1 Kings

1 Kings 17:2-6 – Elijah: Moulding the Man

1 Kings 17v2-6

 

Elijah: Moulding the Man

 

Introduction.

 

Some people are so busy that the thought of stopping and taking time out scares them.

Some talk about time out and mean a weekend away – a few weeks holiday in the sun and then back into the fray.

On the other hand, for some life is so very organised and routine and comfortable that the thought of doing something different or radical is frightening.

 

As Christians we say that we want God’s blessing // we want him to use us in his service // we sing about our willingness to do whatever our Lord wants // we pray that he will develop in us a Christlike character //… BUT I wonder how sincere we [ and I mean we – including me ] … how sincere and genuine we really are!

 

The story of Elijah, and many other great men and women of God, shows us that there is a cost involved in serving God AND that really God is far more concerned about our character than he is about our gifts and talents!

 

There are times when God wants us to stop the mad activity and be alone with him. Then there are others times when he requires us to be different, to be radical for him, to be willing to change and to take risks of faith.

Elijah has just been through an adrenaline-rush experience – He has stood boldly in front of the King of the nation and told him a thing or two about who controls the rain.

 

Surely now God wants to capitalise on this remarkable act – a national tour perhaps? Doing the rounds of the TV studios – ‘Breakfast with Frost’ ‘Question Time with David Dimbleby’…? Interviews with Sue McGregor and John Humphries on the Today Programme? Phone-ins on Radio 5-live!? Photo-shoots and interviews with the National Press.

 

BUT NO! God’s word to Elijah is “Get off the national stage and go hide away from the public arena!”

 

  1. Am I as willing to be set aside by God as I am to be used by Him?

 

No many are Elijah-type who are in up-front positions BUT we would all like to be useful to God – to have a sense of being needed – to make a difference in my sphere of activity.

 

BUT am I willing to be set-aside – to be in obscurity and in the process be tried and tested by God. Those who know the story of Elijah will know that a 3½  years hence Elijah will have to confront the god Baal and the 450 prophets as well as King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Elijah needs to be prepared for that event and God is in the process of doing it.

 

God is still in the business of preparing his people for ministry – developing Christ-like character in them. Preparing them for usefulness in his kingdom.

 

ILLUS. When I was 18 I was conscripted into the SA Army. The first 3 months was basic training. Engineers Corps – Sappers. No home leave or weekends off. Middle of winter. Up at 5:00 am PT // 6:00 shower // 6:30 breakfast // 7:00 Parade // 7:30 –10:00 marching // lectures.. rifle training .. explosives and demolition .. landmines .. water purifying .. bridge building etc… Running in full battle dress .. 30 mile night marches … WHY? Preparing for conflict!

Months later while on the Nambia / Angola border during the Angolian war, I was extremely grateful for that training when as the only army engineer on a convoy I was called upon to defuse two landmines buried in a dirt road.

 

We like Elijah are involved in a spiritual battle – and God sometimes puts us through tough training to prepare us and make us useful for his service.

 

There is something of an irony in God’s instruction to Elijah – Go to “Kerith / Cherith Brook / Ravine” – brooks are first to dry up in drought! And some think the word “Kerith” may even mean drought! Why does God send him there? To protect him – hide him from Ahab and Jezebel’s murderous threats. NO! – we know from later in the story that Obadiah, a God-fearing man and a top civil servant hid 100 of God’s prophets in two caves and fed them from the King’s supplies!!!

 

I believe God took Elijah there as part of the moulding process.

Yes he was protected from Ahab but he takes him to a hidden, isolated place to prepare him for greater things!

We all have character traits and rough edges that God needs to deal with and sometimes the process is painful – A W Tozer – “It is doubtful that God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.”

God is far more concerned about what we are that what we can do! Greatness, as the Bible defines it, never come quickly. It is forged in the furnace of time.

Moses spent forty years in the deserts of Midian, before he was ready to lead God’s people out of slavery.

David spent years looking after sheep and then running and hiding in the desert from the murderous King Saul, before he became King.

Joseph spent time as a slave and a prisoner before he became Pharaoh’s no.2. Prime Minister of Egypt.

 

Elijah spends time at the Cherith Brook – part of God’s moulding / honing process. It is not a lush green valley with crystal clear bubbling brook surrounded by fruit trees. That part of the world is scorchingly hot in the day and cold at night. The only catering service are the ravens!! And they dish up the same menu every day – meat and bread!

 

In our frantic, fast-moving-conveyor-belt-type existence we are always on the go! Things to do, people to see, programmes to watch. We live in noise infested environment. Silence and stillness is something to be avoided.

 

You phone the dentist and for the 17½ second that you are on hold they play you music! [Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in tiny distorted sound – I don’t know what Vivaldi did to deserve such treatment!!]

The jogger running through the country side can’t possible listen to the sounds of nature but must have a walkman blasting his eardrums!

 

SO maybe we can’t stop the world and live at Cherith for a year or even a week or a day. BUT don’t we need to build stillness into the midst of our busyness. Do you have even 10 minutes a day when you stop and engage with God!

 

Perhaps like Elijah we would like a real MT. Carmel-type experience of faith – mighty miracles, boldness, strong faith. BUT the story of Elijah shows us that the road to Carmel passes through Cherith. Alone with God.

 

  1. God’s direction includes His provision and requires our daily trust.

 

Can you imagine Elijah bumping into an old friend on his way to Cherith.

F – “Where you going?”

E – “Cherith”

F – “Cherith – we’re joking – there’s nothing there!

What are you going live on?”

E – “Well there’s a brook there with some water!”

F – “What will you eat?”

E – “Well God said the ravens will bring me food!!”

