew Him by name - he could call Him by name, address His as יהוה because he was in relationship with Him. He could address יהוה as “my God" - can I? He is bold in his prayer - he accuses יהוה of bring calamity on this widow who had shown him kindness - she had given him a place to dwell and now יהוה had caused her son, the most precious thing in her life, to die. יהוה was seen as the only cause - the death wasn’t attributed to a satanic attack, an illness etc. - nothing occurs without יהוה allowing it, therefore He is the cause of all that happens.
The man of God is a man of prayer, why wasn’t it raining? What was Elijah doing all that time at the brook Cherith, at the widow’s house? - praying! His continual prayers were continually holding back the rain in accord with God’s word. He spoke to God and God did as he said! Powerful stuff! (James 5:16-18 The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.)
- God hears and acts (1 Kings 17:22, 18:38, 44)
- From his cry Elijah received instruction on what to do - no word from the LORD necessarily, but instinctively he acted. He stretched himself on the boy three times - complete identification with his death - intimate contact with the corpse -(as Jesus did with man’s death in His three days in the tomb took upon Himself the death of mankind cf. Heb 2:9b). Resurrection, life comes, only when someone takes that death upon themself and imparts the life they have. It cannot be done in a detached manner - only through death does resurrection come. - Elijah called to יהוה by name and יהוה heard! Hallelujah! For Him to hear is to answer (1 John 5:14,15). Exactly as Elijah prayed so יהוה did (cf. James 5:16-18): "the boy’s soul returned to his midst" and he lived! Hallelujah! Elijah did exactly as יהוה said - יהוה responded by doing what Elijah said! Awesome! Elijah was answered because he knew יהוה his God, he knew Him and was in relationship with Him because he obeyed His word. Obedience brings us close to God, not obeying His word distances us from Him and we need not expect for our requests to be answered. God gave life! Hallelujah! He is the only One who can. Praise His Name! The world is full of the lost, the dead, they need life - it comes through our identifying with them in compassion and interceding on their behalf to a God we are in close communion with.
Conclusion [OHP3]We are in a time of famine, yet the man of God is sustained - famine for hearing God’s word. The man of God is sustained by the word of God - it is in his mouth - he hears it, speaks it and acts upon it. This is life for us: hearing God’s Word, proclaiming God’s word, living according to God’s word. We live by faith in God’s word.
Our desperate need is to hear God’s Word - supernatural provision, revelation - to hear it, speak it, live by it.
God provided by ravens, by widow - God provides for His own in the time of famine. God’s word sustains, there was always the grain and the oil. (Psalm 1:2,3 his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. Jeremiah 17:7,8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.)
The brook failed but God’s word never does (Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.)