Summary: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours...”
A. INDENTIFYING WITH BIBLE CHARACTERS
1. What Bible character do you think you identify with more than any other?
2. I hesitate to name any names, because all of the people I would want to resemble were so great in God’s kingdom—like David the “man after God’s own heart”, John the Baptist who was “more than a prophet”, Peter “a rock in the kingdom”, Paul the fervent apostle, or Barnabas the encourager.
3. More humbly, we might think more in terms of the characters found in Jesus’ parables or miracles, especially the publican, whose only plea was “God, be merciful on me a sinner.” Or we might see ourselves as the centurion, who considered himself “unworthy.”
4. But the Bible, especially in the book of Hebrews, draw our attention to great men of faith. And in reading about these men we seem to compare and contrast ourselves with them, especially contrast, being that we see ourselves as inferior to such men and women of faith. But the Bible also draws our attention to a very heroic figure from the Old Testament and says that he possessed a nature like ours—James 5:17-- “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours...”
5. As much as we might shrink from saying that Elijah is just like me, the fact is that he possessed emotions just like we have; faced challenges just like we do; and he experienced many of the same things we have all experienced.
6. I want to focus on an episode in his life I think we all can sympathize with—despondency (depression of the spirit from loss of hope, confidence, or courage).
7. But let’s lay the framework before we get to our text in 1 Kings 19:1-18.
B. ELIJAH’S CHARACTER
1. Very few chapters in the Bible are devoted to Elijah; yet he is depicted as one of the most outstanding heroes of the Bible. In the O.T. account we see Elijah as a man of great moral strength; a man of unhesitating devotion to God; a bold spokesman for what is right; he almost seems superhuman in his courage in his against the prophets of Baal.
2. In the N.T., Elijah is referenced many times. John the Baptist was said to have the “spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). Jesus made use of his example, as did Paul. And we see Elijah with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. He was considered great by the nation of Israel, for they though that Jesus might be Elijah.
C. APPEARANCE BEFORE AHAB
1. He is introduced to us in 1 Kings 17 with a dramatic and sudden appearance before King Ahab, to whom he declared that there would be neither dew nor rain, except at the prophet’s words. After making this prediction to the king, the Lord came to Elijah and directed him to hide himself by the Brook of Cherith, where he would be supplied morning and evening with bread and meat from the ravens and water from the brook (17:3-6).
D. AT THE WIDOW’S HOUSE
1. When the waters of the brook dried up, he was divinely commanded to go the Zarephath, where a widow was to feed him. There Elijah found the widow whose supplies of meal and oil were nearly exhausted. He requested that she bake a bread for him. But she explained to him that she had only a handful of flour and a small jar of oil; for she was going to made bread for her and her son so they could eat and die. But Elijah told her not to fear, but go and make the bread for her and her son, but to make him a small cake from it first. Then Elijah explained to her that her supply of flour and oil would last until the rains returned. And then she went and did as she was told.
2. Not long after the widow’s son became ill and died; and the widow called on Elijah for help. He took the boy to his room, prayed, and stretched himself upon the child’s body three times. Then the soul came back the boy and Elijah presented him to his mother, who then proclaimed, “by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth” (17:24).
E. VICTORY OVER PROPHETS OF BAAL
1. Now we come to chapter 18 to an event we are all familiar with. This is the chapter that brings to us the foreground to the things that follow in our text. After three years of no rain, God instructed Elijah to present himself before Ahab again. On his way to Ahab, the prophet met Obadiah, who was over the king’s household, and Elijah told him to go and inform the king that he had come.