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Elijah: Prophet Of Courage And Confrontation

Sermon #7

1 Kings 18:41-46


Intro: The prophet Elijah has just been used by the Lord to accomplish a great miracle. He has just prayed a simple prayer and God has opened the heavens and sent down fire, proving Himself to be Lord of all. Elijah has just seen the people of Israel bow before God and proclaim their faith and allegiance to Him. Elijah has just killed the 450 Baal prophets. His day has been a busy one to say the least. Most of us would have been looking around for an easy chair so we could rest up. But not Elijah!

You see, the land of Israel has been languishing under a three and one-half year drought. Because of the drought people are starving, tens of thousands have died and the nation is in a desperate condition. Of course, there has been no rain because of the idolatry of the people. Now, they have repented, the Baal priests are dead and it is time for God to open the heavens and send down the much needed rain.

So, instead of walking off into the sunset to savor his victory over evil, Elijah gets to work again to see that the rain comes like God promised it would. He teaches us the lesson in this passage that there is no quitting place. There will never come a day in your walk with God when you will have the opportunity to sit down and do nothing. Many are doing just that, but it isn't because there is nothing to do. It isn't because the Lord is allowing them to sit idle either. They sit because, unlike Elijah, they have never learned the truth that a child of God's work is never done!

We have all heard the old saying, "A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done." That is a true saying for many women! The same can be said about a servant of the Lord as well. When a person has arrived at the place where they are totally sold out to the will of God for their life, they will never stop serving until He calls them home. Let's join Elijah in the aftermath of his great victory on Carmel and learn the lesson that A Prophet's Work Is Never Done. There are three characteristics displayed by Elijah in these verses that teach us how we can stay busy in the Lord's work all the time.


(Ill. The rain - Elijah knew rain was coming. How? The ear of faith hears what the eye of flesh cannot of see! When a man reaches the place where the din of the world is shut out, he can hear the caravan of God's blessing before it ever appears in his sight. Ill/ Jacob and his sorrow over Joseph. He was so caught up in his grief that he never heard the wagons coming. It wasn't until he saw them with his eyes that he knew what God had done, Gen. 45:25-28. Blessed is the man who doesn't have to see to believe - John 20:29.)

(Ill. In this verses, we can see that Elijah was a man who believed the promises of God. He believed them so much that he was willing to claim them and live in them. Someone has taken the time to count them and they tell us that there are over 7,000 promises in the Bible. However, only a fool thinks he can claim all of them for himself! Some were personal promises made to individuals, others were universal promises made to all. Mark 16:18 is an example of a personal promise that some are trying to make universal. It just won't work! Joshua 6:3-5 is another personal promise given to a specific people at a specific time for a specific purpose. You have no right to claim it for yourself now!

However, I can claim Romans 10:13; 1 Thes. 4:16-17; Phil. 4:19; Psa. 103:11-13; Pro. 3:5-6; Matt. 7:7-8; John 14:13. Do you see the difference? Do you see the danger in trying to claim a promise that was not given to you?

There are other promises in the Bible that are either conditional or unconditional. If I am going to claim a conditional promise, then I must meet all the conditions. For instance, Matt. 21:22 says, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." If that promise is going to work for me, then I must pray in absolute faith. It is conditional. However, Psalm 119:105, which says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Is an unconditional promise and is given without strings attached.

In these verses, we see that Elijah is claiming a promise that is both personal, and conditional, 1 Kings 18:1. With that little primer on promises in mind, let's see how we can be active as a promise claimer.

(Ill. His confidence was based on:

A. The Precious Word Of God - In 1 Kings 18:1, God told Elijah to confront Ahab and He would send the rain. Elijah did as he was commanded, and he knew the rain was coming. Elijah believed God when God said something.

(Ill. Friends, we serve a God Who is able to keep His promises - Rom. 4:21; Matt. 5:18; Heb. 6:18; Eph. 3:20.)

