- Sermon Notes
Remember Where Your Help Comes From
1 Kings 19:1-18
As we turn to 1 Kings 19, it is important to understand that Elijah had experienced the help of the Lord in his life, so there was much he could look back on and remember. At this time, the northern kingdom of Israel was being led by a King named Ahab. Scripture tells us that Ahab did “more evil in the sight of the Lord than any before him” (1 Kings 16:30). He married a wicked woman in Jezebel and this couple led the nation to follow false gods of Baal and Asherah.
When Elijah came on the scene in 1 Kings 17 as a prophet of the true and living God, he went to Ahab and declared that there would be no rain in Israel until he gave the word. After this word was given, Israel suffered a terrible drought for 3 ½ years (Luke 4:25). Because of this, King Ahab and his wife wanted to take His life, but the Lord told Elijah to go and hide. For 3 ½ years there was a drought and Elijah would hide away, but after that time of hiding and waiting, the Lord told Elijah in chapter 18 to go and present himself to Ahab because He was going to end the drought and bring rain upon the land.
1 Kings 18:17-19, When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, the cause of disaster to Israel?” He said, “I have not brought disaster to Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals. Now then, send orders and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
Upon the arrival of the prophets of the false gods to Mt. Carmel, Elijah asked an important question, specifically, how long would they waver between two choice….and he continued, if Jehovah is God, follow him, if Baal is God follow him….but the people said not a word…
Elijah then issued a challenge that both Baal and Jehovah would be called upon to answer by fire and consume the sacrifice there on that mountain. Whichever God answered by fire, he is God. Only Jehovah answered by fire that day and immediately, the prophets of Baal were seized and destroyed.
Next, we see the Lord provide rain on the land, and Elijah told his servant to go tell Ahab to get into his chariot and head home before the heavy rain stops him. So, King Ahab heads home in his chariot, it was a 15-to-20-mile journey, and he would tell his wife about all that had happened. Elijah is so excited about the news getting to back to Ahab’s wife that he sprints and outruns Ahab’s chariot to the city of Jezreel.
The Lord had used Him mightily, the Lord had moved in power for all to see, I picture his running excitedly, perhaps thinking that this was the moment, revival was coming, but when the news is heard by Jezebel the response is quite different than he seemed to be thinking.
1 Kings 19:1-3(a), Now Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more so, if by about this time tomorrow I do not make your life like the life of one of them.” And he was afraid, and got up and ran for his life…
After the news of Elijah’s ministry and God’s moving in power is heard, the word sent back to Elijah is that there is a 24-hour hit put out on his life. She tells him that her response if to have him killed by the same time the next day.
This was not the response Elijah had sprinted nearly 20 miles to hear. And upon hearing the news, he ran in fear. Elijah had seen difficulty previously, he had seen God provide for him, the Lord’s protection over him in previous situations, even when the threats were out during the drought for his life to be taken. But Elijah expected something different in this situation and runs away in fear rather than drawing near to the Lord.
Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
- Flee to the Father
1 Kings 19:3-4, He was afraid, and got up and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah; and he left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked for himself to die, and said, “Enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
- From verses 3 to 4, we recognize some things about Elijah’s journey.
- First, he was afraid.
- Secondly, fled because of fear.
- Third, in his fear he isolated himself by leaving his servant behind.
- Fourth, He went into the wilderness alone.
- Fifth, he thought of his life as worthless and asked the Lord to take his life.
- I love where it landed, Elijah would ultimately pray and pursue the Lord, but prior to his prayer, he runs in fear, insists on isolation, journey’s into the wilderness.
- The wilderness is a dry, barren, and bleak place. Little grows there, it is the opposite of fruitfulness, yet, at some point in life, it seems everyone finds themselves in a spiritual desert.
- Many great leaders in the Bible found themselves there for significant periods. Abraham, David, Moses, Joshua, John the Baptist, and Jesus all spend time in the desert. As we study Elijah, we understand that he spent time in the desert on more than on occasion (1 Kings 17:3; 19:3-4).