F – “Yea, right! Maybe you should see a

psychiatrist!!”

 

God makes provision for his physical welfare AND he provides for his spiritual welfare as well – silence and solitude – that’s what was needed to mould his character.

 

NB 1 Kings 17:5  So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed [lived] there. (NIV)

It is one thing to go on an adventure trail // or a weekend of camping BUT this was to live there! Probably about a year!

 

Hidden away. The brook. Those birds again. AND God!

Are we willing to be hidden away? – to learn those deep and hidden values from God.

It may not mean physically going away! Think of hidden lives – mother caring for children! Children caring for elderly parents! {Highly qualified people doing apparently menial tasks}

OR God sets you aside on a sick bed – or takes you through a financial desert – removes you from a promising career!

Maybe God allows these things because he knows that we need learn to be alone with him // dependant on him.

 

These times and experiences may sometimes be extremely difficult BUT they are God’s provision – because he knows what we need, to develop into what he what us to be and to do.

 

As human we so easily slide into comfortable grooves – in our family / church / working / social lives. We can’t imagine life any other way.

 

ILLUS.: Vance Havner in his book “It is toward evening” tells the story of a group of farmers who were growing cotton in the American Deep South. They had put all their resources and energies in their cotton fields. Then the boll weevil came. Disaster!! BUT amazingly someone came up with the idea of growing peanuts – it brought them more money than they would ever have made growing cotton. What initially looked like disaster proved to be the opposite. They erected a monument to the humble boll weevil. The very thing they thought would destroy them.

 

Sometimes” says Havner, “we settle into a humdrum routine as monotonous as growing cotton year after year. Then God sends us the boll weevil to jolt us out of our groove, and we must find new ways to live!”

 

Maybe it is financial trouble, health problems, loss of position,  a bereavement etc… because as the master farmer God’s purpose is to produce in his people fruit – Christlike character – that will last.

SO he allows things into our lives to teach us!!

ILLUS.: Being diagnosed with cancer in October 1995 is not something I would have chosen. BUT I have learned things through these past 6 years I would have learned no other way – I often acted and reacted badly – I am a slow learner!! BUT God is gracious and patient and keeps chipping away. AND there is still a long way to go!!!

 

Sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is the coming of our boll weevil!

The God who directs is the God who provides and he wants us to trust him one day at a time.

 

God never told Elijah what the next step would be until he had taken the first step.  Go to Ahab. Now to Cherith. Now to Zerapath. ….

He did not know the future but he had God’s promise — “I will provide for you there.

 

NB God’s method of provision!!!!!!!

 

  1. God’s ways are often extraordinary, even startling.

He is not bound to our agenda.

1 Kings 17:6 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. (NIV)

 

This is extraordinary!! Bizarre!

These birds bring Elijah food each breakfast and suppertime were a constant reminder that God was involved in the detail of his life.

Elijah was learning that God is full of variety and surprises – we have a tendency to fall into legalistic sterility BUT not God. He is not a do-it-by-the-rule-book God but an extraordinary dynamic God.

I am sure Elijah didn’t relish the idea of being drip fed by a bunch of birds! Esp. ravens as they are scavengers feeding on offal and rotting matter – they love to hang around rubbish tips. Added to this, according to Jewish ceremonial law, these birds were unclean!

Leviticus 11:13-15        13 ” ‘These are the birds you are to detest and not eat because they are detestable: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, 14 the red kite, any kind of black kite, 15 any kind of raven, (NIV)

 

Elijah wasn’t asked to eat the birds BUT if they were unclean anything they touched became unclean! What is God doing??!!

Maybe God is teaching Elijah, and us, that he will not be – can not be –  boxed in by preconceived legalism.

God is not bound into our style!

 

“God we want you to meet us but, Lord, it will have to be between 10:30 and 11:30 on Sunday mornings!! We want you to bless us but you must do it this way. Please provide what we ask you – our daily food but it can’t possibly be by The Raven’s Catering Services!”

God is a dynamic God – a God of freshness and creativity and sometimes he shatters all our preconceived ideas about how he does his work – and if we won’t co-operate with him he will raise up others who will.

 

If Elijah had been unwilling to accept God’s radical method of providing he would have starved to death.

 

Conclusion.

 

Elijah’s Cherith experience was not a holiday.

Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to do nothing. Our pride tells us we need to do things ourselves!! To be concealed / hidden away / cut-off from the hustle and bustle of the familiar and the routine doesn’t come easily – we like to be in control!

 

Maybe you are an active person always busy doing maybe in up front limelight /maybe behind the scenes.

Maybe your ego and your pride drives you to always be doing! In our fast moving, 21stC world with TV, Radio, telephones, computers, microwave meals and motor cars we need Cherith Brook experiences. Times alone with God. When we stop – listen – reflect – ask God to meet our inmost needs and desires – to change us, to teach us, to mould us, to make us like Jesus and to prepare us to do his work in his way. AND we must be willing to let God be God and do it HIS way! He requires our obedience and co-operation.

 

God was moulding Elijah – yes for Elijah’s good – but also so Elijah could be useful to God’s work. The same is true of us.

What is God wanting to teach us – individually and as a church – ARE WE LEARNING THE THINGS GOD WANT TO TEACH US? God wants to mould us for our good BUT also, and more importantly, for his glory.

 

 

Elijah: Moulding the Man

 

1 Kings 17v2-6

 

 

  1. 1.      Am I as willing to be set aside by

God as I am to be used by Him?

 

 

  1. 2.      God’s direction includes His

provision and requires our daily

trust.

 

 

3. God’s ways are often extraordinary,

even startling. He is not bound by

our agenda.

 

“God is far more concerned about what we are than he is about what we can do”

 

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