B. The Perfect Will Of God - In 1 Kings 17:1, Elijah had been God's instrument to bring the drought upon the nation. Elijah knew that the drought had been sent because of the idolatry of the people. The rain had stopped because the people were worshiping Baal instead of Jehovah. Now, the Baal prophets were dead, the people had repented and had returned to the Lord God. Elijah knew it was time for the rains to return.

(Ill. When God's will had been revealed about a matter, it is settled already. It will be done! Then, some may ask, "Why bother to pray about it?" Because, God's promises are not given to restrict our prayer life, but to energize it! When God reveals His will in a matter, we have direction, purpose and power in prayer. We can pray specifically about a situation with the confidence that God will so as He has purposed and willed. Take Phil. 4:19 as an example. There, God has show us that it is His will to meet the needs of His children. This verse, coupled with Matt. 6:25-34, tells us that God will supply the needs we have. Therefore, we can pray with absolute confidence concerning the needs that arise in our lives.)

C. The Prior Work Of God - Elijah knew that he could trust God to send the rain because of all that he had already seen the Lord do. Remember, he had already witnessed the faithfulness of God at the brook, in the barrel, with the boy, in the bull and over Baal. He has seen the Lord work many miracles before and there was no reason to think that God could not continue to move in power and glory.

(Ill. I would just like to remind you that God has not changed! He is still the same God today that He has ever been, Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17. Think of all the promises He kept and the power He demonstrated in the past, (Noah, 3 Hebrews, Daniel, Manna, Red Sea, Water from Rock, Empty Tomb, etc.) What He has been able to do He can still do! In fact, I believe that we have never even seen the fullest extent of His power revealed! If He can save a sinner from Hell, then He can do anything, Luke 1:37!)

(Ill. There is work to be done by those who will labor in the area of claiming God's promises and taking Him at His Word.)

I. Elijah The Promise Claimer


(Ill. In these verses, we can se a major contrast between Elijah the prophet and Ahab the king. There reactions and actions in the aftermath of the events on Carmel reveal much about the condition of their hearts. Our main focus this morning is Elijah, but let's try to glean all we can and look at these two men for just a moment. Notice what they did, it reveals who they are.)

A. Ahab Went to His Feast - As soon as this powerful manifestation of God is concluded, Ahab's first thought is to feed his flesh. He heads up to his pavilion to eat and drink. There appears to be no conviction, no concern over the dead Baal prophets, no hint of sorrow or repentance. Ahab cares for nothing but Ahab. He is a sad figure and this is revealed by noting some truths about his attitude and his actions.

1. Ahab was weak in all this. Notice him ordered about by Elijah. Why weak? He was totally controlled by his flesh!

(Ill. Those who live in the flesh may talk big and act strong, but they are, in fact, the weakest of men. The true strong men is one who rules, not is ruled by, his passions.)

2. Ahab's focus after such a stirring meeting reveals the true condition of his heart. Instead of bowing before the Lord in repentance and sorrow, Ahab walks off to feed his flesh.

(Ill. Like so many who attend church, their bodies are there, but their hearts and minds are thousands of miles away. You see, our hearts are revealed by what we think about during service, where we rush off to after service and by what we get the most excited about. Some can't even sit through an entire service! By the way, you attention span for spiritual things is a barometer of your spiritual growth! Some folks can't seem to sit still through a 45 minute sermon, but they can sit for hours and watch a ball game or a race. It's all a matter of your priorities! This sad state of affairs is seen clearly when one compares the interest in prayer meeting as opposed to an eating meeting!)

3. Ahab is never confronted by Elijah concerning his sins. Why? Ahab wouldn't have heard it! Ahab had not come to the place where he could see the condition of his own heart.

(Ill. So it is in the church today. The preacher preaches on sin and people sit unaffected, unmoved and act as though the message were given to everyone but them. That is why lots of folks can continue to live their lives in rebellion to the Lord! They simply cannot see the condition of their own heart. Oh, they can see the sin in their neighbors life! They can see where the message affects someone they know. Yet, they cannot see how they might be wrong in their own life. Jesus has a word for folks like that, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.", Matt. 7:3-5. Got any Ahab's here this morning?)

