Elijah–Ordinary to Extraordinary ~ Message 1 “Living in a Warped World” 1 Kings 17:1

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Ordinary to Extraordinary – Elijah

1 – Living in a Warped World

I Kings 17:1

Bruce A. Hess

If you would, please take out the Word of God and turn in it in the Old Testament to the book of 1 Kings, chapter number 17. If you don’t have a Bible with you, there is one under a chair in front of you and you can take that Bible and turn to page 265 and you would find yourself parked at 1 Kings 17.

I want to start off by asking you a question. How many people saw the three-part movie series, Back to the Future? Let me see hands up there. Yeah! Most of us have seen that, the time travel movie trilogy. What you may not know is the idea of time travel was first popularized back in 1895. An author by the name of H.G. Wells wrote a book called The Time Machine and, in that book, he came up with the idea of time travel and he postulated: what would it be like if a time traveler were to go back one thousand years?

Well, today we have an opportunity to go back twenty-eight centuries to the time of Elijah. You know, I just love the Scriptures. I love how the Bible is so relevant to us today. Paul says something very important when he wrote to those in Corinth in his first letter, in chapter 10 and verse 11. He says, “These things, (the things of the Old Testament) happened to them as an example, for us,” and he says, “They were written for our instruction.” So, as we travel back in time—twenty-eight centuries—there is something we have to learn. There is an example we have to learn from, and there are things here that are written for our instruction today in the twenty-first century.

We are launching a new series today on the life of Elijah. I have entitled it, “Ordinary to Extraordinary”. We are going to have the opportunity to spend seven weeks together seeing what God would instruct us about regarding the life of Elijah. I have entitled today’s message, Living in a Warped World. We are going to look at three things.

Number one, we are going to look at Elijah’s world, the time in which he lived.

Then, we are going to look a little bit at Elijah, the man.

Then, thirdly, we are going to begin to talk about this principle: that God calls ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

I would like to read the very first verse of chapter 17. It says, “Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab [the king] , “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” That verse begins with what seems to be a very insignificant, small word, which is the word, “now.” Whenever you are going to learn about a historical figure it is important and pivotal that we learn their historical context. The word, “now,” just screams; we must look at some of the background.

If you know the history of the kingdom of Israel, you will know that a real downward movement began earlier with King Solomon. King Solomon ended up marrying women from nations that God said, You should have no interaction with them at all. He married a number of them. In fact, he married seven hundred of them. Many of them were foreign women who had other gods. As a design to appease his wives he created places for them to sacrifice to their gods. So, I don’t know how many places there were, but with seven hundred brides, there was a lot of appeasement to do.

That is where the downward slope really began. Those of you who are familiar with Old Testament history would know that after Solomon died, the nation split into two entities. There was the northern kingdom of Israel, comprised of ten tribes, and there was the southern kingdom of Judah, comprised of two tribes. But, Elijah, in particular, was functioning in the northern kingdom of Israel. I just want to take a very brief look at the first seven kings of the northern kingdom of Israel.

The first one was a gentleman by the name of Jeroboam. We learn in chapter 14 and verse 16, it says that Jeroboam made Israel to sin with these idols. It appears that Solomon only wanted to pacify and appease his wives. Jeroboam takes it to another level. He begins to force the nation to also worship these idols. In fact, eighteen times it says Jeroboam made Israel to sin.

The second king in the northern kingdom of God was by the name of Nadab. In 15:26 it tells us of him, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord,” talking about him perpetuating this tendency more.

Then, there was the third king, Baasha. In 15:34, it says of him, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord.” You are beginning to see the direction of all of this in the culture.

Then, there was, fourthly, Elah, who was king. In 16:13, it says, “He provoked the Lord to anger with idols.”

Then, there was the fifth king, which was Zimri, and I want you to see how Zimri became king. Look at chapter 16. In verse 8. We have Elah as the king in the northern kingdom of Israel and verse 9 tells us that his servant Zimri who was commander of half of his chariots—he was one of the tank commanders, if you would, of half the military tank supply of the northern kingdom—a significant military leader. He conspired against Elah and went in, verse 10, and struck him in his royal palace and put him to death. Then, I want you to notice it says in verse 11, “It came about when Zimri became King, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he killed all the household of Baasha (which was the father of Elah); he did not leave a single male.” Anybody that was related to the prior king got a bullet in the head. Not only did everyone who was related get a bullet in the head, but he says, “neither of his relatives nor of his friends.” Everybody who was a friend of the king, Elah, and his family, got wiped out. Every male was executed.

Well obviously this was very big coup, and in verse 16 when the nation of Israel heard what had happened, they decided, verse 17, to appoint Omri as king, so they began to besiege the city where Zimri was, in verse 17. Eventually they can’t hold off the whole rest of the kingdom so in verse 18, “When Zimri saw that the city was taken (by Omri and his forces), he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire, and died.” Zimri was an evil guy and the way he decided to go out was just to sit in the house, set it on fire, and sit there and commit suicide in the fire.

