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.)
James 5:17 says, "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 is the prophet who stood before wicked King Ahab & said, "Ahab, if you don't change your ways, 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."
Elijah was the one, when his life's work was over, who was caught up in the whirlwind & a chariot of fire sent by God.
Listen again as God speaks about him 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…."
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 was one of the greatest prophets of the O.T.! 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 "Jupiter" & 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 the prophet Elijah driving on 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.
So if James had said, "Peter was a man just like us." I would say, "Yes, I can certainly see that."
Or if James had said, "David was a man just like us," I could say, "I can see that, too." David writes in his Psalms of his frustrations, & searching for God's will, & of wondering who he can trust. David sinned. David had trouble with his kids. Indeed, David was a man just like us.
But James doesn't mention them. He says, "Elijah was a man just like us." And the rest of the passage says that when Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain, God held back the rain. Then 3 1/2 years later Elijah prayed for rain, & the rains came.
PROP. As a prophet from God, Elijah did some extraordinary things. But James' message is that Elijah was just an ordinary person, & that God can take ordinary people & accomplish extraordinary things with them. So let's take a look at Elijah to see what we can learn from his example.
I. GOD'S MAN WILL NOT COMPROMISE HIS FAITH
A. First of all, we learn from Elijah that someone committed to God will not compromise his faith.
Elijah has an interesting name. It comes from two Hebrew words for God, "el" & "jah." Put them together & his name means, "Jehovah is God," which is exactly what Elijah believed.
Elijah believed with all his heart that "Jehovah is God, & there is no other." And that brought him into a direct confrontation with King Ahab. If you don't remember King Ahab, you may remember his wife. Her name was Jezebel.