1 Kings 17:4, 9
King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were living luxuriously in their gorgeous palace, gloating over the fact they had converted Israel to the worship of Baal. Suddenly, like a clap of thunder out of a clear blue sky, there strode into their presence unannounced, a rugged, powerful man, with long flowing hair, clothed in a rough mantle indicative of a prophet of God.
Without any introduction he gave a message that shook the nation to its core. Then, having dropped the bombshell, making everyone tremble by his startling message, and awe-inspiring presence, he departed as if the earth had swallowed him up. This man flashed across Israel’s midnight sky like a meteor, then when his work was done he disappeared as quickly.
Who was this strange visitor? He was Elijah the Tishbite. He came from a city and land of nomadic people. They were wild and rough. This is all we know about Elijah. Short introduction.
By this, God would have us to know that it is not the man, but his message that is important. Ahimaaz—Cushite. 2 Samuel 23
It is ever so in God’s purposes; it is not the servant that is important , it is the spiritual power that is the great requisite in the Lord’s work.
This power is not the product of birth, rank, or education. This power that moves God and men, is only found and imparted to men in the secret of God’s presence. Hudson Taylor. Acts 1-Wait, “Not by might, etc.” Gideon—College students in London.
Elijah and his ministry have a peculiarly starling character. He is known as a man of prayer. James chose him from among all the patriarchs and prophets to illustrate the power of prayer.
He was also a prophet of judgment, and performed a few miracles.
In some ways, Elijah’s ministry resembled the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus. Elijah’s ministry extended through the three and a half years of famine. Our Lord’s ministry lasted three and a half years. Elijah’s three and a half years ended with a great sacrifice on Mount Carmel.
Our Lord’s three and a half years ended with a greater sacrifice on Mount Calvary.
Elijah was carried into Heaven in chariots of fire. The Lord was carried into Heaven on clouds of glory.
Elijah was not a superman. James says that he was a man, just like us. He was brave on occasions, at other times he was a coward. He was a man of faith, yet sometimes his faith failed him.
He was a man of prayer, yet sometimes he forgot to pray—he prayed for the wrong things.
He got discouraged and depressed in the Lord’s work. I am the only one. He, on occasions, lost the concept of the greatness of God.
The first recorded words of Elijah are, “God is not dead.” “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain theses years, but according to my word.”
“Before whom I stand.”
Elijah was chosen by God—he was prepared for his ministry by God. He was anointed by God to do his work. Mary Slessoe—Isobel Khun. Fanny Crosby. See notes on David—Joseph.
His years of obscurity were spent in the presence of God.
After Elijah delivered his communiqué to Ahab, Jehovah gave him a message. “THE WORD OF THE LORD came unto him saying—five times in the chapter—GET THEE OUT FROM HERE, AND TURN THEE EASTWARD, AND HIDE THYSELF BY THE BROOK CHERITH.”
Elijah was told by God to hide himself. Under the shadows of the Almighty. In His pavilion. In the secret of His presence.
This hiding lasted three and a half years. At the end of this period, God instructed Elijah to “SHOW HIMSELF.”
Men of God in all generations have periods in their lives where they hide themselves from the world and shut themselves in with God. What was the key to the prayer of D.L. Moody? He once heard a man say, “The world has yet to see what God can do through a man wholly surrendered to Him.” D.L. Moody said, “By the grace of God, I will be that man.”
ELIJAH PRAYED. He was a man of prayer. James 5:7-18
That is why he got the courage to face Ahab, Jezebel, and the idolatrous nation. Furthermore.
During these seasons of prayer and communion, God revealed to Elijah the secrets of His heart regarding the idolatrous nation. “If ye abide in me, etc.”
“Take heed to yourself, that your heart may not be deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve the other gods and worship them. Then the Lord’s wrath shall be kindled against you, and He shall shut up the heavens, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit.”
Deuteronomy 28:23, 24
“If you depart from me the heaven that is over your head shall be as bronze, and the earth that is under you shall be as iron. The Lord shall turn the rain of your land into powder and dust; it will come down from heaven upon you until you are destroyed.”
From these scriptures, Elijah knew that Israel had grievously sinned against God. He also knew that His heavy hand of judgment could bring the apostate nation back to God. Days were dark in Israel and strong measures were needed to bring it back to God. Repentence and Rain. At this point God raised a prophet like Elijah.
Prophets were always raised up in dark days to warn of judgment, and to point the way to repentance and blessing.
Whitefield—Wesley—Moody, to name a few.
Elijah was not a superman, he was a man with a similar nature to ourselves. He was an outstanding prophet because he lived in the presence of God. He always seemed to be in an earnest fervor of God. He preached judgment with withering abandon. At times he was engulfed in anger, or sadness, discouragement or despair. We see him in a passion of praying. Elijah was on fire for God.
You would deduct from this that a record of the sermons that he preached would have been included in Holy Writ. NOT SO, as far as the divine record is concerned, Elijah only preached one sermon in three and a half years. “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, but according to my word.” 1 Kings 17:1
Baal, the fire god reigned in Israel—the nation worshipped him. God was nonexistent.
Despite all this, Elijah maintained that God was not dead. “AS THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL LIVETH.” God is not dead.
This was a powerful and potent sermon. It was a sermon that energizes in prayer. Intense—impassioned—fervent—dynamic prayer.
Prayer of this kind moves the hand of Him who moves the universe. Travail in the closet assures success in the pulpit. Describe the lonely agonies of intercession. Andrew Bomar.
Elijah’s God was a great God—He was the greatest of all gods. He had power of atmospheric forces. Power over creation and all creatures. He stopped the rain—then He sent the rain. He had power over death—the raising of the widow’s son.
Elijah’s God is a great God—He is Supreme—He is the Almighty—the Sovereign of the universe. He is the infinite—the eternal—the Absolute One. Glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises. Awesome in powers.
Beloved, the God who lived in Elijah’s day is just the same today. Up till now our God has been too small. From this day forward let us claim Elijah’s God as our own. Almighty God—the giver of power. The Most High God—the Preeminent One. The Everlasting God—the Eternal existent One. Mighty God—the Powerful One. Lord of Hosts—the Lord of the Nations. Lord of lords and King of Kings.
From the dried up brook Elijah was commanded to go to Zarephath. There a widow sustained him. The barrel of meal, the cruise of oil. Death claimed the widow’s son. Describe the cries of Elijah. Twice it is recorded that “ELIJAH CRIED TO GOD.” In his crying he implored—he pleaded—he entreated—he appealed to God as he assailed His throne. He cried out in desperation. He struggled and wrestled with God. He asked for the impossible. Well he may, for no one prior to this had ever been raised from the dead.
Almighty God heard the urgent and compelling cry of His servant. The child’s soul returned to its body—and he lived again.
From this incident do you see why Elijah’s prayers were answered? “The effectual, fervent prayers of a righteous man availeth much.”
Elijah was a man just like us. He was weak, stubborn, head-strong, impatient, impetuous, impulsive, nervous, short-fused, and on occasions faithless.
Mother’s Day. Mother’s love. Romans 5:6-10
Mothers have revealed their love in outstanding ways.
Some have risked their lives for their child.
The eagle story—Martian Luther’s mother Ruth Mary.
There are others who have given their life for their child.
This is love we can understand. Limited-confined-circumscribed-constrained.
Compare Divine love with human love. Unlimited. God’s love reached us when we were unlovable.
Without strength—without God—sinners—enemies. Romans 5
Describe this unparalleled, unsurpassed, without equal. Ephesians 3:18-19. Jewish Law—Roman Law.
Gethsemane—back to the smiters—cheeks to those who pulled out the hair—his not my face from shame and spitting.
The Cross-daylight. The Cross-darkness.
The orphan cry—the final cry, “It is finished. John 10:30
Love. The price was paid. Salvation was procured. “For God so loved the World…”
“What will you do with Jesus Who is called the Christ?”
