Summary: PENTECOST 11(B) - Our Lord lifts up the downcast: in the midst of despair God’s strength delivers.
OUR LORD LIFTS UP THE DOWNCAST
1 KINGS 19:3-8 - July 31, 2005 - Pentecost 11
Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
How was your week this past week? At times some days are better than others, and at other times the days seem to be worse. Of course, we all had to struggle with the oppressive summer heat this past and will struggle with the heat next week too. That is part of summer. It is a blessing to see that the Lord doesn’t forsake us or forget us. We will learn that from Elijah this morning. Though he felt forsaken and forgotten, he even fell down into the depths of despair. Sometimes we may feel that way. There are days when nothing works out. We start one project and it leads to one, two or three hours and we are ready to throw up our hands in despair. The Lord says he lifts us up from despair.
This week our congregation will have Vacation Bible School, Built on the Rock. We praise the Lord that we may have 15 to 20 children. Some will hear for the first time that God is the Rock. He is the fortress. This is something we have known for a very long time for most of us, maybe from little on. That the Lord is our Rock is something very important to us. When Isaiah the prophet spoke to the peo-ple, he reminded them of all the things the Lord had done for the children of Israel. The Lord God al-mighty led them out of Egypt, guided them, protected them, and delivered them because he cared for them. In chapter 63, he writes: "In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old" (Isaiah 63:9). The same Lord God almighty also lifts us up.
OUR LORD LIFTS UP THE DOWNCAST
I. In the midst of despair
II. God’s strength delivers.
I. IN THE MIDST OF DESPAIR
We have only a few verses in chapter 19 of 1 Kings for our text to study. We will need to know the rest of the story. We are going to have the rest of the story at the beginning and end about Elijah, the prophet of God. We should read the whole chapter. Very briefly though, Elijah thought he was alone. The prophets of Baal were numerous in the land. So Elijah went to the prophets of Baal, and he chal-lenged them to a sacrifice duel. Elijah said, "Come on prophets of Baal. We will build an altar and put our sacrifices on them. You can pray to your gods to consume the sacrifice." They accepted this chal-lenge. The prophets came and danced, worshiped and prayed, cutting themselves, hoping that Baal would answer. All day they did this. Finally, Elijah said, "Let me call on my God." Before Elijah called on the Lord God, he said to soak the sacrifice with water. The people dumped gallons of water, and it ran down around the altar. They thought nothing is going to happen now. Elijah prayed and we know what hap-pened. The Lord God consumed the sacrifice. The Lord God consumed the altar. He consumed the wa-ter that was there. The rest of the story is that the prophets of Baal were put to death. Close to 1,000 prophets were put to death. One would think Elijah would be on top of the world, but sadly during this time the children of Israel had a wicked king, Ahab and his wife Jezebel. Jezebel and Ahab were not happy that their prophets were killed. They were not happy with Elijah, this man of God, who stood up and opposed them and won.
So they threatened to put him to death. This is where our text begins: "Elijah was afraid and ran for his life." We can imagine how Elijah must have felt. Not long before this, he stood before the altar of God who consumed it in a flame showing his power. Now after Elijah hears about Jezebel and Ahab wanting to put him to death, he is scared, so he runs away. Once again, he feels all alone. Elijah feels there are no believers left. "When Elijah came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there (He was going to face the end of his life alone), while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree and sat down under it and prayed that he might die." Elijah comes to a city and leaves his servant there and goes on a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree and sat down under it and prayed that he might die. Those are the depths of despair. These are the words of despair: "’I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ’Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’"