DRY BROOK UNIVERSITY | The Book of 1 Kings 17:2-7
Boot camp: for those who have served in the military, it is a place that they well remember. For many, it was their first time away from home. It was a time of brutal discipline, unending work, regimented training, cold fear and acute loneliness. Yet, it is in boot camp that soldiers are born. A soldier would never be able to serve on the battlefield unless he has first been through the training of boot camp. In boot camp, soldiers have their self-will striped away. They lose any rebellion that may be in their heart. They learn to follow every order from a superior without question. They learn to follow their leader, even to death, if necessary.
Of course, the positive side of all the training, the discipline and the pressure is that the soldier grows stronger, more disciplined and more mature. He is transformed from a common man into a battle ready soldier. You might say that boot camp is much like enrolling in a compressed university program. The soldier learns much in his short time there. However, what he learns in boot camp is essential to his survival on the battlefield.
God has a place that each of His children must pass through. He has a university, a training experience, for each of those He intends to use. Elijah is about to enroll in this university in the verses we are considering this morning. When we think of Elijah, there are usually two events that seem to characterize his life.
- The first is the fact that he was carried away to Heaven in a chariot of fire.
- The second has to do with his great victory on top of Mount Carmel.
I think we need to be reminded that before we can be trusted to stand on Carmel, we must first pass by the dry brook. What I am trying to communicate is the truth that before God can use His servants, He must train them. Before He can use us greatly before men, He must first break us before Himself.
Surely, every child of God in this room today wants to be used by the Lord. However, before that can happen, we must first pass through God’s university. There are lessons that we must learn. There are courses that we must have. Before God can place us on the battlefield as a soldier of the cross, He must first send us to boot camp. This isn’t a truth we enjoy thinking about, but it stands to reason that before God can really use us, He must first remove from us all that hinders His will from being done.
Therefore, let’s join Elijah this morning as he enrolls at Dry Brook University. His experience contains several elements of truth that we need to explore together today. These things will help you when it is your time to enroll at Dry Brook University.
I. V. 2-4 THE PLACE GOD ORDAINED
(Ill. The context. Elijah has just stood before the King of Israel and delivered the message of judgment that God had given him. Now, the next word from God is command to hide himself away. It seems to me that God would want to keep Elijah in the face of Ahab. However, God’s ways are not our ways! You see, God has a plan! He wants to transform Elijah from Elijah the Tishbite (17:1) into Elijah the Man of God (17:24). To accomplish this, God is going to have to send Elijah to school.)
A. V. 2-3 The Name Of That Place – Cherith – The word means “to cut off, to cut down“. God has cut off Elijah from public view so that He might cut him down to size.
(Ill. One of the hardest lessons the child of God will ever learn is that God must send you to Cherith before He can use you for His glory. He must hide you away and cut you down so that His image may be more clearly revealed in you. Just as the silversmith heats the silver and skims off the dross until he can see his image in the silver, so God will work in our lives to bring us to that place where His image is seen in us, Eze. 22:20-22.)
B. v. 3 The Nature Of That Place – It is a hidden place. Note the command from God, “Hide thyself“, v. 3. Cherith is by nature a hard and lonely place. Here Elijah would be removed from the spotlight. Here he would dwell alone while the Lord worked out His will in the prophet’s life.
(Ill. Of all the lessons that we can learn from these verses, one of the most powerful is that we must never overlook the power of the hidden life. It was in this place, hidden away from public view that Elijah became a man of God. It was here that he learned to trust God totally. It was here that Elijah was forced to learn to lean on the Lord. You see, before we can ever give out, we must first take in. Before God can pour anything out of our vessels, He must first put something in them.)
(Ill. We all need to learn the value of the hidden life. You see, there is a part of us the world sees and a part of us they do not. It is the part that men do not see that defines us. It is that time spent alone, in the presence of God that can make us great for His glory. How much time are you devoting to the hidden life?)
((Ill. Of course, there are times when we think God should use us more than He does. However, when He hides us away from the eye of the world, His plan is to grow us up in private so that He might display us for His glory in His time. A life that is lived in solitude, before the Lord is a life that will one day be used to bring Him great glory. You see, God wants us to come to the place where we are found faithful in the hidden life. When we are found faithful there, He will expand our sphere of influence and bring us out of the hiding place, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10. Therefore, we must come to the place where we are as willing to be hidden away, as we are to be used. That is the nature of Cherith! It may mean being passed over. It may mean being left out. Never forget, though, that God knows where you are. If He has sent you to Cherith, He has hidden you away so that He might reveal you in His time!
