Summary: There are three things that we have to learn to do 1. We need to listen to the voice of God 2. We need to believe what God says and 3. We need to be do exactly what God tells us to do
BM 10th June 2007
Beware of the barrenness of a busy life
Elijah - that great Old Testament prophet simply breaks into Biblical history for the first time in our Old Testament reading today.
He simply comes from nowhere – or to be more precise from Tishbe in Gilead – and he vanishes in a whirlwind in 2 Kings 2.
And between those two events he becomes the greatest prophet Israel has ever seen.
Elijah (Hebrew: àìéäå, Eliyahu) was a prophet in Israel in the 9th century BC. Elijah raised the dead, brought fire down from heaven, and ascended into heaven on a whirlwind. (Wikapedia on Elijah)
We see Elijah again in the New Testament together with Moses and Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration.
On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah represent the Old Covenant – the Law and the Prophets (Mk 9:1-13) and Jesus represents the New Covenant.
The Prophet Malachi – in the last book in the Old Testament foretold Elijah’s coming as a precursor to the coming of the Messiah. (Mal 3:22-24).
And Jesus equated the coming of John the Baptist as that precursor return of the Prophet Elijah.
And in our passage this morning there are three things that we have to learn to do
1. We need to listen to the voice of God
2. We need to believe what God says and
3. We need to be do exactly what God tells us to do
1. We need to listen to the voice of God
Throughout the stories of Elijah we find the theme running through of how God spoke to Elijah
v2 : 2 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there."
vv8-9: 8 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."
V.14 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’ "
God takes the initiative and BOTH Elijah and the woman respond.
It is interesting to note that God speaks to the unnamed woman at Zarephath.
Was she a pagan or was she a Yahweh worshipper m – a worshipper of the God of Israel living in Sidon, a Philistine city. We don’t know
What we do know is that God speaks to her – and she obeys.
And this shows me that no one is too insignificant for God to speak to him or her.
2. We need to believe what God says
I think the woman has incredible trust: Look at what
Elijah said to her:
13…., "Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.
14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: `The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.’ "
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.
When things get difficult, I tend to rely on my own brain to sort things out. But she didn’t.
And I think the reason was that she heard from God. God had prepared her heart and warned her of the prophet’s coming.
And she took heed of him
Story: Part of my being your vicar today stems from my own encounter with a prophet.
In May 1994 I was in a Christian German speaking conference in Berne Switzerland, when I met Harold Fox. I asked him – as one does – what he did for a living and he sai8d the was a prophet.
Laconically and without thinking I said to him: “Have you got a word from God for me” and he said “Yes”
“God doesn’t want you to remain in this country much longer”
I was stunned – as I had two houses in Switzerland , we just finished putting a swimming pool in the garden and I had an excellent job working for a Swiss multinational Sandoz.
So that evening as I drove home I said to Maddy “ That guy is nuts – I am not leaving Switzerland.
However the following Wednesday I got the a call from a headhunter asking me if I was interested in a job in Hull. I was just about to put the phone down and say “no thank you” when I remembered the prophecy and said “ Where’s Hull!”