Summary: Don't look at the big setback, see the big picture. Don't look at the big self, see the works of God. Don't look at the big things, listen to the voice of God.
Elijah had a great victory against the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
• He challenged the 450 prophets to call on their god to bring down fire and burn up the sacrifice. They failed, after a whole day of shouting.
• At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord, prepared the sacrifice, soaked it with water and said a prayer.
• The fire of the Lord fell upon it and burned up the entire sacrifice, drying up even the trenches.
• The people saw this and cried out, “The Lord–He is God! The Lord–He is God!” (18:39)
• Elijah slaughtered all the false prophets in the Kishon Valley.
Elijah went up to Mount Carmel a second time. God would bring back the rain.
• Bending down to the ground, he waited in faith, and the rain finally fell, after 3½ years.
• King Ahab hurried back to Jezreel and informed his wife Jezebel everything that has happened.
• The victory on Mount Carmel and the return of the rain were awesome displays of God’s sovereignty and power.
Elijah ran after Ahab to Jezreel too. So empowered by God’s strength, he beat King Ahab to the place.
• He was in Jezreel to hear some good news. Elijah anticipated a turn-around for the leaders of his land.
• Surely when King Ahab tells Jezebel everything that has happened, they would be moved to acknowledge the Lord as God.
• But NOPE, nothing of this sort happened. Instead, Elijah got a message from Jezebel: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” (19:2)
• Jezebel wanted to kill him in 24 hours!
Elijah came to Jezreel with great anticipation and now he has to flee with fear.
• IT WAS A GREAT SETBACK. Elijah wasn’t expecting this. He was devastated.
• After 3½ years of struggling through the drought and a bold challenge against 450 false prophets, the leaders were not repentant.
• Jezebel wasn’t moved by the fire nor the rain, but by the death of her prophets.
• You see, signs and wonders don’t change a person’s heart. Only God can, IF we allow Him. God shines the light, but people has to be willing to receive it.
Elijah was forced to flee. He ran from Jezreel, as far away as he could, to Beersheba the farthest town in the South.
• He was afraid (19:3), gripped by fear. It’s doomsday. This was the hopeless end to all that he has done.
• “No pat on the back for all my hard work and now they are coming after my life.”
• “Fear is the dark room where negatives are developed.” The negatives are heightened.
ARE YOU DISCOURAGED? We would be, if that’s all we are seeing - the great setback.
DON’T LOOK AT THE BIG SETBACK, SEE THE BIG PICTURE (WILL OF GOD)
We need to SEE THE BIG PICTURE. In other words, see the GOD’S PICTURE.
• God is still at work in Israel and in Elijah’s life and ministry. Nothing has been derailed, from God’s perspective.
Disappointment and discouragement can lead us to despair, if we cannot lift our eyes above the circumstances and ourselves.
• The sense of FAILURE plus FEAR plus FATIGUE (running from Jezreel to Beersheba) equals total DESPAIR.
• Elijah prayed that he might die (19:4). “I have had enough, Lord,” he said.
In these two chapters (18 and 19), we’ve seen Elijah viewing himself as the only true prophet left.
• 18:22 while on Mount Carmel, he said, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left…”
• 19:10 when he was in the cave at Mount Horeb, he tells the Lord: “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
• 19:14 when the Lord asked a second time, he repeated the same words: “I am the only one left.”
Strictly speaking, this was not the true picture. He wasn’t the only prophet left.
• In his earlier conversation with Obadiah (official in Ahab’s palace), Obadiah told him he had saved 100 prophets and kept them in two caves (18:13).
• The author put it clearly to us - 18:3b-4 “(Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. 4While Jezebel was killing off the LORD's prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.)
Wasn’t this great? We have a devout believer within the palace of King Ahab. We can imagine the difficult circumstance he was put in.