Text: Matthew 17:1-13
I. The Bible is filled with memorable characters. Among the prophets, Elijah stands out.
A. We don’t know much about his background. He just suddenly appears on the scene forecasting doom to Ahab - I Kings 17:1
B. His name means “Yahweh is my God”
C. The word tishbe in Hebrew means “inhabitants” so one possible translation is “Elijah the Tishbite of Tishbe in Gilead.” [Easton’s Bible Dictionary]
1. Tishbe is thought to located where modern day Listib is, about 8 miles north of the Jabbock River in Gad.
D. He as a rough man
1. Hairy man, either of his body or clothing or both - II Kings 1:7-8
2. It seems he set a fashion trend for prophets - Zechariah 13:4; Matthew 3:4
3. Of his words, he was a blunt man – a characteristic that also described John the Baptist, which is why John was said to have come in the spirit of Elijah.
II. The Drought
A. Elijah comes on the scene to declare a drought. Brought on by his prayer - James 4:17
B. The reason for this was Ahab and Jezebel - I Kings 16:30-33
C. Notice that in I Kings 17:1 Elijah declares that he stands before the Living God and this is the reason the drought would come.
1. God lives. The gods Ahab served did not.
2. Elijah stood before God, that means he is present, though Ahab could not see him.
3. There was promise that it would not be permanent.
4. The reality of the drought established that Elijah was a prophet while punishing Israel, just as God promised long ago - Deuteronomy 11:13-17
D. God took care of Elijah
1. By the Brook of Cherith - I Kings 17:2-7
a. God hid His prophet to protect him from Ahab’s anger
b. Eventually the brook dried up from the drought
2. Bread for the widow - I Kings 17:8-16
a. Notice that he is now in Sidon, north of Israel
b. Jesus uses this to point out that God was impartial and while Israel mistreated the prophets, God brought benefits to Gentiles - Luke 4:25-26
3. Raising of the widow’s son - I Kings 17:16-24
a. Elijah must have been a good man, because when the widow’s son died, she thought it was because her past sins were being punished.
b. This is the first record of someone being brought back to life by a prophet
c. The widow had proof that Elijah was a prophet from the flour and oil, but now here is proof that could not be denied - Hebrews 11:35
E. It came time to face down Ahab - I Kings 18:1-2
1. While Elijah was gone, Jezebel was taking her frustrations out on the prophets of God - I Kings 18:3-4
2. While looking for grass to keep the animals alive, Obadiah ran across Elijah - I Kings 18:5-16
a. Notice that Elijah uses the same description he used over three years earlier to Ahab
3. Ahab blames Elijah for his woes. He learned nothing in the three and a half years - I Kings 18:17-18
a. Followers of righteousness will be persecuted - Matthew 5:10-12
b. The “trick” is to know that what is being said is false.
III. The Great Challenge
A. Elijah offered to prove his point with a contest between him and the prophets of Baal, witnessed by all of Israel - I Kings 18:19-20
B. Elijah asked Israel who they were following - I Kings 18:21
1. Notice no answer was given
2. Israel long tried to have it both ways - II Kings 17:33
3. Isn’t that what people today try to do with the world?
4. We have to be committed to the Lord - Matthew 6:24
5. Elijah was bold in confronting people with their sins - II Timothy 4:1-4
C. The challenge - I Kings 18:22-25
D. Baal’s failure - I Kings 18:26-29
1. People so often go out of their way to avoid offending people
2. It is not that Christians try to make themselves offensive, but we can’t avoid the truth to spare someone’s feelings - Matthew 15:12-14
E. God answers (notice the contrast) - I Kings 18:30-38
F. The false prophets were killed - I Kings 18:39-40
1. False teachers have to be confronted - Titus 3:10-11
2. We are at war with false ideas - II Corinthians 10:3-5
3. We must expose sin - Ephesians 5:11
G. To top it off, the rain was restored - I Kings 18:41-45
1. The power of prayer of a righteous man - James 5:17-18
H. Running faster than a chariot - I Kings 18:46
A. You would think that Elijah is now on top of the world. He has convinced everyone that God is Lord.
1. Yet it is at the heights we are often weakest
2. Jezebel threatens him with death - I Kings 19:1-2
B. Elijah didn’t think it through.
1. He forgot that God had taken care of him and protected him.
2. He didn’t think about God’s power
3. He didn’t recall that he stood before God
4. Instead, he ran - I Kings 19:3
C. Elijah wanted to die - I Kings 19:4
1. Why? It was a threat by one woman who God proved was powerless
2. But Elijah saw himself as a failure because he didn’t turn everyone to God as he wanted. He didn’t live up to his own expectations
3. Notice the lie he told himself to say he was alone. What happened to Obadiah and the 100 prophets he was hiding?
D. Notice God’s answer. He didn’t argue, but He didn’t listen either - I Kings 19:5-8
E. Not until forty days later, when Elijah had a chance to calm down, did God address the issue - I Kings 19:9-14
1. Notice how Elijah is holding on to his false view. Its been 40 days and he is still alive!
2. He is locked on thinking he failed. He has no answer but a desire to die.
F. God’s answer was, you’re wrong, get up and get busy - I Kings 19:15-18
1. Even now, Elijah is now not left alone - I Kings 19:19-21
G. For all of Elijah’s outstanding qualities and his direct bluntness, we see that he is still just a man, prone to failings, just as we are.
1. Even the apostles had struggles - II Corinthians 7:5-6
2. The solution is the same. Realize you aren’t alone and get busy.
V. Naboth’s Vineyard
A. Things appear to quiet down until Ahab wanted to expand his property and Jezebel arranged a murder to get it for her husband - I Kings 21:1-16
B. Elijah is sent to condemn them both - I Kings 21:17-24
1. Notice that Ahab continues to see Elijah as his enemy
2. Elijah is the messenger. It is God who is opposing Ahab
C. Despite his evil, Ahab relents - I Kings 21:25-29
VI. The sin of Ahaziah, Ahab’s son
A. Ahaziah consults Baal regarding an injury - II Kings 1:2
B. But God has Elijah intercept the messengers - II Kings 1:3-8
C. Ahaziah wants to hear this for himself and tries to have Elijah brought in - II Kings 1:9-15
D. The news isn’t any better in person - II Kings 1:16-17
VII. The Chariot of Fire
A. Elijah is told that he would be taken to heaven. Elisha refuses to leave Elijah - II Kings 2:1-7
1. Remember when Elijah thought he was the only one left? Now he cannot be left.
B. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit - II Kings 2:8-10
1. Elisha is not asking for twice Elijah’s power.
2. A double portion refers to inheritance. Elisha is asking to be Elijah’s replacement when he goes.
3. Elijah points out that it isn’t his to give, but if he sees Elijah go, then he’ll know that God has granted his wish.
C. Elijah is taken - II Kings 2:11-18
1. Quite a dramatic end for a dynamic man.
VIII. Why do we look at such stories?
A. For our admonition - I Corinthians 10:11
B. For our learning - Romans 15:4