- We see Elijah head into the wilderness in Kings chapter 17 when the Lord told him to head there. Elijah had gone to Ahab, telling him that there was going to be no dew or rain for the next few years, except by his word.
- It was a bold word given to Baal worshipping King Ahab, not only because of the word itself, but those who worshipped Baal believed he was the god who brought the rains and harvests.
- At that time, the Lord had told Elijah to go and turn eastward, into the wilderness, to hide by himself and that he would be provided for.
- The Lord directed Elijah to hide away because Ahab and company would take his life if they saw him. It wasn’t yet time for the Lord to bring rain. He was protecting Elijah.
- The Lord provided food and shelter to Elijah for 3 ½ years while he was hiding. At the end of this period, the Lord sent him to go and meet Ahab again.
- Now fast forward to this situation in chapter 19, again a bold proclamation and move of God.
- Elijah hears a threat, Jezebel puts the 24-hour hit out on his life, and in response, Elijah flees into the wilderness again, but not because the Lord told him to, rather, because he was afraid.
- As I read this story, I can’t help but wonder if he ran again because it was what worked previously.
- Looking to what he thought might help, rather than the only one he knew could help.
- Often, we can get focused on a formula, rather than the direction needed that day.
Illus. All Done.
Proverbs 2:6-7, The Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity.
- In order to get the wisdom and instruction he has stored up, it is essential that we knew that He is where our help comes from and turn to Him rather than the immediate conclusions to which we can often quickly come in our own understanding of the situations we face.
Psalm 18:10, The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
Charles Spurgeon: A person who is surrounded by foes does not stand still, see a hiding place, and say, “Yes, I can see there is a hiding place there.” Rather, he runs to it.
- From verse 3, we understand that after hearing the news of what Jezebel had in mind to do, Elijah was afraid and ran into the wilderness alone.
- To fear or be afraid carries a definition in English that is much the same as in the Hebrew language written in 1 Kings 19. Elijah was afraid, meaning he was terrified at the news he had heard.
- There are many verses in Scripture that not only refer to fear, but tell us how to deal with it, and what do to with it.
2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)
Proverbs 29:25, Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.
Psalm 34:4, I sought the Lord and He answered me, and rescued me from all my fears.
Isaiah 41:13, I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’
Isaiah 41:10, Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
- In order to “fear not,” there is an important reality to recognize which is “God is with you.” And when our God is with you, it is our God who will help you.
Psalm 56:3-4, When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
- This is a good question, what can mere mortals do to me? This would have been a good question for Elijah when he was afraid.
- Jezebel told Elijah what she was planning to make his life like a dead man. But it is the Lord who was Elijah’s maker, he did not need to worry about what a mere mortal could do to him, and neither do we.
- The consistent theme to get us away from fearing is turning to and trusting in the Lord.
- Elijah is seen fleeing, and some accentuate his fleeing to his fearing as I have noted, and others accentuate his prayer which displays that in his calling, he felt that he was failing.
1 Kings 19:4, He himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked for himself to die, and said, “Enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
Illus. Spin Move.
- Perhaps you find yourself in a situation where you have heard some news and you are fearing, perhaps things have worked out differently that you hoped in your life and you are in a place where you feel like you are failing. I encourage you, remember that the Lord is ready and willing to help you, and rather than focusing on fearing or failing and the place they would lead you to, focus on fleeing to the Father, and trust that He has more in store for you.
- Draw Near Enough to Hear His Whisper
1 Kings 19:4, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”
- Wanting to be alone, Elijah left his servant and went a day’s journey into the wilderness. It was there that he sat down and prayed, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”
- Elijah thought it would be better to die at God’s hand than Jezebel’s. But the Lord had a different and better plan. You can almost hear God say, “This is the best you can come up with Elijah?”
- First, God gives him rest. We really need to understand how important rest is to our spiritual victory. When you are burnt out and worn down, your perspective changes.
- The Lord provided food and water for Him under a tree. The food was provided from an angel.
- Then, the Lord provides him food through the angel again that would allow Elijah to go on a 40-day journey to Mount Horeb, also known as Mount Sinai.
