Summary: Elijah was a major prophet, but he was also just a man. God was able to do some amazing things through him.
We are starting a brand new series today called The fabulous life of Elijah. If you have your bibles, you can open them to the book of Hebrews chapter 11 which is on p. 865 if you grabbed a bible in the lobby. Elijah is a prophet, was a prophet. I guess you could say is because he never died. Anyway, we’ll get to that later. To be a prophet, you were the mouthpiece for God to the nation of Israel, but to be a prophet, when you predicted something it had to come true. There are a lot of “prophets” on TV predicting all kinds of things like the end of the world, who will win the presidential election, that the Steelers will win the next super bowl, and everything in between. It could happen, if I say the Cardinals won’t win am I a prophet or smart? So to be a prophet, when you speak, you are speaking for God, but everything, down to the letter has to come true.
One of the interesting things about Elijah was that he was a normal guy. Someone without any schooling, he was not from the “right” family, or even the “right” country, but God was able to use him and do some pretty incredible things through him.
We don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews, but we know he or she was writing to Christians who were being persecuted and killed for their faith and the writer of Hebrews wrote this letter to encourage them to not go underground and to not quit.
Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1: 1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
So the writer starts talking about faith, what faith looks like everyday. That faith is believing in things you don’t see and don’t understand. The writer goes on to talk about all of the people in the Old Testament who lived a life of faith. Often we read through or hear a story from the Old Testament and think, of course everyone knows that person or of course they followed God. But it wasn’t always as easy as we make it sound.
Skip down to verse 32, so after listing countless people the writer says: 32And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-- 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35Women received back their dead by resurrection.
Turn back to the book of Leviticus, chapter 26, which is on p. 90. The nation of Israel has just escaped from 400 years of slavery in Egypt and the book of Leviticus is God laying out for them how they are to operate as a nation. For 400 years they had taken orders from Egypt and they did not remember what it meant to follow their God so God spends Leviticus telling them the rhythms of following him. Everything from government, how to worship, how to plant their crops and when to plant, when to harvest their crops.
This is what it says in chapter 26, verse 3: 3"If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, 4then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.
So God tells them when to plant and when the rains will come. He says, follow me and here is what will happen. This relationship is a two way road though. Verse 18: 18And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.
So after telling them, this is how you can make it rain so that your crops will grow, here is how you can stop it from raining. Stop following me. Stop following me and the skies will be like iron and the ground like bronze.