Summary: Elijah is challenged to put his faith in God by what he faced at Zarephath. God used these experiences to further prepare Elijah for his future ministry.
A. The story is told of a man who was walking across the road when he was hit by a car.
1. The impact knocked him on his head which caused him to be in a coma for a couple of days before he finally regained consciousness.
2. When he opened his eyes, his loving wife was there beside his bed holding his hand.
3. He said, “You know, Judy, you’ve always been right by my side. When I was a struggling college student, I failed again and again. But you were always there with me, encouraging me to keep on trying.”
4. He said, “And when I got out of school and went for all of my interviews and failed to get any of the jobs, you stayed right there with me, cutting out more classifieds for me to check on...”
5. He continued: “Then I started work at this little firm and finally got the chance to handle a big contract. But I blew it because of one little mistake, and yet you were there beside me all the way.”
6. He said, “Then I finally got another job after being laid off for some time. But I never seemed to be promoted and my hard work was never recognized. And, through it all, you were right there by my side.”
7. Her eyes were starting to fill with tears as she listened.
8. He said, “And now I’ve been in this accident and when I woke up, you’re the first person I see. There’s something I’d really like to say to you…”
9. “Judy,” He said, “I think you’re just plain bad luck!”
B. I wonder if there are times when we treat God that way.
1. Every time something bad happens, God is right there with us, getting us through the rough spots, holding us up, giving us strength.
2. But instead of appreciating it, we tend to blame God when bad things happen.
C. I wonder if that’s how Elijah felt as he went through his boot camp training, and now was going through his advanced training.
1. Last week, we left Elijah there by the dried up brook called Cherith.
2. Elijah had learned a lot about God and about himself as he obeyed God and went to that deserted place and allowed God to miraculously provide for his needs.
3. But the brook that had supplied his water was now dry.
4. How was God going to deal with this situation? That’s what we want to learn about today.
D. As we will see, the dried-up brook was only the beginning.
1. God had plans for Elijah that would take him far beyond those quiet days of isolation and mediation, where life beside the brook, with birds faithfully catering his meals, was simple uninterrupted, and fairly routine.
2. Anyone who would be used of God as mightily as Elijah would be in the years ahead, must first face the advanced training course.
3. For Elijah that advanced course would take place at Zarephath.
I. The Story
A. Let’s pick up Elijah’s story in 1 Kings 17:8-9: Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.”
1. As we did last week, let’s first examine the significance of the name of this place where Elijah was told to go.
2. Zarephath comes from a Hebrew verb that means “to melt, to smelt.”
a. Interestingly, in noun form it means “crucible.”
b. The place may have gotten its name because there was a smelting plant of some kind located there.
c. But whatever the source of its name, Zarephath would prove to be a “crucible” for Elijah – as a crucible, it would further refine the prophet and prepare him for future ministry.
3. It was almost as if the Lord were saying to Elijah, “I first took you to Cherith to wean you away from the bright lights an public platform, where I could cut you down to size and reduce you to a man who would trust Me, regardless.”
a. But now, I will turn up the furnace and melt you so that I might mold you far more exactly into the kind of man I need to carry out My mission.
4. The crucibles of our suffering and challenges create Christlikeness.
a. That’s what a crucible does under its intense heat.
b. It brings all the impurities to the surface so that they can be skimmed off, leaving greater purity.
5. God knows what the future holds for His prophet.
a. God knows the kind of strength that Elijah will need if he is going to stand strong.