ELIJAH: The Summary (1-8)
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
Lesson 1: The Introduction (Read 1 Kings 18:21, 37)
The story of Elijah and the nation of
Through the Bible as the Word of God, God has revealed Himself historically, setting forth His eternal truth too real people in real‑life situations. The point we need to understand is that the sovereign Lord sits on His heavenly throne, not indifferently, but observantly. He is working out His purposes on earth. Though transcendent, God is also intimately and immanently involved with mankind, especially those who trust Him.
Elijah's prayer for the cessation of rain in the land was according to the warnings of the Word. He was acting on the promises, or in this case, the warnings and principles of the eternal Word of God. He knew God's Word was true and he was standing firmly on the propositions of Scripture. It is through God's work in Elijah, a man of like passions with us, that we can learn how to handle our ups and downs, fears, and times of discouragement in our day of fallen foundations.
Elijah is the Hebrew Eliyahu that means, "My God
Yahweh." Jesus comes from a Hebrew word which means “Yahweh (God) is
salvation.” Elijah suddenly and boldly appeared and proclaimed the true
Israel, Yahweh, who was His God. We are told little about him. Much
Melchizedek, he simply emerges out of obscurity from the standpoint of
record of Scripture. Nothing is mentioned about his parents, his
training, or early life. He is simply called "The Tishbite, who was of
Elijah was a man who was close to God, a man to whom God was very real and God used Him. He was an instrument of the living God who was there to help the people recognize and believe in the living and true God. We too are ministers of God by whom others believe. We are planters and waters, but God gives the increase. We are laborers together with God. Daily we should ask the Lord to show us the potential of ministry around us, and to cause us to see the opportunities through the potential of His life and power. We need eyes to see the fields that are white unto harvest (cf. John. ) while we pray focused on the Lord of the harvest (Luke 10:2).
Christians today tend to be people‑oriented and go to one of two extremes. Either we run and hide from our ministry because we have our eyes on our own perceived limitations and on the problems we are facing. Or we do the opposite and glory in personalities rather than in the power and presence of the Almighty. When, in our attempt to be free or do as we please, we sometimes rebel against the Lord's authority and control of our lives. In this rebellion we experience a sad irony. We become slaves of our own desires and become what Peter describes as "slaves of corruption (2 Peter ). Elijah had denied himself the rights to control his own life and, by faith, had submitted to God's control. The result was a man totally dedicated to God and His service. Spiritual priorities and values controlled his life. He was a man who was truly free because he was free to follow the Lord.
First Kings 17:1b reveal the keys to Elijah's courage and faith. Elijah was a man of uncommon courage and bold availability because he was: (1) Convinced and Confident in God's Person; (2) Cognizant of God's personal presence and Committed as God's representative, and (3) Confident in God's promises.
Elijah was a common man who was absorbed with the reality of his God. His courage was the product of intimately knowing God and living in close fellowship with the Lord through the Word and prayer. In the process, God's purposes, burdens, values, and desires became engraved on his heart. Being moved by faith, he prayed for the cessation of rain in accord with the warnings and principles of Deuteronomy 11:16‑17 and 28:23‑24. Then, convinced of God's answer, the prophet went forth to declare his message to King Ahab.
We too have the responsibility to demonstrate by the way we live (our priorities, faithfulness, integrity, testimony, and values) the facts that true happiness and meaning in life come only from the Lord (cf. John 14:6 and Acts ). GET WISDOM brethren (Prov. 4:5), and with all your getting, GET UNDERSTANDING (Prov. 4:7).
As the Lord works providentially and sovereignly in our lives, we are nearly always faced with a number of tests that challenge our faith, obedience, values and priorities, our love for God, and demonstrate just how real God is to us. Elijah was challenged with at least four tests in 1 Kings 17:2‑7. We can divide them into three aspects: 1. the test related to his need of guidance, 2. the mystery of God's guidance, and 3. the perplexity of His guidance.