C. V. 4 The Necessity Of That Place – Notice the use of the word “there“. Cherith was a specific place. It was the only place Elijah could be and be right with God. If he had gone anywhere else, he would have starved to death. God had ordered provisions for Elijah, but
He had ordered them to be delivered to Cherith. It was the only place to be.
(Ill. When the Lord sends us to a difficult place in life, there is the tendency to want to be somewhere else. After all, who likes pain? Who likes sickness? Who likes financial trouble? Who likes to struggle? What we must learn is that if God sends us to a Cherith, He knows what He is doing. The only place for us to be is where God sends us! If we find ourselves in a difficult situation, we can do no better than to submit to it as the will of God for our lives and learn to trust Him while we are there. I really think we forget Who is in control! I just want to remind you that if the Lord has sent you to Cherith, it is merely part of His plan for your life, Rom. 8:28. Therefore, you have only two choices. The first is rebellion. You can fight God and stay in your Cherith longer, or like Elijah, you can submit to God, v. 5, and He will work out His plan in your life. In other words, you can either choose to be miserable as you go through the difficulties of life or you can choose to rejoice in spite of the situation, 1 Thes. 5:18; Phil. 4:6-7.)
(Ill. There is a place for you that has been ordained by God. You can do no better in life than to willingly follow Him there. It may be a hard place. It may be a place that hurts. It may be a frightening place. However, if the Lord ordained that place for you, then you can do no better than to submit to it!)
I. The Place God Ordained
II. V. 4-6 THE PROMISE GOD OFFERED
(Ill. The context. Elijah is sent to the middle of nowhere to hide. Of course, we know that God sent him there for two primary reasons: Protection and Training. God promise Elijah that his needs will be met while he is there. The lesson of these verses is this: God’s call is always accompanied by God’s provisions. He will never send you to a place in life that He does not give you ALL you need to make it through that place. His place is always complete with His provisions for that place!)
A. V. 4 Involved Advance Planning – Notice that before the need arose, God already had the provisions in place. When He formed the world He made sure to form that little brook just for Elijah. Before He told the prophet to go to Cherith, God had already commanded the ravens to take care of God’s man. This lets us know that nothing catches God by surprise. When this came up, God did not wring His hands in despair and say, “Oh no! What am I going to do? How will I keep this man alive?”
(Ill. We need to remember that our Cherith always comes equipped with God’s provision. We serve a God Who is already alive tomorrow! That is a truth that we can never comprehend, but one which we certainly can enjoy. Before the dawn ever breaks tomorrow, the Lord is already there and He has already placed what I need in the path I will take. Regardless of the circumstance or difficulty, God has already prepared the path that I will take, Psa. 37:23. This is the truth Paul encountered during his fiery trial with the thorn in the flesh, 2 Cor. 12:7-10. Paul was told that the Lord had already supplied his need before it arose!
B. V. 6 Involved Amazing Provision – God used a bubbling brook and some ravens to feed Elijah while he was stationed at Cherith. This is remarkable because ravens are scavengers. They feed of the flesh of the dead. Yet, God used them to bring life sustaining food to the prophet. (Ill. Have you ever wondered where they got the food? Maybe from Ahab and Jezebel’s table!) At any rate, God suspended the “laws of nature” to meet the need of His child. Never forget that God knows what you need. If He has too, He will move heaven and earth to see that your need is met. He knows where you are and He knows where the provisions you need are. He will direct your path to the place where He can meet your need, Phil. 4:19.
C. V. 5 Involved Abundant Peace – Note the phrase, “So he went and did according to the word of the Lord.” When God called, Elijah simply stepped out in faith and obeyed. That is the secret to surviving your Cherith experiences! Coming to the place where we do not question God, but when He speaks, we respond by doing what we are told to do. You see, when we are on God’s payroll, He will pay our way, Matt. 6:25-34. However, when you choose to walk a path He has not ordained, you will pay your own way. Ill. Jonah – Jonah 1:1-3. This is the primary lesson of Cherith. God’s servants must come to the place where they trust God alone and they must trust Him absolutely. Elijah had nothing but the promise of God, yet for him that was sufficient to let him know that all would be well.
