Summary: How Elijah became the man God called him to be.
Elijah : A man who dies to self 1 Kings 17:17-24
In the first week we saw Elijah as he seemed to come out of no
where and in a round about way he confronts king Ahab about his sin. He just said, "There will be no more rain until I say so." And as I said, this was an attack on the god Baal, who was the rain god. Basically, what he was saying was, the rain god can’t deliver and that of course was the beginning of a three and a half year drought.
The second week we looked at the man Elijah and saw him
described by James as a man of like passions which just means he has all the same drives and desires that you and I have. And since he is the same as you and I, this tells me that God uses common, ordinary, everyday people. People just like you and I. He uses us the way He used Elijah and He gets the glory. And what I mean by that is we are his spokes people not necessarily His miracle workers. It says in11 Corinthians 4:7, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels." The treasure we have is the Holy Spirit of the living God and He lives in us. And notice that we are described as an earthen vessel. An earthen vessel is a clay pot. It’s not something very valuable but it is useful. When you’re finished with it you can just throw it out and get another one. This tells me that when my time on earth is done then God will be finished with this earthen vessel and then He’s going to give me another one. One that one will look even better than this one. Can you imagine what it’s going to look like?
Then we saw Elijah living in the desert area of Cherith where he was fed by God by birds bringing him bread and meat and he had water from the brook to drink. And then when it was time for him to go, God just dried up the brook and we assume that the birds also stopped delivering the food.
The third week Elijah left Cherith and traveled to Zaraphath which is enemy territory. It was the home of Jezebel and the capital city of Baal worship. Here he stayed with a widow and her son where God tested her as Elijah asked her to provide for him out of her absolute poverty. You remember that I said she only had enough meal to make a couple of tea biscuits and that she and her son were going to eat them and die. Jack Wyrtzen said, "God doesn’t look at how much we give but how much we give in proportion to how much we keep." And you will remember that I pointed out how Jesus had commended three people for their giving and each of them gave of the last of their possessions. So she gave and God provided for her, her son and the prophet in a supernatural way as the meal and oil kept on appearing until after the affects of the drought had passed. It’s interesting to see that each day they received enough just for that day. In other words God didn’t give them enough for a month or even a week at a time. They received just enough to get by each day and that continued until they could get food from other means.
Today we see the woman confronted by the common enemy of
death. As Romans 5:12 says, "Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned." This tells us that all of us are born in sin and all of us will die.
So death cannot be avoided. As I said a couple of weeks ago, only two men have ever left this world without going through the experience of death. They were Enoch and Elijah. And of course there will be those who are caught up in the rapture.
One of my favorite short stories was written by a man named Somerset Maugham. It goes like this, "There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, ’Master, just now when I was in the market place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw, it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, he dug his spurs in it’s flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the market place and he saw me, Death, standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, "Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?" "That was not a threatening gesture." I said. "It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra."