Summary: Compares Elijah’s time at the Brook Cherith with military boot camp and how God prepares us for service.
When you say the word boot camp, the civilian and enlisted, retired and reserved all conjure up pictures of freshly shaved heads, dog tags, fatigues and, as Chuck Swindoll says, fatigue. It is through the doors of boot camp that an 18-year old from Kiowa, Kansas is shaped into a soldier by doing push-ups at 4:00 AM on a Southern California Beach and running and marching in the burning heat of Texas in August.
It is during those first days of initial paper work and registration that one leaves the control and rights to their life in the hands of others as they are shaped and molded for battle readiness. There is no other way to get a civilian ready for life and death situations except by enrolling them in the training program of the US military. One never learns how to survive against the enemy in life and death situations by sipping lemonade on the beaches of Maui, by lying around on an estate deck in the Caribbean ordering room service, or by sitting in the spa of some mountain hot-springs.
As Christians, our lives are not played out on a playground but on a battleground. When we are introduced to faith in Jesus we are welcomed into God’s family and into God’s army. No one used this analogy more often than the apostle Paul.
Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? (1 Corinthians. 9:7)
Endure hardship with us life a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-he wants to please his commanding officer. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
Do you see the correlation? What applies to the world of warfare and military preparation is true of spiritual preparation. None of us are ever ready for battle until we graduate from basic training. A careful study of God’s word highlights this truth.
Ø Moses’ boot camp was the most well known. What Camp Pendleton is to California, the Sinai Desert was to three million Jews who had just escaped Egypt.
Ø Joseph graduated in the class of 1632 BC from an Egyptian base located along the Nile.
Ø David’s class was small. Most of his training was done in the desert of Israel around the training facilities of Jericho, Qumran, and Massada.
Come with me to another boot camp. The base is located in the heart of the Promised Land. Plenty of rugged terrain, high elevations, and a variety of weather conditions produced optimal training conditions. Our soldier is a simple servant, not from Topeka but from Tishbe – 1 Kings 17:1. All great servants of the Lord go through boot camp. As we follow Elijah’s training, we can learn some lessons about how God is working in us.
It has been a little over a generation since David and Solomon’s reigns filled the land with peace and prosperity. Then, one by one, the kings of Israel sat on the throne and plunged the nation into an abyss of darkness. Religious, moral, and social rot destroyed the nation like gangrene that putrefies an unsuspecting limb. Just as Moses had faced Pharaoh and challenged the powers of darkness over Egypt, God would unleash His power through Elijah to challenge Ahab and call His people to repentance.
It was a desperate time for the young nation. Ahab rejected the ways of God and was guilty of the worst of offenses against the Almighty.
Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. (1 Kings 16:30-31)
Ahab failed to realize that He could not disregard the ways of God and go unaffected. Rejecting God’s ways will flatten you if you flaunt your human disobedience.
Three Boot Camp Lessons
What did the training of Elijah look like? What rigorous training, complements of an intense drill sergeant, kept Elijah doing double time?
1. God’s servants are drawn from the least likely sources.
Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word. (1 Kings 17:1)
God loves to select his servants from the obscure, dusty streets of small town USA, and Israel for that matter. Elijah’s home was in Gilead, a place of mountainous rugged landscapes; jagged valleys filled the region and the hot desert sun produced countless cloudless days. It was an obscure and solitary place that God reached down into and pulled out his next masterpiece, one He would develop and unleash on an unsuspecting nation and its monarchy.