Summary: God won’t let us sit in our caves, OR, come in with us.
I want to begin by asking you a question. Are you in a cave?
What I mean by that is, is your personal world made up of walls; job, family, friends, hobbies, recreation?
It can also be not so much a physical thing; but, is your cave made up of fears, doubts, complacency, indecision...
...While what God is doing in the world around you is going on somewhere outside the mouth of your cave?
Have you ever observed that God is a God of action? In all of scripture there is no period of dormancy attributed to God. We never see Him inactive or uninvolved.
Psalm 121:4 says “Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
So to me it seems that the surest way to judge whether we are in the center of God’s will for us at any given point in time, is to make an honest evaluation of our present circumstances, and ask the questions, “Am I dormant? Am I hiding? Am I shirking the responsibility God has given me; either in the governing of my own life, or in my relationship to others?”
“Am I in a cave, insofar as my personal relationship to God is concerned?”
We have before us in the 18th and 19th chapters of I Kings, an account of a great man of God, who found himself in a cave.
Please go ahead and turn to I Kings; we’ll read just a portion of it. (Let’s read I Kings 19:9-14) (pray)
I want to start by saying very clearly that I will not disparage this man. I will not find fault with him.
God saw fit to take Elijah home in a whirlwind!
Have you ever stopped to consider the implications of that?
We hear things like this in sermons or read them so often that they tend to lose their punch, unless we stop for a moment and spend some time meditating on them.
The Bible says that Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
Elijah was bodily, physically, taken into Heaven. We know this because as he ascended Elisha, his student, yelled, “Father, the horses! The chariots!” and Elijah heard him, and threw his mantle back down to him on his way out.
So Elijah was physically caught up into heaven in a whirlwind!
So I will not criticize Elijah for being found in a cave.
Nor will I criticize you. There are any number of reasons we may often find ourselves in a place other than that perfect place where God would have us, and it’s not always a result of neglect or cowardice or sin on our part. Sometimes it’s just ignorance, or the burden of long trials.
I believe there is a greater, more encouraging lesson to be learned from this account in Elijah’s life and it is that I want to focus on.
The setting here, is that Ahab, the king of Israel, has erected an altar to Baal, and an Asherah, a symbol of a fertility goddess. He is married to Jezebel who was not a Jewess, but a Zidonite, who was a zealous worshipper of Baal, and was a conniving, controlling, manipulative, murderous, woman.
The Bible says that Ahab “did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” (I Kings 16:33)
This was an evil man, married to an evil woman.
Elijah, being a prophet of God, has opposed Ahab, and the big finale of his opposition is to invite all the prophets of Baal to a ‘sacrifice standoff’ on Mount Carmel.
The priests of Baal prepare their sacrifice, then spend hours and hours dancing and chanting and cutting themselves, but their god doesn’t respond.
Elijah even makes fun of them. “Maybe he’s busy, or gone on vacation...maybe he had to go potty!”
Then when they’re all tuckered out Elijah prepares his sacrifice by having the stones piled up, the bull placed on the altar; then he has gallons upon gallons of water poured all over the altar and into a trench that he had dug around it. The sacrifice, the altar, the wood, the stones...everything is saturated with water.
He says a very short prayer, then God sends down fire from heaven that torches the whole thing. It consumes the sacrifice, the altar, licks up the water in the trench and even burns the stones and the ground.
Then Elijah has the priests of Baal killed, and when word gets back to Jezebel she is not a happy camper.
She sends word back to Elijah that she has taken an oath to kill him by this time tomorrow.
So he goes into the wilderness and sits down under a Juniper tree and asks the Lord to take him home.