Summary: Sometimes our own expectations get in the way of us enjoying God’s pleasure in us.
Last week in our Mountain Moment series, we considered the "Mountain of Choice" as we looked at Elijah’s showdown on Mt. Carmel with the prophets of Baal. One man stood against the darkness of a nation. One man represented God when no one else would. When you look at Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal it really seems like Elijah stood alone. It was just Him and His confidence in God’s call that motivated him to push against the darkness. it’s hard not to be impressed with Elijah--what faith!
J. Oswald Sanders wrote that "Elijah appeared at zero hour in Israel’s history...like a meteor, he flashed across the inky blackness of Israel’s spiritual night." And Chuck Swindoll describes Elijah as "plunging full-force into the midst of this era of gross evil and wickedness." Elijah is the superhero of the prophets. He is the Indiana Jones of Old Testament. He is the guy that battles it out with the darkness: even when the odds are 450 to one!
Elijah also becomes the willing conduit of God’s grace because, as we saw last week, on Mount Carmel God refused to abandon His people--even though they had clearly abandoned Him. After three years of preparing their hearts, God opened their eyes and extended His hand and He said: "Remember Me? I am your God and you are my people!" He declared Himself to be their God--even though they had run after other gods and lived for themselves and forgotten Him. So God puts their faces in His hands and He says "Look at me! I am your source of life. I am your only hope. Choose life by choosing Me."
You don’t get a better mountaintop moment than the moment on Mount Carmel. After all, this moment had it all: Faith, courage, love, forgiveness, hope, fireworks, drama, and an ending in which the good guys win and the captives have the potential to be set free. This is the Star Wars Episode 4 of Mountaintop moments--only infinitely better because it didn’t happen in a galaxy far, far away.
Today we climb another mountain with Elijah, but this mountain is quite different--even though it takes place immediately after the battle on Mount Carmel. On this mountain there will be no crowds and no showdowns, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a battle. In fact this battle is bigger in my opinion because it is a battle that is much more personal.
Now, if you thought that last week’s mountain did a good job of shining the light on God’s grace, hold onto your seats because this mountain is gracerific! It’s graceiforous! It’s gracetastic, you get the idea.
Please turn with me to 1 Kings 19, p. 303. We will be beginning with verse 1.
As you turn there let me give you a bit of background to help you understand the abrupt shift that we are about to experience in Elijah’s faith.
Elijah began his ministry as a prophet by giving Ahab the message that there would no longer be any rain for the next few years. After that, God told Elijah to go into hiding, which he did for the next three years.
For three years God prepared the nation to accept Him. For three years Elijah waits patiently in the wings. Can you imagine how much time Elijah spent thinking and praying about God’s call on His life? He knew God was up to something and he knew that he was the man in the middle of God’s plan, but he didn’t know exactly what God was going to do and he didn’t exactly know how he would fit into the plan. For three years there were prayers, questions, hopes, thoughts, ideas, and a building excitement and anticipation. Then finally the call came. It was time to come out of hiding.
In every life there are moments that you just know are going to be historic. Every life is full of days that are like every other day, but then occasionally a day comes that is electric, monumental, overwhelming, and pregnant with power and meaning. The day you graduate from school, the day you pass your driver’s license, the day you get your first apartment, the day you marry, the day your child is born, all of these are monumental days. But when God gave Elijah the plan to have representatives from the ten northern tribes assemble for a once in a lifetime display of God’s power to debunk the supposed power of the false god Baal, Elijah knew that he was in the center of God’s big push to reclaim His people. Days don’t get more monumental than this!
So as Elijah, sat there that morning, eating his Wheaties, he knew that what was about to happen on Mount Carmel would change everything. A new era was about to begin in Israel and God was using him to make it happen! And happen it did! It was powerful. It was beautiful. It was everything with a side of potato salad. It was the bee’s knees and the cat’s meow all rolled up into a bundle of "That’s what I am talkin’ about!"