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53. I Kings 19: “Cures for Evil Times”
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 7/16/2015
(edited September 2020)
The Prophet Elijah was personally called by the Lord to do great things. He was “touched by God” in body and spirit and had a wonderful and mostly very confident ministry, though a very challenging one.
In his day, Elijah single-handedly delivered Ancient Israel from the worship of Baal. This was a horrible religion that amounted to Devil-worship and included the practice of the sacrificial deaths (I can hardly say it) of children. And, of course, Baal worship was causing Ancient Israel to turn their backs on the One True God Who had called them out of slavery in Egypt.
At a very famous showdown, Elijah humiliated and then slew the prophets of Baal. They had assembled to defeat and, would have probably slain him! At the center of all the corruption in the Northern Kingdom of Israel was their King. King Ahab was a Jew who had married a Baal-worshipping foreigner named…you guessed it, Jezebel.
Our study tonight, in I Kings chapter 19, picks up the action right after Elijah’s great confrontation with the prophets of Baal:
Verses 1-2: “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.”
Is the battle between good and evil still around today? I would say, yes it definitely is! We are living in, and attempting to serve the Lord in evil times. And, as was true with Elijah, we may sometimes anger people who have little respect for God, or for us, or for our faith in God.
Verses 3-4: “And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
Elijah definitely felt he was in danger. And for what? All he had done was attempt to serve the Lord and set things right in Israel. Yet here he was, in big trouble. Notice that it wasn’t even safe for his servant to be near him. Then Elijah, who so recently must have been at such a spiritual high point, became depressed. Is it any wonder that this can happen to us today when Satan attacks our ministries?
Verses 5-8: “And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.”
God never calls an individual and then abandons that person. It might feel that way if times get tough, but that is NEVER true. Look how tender the Lord is actually being with Elijah. And that is the same God we serve today!
Verses 9-13: “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake 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: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”
Elijah was one spiritually rugged individual but in truly evil times, EVERONE GETS SCARED at some point. The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament indicates that even Christ was fearful at Gethsemane (see Heb 5:7-9). So, friend, whether it’s Elijah in this cave, or you and me barely holding on in one of our ministries today, God is still God. And He offers help to those in trouble.
Cure #1: FIND the VOICE of GOD
When evil times come, we need to diligently seek out and find God’s True voice. And let me offer you this hint: just as it was with Elijah, the Lord’s voice is most likely not among the ones screaming at you! You may have to really listen for Him. And, in our day, your search must always be guided by the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
Verses 14-18: “ And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
Cure #2: FIND UNITY with OTHER BELIEVERS
Unity with our fellow believers is essential all the time, but especially in evil days. That’s when Satan really tries to isolate us. That’s why coming to church and worship gatherings like this one matter even all the more in evil times! Fellowship and teamwork are powerful weapons of faith. Elijah, for all his enlightenment, was ignorant of the network of fellow-servants the Lord had placed all around him. Today, no one is meant to serve the Lord as a “Lone-Ranger.” God will not lead you in that direction! We are all part of a body, the Body of Christ. Working together we will accomplish much more than we can apart and, together, we also bring spiritual nourishment to each other. That is a double blessing that makes fellowship worth pursuing.
Verses 19-21: “ So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”
Elijah was empowered and called by God. He was successful in facing down the spiritual enemies of The Kingdom Israel. But, somehow, even all that wasn’t enough. He lived in evil days and so do we. And along with his great victories came some defeats, too. Whether we are spiritually succeeding at the moment or not, Satan will keep coming at us. To make it through we need to to listen for God’s voice and direction and to embrace and support the lives and ministries of other believers around us and allow them to share our load. Is there an “Elisha” near you right now that needs your fellowship and encouragement? Let’s pray.