- The Lord had more in store for Elijah. It would be on this mountain that God would reveal His plan for him.
1 Corinthians 2:9, What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love Him. (NIV)
- From Ephesians 3:20, we know that the Lord is able to do abundantly beyond all we ask or even think.
- And thankfully, the Lord was certainly going to do much more than Elijah asked for.
Illus. Send them home!
- God had an answer for Elijah that was better than his prayer, but first, Elijah would need to get to the place and posture where he was near enough to hear what the Lord had to say on all that Elijah was up against.
1 Kings 19:9-10, Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
- After entering a cave on the mountain of the Lord, the Lord asks Elijah a question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?“
- “I have been very zealous… and I alone am left; and now they seek my life to take it away.”
- Elijah was feeling the weight of the world, all alone, on an island. The people of Israel have turned away from you, turned away from your covenant, they have torn down your altars, they have killed Your prophets, I am the only one left, and now they are coming after me, to end my life.
- I love the question the Lord asks Him, “what are you doing here, Elijah?”
- What are you doing here? How did you get here? What has you in this place? Why have you come to the conclusion that your situation is helpless rather than remembering where your help comes from and continuing to trust even in the difficult situation that has come?
- Elijah answered the Lord, and the Lord was going to answer him, but the Lord was going to speak in such a way that Elijah could clearly hear.
1 Kings 19:11-13, So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
- Elijah had seen the terrible condition of Israel and wanted the Lord to shake the earth with an obvious work of His power. “The fire and rain was great, Lord, keep them coming!”
- He likely wanted the Lord to bring a great demonstration of His power, but the Lord revealed to Elijah just how He was moving. In a still small voice.
- We often desire the same: bring the fire! Bring the rain. I am waiting Lord, bring the wind, the earthquake, the fire! But the Lord wants to draw near in a gentle blowing, in His still small voice.
- Just as the Lord would speak differently than Elijah seemed to be expecting, so too, the Lord was moving differently in Elijah’s life that Elijah was expecting.
- But the only way Elijah could see what the Lord had for him, or hear what the Lord desired for him, he would need to get close enough to hear the Lord’s still small voice speak to him.
James 4:8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
- A still small voice can only be heard when all the noise is quieted around us, and the voice of the one whispering is close.
- But even when a person is whispering, when things are loud around you, what they are saying can still be easily confused.
Illus. A Whisper.
- The Lord, in His still small voice, speaks the same question as “what are you doing here Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:14, Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of armies; for the sons of Israel have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they have sought to take my life.”
- It was at that point, now that things had quieted down, and Elijah was able to listen, that the Lord would respond with more than a question.
1 Kings 19:15(a), The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way…”
- The Lord spoke to Elijah, and I love what he first has to say, “Go, return on your way…”
- Attach Your Way to What He Has to Say
- Elijah had said several things to the Lord in this chapter:
1 Kings 19:4, Enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.
1 Kings 19:10, 14, And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of armies; for the sons of Israel have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they have sought to take my life.
- The Lord was going to respond to both by pointing him to the plans He still had for Elijah, and also the present reality in the world that Elijah was unable to see.
- First, Elijah said take my life, I am no better than my fathers…
- The Lord essentially responded, Elijah, you have work to do. You need to anoint two kings and raise up your replacement (Vs. 15-16).
- The Lord hadn’t brought Elijah that far for him to hide in a cave. He would anoint and raise up the next generation.
- Elisha was given a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and the Bible records exactly twice as many miracles through Elisha than Elijah.
- There was a purpose beyond his disappointment, to raise up the next generation.
- Next, the Lord points him to his present reality, he was not alone as a man of God.
- (Vs. 18), The Lord told him there were 7,000 in Israel who had not bowed their knee to Baal. God was likely speaking to the hearts of the 7,000 similarly, in a loud world through His still small voice, and they were listening.
- The Lord reminded Elijah that he was not alone and pointed him back to his purpose.
Psalm 121:1-2, I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
1 Kings 19:1-18