Summary: Elijah did some very extraordinary things. But James’ message is that Elijah was just an ordinary person, & that God can take ordinary people & accomplish extraordinary things. (Powerpoint Available - #214)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #214.)
I’m going to use several Scriptures this morning. And the first one is James 5:17. It says this: "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, & it did not rain on the land for 3 1/2 years."
A. You remember Elijah. He was one of the greatest prophets of the OT. He is the one who stood before wicked King Ahab & looked him eyeball to eyeball & said, "Ahab, if you don’t straighten up the heavens will be sealed & there will be no more rain on our land."
Someone described Elijah as a "blood & guts" prophet. Elijah is the one who climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel for a "call down fire from heaven" showdown with the priests of Baal, & who said to the people of Israel, "Who are you going to worship, Baal or Jehovah? Let’s settle it once & for all."
You remember Elijah. When his life’s work was over he was the one who was caught up in the whirlwind & a chariot of fire sent by God.
And when Jesus was on the earth, Elijah & Moses were the ones whom God chose to meet & talk with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration.
Listen again as God speaks in Malachi 4:5-6: "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great & dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, & the hearts of the children to their fathers…."
When John the Baptist started preaching, the crowds said, "Elijah has come back." And when Jesus hung on the cross & cried out, "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?" the crowds said, "He is crying for Elijah to come."
ILL. In every Orthodox Jewish home at Passover time even today when they put the chairs around the table & spread all the emblems of Passover, there is always one empty chair because they are waiting for Elijah to come.
Elijah, the OT prophet of God, was a very special person indeed! And yet, there is this amazing statement in James 5:17 that says, "Elijah was a man just like us." And that phrase, "just like us," is only used one other time in all the Bible.
The 14th chapter of Acts tells about Paul & Barnabas in the city of Lystra. They healed a crippled man & the miracle was so amazing that the citizens of Lystra decided that Paul & Barnabas were gods. They called Paul "Mercury" & Barnabas "Zeus" & began to worship & offer sacrifices to them. But as the crowd surrounded them, Paul cried out, "Wait. We’re not gods. We’re men, just like you."
B. What does James mean when he says, "Elijah was a man just like us?" To be honest with you, I’m having a little trouble with that. Can you picture Elijah driving up & down the roads of Flint Ridge? Can you see him in line at McDonald’s, ordering a Big Mac & french fries? Rather hard to imagine, isn’t it? Yet, James says that "Elijah was a man just like us."
If James had said that Peter was "a man just like us," I wouldn’t have much trouble with that because Peter was often saying the wrong thing talking when he should have kept quiet & making mistakes.