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                         "ELIJAH THE TISHBITE"

                       1 Kings 17-21, 2 Kings 1-2

INTRODUCTION

1. A remarkable event in the ministry of Jesus was His
   transfiguration...
   a. Transfigured before Peter, James and John - Mt 17:1-2
   b. Joined by Moses and Elijah, then exalted by the Father - Mt 17:3-8
   c. Followed by questions related to Elijah - Mt 17:9-13

2. We might also ask questions about Elijah...
   a. Why did he appear with Moses and Jesus?
   b. Of all the prophets of the OT who could have appeared, why him?

3. Elijah was certainly a remarkable individual...
   a. "the grandest and the most romantic character that Israel ever
      produced." - Smith
   b. "mightiest of all the prophets" - Keil & Delitzsch
   c. "the most eminent of the prophets" - Wesley

4. Yet he is described as...
   a. "a man with a nature like ours" - Jm 5:17
   b. "of the same constitution, a human being just as ourselves are."
      - Clarke
   c. "a mere man, subject to the same weaknesses and infirmities as
      other men." - Barnes
   -- He appears to have suffered from discouragement and depression

[How did such a man become the greatest of prophets?  What lessons might
he offer us in our service to God?  Let's take a closer look, beginning
with...]

I. ELIJAH, THE MAN

   A. HIS NAME...
      1. The name Elijah means "Yahweh is my God." - Barnes
      2. In the NT, some translations render his name as "Elias" - Mt
         17:3 (KJV)

   B. HIS ORIGIN...
      1. "This prophet is introduced as abruptly as Melchisedek--his
         birth, parents, and call to the prophetic office being alike
         unrecorded." - JFB
      2. He is called "the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead"
         - 1Ki 17:1
      3. His origin is uncertain
         a. Some think "Tishbeh" was a city in Galilee; others, in
            Gilead
         b. Some have even supposed that he was an Ishmaelite, not an
            Israelite, sent to rebuke and shame the apostate Israel
            - JFB
         c. Some have even opined that he was an angel of God, though
            this can be countered by James' statement (Jm 5:17) - Clarke

   C. HIS APPEARANCE...
      1. "A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist." - 2 Kin
         1:7-8; cf. John, Mt 3:4
      2. "That is, he wore a rough garment, either made of camels' hair,
         as his successor John Baptist's was, or he wore a skin dressed
         with the hair on. Some think that the meaning is, he had very
         long hair and a long beard. The ancient prophets all wore rough
         garments, or upper coats made of the skins of beasts: They
         wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, says the apostle,
         He 11:37." - Clarke
      3. "His costume was that of a thorough ascetic. Generally the Jews
         wore girdles of linen or cotton stuff, soft and comfortable.
         Under the girdle they wore one or two long linen gowns or
         shirts, and over these they had sometimes a large shawl. Elijah
         had only his leather girdle and his sheepskin cape or
         'mantle.'" - Barnes

[Even in his day, Elijah would have been considered "strange".  Yet we
can't help but be impressed by this remarkable man as we consider...]

II. ELIJAH, HIS MINISTRY

   A. THE JUDGMENT OF DROUGHT...
      1. The proclamation to Ahab - 1Ki 17:1
         a. Note the wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel - 1Ki 16:29-33
         b. The prophecy sworn by "the Lord God of Israel...before whom
            I stand"
         c. By his word there will be neither dew nor rain for three
            years
      2. God's care of Elijah
         a. By the Brook Cherith - 1Ki 17:2-7
         b. At the widow of Zarephath - 1Ki 17:8-24
            1) The miracle of the bin of flour and jar of oil
            2) The raising of the widow's son
      3. His reappearance before Ahab
         a. Commanded by the Lord -1Ki 18:1-2
         b. Arranged by Obadiah - 1Ki 18:3-16
         c. Falsely accused of being a "troubler of Israel" - 1 Kin
            18:17-18

