Summary: Uses Elijah’s mountaintop experience on Carmel followed by his pity-fest in the desert to talk about the highs and lows of life. You can’t live on the mountaintop. Fortunately, our God is God of the valleys also. Student Ministry PowerPoint format.

[Living in the Valleys]

Slide Graphic - photo of tall mountain and deep dark valley

Slide Text - Elijah came to a juniper tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life” (1 Kings 19:4)

I love mission trips! I had such a good time on this one. I think Kimball Camp was an excellent experience. {discuss various highlights of the mission trip} That’s what a mission trip is supposed to be. Greg calls it a “working witness”. That’s what it was, and it was wonderful.

One thing that’s true about every mission trip, though, is that they eventually have to end. Eventually, you have to come home. Going on a mission trip is what people call a “mountaintop experience”. Things are happening, God reveals Himself, lives are changed. But you can’t live there. You can’t stay at Kimball camp forever. You have to come back to your house, your school, your job – your life. We don’t live on the mountain. We live down in the valley.

One thing that you will find is true is that Satan waits in the valley. Just when you get filled to the brim from that mountaintop experience, and you are really feeling great about how God has been using you, there’s Satan waiting in the valley to knock over your wagon, let the wind out of your sails. The higher you have been, it seems, the more likely it is that you will be kicked into a crevasse when you get home. All that power and potential is suddenly gone. It seem like after every great spiritual experience in your life, you are guaranteed to have a time of great discouragement. Why? We are not as cautious at that point. We are spent emotionally and physically.

This is true in my own experience. Today I want to talk about one of the many times this happened in the Bible. In this case, it happened to a remarkable man named Elijah. Elijah was a great prophet of God in the Old Testament, about 2800 years ago. He was one of only two men mentioned in the Bible who were taken up into heaven, never experiencing death (2 Kings 2:11).

[Mt Carmel]

Slide graphics – topographic maps of holy land, showing location of Mount Carmel and the surrounding terrain.

{note: I have a bunch of history and geography buffs in my group who eat up factoids like the ones on this slide – especially the tie between Mt. Carmel and Armageddon. The purpose of this slide was to paint a picture of this country – high mountains, low valleys – the sound of marching armies echoing through it for the last 3000 years. If this stuff isn’t for your group – skip the whole slide – it isn’t central to the topic}

Elijah had a classic “mountaintop experience” at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings, chapters 18-20. Before we get to Elijah, though, let’s take a moment to understand this very interesting and important area of the world. The Entire history of the Old Testament was played out along a three-thousand mile corridor known today as the “fertile crescent” – a narrow band of farm-able land which extends up the Euphrates and Tigris river valleys, down through the Jordan river valley, across the Sinai along the Mediterranean, and down the Nile river valley. In some places (along the Sinai) the width of this crescent may be measured in inches. At its widest (in the Jordan Valley), it is barely thirty miles wide. From end to end this three thousand mile long oasis averages less than ten miles wide. This was not a tranquil band of farming communities, building pyramids and ziggurats, of peaceable civilizations. There was never a time in recorded history when this corridor did not echo with the sound of marching armies, when it was not lit at night with the fire of burning cities. In fact, many archeologists don’t call this area the fertile crescent – they call it the “crescent of fire”.

Mount Carmel is actually a mountain range which juts into the Mediterranean Sea, splitting the coastal plain of Israel into two parts: the Plain of Sharon to the south and the Plain of Akko to the north. This mountain range and the plains around it have featured prominently in history for thousands of years:

• The first historical mentions of the mountain are found in writings dated to the reigns of the Egyptian pharaohs Thutmose II, Ramses II and Ramses III where it appears under the name Rosh Qidshu, meaning "holy cape." This strongly suggests that the mountain was an early sanctuary or holy place. Megiddo is the only place in the holy land mentioned in the records of all the ancient super-powers of this region – The Egyptians, Assyrians, Sumerians, Hittites, and Babylonians.

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