After Elijah gave his message, he needed God's
know what to do next. God commanded him to depart from
Elijah spent much time alone with God by the Brook. We must learn to spend much time alone with God. When people fail to hide themselves with Him, they fail to hide themselves in Him. So the Lord turns them over to their own resources and to their own pitiful ways. They fall apart, burn out, become vexed, frustrated, and they fail - with their children, in their marriages, in their sowing, in their ministry, or in their relationships with others. To follow the Lord we must learn to simply rest the details of the present and the future to Him.
As Christians, we tend to make up our list of what we would like to do with our lives, even as it pertains to serving the Lord. We then present that to the Lord for His approval. We pray for this and pray for that, but then false expectations and selfish motives sometimes color our listening for God’s answer. We want the Lord to answer in our way. We want God's blessing on our will rather than seeking His will.
Sometimes, God's plan simply doesn't seem to make sense to us (e.g., Elijah being fed by ravens). For the most part, God's plan is one day at a time, i.e., "give us this day our daily bread." We are to trust, commit, rest in God's perfect wisdom, loving care, sovereign activity and power, purposes, and plan for each of us regardless of the mysteries of God's will or how things look to us. When God's will is perplexing, the test comes in how we respond. Will we respond in a childlike trust and obedience that rests in what the Lord is doing, or will we become demanding and question the Lord's goodness? (Prov. 3:5‑6).
God is not in a state of indifference concerning our affairs. Rather, He is intimately involved and actively at work. Oh how we need to place this truth alongside all our affairs and learn to recognize them as tools and instruments of God in His gracious work in leading, pruning, and training us. Knowing and believing that God is at work, enables us to respond to God's purpose in our affairs with trust and obedience.
Elijah was a praying man, but he was also a man who had to deal with suffering. Most of us realize there are many spiritual benefits in suffering. Why then do we fear and dread suffering? We have a problem with suffering because we are often more interested in our comfort and pleasure than with genuine, spiritual growth and maturity. We want a carefree life rather than a life with character. We may think we are okay and mature enough just as we are, but the Lord knows better. We want maturity without the pain, but real growth requires pain – suffering.
Maybe you have been blessed to face a severe trial in your life. You prayed to God for deliverance, but you began to come under even more pressure and suffering. Remember, God's timing is usually not our timing (cf. Isa. 55:8-9). The pressures built up, problems developed, and many of them without any seen solutions - at least not in the near future. Did you wonder why and think, "What's going on here? Why is my world falling apart?" It may be God was answering your prayer. More importantly, He was simply carrying out His purpose and plan for your life - the purpose of refining you and transforming you into the image of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. ).
Our sufferings are the testings of life that purify and build as they teach us to trust in the Lord and stay occupied with Him. Of course, we don't like these experiences because they hurt. But remember, true joy, meaning and significance in life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions (cf. Luke ). Whatever our lot, God wants us to learn to be content in whatever state we are in by first learning to rest in Him by faith. Why? That we might experience God's sufficiency and learn that our greatest need is God (Phil. -13). How gracious of the Lord! It is a wonderful truth to know He never sends us anywhere to do anything without His presence and provision. The promise of Scripture is always "my God shall supply all your need…" (Phil. 4:19). God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think to meet our needs. He has promised to supply according to His riches in glory - that's an infinite supply (Eph. ). Are we willing to trust God's promises and provision no matter how contrary to our ideas His provision seems?
Things do not just happen to us. They are the outworking of a sovereign God who works all things according to the council of His own will. He bends the path of our lives. Yet, God has not deserted us in those ups and downs or turns in the road. He is involved in our lives. When God puts a curve in our road, He is calling us to follow the curve, for we cannot straighten what God has bent (Ecc. 7). Yes, He bends the paths of our lives, but Scripture shows He does so out of love and wisdom. Again, this means God works and orchestrates all things in accordance with His deliberations and decisions based on His wisdom, power, and purposes. "But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases" (Ps. 115:3). Though much of the difficulty of life and all of the evil are caused by man's sinfulness, his foolishness, and Satan's activity, still God is in control, is aware of every detail, and allows and uses it all for His own wise purposes.
So, we have a principle: Based on the promises of Scripture, we can know that even the apparently normal happenings of life, like the drying of Elijah’s brook, are not without God's control and concern. Regardless of how it may look or seem to us, God is at work, concerned for us, and in control. He pleases to test us in order to build our character and transform us into the character of the Savior.
Our lot is to obey. Once Elijah knew for sure what
wanted, in simple trust, he simply obeyed. He waited at the brook until
ready for him to move. His obedience was a work of faith. Our friends
denominational world need to learn this lesson. Obedience is an act of
In Zarephath another important element is added to the scenario of Elijah's life. It's the element of personal ministry or outreach to others. The testing and needs of the prophet became a means of ministry to a poor widow and her son. Remember: The events of our lives, even our everyday and seemingly mundane affairs, are not without importance. They are certainly not without God's providential care as the One who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. ).
The events of life are tools and agents of the Almighty. He uses these to get our attention, to change our values, character, priorities, pursuits, and above all, to change our sources of trust for security and happiness. But let's never lose sight of the fact that the same events that test us often become the means by which God is able to use us in ministry to others. In other words, our trials often become vehicles for ministry, opportunities to manifest the life of Jesus Christ and the reality and power of God. We are not here for ourselves, even in our pain and need. God cares for us, but not just for us alone. He cares for others too, and often seeks to minister to the people around us through the character changes He is seeking to bring about through our own suffering or need.
Following the Lord in obedience is the outcome of spiritual life and spiritual awakening. Elijah had met the tests of the brook in faith. He did a small thing by just waiting on the Lord. He had not run ahead, nor run away to do his own thing, nor complained in discontent. What a person does with a small task is an indication of how he will handle a large one. Even the small things of life are tests of one's faith and of who is really in control of one's life.
God leads and directs us through His Word (which for us is the Bible) and through our communion with Him in Scripture. How important it is for us to commune with God in His Word so we can know the Word and use it for every decision we face. Too often Christians simply sit and soak. Because they are not using what they know in faith, they also eventually begin to sulk, and sour. Rather, God wants us to sit and soak up the Word; but then, by faith to strive for Him in the power of Christ. This means our availability to go wherever He wants us. It means our involvement and commitment.
God commands or wills things to take place and they do. He uses the conditions and dispositions of men and women and brings things to pass. God uses sources and instruments we would never choose, but in His wisdom He chooses them to accomplish His own purposes and to do exceeding abundantly beyond all we could ask or think (Eph. ). We should not be surprised then with the tools God sometimes uses. Often God either chooses the despised and the small (like me), or He reduces our resources - all to teach us that He is really the One who supplies. The Lord uses His sources of supply to humble us. God can use any of us. He can take whatever we have and multiply it many times over.
The question is what is our response when He chooses to use the poor and the weak in our lives? Do we thank Him for what He is doing? Or are we disappointed? The sources God chooses to use often test our submission and faith. We may think to ourselves, “How can God possibly supply through…?” The how is not important. God will show that in time. God only wants us to trust Him regardless of how things look to us. Never get your eyes on the instrument (like me) or the conditions. Look beyond the instrument to the real source of supply - the Lord.
When you and I measure what God is doing, we tend to measure it by what we see and think according to the natural man. We tend to measure God's supply or our confidence and hope in God's supply, by what we see. When we do this, we are walking by sight rather than by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). Remember, He leads us step‑by‑step one day at a time. He goes before us.
