Summary: It takes courage to move in the will of God. Elijah's faith brought the courage necessary to face the evil of his day. We learns lessons for our own day from Elijah's experience with King Ahab.
When last we encountered our hero, Elijah, he was performing miracles for a widow and her son in Zarephath. Here’s an interesting note I need to make as we begin because today we’ll see another miracle Elijah performs. There are basically three clusters of miracles in the bible. The first is with Moses in Exodus as he leads the people out of bondage and into the promise land. The last cluster is obviously the cluster of miracles in the Gospels surrounding the life of Jesus. The second cluster is found here associated with the life of Elijah and his young protégé, Elisha. Three great miracle workers in the bible—Moses, Elijah and Jesus. That fact, in and of itself, reveals the significance of this prophet from the Old Testament, and is an indication there is much we can and should learn from his life. We learned last week that he was a person of faith, and as we resume the Elijah Chronicles today, we discover a chronicle of courage.
We pick up Elijah’s story today after three years of drought and Elijah gets the call of God to get up and get moving, and go find King Ahab. Once again, Elijah acts and demonstrates the courage to be obedient. Elijah’s life is simply a series of obedient acts, one after another. God says, “Go to the Brook Cherith,” and Elijah goes. God says, “Go to Zarephath,” and Elijah goes. God says, “Go find Ahab,” and Elijah goes. Again and again, Elijah demonstrates obedience to the call of God.
But, watch this! God doesn’t always call us to the easy place, or to take the easy road. Were we to delve more deeply than time allows this morning into the life of Elijah, we’d discover that he was the most wanted person in all Israel. Ahab was looking for Elijah. As a matter of fact, Ahab was looking for all the prophets of the Lord. The first part of chapter 18 reveals that Obadiah (Ahab’s palace chief) had hidden one hundred of the Lord’s prophets when Ahab’s queen, Jezebel, went off the deep end. This was not an easy road Elijah was being asked to walk, yet he had the courage (and the faith, I might add) to go where God was calling. Elijah faced certain death, but perhaps Elijah knew that the will of God would not take him where the grace of God could not keep him.
Nothing makes us more uncertain and insecure than not being sure we are in the will of God, and nothing is more encouraging than knowing that we are. We find it difficult, though, to discern the call of God in our lives. We question where and what God might be calling us to. And, even when we’re certain, we second guess. We second guess because we’re not sure we want to go where God is calling. Like the old Scottish woman who went from house to house across the countryside selling thread, buttons, and shoestrings. When she came to an unmarked crossroad, she would toss a stick into the air and go in the direction the stick pointed when it landed. One day, however, she was seen tossing the stick up several times.
“Why do you toss the stick more than once?” someone asked.
“Because,” replied the woman, “it keeps pointing to the left, and I want to take the road on the right.” She kept throwing the stick into the air until it pointed the way she wanted to go!
Let’s be honest. Our problem is rarely that we don’t hear the voice of God. It is that we lack the courage to follow the voice of God because the voice of God will call us to confront the injustice in the world, and the sin in the world, and even the sin in our own lives. And, it’s not that we don’t have the power to respond in faith, even to overcome the sin in our lives. I love what the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 6:
6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.