ELIJAH’S ON THE JOB TRAINING | The Book of 1 Kings 17:17-24
Elijah is a recent graduate from Dry Brook University. There he learned to depend upon the Lord for all his provisions and not upon himself. It was there, by the brook Cherith, in the wilderness, that Elijah had his flesh broken. As soon as that trial of faith was past, Elijah finds himself enrolled in Empty Barrel Graduate School. While there, he has his pride broken as he must trust the Lord to provide for a widow, who in turn provides for the prophet. It seems that Elijah’s life is marked by one trial after another. Someone who did not know any better might start to think that Elijah is being punished for something.
Of course, the Bible teaches us a different truth. God isn’t correcting His prophet, He is perfecting Him. God is teaching Elijah lessons that can be learned in no other fashion than through trial and difficulty. You see, it is in the storms of life that we learn God can walk on the waves. It is in the valleys of life that we learn that He is the Lily of the Valleys. Sometimes we must go through the fires of life to find out that He will go with us every step of the way. These are the things Elijah is learning and they will serve him well in the very near future. God is preparing Elijah to stand for Him in very powerful way.
In our text today, the prophet faces another difficult trial of faith. In a sense, Elijah is getting some on the job training from the Lord.
Verse 17-18 ELIJAH’S TEST
- A Dead Person – This boy who had been so miraculously fed by divine providence is suddenly cut off and dies. It must have seemed like a great contradiction to the widow and to the prophet.
(Ill. I will remind you this morning that God’s way do not always make sense from a human perspective, Isa. 55:8-9. Yet, even when the Lord’s ways don’t make sense, you can trust Him.
- A Distraught Parent – Evidently, this is the only son this poor widow woman had. Certainly she had pinned all of her hopes for the future on him. Her heart is broken and her world is shattered.
- You see, she knew the drought was coming, v. 9,
- but she did not know death was coming, v. 17.
- She was prepared for one, the other caught her totally off guard! She is placing blame everywhere.
o She blames Elijah for bringing the judgment of God into her home.
o She is even blaming her past sins for the trouble she is having.
(Ill. Friend, have you ever been at that place in your life? Have you ever watched everything you worked for, everything you loved, everything you lived for crumble around you?
Illustration: You can catch a wild buzzard and put him in an open pen that’s, let’s say, 6 x 6, and he will die there. He cannot fly away. Why? A buzzard needs at least a 12 foot runway to take off! Take a bat, place him on the ground and he will flop around there until he dies. Why? He can only achieve flight from an elevated position. He must launch out into the air. Take a bumblebee and put him in a tumbler, leave the top open and that bee will never find his way out. He is so interested in trying to fly through the glass in front of him, he will never think to look up and find the way out. What is the point? All three of these, the buzzard, the bee and the bat all fail to notice the freedom that is right above them. As a result, they remain trapped in their prison.
You see, the widow thought she was passing through a storm of correction. She thought God was hurting her. What she failed to see was that she was in a storm of perfection. God was, in fact, helping her!
- A Discouraged Prophet – What an effect this must have had on Elijah! I mean, he has trusted God to feed him with ravens.
(Ill. Folks, we are never more vulnerable to the attacks of the flesh and the devil as we are when we are discouraged. Now, I don’t know what kind of valley you are trudging through this morning, but I know the God of the valleys.
- Elijah’s Test
Verse 19-23 ELIJAH’S TRUST
(Ill. Up until this point, Elijah hasn’t had to do much. He moved when God said move. He stayed when God said stay. He ate when God provided. All Elijah has done is basically watch God do the impossible time and time again. However, he is placed in a position where he must get personally involved in what the Lord is doing. He is brought to a place where he must trust God for that which has never happened before!)
A. V. 19 Elijah’s Calmness – Even though he is confronting death and baseless accusation, Elijah is the picture of calmness. He doesn’t get upset and attack back. He doesn’t lash out at the widow. He doesn’t even defend himself. He merely asks for the widow to give her son to him. Then he takes the boy to his room and places him on his bed.
