Summary: Old Testament Challenge: Elijah
ONLY IN AMERICA
1- Only in America can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.
2- Only in America are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.
3- Only in America do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
4- Only in America do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries and a DIET coke.
5- Only in America do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our junk in the garage.
6- Only in America do we use answering machines to screen calls and have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.
7- Only in America do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.
This story has it setting when the spiritual tide in Israel is at an extremely low ebb. The people have, for the most part, turned their backs on God and have gone after the Canaanite god Baal. It is against this backdrop of apostasy and idolatry that the prophet Elijah strolls onto the stage. He is introduced in 1 Kings 17:1. When he makes his appearance, he comes with a message from the Lord. It is a call for repentance and for a renewal to loyalty to God.
1 Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives—the God I serve—there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” 1 Kings 17:1 NLT
In our passage for today, things come to a head. On the one hand there is Ahab, Jezebel, the prophets and priests of Baal and an entire nation, less 7,000 people of God. (1 Kings 19:18) On the other, there is Elijah and the Lord God Jehovah. The odds may looked stacked in the favor of evil, but Elijah is about to experience the truth that one plus God is a majority.
Elijah’s story should lead us to a sense of introspection and personal growth.
• There is a desperate need for spiritual heroes who will stand against the tide of ungodliness.
• There is a need for the people of God to gage their allegiance to the Lord and to determine where we really stand when it comes to being on the Lord's side.
• There must be a willingness to reject the evil that surrounds us and be a “separate” people usable by God as light and salt on this earth.
• There must be a willingness to renew our commitment to God and place Him above all other pursuits, interests and loyalties.
Now let me tell you the story of one of the greatest events in Elijah’s life. After Elijah the prophet of God pronounced that it wouldn’t rain for three years everyone’s life took a miserable turn. The King spent a great deal of time looking for Elijah and he wasn’t happy. King Ahab had led the people of God away from worshipping God to worshipping Baal. (tell more of the story using the scripture)
THE DILEMMA OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD
“So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. 21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.
22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only prophet of the LORD who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets. 23 Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. 24 Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” And all the people agreed.” 1 Kings 18:21-24 NLT
A. Their Waywardness Verse 21 tells us that the people of Israel were possessed of a divided allegiance. On the one hand, they enjoyed their name as God's people, but on the other hand, they loved the sensual, fleshly appeal of Baal worship. Elijah described their condition as "one limping along a fence" or hobbling between two opinions. They were torn between two ideas and as a result, they were accomplishing nothing!