I. The Place God Ordained
II. The Promise God Offered
III. V. 5-6 THE PLAN GOD ORDERED
A. It Was A Sovereign Plan – Notice that God was in absolute control of the situation. The ravens did as He had commanded them and they brought bread and flesh to the prophet twice per day. The brook continued to provide liquid refreshment as well. All of this was ordered by the Lord to teach the prophet that God was in absolute control of what happened.
B. It Was A Satisfying Plan – Satisfying because Elijah enjoyed the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises to him. He received just what the Lord told him he would. He found God to be true. Nothing means as much to a suffering saint as the peace of knowing that God is in control! We may not like the situation in which we find ourselves, but if we know that God is going to take care of us, then we can be satisfied anywhere, with anything.
- It Was A Submissive Plan – Notice that verse 5 tells us that “he went and dwelt by the brook.” The word “dwelt” means “to live“. Elijah wasn’t headed out there for an overnight camping trip. He went out there to that brook and set up house. He intended to live in that place until the Lord came and told him to go somewhere else. That is when we begin to enjoy real victory in our lives, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in. When we arrive at the place where we can submit to the Lord’s will for our lives, no matter how bad we might think it is, then we are on the path to help and blessing. (Ill. Paul – Phil. 4:11-13; 1 Tim. 4:6-8.) Have you submitted to your Cherith?
(Ill. The whole purpose in God’s plan was to help Elijah come to the place where he could trust God for one day at a time. I would imagine that there was some fear in the prophet’s heart that first evening. Would the ravens appear? Would there be flesh and bread in the morning? But, as the days passed and God proved Himself to be faithful and trustworthy, Elijah learned to walk by faith. Friends that is where the Lord wants to bring us as well! The Bible tells us that “the just shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:17. God wants us to come to the place where we do not know which step to take next. He wants us to be totally dependent upon Him. He wants us to rest in His arms by faith, without fear. And, He will put us by Cherith to bring this to pass! He will cut us off and cut us down to teach us to trust Him fully!)
I. The Place God Ordained
II. The Promise God Offered
III. The Plan God Ordered
IV. V. 7 THE PROBLEM GOD ORCHESTRATED
A. A Dry Brook – This steam of life giving water ran dry! Imagine how Elijah must have felt as he watched that stream grow smaller each day. One day, it’s voice wasn’t as loud as it had been the day before. As the days passed, the little brook began to get narrow. Then, one day it was all gone! Nothing was left but a dry, cracked stream bed.
(Ill. This happens to us as well! That job that we have invested our lives in dries up. That mate that we have given ourselves to completely walks out on us. Our health that has always been so robust breaks. Regardless of the circumstances, the brook has dried up! When we are faced with these kinds of trials, we must never lose sight of two great truths
1. The God Who provides the water can also withhold the water. He is in control of our lives! As Elijah was about to find out, God had another place already prepared for him. So it is with us! When our brook dries up, God has another channel of blessing already lined up for us!
2. A dry brook is not always a sign of God’s displeasure. Certainly, God uses the events of life to chasten us when we walk outside of His will. However, there are times when He will let your brook dry up in the midst of your serving Him.
- It happened to Abraham when he was called on to offer up Isaac.
- It happened to Joseph as he ministered in Potipher’s house.
- It happened to Jesus as He agonized in Gethsemane and as He gave His life a ransom for sin on Calvary.
- Sometimes, the brooks of life dry up because God is pleased with us and desires to take us on to new and better things.
- He knows us and He knows that we would be reluctant to leave a place where everything was going perfectly.
- Therefore, He will dry up our brook causing us to be willing to go where He leads us.
- Sometimes, God allows the brook to dry up because we are guilty of trusting the brook more than we trust Him.
B. A Devastated Prophet – I can hardly imagine how Elijah must have felt as that brook dried up before his eyes. I wonder if he felt abandoned and forsaken? I wonder if he felt that God has somehow let him down?
God will often allow His people to sit by a drying brook. When it happens, and it will, never believe for an instant that God has somehow forgotten about you or forsaken you.
C. A Dynamic Situation – For Elijah, that dried up brook should have been something to shout about. Why? Because of two things:
1. His Prayers Had Been Answered – James 5:17-18 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
2. His Prophecy Had Been Fulfilled – 1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
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