Summary: In the small fragments of Elijah’s career given in the Scriptures, we can find the outline for the education of this prophet. In five simple lessons: the lesson of provision the lesson of patience. the lesson of power the lesson of preservation the
Elijah: The Education of a Prophet
Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-18
Text: "After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ’What are you doing here, Elijah?’" (1 Kings 19:12-13 NIV).
Like a comet that lights up the whole horizon for a moment then sinks beyond the rim of the sky and is gone, Elijah the Tishbite flashed across the darkest pages of Hebrew history.
Elijah entered Israel’s history like a tempest and went out in a whirlwind.
So great was his fame, so dramatic his person during his own lifetime, that the idea persisted that he was caught up into the air by the Spirit of God and carried to and fro at will (1 Kings 18:9-15).
Elijah served God well.
He was God’s surgical knife, cutting the sore of Israel’s idolatry.
Elijah was the rod in God’s hand, chastening Israel for its disobedience.
Elijah was God’s mouthpiece, pronouncing judgment of drought on the land. Elijah was God’s priest, offering a sacrifice for the sins of the people that brought down fire from heaven.
At the mere mention of his name, we think of earthquake, storm, and fire; the scourge of evil kings and the prophet of doom.
But there was another side to Elijah’s character and career.
God used Eli¬jah to anoint prophets and kings, among them the great prophet Elisha, who was to take up his mantle.
God used Elijah to organise schools of prophets who lived on after him. He also used Elijah to call princes and kings back to God.
Perhaps he was the most colourful, amazing, and important man alive to serve the Lord in his generation.
How did he come by all this?
Only through a long and severe period of schooling in what we could call "God’s school of faith."
By means of one experience after another, God taught his prophet.
In the small fragments of Elijah’s career given in the Scriptures, we can find the outline for the education of this prophet. In five simple lessons:
the lesson of provision
the lesson of patience.
the lesson of power
the lesson of preservation
the lesson of God’s presence
Friends, listen closely, for every child of God needs the lessons this prophet learned.
I. Elijah learned the lesson of provision.
Faithful as God’s spokesman, Elijah had pronounced God’s judgment of drought (1 Kings 17:1), but how was he supposed to eat?
In essence God said, "I’ll feed you. Drink the water of the brook, and I’ll send ravens to feed you" (17:4).
But the brook was drying up.
Elijah had to depend on God to provide.
He had to! Elijah’s part was to be faithful because God had said he would provide.
Even though Elijah saw the brook drying up every day, he was determined to remain until God sent him on.
And God provided for his prophet. When Elijah moved on, he was not deterred by the small amount of flour left in the widow’s jar nor by the little oil remaining in her jug.
He knew they would not fail. He had already learned his lesson that God would provide, and he taught this lesson in turn to the widow.
Oh, that we could learn this lesson! Abraham learned it (Gen. 22:8). Paul learned it (Phil. 4:19). Our congregational forefathers learned it. But some never learn this lesson. Why? They lack Elijah’s faith.
II. Elijah learned the lesson of patience.
In the widow’s home Elijah was secure but secluded, away from the scene of action, Israel. His appearance in Ahab’s court had been a dangerous mission.
He had said, "Listen, Ahab, God will judge his people. So Baal is the god of fertility and good crops, is he? I am a prophet of Jeho¬vah. And he challenges Baal to war."
Elijah had warned Ahab, "There will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word" (1 Kings 17:1).
That was dangerous, blood-tingling business, and no doubt Elijah had loved every minute of it. But now he was cut out of the action, cooling his heels, day after day, week after week, month after month for three whole years, while he longed to be in Israel "preaching every Sabbath."
Imagine this restless, energetic thunderbolt of a man cooling his heels in idleness for three years. But God had to teach Elijah patience, and this was the only way he could do it.
Some have no energy for God’s work, no concern about it, no zeal for Jehovah. When things at church don’t go right, they take it in stride—not because they have learned God’s lesson of patience, but because they don’t care whether God’s work goes on or not.