Obviously, Omri is the sixth king and we learn about him in verse 25. It says there, (more repeating story, but he takes it up a notch or two), “Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, and acted more wickedly than all who were before him.” Omri is the high point of evil to date. Now, this is a lot of evil. There is idolatry, and immorality, and assassinations, and cut-throat ruling—and Omri is the worst of the bunch. He is the high point of evil and that leads us to the seventh king, which is Ahab, who is Omri’s son.

Look at verse 29, of chapter 16. It says, “Now Ahab, the son of Omri became king over Israel.” Notice what it says regarding Ahab:“Ahab, the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.” Out of all of these evil guys who are leading to this downward slide in the culture, and Omri was the worst up to that point, and his son, Ahab, is even worse than that! He outdid everyone before him.

There are three key specifics about Ahab we want to note because he is going to play a key part in this whole story of the life of Elijah. The first one is found in the first part of verse 31. It says that, “It came about, (we are speaking here of Ahab) as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, (who was the first king).” The ESV says it was a light thing for him to do this. In other words, to continue this propagation of idol worship and the degeneration in the nation and everything that went with it, he considered it to be a trivial thing, a light thing, it was nothing, it was teeny. It was itty bitty. It couldn’t be more minor to Ahab. It meant nothing to him. But it meant a lot to God.

The second key specific we want to know about Ahab—if we are going to understand him as a character in this whole story—is his marriage to Jezebel. That is talked about in the second part of verse 31.  “He married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.” 

What is really interesting is, this marriage to Jezebel, she is the very first wife of a king who is mentioned in our text. Why is that? Well, it is because of the pivotal influence that Jezebel had.

We learn there in verse 31 that she was a Sidonian. Sidon was a key city in the Phoenician Empire. If you could picture in your mind modern Lebanon, that is where this was located. The Phoenician Empire, or the Sidonian Empire, was a very powerful empire. They were on the eastern side of the Mediterranean and they founded colonies all around the Mediterranean area. The Phoenicians, the Sidonians, were the commerce kings of the day. They controlled all the shipping that would go on in that area. 

Why did he marry her? It was a marriage of convenience. He was thinking for the northern kingdom of Israel, hey, we want to insure prosperity. Who better to link up with than the Phoenicians, the Sidonians? They were like the people who owned all the airlines of the day. We are linked up with them by marriage and, Oh boy, is that going to bring prosperity to the northern kingdom.

We learn in verse 31 that Jezebel was the daughter of a guy by the name of Ethbaal who was king of the Sidonians. That name “Ethbaal,”  literally means, “with Baal.” Her dad says, ‘You wonder who I am with? I am aligned with Baal. That is my name: ‘Ethbaal.’ And we know from history he was one of the most cruel and vicious people who ever lived on the face of the planet.

How many of you grew up with brothers? Let me see hands if you grew up with brothers? I never had a brother. I wish I did. But here is what Ethbaal did. He murdered his way to the throne by assassinating all of his brothers. Can you imagine what kind of a person would do that? To say, I am going to take out every one of my brothers so I know that the throne is going to belong to me.

One commentator said regarding Ethbaal, he said, his dynasty was the most wicked dynasty on the face of the planet. And Ahab married into this?? He married the daughter of Ethbaal??  You know what came of that? Jezebel brought her Baal worship with her into he nation.

In fact, it started popping really quickly. The first thing she did we see in chapter 18 and verse 4. She went on a personal campaign to kill every prophet of Yahweh in the entire kingdom. She wanted to butcher as many of them as she could get a hold of; and she was destroying them, killing them. In verse 4, Obadiah had to grab a hundred of them and he hid them by fifties in caves and provided them with bread and water. He had to sneak it in to them because if she found out they were there; they were all dead. That is the first thing Jezebel brought to the kingdom of Israel.

The second thing that she did is: she brought along with her a horde of prophets of Baal from Sidon. She brought 450 of them from her home turf and brought them into Israel. Not only that, but we learn from chapter 18, verse19, not only were there 450 prophets of Baal, there were also 400 prophets of Asherah and in their scheme, Asherah is the mother of Baal. So, you have 450 and 400, that is 950 of these pagan prophets. And we learn that on a daily basis, at the royal dining hall of Israel, Jezebel was feeding them all three meals a day, 950 evil prophets.

When you start talking about bringing Baal worship into Israel, it is important to understand a little bit about that. Baal was a god who was supposed to demonstrate his presence through rainstorms and through thunder. In an agrarian world, that is very, very important. Yet, the worship of Baal was extremely vile, extremely licentious, and extremely cruel. The worship of Baal was infamous for two things. Number one, it was infamous for deviant eroticism. It was under Baal worship that they perfected and promulgated erotic poetry, which was the pornography of the day. One of the things they would do as part of Baal worship is they would have these dramas and the idea of the drama was to act out the sexcapades of the god, Baal. So, this is what they would do: they would actually have, as part of acting out those dramas, group sex with the priests and the priestesses of Baal. Imagine that! Where are you going? Oh, we are headed over to “church.” It is going to get very interesting at “church” today.