B. Elijah Went To His Father - While Ahab wandered off the feed the flesh, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel to meet the Father. Even though the Baal prophets were dead and gone, there was still work to be done. It was time for the man who believed God to call on His Name and finish the task he had been given. I want to examine Elijah's prayer so that we can learn more about genuine faith praying. But, before we do that, I just want to point out a couple of truths that need to be mentioned as we contrast these men this morning.

1. Why did Elijah go to the top of the mountain alone? Why didn't he invite Ahab to join him? Because those who are spiritual must separate themselves from those who are cold spiritually! If you allow yourself to be influenced by those who are cold in their walk with God, they will lower your spiritual temperature.

2. Just like Ahab, Elijah hadn't eaten or drank all day. Why didn't Elijah go have nice meal before he prayed? Because he was like Jesus. He had meat that others knew nothing about, John 4:31-32. That is the difference between the mediocre believer and the spiritual giant! The mediocre believer allows the needs and desires of the flesh to come ahead of God. The spiritual giant, on the other hand, thrives in the presence of God. Nothing thrills the spiritual giant any more than getting alone in the presence of God and feeding on Him!

(Ill. Now with that in mind, let's spend a few minutes looking at Elijah's prayer. How he prayed can help us to be more effective prayer warriors for the glory of God.)

1. He Was Humble - v. 42b, He bowed himself before the presence of the Lord. The man of God had stood tall as an ambassador of the Lord, now he bows low as an intercessor before the Lord! It would do us good to remember that God does not exist merely to answer our prayers or fulfill our wishes. He is God and he will honor the person who comes into his presence humbly, 1 Pet. 5:5-6; James 4:6; 10. (Ill. All we need do is remember the condition and that will help us to be humble in the presence of the Lord.

2. He Was Specific - v. 43, James 5:17-18 tells us that Elijah was very specific in his prayer life. He did not waste time on mere generalities, but he prayed in faith specifically naming the things that needed to be done. God honors this kind of praying! If you do not pray specifically, you will never know when the ord answers your prayer! Pray specifically about the things you want to see done!

3. He Was Earnest - Elijah was sincere about his prayer, James 5:16-18. He did not take a spiritless attitude toward his prayer life, but he prayed with fervency. His soul was moved with the need of the people. He felt the pressure of the thing he prayed for! May the Lord deliver us from flippant prayer that avails nothing! May the church regain the desire for availing, fervent prayer! Prayer that moves the soul and lines our will up with that of the Heavenly Father. After all, that is the purpose of prayer: to bring us to the same place God is at already in regard to our request!

4. He Was Persistent - v. 43, eight times the servant is told to go and look toward the sea. Seven times there is nothing there. Yet, Elijah kept praying and kept believing. He did not allow the outward circumstance affect his inward assurance that the answer was on the way. He was persistent! Sometimes, like Elijah, we will experience delays in answers to our prayers. Why is this? One writer said it this way, "Ii s not that God is hard to persuade; it is that He will have us mean what we say." There are times when God will answer prayer immediately. However, there are times when the answer is delayed. When those times come, God would have us continue faithful in prayer, waiting on His answer. Let us learn to be patient! It is in perseverance in prayer that the flesh is brought low ans faith allowed to soar to its highest heights! God would have us never give up! If he has put something in your heart, pray until it becomes a reality!

5. He Was Expectant - v. 41, 43 - Elijah kept praying and kept sending his servant to look to the sea. Why? Because he was operating in faith in the promise of God. He knew the rains were coming. He was expecting big things from God! (Note: the word for "rain" in verse 41 refers to a heavy downpour. Elijah was expecting big things from a big God!)

If we are ever going to see real success in our prayer lives, we must learn to pray with expectancy! We must pray and believe that God will do what He has promised to do, Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Nothing cripples faith nearly so often as the sin of unbelief, James 1:6-8; Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23.

