Summary: Elijah is considered by most to be the greatest of the Hebrew prophets. Yet James says he was a man just like you and I.
Introduction: I began a series of sermons a couple of weeks ago entitled: Hero’s of the Faith. Two weeks ago we saw how Moses answered God’s call to deliver the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Last week we saw how Daniel remained faithful to the Lord, and refused to compromise his faith despite being taken into captivity and being forced to live in Babylon and serve at least 3 pagan Kings. Today I want us to take a few minutes to look at another one of the Hero’s of faith, a man by the name of Elijah. If you have your Bibles I invite you to turn with me to the book of James 5:16-19, and follow along as I read.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
One of the mistakes I think we tend to make when we think about Men like Moses, Daniel and Elijah, is that were the Biblical equivalents of “Superman, Batman, or Spider Man.” We tend to put them up on a pedestal and they become bigger than life. But James made it clear in this passage of Scripture that “Elijah was just a normal man, just like you and I.”
In other words He was an ordinary man. I believe the Bible teaches us that, “The reason God likes to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things, is so He will be glorified.” That was certainly the case with Moses, and as we will see today it was also the case with Elijah.
We don’t know much about Elijah’s background other than he came from the small village of Tishbe, which is in Northern Israel near the rough and rocky area of Gilead. He is considered by most Biblical scholars to be one of, if not the greatest of the Old Testament Prophets. But did you know that Elijah is also mentioned over 30 times in the New Testament, and actually appeared along with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Unlike the story of Moses that we looked at a couple of weeks ago, we aren’t given any information about Elijah’s call as a Prophet. We simply know that God called him to go to the King and Queen of Israel and deliver His message to them. Can you imagine how he must have felt? Perhaps he had some of the same reservations that Moses had about appearing before Pharaoh? Then again maybe He was ready and willing to do what God called him to do from the moment that God revealed it to Him.
At this point I feel like I need to give you some information regarding the political, economic, social and spiritual condition of the nation of Israel, because it will help you understand why Elijah appeared on the scene when He did.
King David unified the nation of Israel and despite his own transgressions He reigned as King for ____ years. He was succeeded by His son Solomon. Solomon is known for His wisdom and during the early part of his reign He, like His Father David was a good and godly King. The countries surrounding Israel feared the God of the nation of Israel. But like father, Solomon too had his faults. Toward the end of his reign Solomon began to drift away from God. Solomon had hundreds of wives and concubines and many of these women worshiped other gods, and eventually even influenced Solomon to worship their false gods as well. The situation went from Bad to worse after Solomon’s reign.
According to the Bible each of the Kings that followed Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forsook His ways to serve idols, and led the people of Israel to serve these false gods as well.
Finally, 55 years and 6 kings later, a man by the name of Ahab came to power. If King Ahab was the President of the United States, the majority of Americans his approval rating would have been through the roof. Life in Israel was good under King Ahab. The economy was strong, and thanks to a strong military and some strategic political alliances Israel was at peace.
Peace and prosperity.... not bad things in and of themselves, but what kind of Spiritual leader was Ahab. Let’s look at 1 Kings 16:30-33 and find out.
“Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him.”