Summary: A Bible college commencement address--A challenge for young graduates to become the Elijahs of God in this generation.
The Days of Elijah
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
***Dr. Roger W. Thomas is the preaching minister at First Christian Church, 205 W. Park St., Vandalia, MO 63382 and an adjunct professor of Bible and Preaching at Central Christian College of the Bible, 911 E. Urbandale, Moberly, MO. He is a graduate of Lincoln Christian College (BA) and Lincoln Christian Seminary (MA, MDiv), and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary (DMin).
I am grateful for the opportunity to share in this special occasion. I have long respected the work of Central Christian College. I especially value the opportunity I have had for the last few years to work in the class room. I have never failed to be impressed with the caliber of students I meet here. I often feel like that Grandpa who was shaving one morning as his grandson looked on. Out of the blue the little lad asked, "Did God make you, Grandpa?" "Yes, God made me," the grandfather answered. The boy thought for a while. A few minutes later, he asked, "Did God make me too?" "Yes, He made you too," Granddad replied. The little guy studied his grandpa’s and then his own face in the mirror. At last he spoke up. "You know, Grandpa," he said, "God’s doing a lot better job lately."
As I reflect on my student years way back when and then look at this graduating class, I too must say, “God is sure doing a lot better job lately!”
There are three kinds of people in the world. Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who sit back and wonder what happened!
Elijah was a man who made things happen! The prophet’s shadow looms large across the pages of Scripture. Elijah steps on to the stage of history as a defiant rebel proclaiming truth to power. Years later his ministry ends with a fiery chariot ride to heaven. But his legacy continued. Elisha picked up the mantel and the spirit of Elijah. Other Hebrew prophets would be measured by his standard. Malachi ends with the promise—“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:5-6). The New Testament begins with the birth of the “one like Elijah.” It is Elijah who stands witness with Moses on the mountain as the Father says of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him” (Matt 17:5).
Make no mistake about it! Elijah made things happened! Rains stop. A widow is miraculously fed. Her son is restored. Later Elijah challenges the prophets of Ahab and Jezebel. The pretenders call for Baal to send his fire. Nothing happens. They try again and again. Still nothing happens. Elijah says, “Enough is enough!”
The prophet of the Most High orders water poured on his altar. “Not enough! Do it again!” And again! The water flows over the offering, down through the wood, across the altar and fills the trenches. Then Elijah cries out to the God of heaven. “Answer me, O Lord; answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord are God!” Elijah prays and things happened. Fire falls from heaven. The wood, the offering, the altar, and four-hundred prophets of Baal are consumed.
When Elijah prayed, things happened. Clouds formed. The sky darkened. Rain fell for the first time in three years. But not everything that happened was good. Elijah becomes a hunted man. He hides. God appears. The Lord of heaven provides bread for his body and steel for his soul. The Almighty reveals himself in a “still small voice.” Emboldened, Elijah returns to the battle. Renewed, the prophet exposes sin. He announces God’s righteousness. Armies march. Kingdoms clash. Judgment falls. The Lord God omnipotent reigns! Elijah made things happen!
Elijah may have made things happen, but he was no super-hero. The Bible says Elijah was a Tishbite from Gilead. Tishbe was a small village in the mountain country east of Israel. Elijah was simple, rough, and uneducated—much different than the sophisticated, cosmopolitan advisers to Ahab and Jezebel. He was likely a shepherd, minding his own business with no desire to get involved in politics or the social issues of his day.
Elijah is a study in contrasts. Despite powerful demonstrations of God’s provision, Elijah wavered. He could pray down fire. He could outrun the king’s chariot. He could command the power of life and death. But when it is his face on Jezebel’s wanted posters, he runs for his life. He hides. His prayers turn to whimpers. “I’ve had enough. Lord, take my life!” he cries out to God, “I am the only one left who is faithful.” That was no super-hero sitting under that broom tree in the middle of the desert. He was one lonely, desperate, timid, not so mighty man of God.