Summary: Using experiences from the life of Elijah the prophet, this message seeks to show that the ravens of God’s provision fly in the worst of conditions, and the direst of circumstances.
Where Ravens Fly
Text: 1 Kings 17:4-6
Intro: Elijah, the prophet of God, has excited my imagination since the early days of my biblical recollections. Actually, Elijah has long been one of my Bible heroes. This servant of God was a man’s man. When it came to preaching the truth of God, mousy he was not. One need not guess the deeper or obscure meanings of his messages, for Elijah was plainspoken and straightforward in his delivery. According to the late Dr. William Smith (1813-1893), “His [Elijah’s] one grand object was to awaken Israel to the conviction that Jehovah, Jehovah alone is God.” This was an extremely apropos (“fitting the occasion; relevant”1) ministry, since King Ahab, and his wicked wife, Jezebel, had single-handedly led Israel’s apostasy from Jehovah God to the worship of Baal.
Life was extremely difficult and miserable for Elijah, while living under such a depraved and murderous ruler as King Ahab. The king wanted nothing to hinder the total conversion of Israel to idolatry, and as long as the prophet Elijah was alive, he would be a painful thorn in the side of Ahab, as well as an obstacle to his plan. This situation placed Elijah in almost constant fear of his life. Nevertheless, Elijah’s agonizing circumstances taught the prophet that God was always faithful to watch over him, and to supply his needs in the most dangerous and devastating of times. Elijah learned that neither devilish characters nor desperate crises, in any way, diminished God’s ability to provide. The saints of today would do well to learn these same lessons.
Perhaps one of the most notable demonstrations of God’s power to provide for His faithful prophet, Elijah, is His use of ravens (1 Kings 17:4, 6). Twice a day, for three and a half years, the ravens, at the command of God, dutifully flew care missions to the brook Cherith. If one figures based on 365 days per year, for three and a half years, at two meals a day, that means these birds supplied approximately 2,555 meals. However, if figured based on 360 days per year, which likely was the way the Jews measured a year, 2,520 meals were delivered via “The Royal Raven Rescue Flights.” Others might come up with a different calculation, but this gives us some idea of the magnitude of the miracle involved. Consider also that ravens are not only curious birds, but that they are also selfish carrion eaters as well. The fact that the ravens willingly released the bread and meat, after reaching Elijah’s location, is in itself, a miracle. However, God is not limited to the natural order of things.
I want to use the ravens as somewhat of an analogy of the activity of God’s power to provide our needs. The only thing that can close God’s supply lines is unbelief. The ravens of God’s provision fly in the worst of circumstances. The question however, is do we believe it?
Theme: The ravens of God’s provision fly despite…
I. EVIL DETERMINATIONS
A. Ahab’s Perversity.
1. This man was wickedly brazen.
1 Kings 16:29 “And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years.
30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.”
2. This man led Israel into the worship of Baal.
1 Kings 16:31 “And it came to pass, as if it had been a light things for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.
32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.
33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”
NOTE: The term “Baal” signifies a general term used to refer to a number of national gods. The Baal referred to here is one that the Zidonians called Melkarth. One commentator notes:
Melkarth was the kind of god that required the burning of innocent children as oblations upon his altar. One of the underlying reasons why Baal was worshiped was that he was believed to be lord of the land. To induce him to send rain upon the earth, fertility cult practices were engaged in and sacrifices were offered.2
B. Elijah’s Preaching.
1. He preached God’s judgment against idolatry.
1 Kings 17:1 “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”