   B. THE CHALLENGE ON MOUNT CARMEL...
      1. Challenging Israel and her false prophets - 1Ki 18:19-20
         a. The 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah
         b. Supported by Jezebel, Ahab's wife
      2. The challenge to Israel - 1Ki 18:21
         a. "How long will you falter between two opinions?"
         b. "If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him."
      3. The test between Elijah and the prophets of Baal
         a. The test explained - 1Ki 18:22-24
         b. The prophets of Baal go first, and fail - 1Ki 18:25-29
         c. Elijah's remarkable victory - 1Ki 18:31-39
         d. The prophets of Baal executed at the Brook Kishon - 1 Kin
            18:40
      4. The drought comes to an end as Elijah prays - 1Ki 18:41-46

   C. THE FLIGHT FOR HIS LIFE...
      1. His life threatened by Jezebel
         a. Forced to flee to Beersheba in Judah - 1Ki 19:1-3
         b. His despondency and desire for death - 1Ki 19:4
      2. His journey to Horeb
         a. The provisions by an angel - 1Ki 19:5-7
         b. Strengthened for 40 days and nights - 1Ki 19:8
      3. His discouragement and the Lord's response
         a. Despite his success, he feels all is lost - 1Ki 19:9-10
         b. The lesson from the Lord - 1Ki 19:11-12
         c. Elijah's despondency remains - 1Ki 19:13-14
         d. The Lord's new duties for Elijah - 1Ki 19:15-17
            1) Anoint Hazael as king over Syria
            2) Anoint Jehu as king over Israel
            3) Anoint Elisha as prophet in his place
         e. He is not alone, there are many others! - 1Ki 19:18
      4. Elisha becomes Elijah's servant - 1Ki 19:19-21

   D. HIS MESSAGES TO AHAB AND AHAZIAH...
      1. Elijah rebukes Ahab regarding Naboth
         a. Jezebel has Naboth killed so Ahab can have his vineyard
            - 1Ki 21:1-16
         b. Elijah announces shameful deaths for Ahab and Jezebel
            - 1Ki 21:17-26
         c. Ahab's humility delays judgment - 1Ki 21:27-29
      2. Elijah rebukes Ahaziah for inquiring of Baal
         a. Injured, Ahaziah son of Ahab, sends an inquiry to Baal-Zebub
            - 2Ki 1:1-2
         b. Elijah is sent to turn the messengers back to Ahaziah with a
            rebuke and a prophecy concerning his death - 2Ki 1:3-8
         c. Three companies of soldiers are sent to bring Elijah to the
            king
            1) Two are consumed by fire from heaven - 2Ki 1:9-12
            2) The third is spared by the plea of its captain - 2Ki 1:
               13-15
         d. In person, Elijah again rebukes Ahaziah and foretells his
            death - 2Ki 1:16-17

   F. HIS JOURNEY TO HEAVEN...
      1. Elisha accompanies Elijah from Gilgal to Bethel, and on to
         Jericho - 2Ki 2:1-5
         a. The 'sons of the prophets' at Bethel tell Elisha that Elijah
            is about to be taken away
         b. The 'sons of the prophets' at Jericho tell Elisha the same
            thing
      2. Elisha accompanies Elijah across the Jordan River - 2Ki 2:
         6-10
         a. Elisha refuses to stay in Jericho
         b. Fifty 'sons of the prophets follow them down to the Jordan
         c. Elijah strikes the river with his mantle; he and Elisha
            cross on dry ground
         d. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah's spirit
      3. Elijah is transported to heaven - 2Ki 2:11-18
         a. A chariot of fire with horses of fire appears
         b. Elijah is taken by a whirlwind to heaven, witnessed by
            Elisha
         c. Elisha returns, the 'sons of the prophets' fail to find
            Elijah

[A remarkable end for a remarkable man!  And yet we recall that he was
"a man with a nature like ours" (Jm 5:17).  What can we learn from a man
like Elijah...?]

