1 Kings 19:1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
Here is a story about Elijah which most of us have heard before and perhaps many times before, and so we ask ourselves what is the direction we need to take in this message so that we may gain some insight for ourselves.
Knowing the history of this text—that is what has already transpired, namely Elijah had had a contest with the 400 false prophets of Baal and when they failed, he had them killed—Now Jezebel, the queen—is so furious that she swore an oath to kill him. And as our text says, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”
Somehow or the other, the God who stood by Elijah during this contest against 400 priests was unable to defend him against one woman, albeit a queen—or so he thought!
That reminds me of this hymn:
1. The Lord hath helped me hitherto by His surpassing favor;
His mercies every morn were new, His kindness did not waver.
God hitherto hath been my Guide, hath pleasures hitherto supplied,
And hitherto hath helped me.
And then to be able to make this connection to our own life so as to believe:
3. Help me henceforth, O God of grace, help me on each occasion,
Help me in each and every place, help me through Jesus’ Passion;
Help me in life and death, O God, help me through Jesus’ dying blood;
Help me as Thou hast helped me!
There is not one person here this evening who hasn’t been blessed by God in some outstanding way. We could pause now and give testimonies of how God resolved some problem for us, averted some problem, saved us from some situation—as the Small Catechism says, without any merit or worthiness in us—in other words, something we could not have done on our own. Yet—when faced with new problems, we like Elijah, seem to forget that with God all things are possible and He who helped us hitherto—is still present and concerned about our welfare.
Like that father concerned about his son when Jesus asked him if he had faith he answered, Lord, “I believe, help Thou my unbelief.”
Our text goes on: Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. … He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
God not only did not give up on him, but continued with him and in supernatural ways provided for him and strengthened him.
Recall the time when Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone who sinned against him. Peter suggested seven times. Jesus corrected him and said, seventy times seven. That is most likely something we would not do, namely keep a record—in fact 1 Corinthians says we are not to keep records of wrong doings. (Makes me wonder about some Christians who do in fact keep records!) Quote “Love keeps no record of wrong doings” ( I have had members come to me with lists all made up.—had they ever read 1 Corinthians?
Well, the Bible also says, “God is love.” Now put rwo and two together and realize that God is not keeping a record of our sins. And why? “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, no longer counting our sins against us.” And what does “not counting” imply? No record keeping!
That is what Jesus explained in in John 5. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
Do you believe in Jesus? That He lived a perfect life in your place and died for your sins and was raised again? Then you will not face the judgment! Your name is written in the Book of Life, and at your last breath Jesus will receive you with open arms and welcome you into heaven to be with Him until that Last Day when the trumpets will blow and the New Kingdom begins!
Elijah! A man of great faith, but at times a wavering faith. But God loved him and watched over him, just as He has done for you and will continue to do.
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