(Ill. What a lesson this is for you and me! How often do the storms of life begin to blow in on us and we react to them very badly? Something unexpected will happen and instead of taking it into the presence of the Lord like Elijah did, we take it to ourselves and we fall apart. We worry. We fret. We wonder why. Someone attacks us and instead of taking it to the Lord, we get upset and attack back. God help us to learn the lesson that in the midst of trials and trouble, we can do no better than to bring them to the Lord and leave them with Him.
B. V. 20-21 Elijah’s Compassion – Elijah’s heart has been touched by the pain this widow is experiencing. He has watched her grow in her faith. He has experienced her generosity. He has enjoyed her hospitality, and his heart is moved at her need. His compassion for this widow and her son is seen in three ways.)
1. V. 20 Seen In His Prayer – He petitions the Lord on behalf of the widow. In doing so, the prophets reveals the heart of one who knows God and cares for others. In fact, he is seen actually fulfilling the law of Christ, Gal. 6:2. He is bearing the widow’s burden in the presence of God.
2. V. 21 Seen In His Position – He humbled himself and stretched his own body on top of the body of this dead child. Elijah knew that Law and he must have known that touching a dead body would defile him, Num. 19:10. The point here is that Elijah was willing to humiliate and humble himself to reach out to another. He was willing to suffer lose that they might gain. That is the heart of ministry! Elijah has learned to feel the need of others. That is the essence of Christlike service.
3. V. 21 Seen In His Petition – In this verse, Elijah asks God to do something that had never been done before! There is absolutely no record of any dead person ever being brought back to life before this day. This is an amazing prayer that Elijah prays! Elijah places everything on the line for the glory of God and for the need of this one woman. He trusts God for the unseen. His heart is moved for her and he trusts the Lord to do something about!
C. V. 22-23 Elijah’s Conquest – These verses tell us the triumphant news that Elijah received the object of his faith. He watched as God did the impossible before his eyes.
1. V. 22 Elijah Prevailing In Prayer – God honored the faith of the prophet and raised the child to life again. Why? Because Elijah trusted God by faith!
- “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.“, Matt. 21:22;
- “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.“, John 14:13;
- “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.“, John 16:23-24;
- “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.“, 1 John 5:14-15.
- “That’ll never work for me!” And you are absolutely correct! Why? Well, it isn’t because God can’t answer your prayers, it’s because He won’t answer the prayer of unbelief!
- Note what James said about it, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.“, James 1:6-8.
- James 5:16, “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.“)
2. V. 23 Elijah Presenting The Proof – When Elijah carried that child up those steps, all he had in his arms was a dead body. When he came back down, he had a living miracle.
- Elijah’s Test
- Elijah’s Trust
Verse 24 ELIJAH’S TESTIMONY
- God’s Man Is Vindicated – The widow expresses her firm confidence that Elijah is who he claimed to be. Apparently, Elijah and the widow needed this little bit of encouragement.
(Illustration: Those who do not know the Heavenly Father may mock at out use of faith in the face of trials, but in the end, our faith will always be vindicated!
- God Message Is Validated – The widow also expresses her confidence in the Word of God. When she sees the outworking of faith through Elijah, she understands that God possesses all power in Heaven and earth and that He will perform His Word.
- God’s Method Is Victorious – Certainly, allowing a child to die and be resurrected from the dead would not have entered the minds of most people. It is probably not how we would have chosen to mold our man. However, I will remind you that His ways are not our ways! In the end, God’s plan was accomplished.
- The Widow Is Encouraged – The widow is now strengthened and grounded in her faith. She can believe God for anything! That is the place God wants to bring us to! He wants us to cast aside our doubts and cling to His Word. When God moves in power, it has a way of encouraging the troubled heart.
- The Prophet Is Enabled – Elijah is now ready for the battles that lie ahead. God has put him through school and placed him in several impossible situations. Each time, God has proven Himself to be greater than the problem. Elijah has learned the lesson that he can trust God for anything. He has arrived at the place where he is ready to be used of the Lord.
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