Summary: This is the fourth and final sermon in my series on the prophet Elijah. It reveals the common thread that unites Elijah with the church of today.
(Elijah Part 4)
“Elijah, John and Us”
Over the last few weeks, we have devoted a considerable amount of sermon time to studying the life and ministry of the prophet Elijah. I chose Elijah as the focus of our last 3 sermons for a variety of different reasons. But, as we conclude this series with our message today, I hope we will come to the realization that Elijah’s story is not merely an historical account of what happened in the past, but it is more importantly an object lesson that was to be typical also of our day and time, and is to be representative of Christ’s church presently and in the future.
In our last sermon, Elijah seemed to have, spiritually speaking, hit rock bottom. After making huge advancements in leading the children of Israel back to the true God, Elijah took a giant step backwards. Due to a threat by Queen Jezebel, he allowed fear to override his faith causing him to leave his post and run for his life. Of course, most of us will admit that we can sympathize with Elijah—after all, haven’t we all experienced times in our lives when it would take only a little more to push us over the edge? Sure we have. And for Elijah, that threatening message from the queen was indeed that proverbial “straw the broke the camel’s back.” Well, thankfully, Elijah wasn’t down for the count though, he came back to serve the Lord his God with a renewed faith and zeal. In fact, throughout his ministry, he caused countless people to realize their spiritual apostasy and return to the Lord their God with all their hearts.
But this morning I want to talk to you about something much more relevant than what Elijah the Tishbite accomplished nearly 3,000 years ago. I want to talk to you about the power behind the man. I want us to consider together this power or this “spirit” that enabled Elijah to subdue his human weaknesses and passions— I want to talk about this “force” that caused him to be such a tremendously effective instrument in the hands the Lord. And perhaps, as we discover the source and purpose of this force, we too may learn how to acquire and utilize this Divine Gift for the glory of God and the benefit of mankind.
Our journey through the scriptures today begins in the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament. Let’s open our bibles to Malachi 4:1-6. Speaking of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, the prophet Malachi relays this message from God.
“1 “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall. 3 Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty.
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.
5 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers…’”
Here, through the prophet Malachi, God promises two things: Judgment and redemption. But He also promises a special messenger who’s responsibility it is to help bring about reconciliation. Let’s look at the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy in Luke 1:11-17.
“11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”