“Entreat me not to leave you, or turn away from following after you. For where you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people. Where you die, there I will die, and there I will be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also If anything but death part you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17
Ezekiel 47-Water from the Throne
Newton. Man’s love is changeable, God’s love is unchangeable.
Length. Eternal, eternity to eternity. John 10, 1 John 5, Romans 8
“Could we with ink the ocean fill,” etc. But the greatest of these is love. Revelation 21. Luke 16. Eternity is a long time. Is it nothing to you, etc.
What will you then do with Jesus.
But there was one outstanding difference—HIS PRAYER LIFE. Our prayers are not as earnest, passionate, intense, and as full of faith.
Many of God’s servants have found it necessary to commune intimately with God in seclusion.
Moses was forty days on the mountain with God. Joseph was in prison. Joseph’s dream was a fruitful bough.
David was in the cave of Adullum.
Four years in Japanese prison camps was the greatest learning experience of my life. Hone, polish, purify.
Beloved brethren, it is a necessary spiritual experience to shut oneself up with God. Show me Thy glory—we have seen His Glory like Jacob. Travail in the lonely agonies of prater—being alone with God assures a fruitful life.
Matthew 6:6 “Enter your room and shut the door.” John Welsh.
Go show thyself.
Elijah had hidden himself for three and a half years at the command of God. He is now equipped, prepared, and ready to do the work of God.
At this point God said to His prepared servant, “GO SHOW THYSELF.”
The confrontation at Carmel.
Look at the odds. On the other side was King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, eight hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and an apostate nation. One man against tens of thousands.
This man had no riches—he was without rank, honor, or esteem. He stood alone against thousands upon thousands.
We learn later that there were 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal, but in this crisis he stood alone.
The followers of Baal believed that he was the god of fire and could produce fire. Describe their efforts—there was no reply.
Finally Elijah called all the people together. He repaired the Lord’s alter—built another with twelve stones. Describe the trench—the wood—the cut up bullock—the water.
Note the prophets prayer. It was calm, composed, confident. “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy Word.
Hear me, O Lord, that these people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.” Here is a man who is wholly cast upon God.
Describe what happened.
When the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord He is God; the Lord he is God.”
The nation has been recovered, God has been restored to His rightful place. Then Elijah said to Ahab, “There is a sound of abundance of rain.”
THERE IS A GAP BETWEEN THE SOUND OF ABUNDANCE OF RAIN AND THE SIGHT OF THE ABUNDANCE OF RAIN.
The scripture shows us that Elijah bridged that gap on his face, prostrate before God.
Note that Ahab went up to eat and drink. Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel to pray, “HE CAST HIMSELF DOWN ON THE EARTH AND PUT HIS HEAD BETWEEN HIS KNEES.”
While Ahab is feeding the flesh. Elijah is lying on his face before God in agony of spirit.
After struggling and wrestling with God for a season he sent his servant to look over the sea and scan the horizon for a cloud.
There was no sign of a cloud, so he continued his lonely vigil, until on the seventh trip his servant said that he saw a cloud the size of a man’s hand rising out of the sea.
Elijah told his servant to run and tell Ahab that the rain was coming. Meanwhile the sky grew black with clouds, the wind arose, and a torrential rain storm broke loose.
Ahab decided to go to Jezreel, the capital. At the same time the power of God came upon Elijah and he ran before Ahab’s chariot for 17 miles.
James tells us of the secret power of Elijah’s prayer. First of all he knew God’s will for the apostate nation. In view of this he prayed “effectually” he agonized before the Lord, first, to stop the rain, then to send the rain. His prayer was also “fervent,” his whole being was boiling and burning with blazing zeal as he prayed to God.
Most importantly, Elijah was a “righteous man.” He was right with God. He also was a man of faith. It never phased him to ask God to change established laws. His energetic faith leapt forward in confidence that his prayer would move the hand of Him who controls the universe.
The cave experience—finding God in the quietness. Rachel—John Knox—David Brainard.
“Behold to obey is better than sacrifice.” 1 Samuel 15:22. “Sacrifice without obedience is sacrilege.”