Elijah was a human being, even as we are … James 5:17
I hope that this summer through the This is Us series you have more fully identified with the men and women God used significantly in the Old Testament. I know I have! And this coming Sunday, we’ll be looking at another one of those people – someone whose journey wasn’t the easiest, but who God met and used in powerful ways.
With that in mind, let me ask you a question: Have you ever been despondent?
The book of 1 Kings contains one of the greatest biographies ever told: the life of Elijah. This great prophet burst onto the pages of biblical history, seemingly out of nowhere, with a message from God, was used incredibly, and then never died … he was literally picked up by a heavenly Uber.
Elijah entered the court of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel with the pronouncement, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). He disappeared and then a three-year drought followed, exactly as God had said.
When Elijah reemerged on the scene, he challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown on Mount Carmel. God answered Elijah’s prayer with a stream of fire from Heaven.
What made Elijah such a significant servant of God? Here is my short list:
- Elijah knew God. Elijah began his statement to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand …” (1 Kings 17:1 ESV). Elijah was aware of the fact that wherever he went, he stood consciously in the presence of God. This awareness of God’s presence gave Elijah the courage to stand his ground. Maybe you are the only Christian in your family, on your campus, in your neighborhood, or at your office. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the odds and feel as though one life cannot make a difference. We learn divine accounting from the life of Elijah: 1 + God = a majority.
- Elijah was a man of prayer. James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.” Notice that he prayed earnestly. It was Elijah’s passionate and consistent praying in private that was the source of his power in public.
- Elijah had his low moments. Remember, “Elijah was a human being even as we are …” (James 5:17). After his contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, you would have thought that Elijah would have been fearless. But when Queen Jezebel threatened his life, Elijah ran for cover. He was so despondent that he said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life …” (1 Kings 19:4).
Wait … what? Elijah saw some of the greatest miracles in the Old Testament. He was the first recorded person in the Bible to raise someone from the dead. He changed the weather patterns for three years, and here he is, wanting to die after one of the most remarkable supernatural experiences in all the Old Testament. (Read it for yourselves in 1 Kings 18.) What gives?
This Sunday, we are going to the wilderness to engage with Elijah in the lowest point of his life. This is us! God’s people get discouraged, God’s people fight depression, God’s people get despondent, even sometimes to the point of wanting life to end.
I have been so encouraged soaking in 1 Kings 19 and focusing on how God gently aligns Elijah’s perspective and restores this burnt-out prophet.
I can’t wait to be with you and together discover some life transforming insights. I’ll see you on Sunday!
I love being your pastor!