Summary: Elijah faces three tests, each intended to refine him for the Master’s use.
This week we honor the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States. No one’s life has gone unaffected. The television images that came across the news networks in the weeks following September 11, 2002 changed our lives dramatically. This past year has been met with new fears and unprecedented challenges. The security that we once took for granted has been compromised, and things that we once thought inconceivable have become a reality. The question at the airport, “Have your bags have been out of your possession since you packed them?” has taken on new meaning, wouldn’t you say?
In the obscure book of Nahum we read, “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.” (1:3c) In the cloud of smoke that swallowed New York’s twin towers and consumed the Pentagon, God was moving and working His eternal plan for mankind. It is in times like this that God emerges with mercy and grace from above. Roy Lessin, co-founder of DaySpring Cards, voiced one great lesson that has risen from ground zero in New York, “It has been the way we have sharpened our focus on what is important, and reevaluated our priorities on what has lasting value.”(1).
As a nation, we face an uncertain future. Like Elijah in 1 Kings, our future is full of questions and uncertainties, as a nation and as individuals. I would like to share 5 things that were certain and unshakable for Elijah and are the same for us. You can build your future on these truths.
1. God has a purpose for your life. Your birth, life, and death are at God’s discretion and mercy. He is not trying to play hide-and-seek with His will for your life. There are no accidents in His plan for your life.
2. God is in control. God is not on vacation at Camp David. All the resources of Heaven are at His disposal.
3. God is sovereign. Nothing in the universe can thwart or frustrate His plans for mankind. He is not caught off-guard nor is he ringing His hands in anxiety as history unfolds.
4. God’s Word is without error and fully dependable. For thousands of years the best minds of the world have attempted to discredit the Bible, to no avail. That which He has declared will come to pass. Take that to the bookmakers of Vegas, it’s as sure a bet as you can make.
5. Christ’s work on the cross has provided for your life, future, inheritance, and destiny. His blood forgives. His blood protects. His blood has bought you and canceled all the works of the enemy against your life.
We need assurances of God’s protection and His provision more than ever. The Life and Times of Elijah teaches these truths from every angle, using every setting available to the person of the Holy Spirit. Go with me now to the Advanced Training of Elijah. Two years have passed and Elijah has moved from Boot Camp into the Advanced Training that will mature this servant for the miracles God will perform and the confrontations through which God will lead him.
Elijah remained at the Brook Cherith for about 2 years. Eventually the brook dried up because of the drought predicted by Elijah. For Elijah, these last 2 years had been a place of communion. Now he would be sent right into the heart of the enemy’s territory. To go to Zeraphath was to leave safety and solitude and travel to the heart of Baal worship and the home of Jezebel. Zeraphath means place of refining. The root verb means, smelt, refine, test. In the noun form it means crucible. (2) What Cherith was to Basic Training, Zeraphath would be to Advanced Training for the soldier Elijah.
It was in the Mediterranean community of Zeraphath that God would delight in using an unlikely source to provide for Elijah’s needs. Here he met a widow picking up sticks for her final meal. Upon meeting Elijah, the widow’s attention quickly shifts from her suffering to his thirst. Her focus was redirected to someone else’s problem. Do you see the principle of God’s provision packed into her activity? When you get involved in helping others accomplish their dreams, God helps you with yours.
Let’s outline the chapter around three tests that I believe God served to Elijah. For the next sixty-seconds this is going to be a test, no peeking on your neighbor’s paper. Each test will provide insight from God’s Word on how to survive when a famine hits your life. Three tests each intended to refine the life of Elijah for the Master’s use.
1. The Test of Faithful Instructions
“Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Go at once to Zeraphath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.’ So he went to Zeraphath...” (1 Kings 17:7-10a)