Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Story of God: Elijah

Solomon had been dead for 50 years.  The kingdom was divided.  There was a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom.

Ahab was the northern king.  He worshiped Baal ( the god of his wife's people).  In doing so, Ahab became the most ungodly king that God's people had ever had.

A prophet named Elijah spoke for God.  He pronounced to King Ahab and Queen Jezebel that drought and famine were on their way.

Jezebel responded by setting out on a mission to execute all of God's prophets.  Elijah ran for his life.

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah:  “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”  So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.  1 Kings 17:1-6

God’s faithfulness is felt in the shadows

As much as we want to feel God in a classroom…or on a beach…or at a birthday party, God’s presence is most powerfully felt in the shadows.  It is in our moments of fear, we find that undeniable God-experience.  It when that cloud of nervousness and paranoia covers our home that God shows up

Eventually, we all walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  We won’t live there.  But we will walk through it.  It is there in those cold dark shadows that God provides.  We spend so much of our lives running from the shadows.  We attempt to fix and avoid pain.  But if we truly want to know God's presence in an intimate way, there may be no place where we are more sensitive to His touch than in the shadows.

After a few years passed, God told Elijah to go back to have a conversation with King Ahab.  Well, that conversation turned into a town hall meeting on the top of a mountain.  There on the mountain, surrounded by worshipers of Baal, God's man spoke up.

Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.  Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it.  Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”  1 Kings 18:22-24

God’s power is seen in the test

It is in the test that God shows off.  He flexes in the test.  We, on the other hand, like to play it safe.  We seek out the sure things.  We only run races we know we can win.  But it is in the adventure that we have to exercise faith.  And that is when God shows up and shows off.

God showed up on the mountain and revealed Himself to be the only true God.

Angered, Jezebel sent her best bounty hunters on a mission to find and kill Elijah.

He was again on the run.

He was closer to God than anyone and yet he was exhausted and worn.  He stopped to rest and asked God to take His life.  Instead, God provided some food for him and then led Him to another mountain side.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  
1 Kings 19:11-13

God’s voice is heard in the silence

God’s voice is the loudest when life is the quietest.  It is in the silence that God speaks up.  He whispers encouragement and truth.

But silence makes us uncomfortable.  When things are quiet, we ask, "What's wrong?"  We constantly search for noise makers.

Noise makes us comfortable.  But comfort is an enemy of faith.  We have to quiet our lives if we truly want to hear God’s voice.

God whispered to Elijah.

He (Elijah) replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”…The Lord said to him…I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”   1 Kings 19:14, 18

This frightened, tired, worn, prophet discovered that he was not alone.  For years, God had preserved and protected others who worshiped Him.  There were 7000 others!  Even though Elijah felt God's presence, had witnessed God's power, and even heard God's voice, Elijah felt alone.  God declared to him that although his faith was personal, it was never intended to be private.

God’s plan is revealed in the Church

It is in the context of community that we discover this truth.

Even the strongest and most faithful servants need others in their lives.  Being isolated and feeling alone is not a good thing.  If someone as spiritually minded as Elijah needed a community of encouragement, you do too.

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