6. He Was Answered - v. 44 - On the eighth trip, the servant saw a little cloud rising out of the sea. When this news is brought to Elijah, the prophet knew that God's answer had come. His prayers had prevailed and God was sending the rains!

Friends, we serve a God Who still answers the prayers of His children, Jer. 33:3; Isa. 65:24, 1 John 5:14-15. He would have us know that real, faith praying is not a waste of time! God honors the prays of His people, because the prayers of His people honor Him!

(Ill. It is easy to see the contrast between these two men. If you were perfectly honest this morning which of these two men best describes the life you live?)

I. Elijah The Promise Claimer

II. Elijah The Prayer Warrior


(Ill. We are told that when the rains came, Ahab left in his chariot. After three and one-half years of drought, a torrential rain would turn the ground to mud in no time. Therefore, Ahab wanted to beat the rain back to Jezreel. His iron chariot wheels would bog down in the mud and cause him problems traveling. As he went, suddenly ,he heard the pounding of sandals against the muddy ground. Ahab looks over just in time to see Elijah pass him and run in front of him the 18 miles to the gate of Jezreel. I am reminded of those old Roadrunner cartoons. I find this to be very humorous!)

A. The Source Of His Power - After the strenuous activity of the day, how did Elijah possess the ability to run that far that fast? The Bible says that "The hand of the Lord was on Elijah." When a person is enabled by God, he can do things that are beyond the scope of ordinary men! He gives strength, stamina and ability to those who will walk in His power. As Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.", Phil. 4:13. While Ahab was bogged down in the mud of sameness and mediocrity, Elijah ran with hand of God upon his life and excelled! What a difference! I don't know about you, but I want the power of God on me!

B. The Secret Of His Preparation - we are told that Elijah "girded up his loins". That is he wrapped his mantle about him and tucked the end of his robe into his belt and ran. Why the preparations? If he has tried to run without girding his loins, he would have been tangled up in his garments and would have fallen. He cleared every possible obstacle so that he could run better. What a lesson for those who want to run with God! Let us heed the words of Paul in Hebrews 12:1-2, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." If we will run well, we must rid our lives of those things that would hinder our progress. All the weights, all the sins, all must fall by the wayside if we will run with patience and power the race we have been given! What needs to be removed from your life?

C. The Strategy Of His Purpose - What is the significance of this event? Ancient kings were always preceded by a runner. This runner would announce the approach of the king and clear any obstacles that might hinder the kings chariot from traveling the road. When Elijah ran ahead of Ahab, he was making a statement. Elijah was in effect saying, "Ahab, I am a man of God and I hate sin and idolatry. However, I respect your office and I am willing to submit to you as my king, as you submit to God as yours." Elijah wanted Ahab to know that his stand against Baal was nothing personal, it was just his zeal for the Lord! For Elijah, this was a statement of humility! He simply assumed the role of a servant.

There is just this thought for us this morning: God's work in our lives will never make us cocky or mean! There are those who have been used of the Lord after a fashion, who become lifted up in pride and feel that they are better than others. A true servant is always humbled by God's activity in his life. This humility is always revealed in a desire to serve others first, Mark 10:44, Matt. 23:12. Do you understand what I am saying? God's work in your life will not lift you up, but it will cause you to see your own unworthiness before God. It will produce within you a desire to serve in His name! It is to be noted that Ahab did not offer Elijah a ride in his chariot. The sinful can only think of themselves. The saved servants are forced to think of others first. What a difference!

Conc: The battle had been won, but the work was not finished! Elijah still needed to claim some promises, prayer some prayers and run on for the glory of God. My friends, there is no room for quitting in the family of God. If you are tired and weary and contemplating a season of spiritual retirement, may I encourage you to reconsider this morning? There is still work to be done. Promises must be claimed, prayers must be prayed, God still wants His people to run with patience the race of life for His glory. If there is a need in your life today, will you bring it to the Lord? Whether it is a need for salvation, repentance, rededication, help in a situation or whatever, God has all you need. Will you come?

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