Summary: I Kings 17 is a litany of the events that shaped and prepared Elijah for his greatest challenge (facing the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel). How did God use these circumstances to train Elijah... and how does God use events in our lives to train us?
OPEN: A junior high music teacher had just organized a band in her school. The principal was so proud of the music teacher's efforts that without consulting her, he decided that the band should give a concert for the entire school.
The music teacher wasn't so sure her young musicians were ready to give a concert so she tried to talk the principal out of holding the concert, to no avail. Just before the concert was ready to begin, as the music teacher stood on the podium, she leaned forward and whispered to her nervous musicians, "If you're not sure of your part, just pretend to play."
And with that, she stepped back, lifted her baton and with a great flourish brought it down.
AND… nothing happened!
No music was played.
The students pretended to play… but no one made a single sound.
APPLY: Now, why didn’t those children play their instruments?
They weren’t sure of their part.
They weren’t confident of their abilities.
And the reason they weren’t sure, they weren’t confident was because they weren’t prepared.
The Bible tells us that – as Christians - we need to be prepared.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that John the Baptist’s ministry was “… to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Luke 1:17
And from that day until this, it has been the goal of everyone in the church to prepare one another to serve God. From Sunday School teachers to Bible studies, to preachers in the pulpit, to personal devotions – God’s people have always understood that they needed to be prepared.
Peter wrote the Christians of his day and commanded them: “…PREPARE your minds for action; be self-controlled…” I Peter 1:13
And Peter also wrote that we should “Always be PREPARED to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” I Peter 3:16
And Ephesians 4:11-12 tells us Jesus gave the church “…some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to PREPARE God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up”
The Bible tells us that – God wants us to be prepared to serve Him.
• Our minds need to be prepared to act on His behalf
• Our tongues to be prepared to speak on His behalf
• Our church needs to be prepared to do works of service on His behalf
God wants us to be prepared!
And there’s all kinds of things WE can do to prepare ourselves to serve Him.
• We can be faithful in prayer and fasting.
• Focus on Bible Study
• Be committed to be in worship on Sunday Mornings
There’s all kinds of things we can do to get “prepared to serve God”
And we should!
But then I read things in Scripture – like our text this morning, and I begin to understand that it isn’t ALL about me. When it comes to getting prepared, sometimes it’s God who does the preparing. And how well I’m prepared by God may depend on how I view what God is doing in my life.
Now (with that thought in mind, let’s revisit what’ve read about Elijah up this point.
The first verse of this chapter is the very first time we hear anything about Elijah.
“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." 1Kings 17:1
And that’s it.
There’s no introduction.
No description of his qualifications to be a prophet.
No details on what Bible knowledge he had.
And I believe that’s deliberate on God’s part.
Because I think God wanted us to realize that Elijah was a man just like us.
I believe God wanted us to see Elijah as he was. A man who had the same struggles and conflicts in his life as we do. A man who had to wrestle with his own humanity. A man who had the same needs as we do.
He wasn’t superhuman.
He wasn’t super trained.
He was a man just like us.
And just like us he needed to be trained by God. He needed to be prepared.
We have a couple clues in that verse as to what kind of man Elijah was from vs. 1
1st – we’re told that Elijah served the LORD.
Elijah tells Ahab he comes on behalf of “the LORD, the God of Israel”. (When you see LORD or GOD in all capital letters that indicates places in our English Old Testaments where God’s personal name, Yahweh/Jehovah, is used).