Summary: The second of a four-sermon series on the Biblical response to uncertain times.
Looking for more sermon ideas from Andy Stanley? Visit www.andystanleysermons.org.
Scripture: 1 Kings 17-19
Idea: When looking ahead makes you fearful, look back and remember. There are things we have forgotten. There are things we don’t know.
There are things we would love to forget. There are things we can’t afford to forget. Uncertainty has a way of focusing us so exclusively on the mystery of what lies before us that we forget what lies behind. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, God’s faithfulness to you in the past casts a shadow on your future. God’s faithfulness to us in the past should shape our assurance and perspective about the future. So when the fasten seatbelt sign comes on, we must remember.
We are going to look at the life of a man who forgot. His name is Elijah.
I. Context (Kingdom split–Israel and Judah)
A. When Israel had no godly king, God would send a prophet to be his mouthpiece. So, when Ahab turned against God, he sent Elijah.
B. Ahab was the most wicked king Israel had up until then.
1. He was the eighth king of Israel, about 70 years after Solomon died and the kingdom split.
2. He married Jezebel, a foreign woman—it was against the law.
3. She established Baal worship as the national religion and pretty much
ran the country.
4. Rebuilt Jericho—God had said not to.
5. "He did more to provoke the Lord than all the kings before."
II. God sends Elijah to warn Ahab and then cares for him.
A. Elijah announces there will be no rain for several years—then hides.
1. God sends him to the Cherith Ravine and feeds him through ravens.
2. When the brook dried up, he sent him to live with a widow in Zeraphath, which is where Jezebel is from—her dad rules there.
B. Meanwhile—unbeknownst to him—Ahab is searching everywhere for him.
Three years later, God sends Elijah back to Ahab; it’s going to rain.
III. God sends Elijah to Ahab a second time to announce rain.
A. By this time, Ahab is angry and desperate.
B. Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a duel to prove that the Lord is God.
1. They both build altars and attempt to call down fire.
2. The 850 or so prophets spend all day dancing and cutting.
3. Elijah drenches the altar, prays, and God zaps the altar.
4. Everybody says, "The Lord, he is God . . ."
Then the story takes an interesting twist . . .
Turn to 1 Kings 19
IV. Jezebel threatens Elijah and he flees to Beersheba and then Horeb.
A. Beersheba—over 100 miles away—about two weeks journey. Southernmost part of the kingdom.
B. In his distress, the Lord meets his needs.
C. He runs for another month.
D. God speaks . . .
1. Vs. 9 – "What are you doing here?" [Implication, "As opposed to somewhere else."] "Why are you hiding?"
2. Vs. 10 – He had some of the facts and his interpretation of the ones he did have was wrong.
V. Elijah’s interpretation of the uncertainty around him left him afraid.
A. Here was a man who called down fire from heaven and stopped the rain and he is running from a woman?
1. As we look (and God looked) at Elijah’s circumstances, we are thinking, "What? After what you have just been through?"
2. You are in control; you have the upper hand.
3. God implies, "As I see it, you are in control––you have them right where you want ‘em.
B. But as he looked at the very same circumstances . . .
1. "As I see it, I have done all I can do . . ."
2. "As I see it, there is no hope; no light at the end of the tunnel."
3. "As I see it, I am all alone . . . again . . . how long this time?"
4. "As I see it, nothing is going to change . . ."
VI. God tries to jog Elijah’s memory and his perspective.
A. Then God gave Elijah a not so gentle reminder of who he was and what he could do should he choose to do so.
B. Then he asks Elijah one more time, as if to say, "In light of who I am and what I can do, what are you doing here?"
C. Elijah misses it.
D. God informs Elijah of his plan––he has been working behind the scenes
all along. Elijah is not alone. He had chosen the next kings and the next prophet. They were in place. And he had preserved over 7,000 faithful people in Israel.