Summary: Message 1 in our study of Elijah's life and ministry.
Chico Alliance Church
“Lessons from the Palace”
I felt directed to revisit the life of this individual for several reasons.
1. The situation and culture in which he lived is not unlike our own these days.
2. How he related to the culture and evil of his day offers insight for us in our day.
3. He models the need and effectiveness of crying out to God.
4. He knew what it was to live by listening and waiting for God’s direction.
5. He was not a superpower but someone like us who learned to trust God.
As we look to impacting our community for Christ, we need the faith, courage, boldness, prayer and godliness of this powerful prophet of God. The prophet to which I refer is Elijah. Even though Scripture attributes more supernatural acts to Elisha, Elijah is the one that seems to be held in higher esteem. God transported Elijah directly to heaven in a fiery chariot. It was prophesied that the forerunner of the Christ, would come in the spirit of Elijah. Elijah appeared along with Moses and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. James referred to Elijah as a man of effective and fervent prayer that accomplished much. Perhaps one of the two witness who appear at the end times will be Elijah.
I look forward to what God would have us learn along the way in our study of Elijah.
We find the story of Elijah in the book of 2 Kings. This part of the Bible is what we call “narrative literature.” It recounts actual historical events for us to discover the nature of God as He interacts with people. God communicated most of His through story. The best way to study narrative literature is to look for divine truths imbedded in the story. God left a ton of historical material unwritten.
What He did record has some significance for us since…
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Our ultimate goal in this journey is spiritual maturity and equipping for God’s service. Narrative literature invites you to observe the action as a bystander and enter into the emotion and drama of the history. A caution when studying narrative literature is to look for God’s purpose in recording the story and not try copy to or expect to duplicate the action or event. There was only one burning bush that we know. Only Philip was transported to another town. There was only ONE Pentecost. We look for abiding spiritual principles for life and relationship with God.
Historical Background to Elijah’s time
In order to understand the events in Elijah’s day we need to back up a bit to where it all started. It all started with one moldable pagan whom God singled out to be a channel of blessing to the world. His name was Abram later renamed Abraham the father of many nations. From Abraham, God cultivated a special people for His own possession. He blessed them and cultivated them, not because THEY were great, but because HE WAS GREAT. To Abraham was born Isaac, the son of promise, from Sarah’s dried up womb. To Isaac was born Esau and Jacob, latter named Israel. We follow Jacob or Israel, the chosen one, and his family into Egypt where the children of Israel multiply at an accelerated rate to the dark dismay of the Egyptian Empire. The intimidated Egyptians struggled to squelch this fruitful people through hard labor and horrifying infanticide. These terrible tribulations persisted for some 400 long bitter years in spite of repeated desperate cries for help.
Just when the people felt convinced that God no longer cared, He responded to their cries in His perfect time and raised up a leader Moses who miraculously ushered them out of Egypt up to the special land God promised to their father Abraham hundreds of years before. After the death of Moses, God granted possession of the promised land through the leadership of Joshua. After the death of Joshua, leadership fell to individual judges who were raised up to lead the people back into relationship with God and deliverance from the enemies.
Period of the Judges
Due to incomplete obedience and failure to purge the land as God commanded, this fledgling little nation continued to struggle with outside influence and bondage. God graciously responded to their eventual repentance and provided deliverance again and again (Seven cycles of sin and deliverance) through the judges.
Due to a fear of what life under the children of Samuel (prophet / judge) would be like, the people cried for a king like the other nations.