Summary: This sermon uses Elijah’s experiences at the Brook Cherith to encourage believers who have run into dry spiritual times
“When the Brook Runs Dry” by Matthew Everhard. 1 Kings 17: 1-16; Originally preached at Hudson Presbyterian Church on June 20th, 2004. Words: 2293
My message this morning is for those whose brook has run dry. If you’ve ever experienced lasting defeat; If you’ve ever had all that you’ve come to depend on taken away for a season; If you’ve ever had to endure a seemingly endless famine in your life—this message is for you. My goal is to bring you some hope. And I am especially preaching to you, if you are going through a significant period of drought in your spiritual life, when the Lord seems far from you, and His presence seems to be strangely absent. You’ve worshipped on the mountaintop before, but now you’ve been in the desert for weeks or months. If it’s easier to squeeze water out of a rock, than to find the words to pray-- I’m here to deliver a message of refreshment for you this morning.
Spiritual deserts: they are absolutely the most mysterious and difficult times of the Christian life, but they are essential for growth in the faith. In 1 Kings 17, all of Israel is in a spiritual drought. There has been 19 evil Kings reigning over God’s people in a row. And now the worst of them all, King Ahab has taken a strangle hold on God’s people Israel. An idol-serving, pagan worshipping disgrace. Even the priests have become corrupt—or they have flat out ran for their lives. And so to counteract the spiritual drought, God’s prophet Elijah calls for a physical drought. And even the famed prophet himself will have to be subject to it. Notice that not even dew formed in the morning!
Droughts and famines happen in every area of life. In baseball, it’s called a “slump.” And even the hall-of-famers have them. One time Mickey Mantle the all-time great went through a terrible slump that just seemed to drag on for game after game. One particular evening in the 1950’s he struck out in all three at bats. Disgraced, he sat down in the dugout, tossed his helmet to the dirt and put his head in his hands. Finally a young boy walked over to him. It was Tommy Bera, the son of the great manager Yogi Bera. Tommy tapped him on the knee, looked tenderly into his eyes and said—“You stink!”
Droughts happen in every area of life, but the spiritual droughts are the worst. When the brook runs dry in your soul, the easiest thing to do is to wrap yourself in the cocoon of despair and quit. But despairing and quitting are hardly ever the godly options. I want to look closely at this passage this morning because I do believe that it can reveal the keys to survival, when your life source evaporates.
First of all, we notice that God still has a plan for Elijah. Verse 2, “Then the Word of the Lord came to Elijah; ‘Leave here, and turn eastward and hide yourself by the wadi Cherith.’”
(Wadi): I did not know this: I admit that I had to look it up in the dictionary. But a “wadi” is a small body of water that does not appear, except during the rainy season. You know what that means? It means that God sustained Elijah by a brook of water that SHOULD NOT HAVE EVEN EXISTED AT THAT TIME! Could it be, that the dry spell that you are in right now has a solution that you didn’t even know was possible? You say you haven’t “felt” God’s presence much lately: Maybe God is even now giving you strength through a deep-running spring that you didn’t even know existed.
The drought isn’t Elijah’s fault. But Elijah is called to be obedient in the midst of it. You too may be called to obey during a drought that you have absolutely no power to control. But I want you to understand this: God never calls us to endure a situation that He Himself is not prepared to sustain us through.
(Ravens): But that’s not all. The oasis in dry season was a neat surprise, but notice also that God says, “I have ordered the ravens to feed you.” And guess what? It actually happened! “The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening” Can you believe that? The Ravens! The dark, dirty scavenging birds that the Law declared “unclean.” Usually ravens are greedy robbers, snatching up dirty tidbits from carcasses. But again God uses the most unlikely source to supply His prophet. Can you imagine the utter astonishment on Elijah’s face the first time these birds dropped off a T-bone steak at his feet?
But: just when things are starting to look up again for the prophet, one morning Elijah wakes up, bends down to wash his face in the brook—and the brook is gone. The miraculous brook that should have never been there in the first place has finally dried up along with the rest of the countryside.