But the path of obedience is the path of faith that looks to God and not to circumstances both before and after the will of God is clear. Elijah did not judge according to sight, but according to God's character and divine essence. Elijah trusted in the promises of God. He didn't throw up his hands and say, “I don't believe this!” Therefore, Elijah forms a model for us. We can learn from Elijah about God and about ourselves - our needs, responsibilities in society, and our tendencies under the pressure of the conflict. Circumstances change, but the Lord never changes (Mal. 3:6). Our circumstances do not diminish the character and power of God. They can in no way change His faithfulness or omnipotence. The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
The story of the widow also involves what God was
do in the life of His people, the nation of
Sending Elijah to the widow reminds us of our responsibility to carry the Gospel to all men (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark -16). This also teaches us we should never take our blessings for granted. Being a Christian – a child of God - is a wonderful privilege, but privilege never guarantees success (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1‑13). It provides the basis for success, but we need to take heed how we use our blessings.
Principles: First, look beyond the circumstances to the Lord as Yahweh Yireh – the Lord who supplies. Second, never judge or measure God's supply by what you can see. He is the One who does exceeding abundantly beyond all we can ask or think (Eph. ). Third, ask God for the vision needed to see the opportunity for ministry lying, perhaps, right under your nose. Fourth, ask God for the compassion and love needed to reach out to others with His power and love. Fifth, know that the Lord is aware of your longings and turn them over to Him. Sixth, know also that your basic needs have been met in Christ. Knowing that, commit yourself to fulfilling God's purposes in your life.
Lesson 8: The Widow – Son Raised (Read 1 Kings 17:17-24)
First Kings introduces us to a tragic turn of events in the life of the widow. It's an event that affected both the widow and the Prophet. That's the way life is. Suffering affects all of us - or should. Your suffering may not be directly mine, but God has called us to be ready to minister and be there for one another (cf. Rom. ). This sudden turn of events, the death of the son, was not by accident. From God's perspective there are no accidents in the life of a Christian or with anyone for that matter. What happened here was the result of the sovereign will and purpose of God who works all things together for good (cf. Rom. ). God knows all the situations and trials of life and has from all eternity. In fact, He has decreed to bring them to pass or to allow them.
Some people think if they do the right things, follow the right principles, listen to the Bible, live around other Christians – life will flow along smoothly. But such an attitude is usually void of developing any real relationship with God wherein God alone becomes the sole source of strength and joy. Christlikeness is the primary good God wants for us. God is committed to transforming our lives into the image and likeness of His Son (Rom. -29).
The Lord knows that it is simply not good for us to float along without times of testing because so often we can't seem to stand prosperity. With prosperity comes the temptation to forget the Lord. Quite unexpectedly, in the midst of a period of God's supply and relative ease and quiet, disaster strikes. The widow's son is taken sick and actually dies. Tragedy brings to our remembrance that this world is not our home in Heaven. We live in a fallen world where sin and Satan are ever active. God wants us to long for the joys of eternity. In fact, it is this focus and hope of eternity, which is to lighten the burdens of this life (cf. 2 Cor. -18).
The widow felt guilt and thought perhaps she was to blame for the child's death. Because she did not understand what the Scripture teaches about suffering, she may have thought all suffering was caused by sin. Even today, people tend to see suffering either as a product of random, meaningless pain, or as caused by some sin. This results in living in a world of guilt and fear. That guilt and pain soon takes the form of despair, anger or resentment, and then blame. How typical and how ironic. When things take a turn we are not expecting, rather than looking up to the Lord to draw upon His resources and learn what He is seeking to teach us, we so often take out our anger on the very person or persons whom God has used to bless and minister to our lives.
Our need is to learn to see the problems of life and the sudden intrusions of pain on our world from the standpoint of the Almighty and His purpose in our lives. Suffering gives God an opportunity to manifest His power and the power of His Word through the production of godly character.
The raising of the widow’s son was also designed to teach another important truth. It shows the general purpose of miracles in the Bible. They occurred to confirm God's messengers and thus God's message of grace (; cf. Mark ; Heb. 2:3-4). Miracles were intended to confirm the validity of the gospel message being proclaimed. Signs were never designed to be mere blessings in the lives of select people.