1 Kings 17:1
1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
Last time we began to look at the secret of Elijah’s courage as he went to confront Ahab.
We saw that
We give titles to our relationship with Jesus: we say he is Lord, Master, Brother.
Let’s look at some of these. (List on board from the bottom up,
leaving space for six words.)
Firstly ‘Brother’. Depending on the relationship you have with various members of your family, this could mean very different things to different people; but to many it speaks of a warm, close, loving relationship.
Let’s try another one then, how about ‘Jesus is my friend’?
That’s better. We are all comfortable with that, a friend is Someone with which we have an easy relationship.
How about ‘Master’? That implies an employer/employee relationship. It can still be friendly, but our master does have a certain authority over us.
What about ‘Jesus is Lord’?
Here the authority level has increased. Sometimes a Lord would almost have the power of life or death over his servants. There may still be a certain friendship, but our position here is very obvious.
How about ‘Jesus is King’? The authority level increases again and now the power over us is almost absolute.
Also we are beginning to feel less comfortable as we begin to loose our own control. Did we feel more comfortable with ‘Jesus is my friend’?
So how do we feel about ‘Jesus is God’?
What should that mean in our daily lives?
Actually it meant that he could boldly stand before an Earthly king and present his credentials: ‘I am the servant of the living God’
Ok – remember we are looking at the sources of Elijah’s strength. We looked at 1) ‘the LORD, the God of Israel, lives’, then 2) ‘whom I serve’, and 3) Yahweh is my God.
In the last study we looked at what we should do about situations that trouble us. We saw how we could respond in prayer. But of course there may be another step. What might that be?
We need now to ask if there is anything we should actually do!
Be careful that we are led by God and not by our own plans. It’s always possible that praying is all that we are required to do!
But if we do have to do something, then be bold! Do it!!
Phil 4v13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Perhaps we need to make a habit of
As we continue to study Elijah's life, hopefully we will be reminded of the awesome power of Almighty God, and the total ineffectiveness of the powers of evil. We will also learn how to face, as Elijah did, those things that may be expected of us.
The fascination of this story is that Elijah stood single handed against his people, stemmed the tide of idolatry and sin, and turned a nation back to God. What is more he did it using resources that are within the reach of us all.
The question we must ask then is: If Elijah was a man just like us, why are most Christians not just like Elijah?
Elijah was a man just like us. He was prepared to exercise faith, and God accepted him just as he was. He did however require some more training.
So then we’d better look at the successive Steps in God's Education of his servants. The first lesson is that we must take them one step at a time. This is a very basic lesson, but it is hard to learn. No doubt Elijah found that too.
What do I mean ‘one step at a time’? Well, here is Elijah, burdened with the fact that now he really has got to actually do something. He must leave Tishbe and set out for the palace to deliver his message. But before he sets out he would naturally like some answers:
If he had asked these questions of God, and waited for a reply before he left home, he would never have gone at all. Our father often treats his children like this. He only shows us one step at a time, and then the next, and he tells us to take it in faith. If we turn to him and say 'But if I take this step, which is bound to involve me in problems, what shall I do next?' the only reply we are likely to get is 'Take it, and trust me'
But as soon as God's servant took the step as he had been directed, and delivered the message, and walked safely out of the palace, then we get verse 2: the word of the Lord came to Elijah; "Leave here, turn eastwards and hide in the Kerith ravine, east of the Jordan". And again it was only when the brook had dried up -
I like that phrase: 'the word of the LORD came to him'. He did not need to search for it, it came to him. And so it will come to us. It may come when we are reading the Bible, or through a distinct impression made on our heart by the Holy Spirit, or through circumstances, or through other Christians. But it will find us, and tell us what we must do.
It’s possible that you have had in your mind some strong impression that God has been telling you to do something, but you have held back because you could not see what the next step would be. Stop hesitating! Step out onto something that seems to be no more substantial than a cloud and you will find a solid rock beneath your feet. Every time you put your foot forward, you will find that God has prepared a stepping-
Our bread is daily, the Manna is provided for only one day and no more, and our strength is sufficient for the moment's need. God does not give all the directions at once because sometimes if we knew what the future held we might not have the courage to start. He tells us just as much as we can remember and obey, and as much as our faith can take. Then we must look to him for more, and so by easy stages we are taught the habits of obedience and trust.
Let’s look now at the practicalities of Elijah’s situation. Ahab may have initially been taken aback by this strange visitor, and so allowed him to walk away, but the time would soon come when Ahab would hunt him down, not only in Israel but also in the surrounding countries.
So what was the word that came to Elijah?
Would he be any safer there? The brook was one of the many seasonal watercourses that would normally only have water in it during the rainy season. How strange to be sent to a brook that would be one of the first things to dry up. And then – how unlikely to hope that ravens could find suitable food during a period of drought, or having found it, would bring it regularly morning and evening, leave it, and fly away – without eating it themselves. But God's command was clear and unmistakable. It left him no alternative but to obey.
Verses 5 & 6:
5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Elijah had delivered his message, and the Lord had told him to hide. Note how gently the Lord began Elijah’s education. Elijah probably knew the area well – this was his home country.
Mind you, it was not the most sensible place to hide. The troops that were sent to look for him would no doubt scour Gilead first, particularly any hiding places that might be known to Elijah, and especially places next to a supply of water. But the Lord was not yet ready to send him into more dangerous situations, and Elijah wasn’t ready to go! But then, if the Lord had put Elijah there it must have been the safest place in the world.
Elijah had already learned to be obedient to God’s word, and to trust him for each step, v5 ‘So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there’.
Let’s imagine Elijah reaching the narrow gorge, down which the brook flowed on its way towards the Jordan. On either side there are rough limestone cliffs towering up, enclosing a little patch of blue sky. Perhaps there were a few trees growing by the water to make a natural shade in the heat of the sun. And look! Here are the ravens bringing bread and meat.
What a lesson this was of God's power to provide for people who are prepared to step out in faith.
No doubt Elijah would often remember this, the start of a new chapter in his life. 'I can never doubt God again. I am thankful that he cut me off from all other sources of supply, and forced me to depend on him alone. He has proved that he will never fail me, wherever he calls me to go and whatever he calls me to do'.
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