III. ELIJAH, HIS MESSAGE

   A. THE POWER OF PRAYER...
      1. This is the application made by James - Jm 5:16-18
         a. Encouraging us to pray for one another
         b. Extolling the value of prayer by a righteous man
         c. Referring to the example of Elijah and the three and half
            year drought
         d. Whose prayer was answer providentially, not supernaturally
            - cf. 1Ki 18:41-45
      2. Do we believe in the power of prayer?
         a. When God is One who hears prayer? - Ps 65:2
         b. When Jesus taught the power of believing prayer? - Mk 11:24
         c. When James wrote concerning the prayer of faith? - Jm 5:15
         d. When John wrote the value of prayer according to God's will?
            - 1Jn 5:14-15

   B. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD...
      1. God provided time and again for the needs of Elijah
         a. By the Brook Cherith, through the ravens that brought him
            food
         b. At the house of the widow at Zarephath
         c. Fleeing from Jezebel, when an angel brought him bread and
            water
      2. Do we believe in the providential care of God?
         a. Promised by Jesus to those who seek first God's kingdom?
            - Mt 6:31-34
         b. Proclaimed by Jesus to those who leave all to follow Him?
            - Mk 10:29-30
         c. Promised by Paul in his writings? - Php 4:19; 2Co 9:8

   C. THE NEED FOR COMMITMENT...
      1. Elijah was the prophet of commitment
         a. He was willing to 'stand' for the Lord in the face of
            adversaries - 1Ki 17:1
         b. He called on Israel to make the right choice - 1Ki 18:21
      2. Are we willing to make a commitment for the Lord?
         a. To choose the right Master? - Mt 6:24
         b. To serve the One who has the power to free us from sin? - Ro
            6:16-18
         c. To love the Father instead of the world? - 1Jn 2:15-17
         d. To serve the Lord with zeal? - Re 3:15-16

   D. THE CHALLENGE OF DISCOURAGEMENT...
      1. Elijah was not beyond becoming discouraged and depressed
         a. He wanted to die, feeling that he had failed - 1Ki 19:4
         b. He had been zealous for the Lord, but thought none had
            listened - 1Ki 19:14
         c. The Lord's response was to put Elijah to work, and reveal
            that he was not alone - 1Ki 19:15-18
      2. Do we find ourselves getting discouraged and depressed?
         a. Even the apostles were not immune to such emotions - 2 Co
            7:5
         b. Yet God, who comforts the downcast, is the God of all
            comfort - 2Co 7:6; 1:3-4
         c. The solution remains the same:  remember you are not alone,
            and get busy in service to the Lord!

   E. THE CONSEQUENCE OF SIN...
      1. The terrible consequences of sin are illustrated time and again
         a. The drought on Israel
         b. The judgment on the prophets of Baal
         c. The deaths of Jezebel and Ahab
      2. Do we truly appreciate the consequences of sin?
         a. The physical toll that is often experienced even in this
            life?
            1) The absence of God's providential care in our lives
            2) The effects of immorality and worldliness on our bodies
               and our minds?
         b. The spiritual toll that will be experienced in this life and
            the one to come?
            1) Separation from God now so that He will not hear our
               prayers - cf. Isa 59:1-2
            2) Eternal separation from God if we remain in our sins
               - cf. Ro 6:23; Re 21:8

   F. THE HOPE OF THE RIGHTEOUS...
      1. Elijah illustrates the hope of the righteous who persevere to
         the end
         a. He was translated to heaven, so death had no power over him
         b. He appeared in glory when Jesus was transfigured, conversing
            with Him - Lk 9:28-32
      2. What is the hope of the righteous today who persevere to the
         end?
         a. The dead will be raised incorruptible, the living changed,
            so death no longer has any power - 1Co 15:50-54
         b. They shall receive rest, and be glorified together with
            Christ! - 2Th 1:7-12

CONCLUSION

1. The life and lessons of Elijah the Tishbite is a wonderful story...
   a. Written for our admonition - cf. 1Co 10:11
   b. Written for our learning, that we might have patience, comfort and
      hope - cf. Ro 15:4

2. May his life inspire us to heed his lessons...
   a. The power of prayer           d. The challenge of discouragement
   b. The providence of God         e. The consequence of sin
   c. The need for commitment       f. The hope of the righteous

For just as Elijah consumed the soldiers with fire from heaven, so the
day will come...

   "...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty
   angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know
   God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus
   Christ." - 2Th 1:7-8

Are you ready for that day?  Hear again the words of Elijah...

   "How long will you falter between two opinions?  If the Lord is
   God, follow Him..."
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