They were infamous for the deviant eroticism, and also secondly, they were infamous for their child sacrifice. Why would they do those things? Why would they have these erotic dramas and act all this stuff out? Well, they were trying to please their concept of Baal as a god. We’re going to act out all of the activities that you do! We’re going to cut the throat of our children and sacrifice them to make you happy. All of that was being done in the name of promoting affluence and prosperity. You want to be affluent and prosperous? You’ll act out these things. You’ll sacrifice your child and Baal will be impressed and then he will bless us with rain and affluence and prosperity.

Dale Ralph Davis talks about the time in Israel just before Ahab, and the time in Israel just after Ahab, and here is the way he describes it: Before Ahab, he said, the nation was like morally drinking from polluted water. I have never had to drink from polluted water. It doesn’t sound very fun. But, that is the picture of the nation before Ahab. Afterwards, he said, the nation was morally sucking raw sewage. Now, that is a significant step down!!

I Kings 21:25 says this, “Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him.” She was the driving force behind all of this. Historically, her name became synonymous with religious sexual immorality and spiritual darkness. In fact, in the New Testament when the book of the Revelation is written, and Jesus is sending a message to the church at Thyatira, He says, “I have this against you, that you tolerate Jezebel.” He doesn’t mean literally Jezebel because she died centuries before, but again, she is synonymous with religious sexual immorality and spiritual darkness.

We’re talking about three specifics that relate to Ahab. The first one is how he considered walking away from God to be a minor, trivial thing. He was eagerly following along the chain of sin and rebellion. He also married Jezebel.

The third thing he did might surprise us and that is, he approved the rebuilding of Jericho. Look at chapter 16 and verse 34. It says, “In his days (that is, in the days of Ahab) Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho.” You might say, ‘What is the big deal with that? Remember Jericho and the walls all came tumbling down? I mean, what is wrong with rebuilding the city? Sounds like something he ought to do.’

But the Lord had inspired Joshua to communicate something. We see it in Joshua, chapter 6, verse 26. Joshua pronounces a curse there and he says, “Cursed before the Lord is the man who undertakes to rebuild the city Jericho. At the cost of his firstborn son, he will lay its foundation. At the cost of his youngest he shall set up its gates.” God said, ‘I don’t ever want this city rebuilt and whoever rebuilds it is going to pay a big price.

Now go back and look at verse 34. It says, “In his days (Ahab’s days) he gave permission to Hiel the Bethelite to rebuild Jericho and he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.” Why is that significant? It is because everybody in Israel knew about the curse that had been delivered about rebuilding Jericho.

And, giving permission for that to happen was a very high-handed, in your face God! [a very aggressive, confrontational act] thing for Ahab to do. He was basically saying, ‘I don’t care what you say. I’m going to do what I what to do, what I want to do, what I want to do!!’ Then, God delivered on the curse that He had proclaimed on whoever rebuilt it. But, this tells us a lot about Ahab.

Just think about this. This is Elijah’s world. Is this not a rather difficult environment to be in? I mean, it is a difficult environment to step up and identify yourself as a follower of the true God. It is a difficult environment to risk the potential rejection and condemnation, or even worse, that could come your way.

You know what is interesting to me? Our culture, I think, is also trending downward. Have you been feeling it recently? Have you been feeling the sense of growing times of desperation? You might say, ‘Yeah, see some of that, but boy, at least we don’t worship idols like they did there in Israel.’ But we need to remember, an idol is anything that we put in a place where God should be.

The truth of the matter, men and women, is that we in our culture worship idols. You know, we worship, in our culture, the god of sex. It is interesting, I was looking up some statistics this last week, found out that the United States of America is the number one producer of pornography in all of the world. And the United States is the number one consumer of pornography in all of the world. In fact, the second-place country, you have to go ‘three times them’ to get to us as the number one. The second-place country is the United Kingdom.

Every second there are 28,000 plus people watching pornography on the internet. Every second there are $3,000 being spent on pornography. We, in our culture, worship the god of sex.  You know what is interesting about the god of sex? It is that the invasion of this into our culture is beginning to start lower and lower. We now have the invasion into the sexual activity of our middle school students, worshipping the god of sex. It has even led to—because we worship the god of sex–an attack on God’s design for marriage.

Then, you might think, ‘Well, wait a minute. Okay, I see that. I see that we do idol worship too, but at least we don’t sacrifice children.’ Really? You know the latest stats I could find were from 2013 and in 2013 in the United States of America, 660,000 reported abortions. 660,000 in one year in our culture! God is big enough to bring forgiveness to individuals for repentance for those kinds of things.  But this is our culture we are talking about!! Someone came up to me after the last service and they said, ‘You ought to add in child trafficking to all of that,’ in terms of sacrificing kids. It is so true.

We worship the god of sex in our culture. We worship the god of materialism. I don’t even have to tell you that, you know that. You know, “it is all about stuff, stuff, stuff, more stuff.” You know what I always notice? I notice–and you’ve heard this a lot recently—let’s do anything we have to gain prosperity, because prosperity is the most important thing! That is worshipping the god of materialism.

We also worship the god of entertainment. You see it very clearly in the exorbitant amount of salaries we pay our athletes, because we worship there. It doesn’t mean that entertainment is wrong. I enjoy entertainment. I enjoy being entertained at certain things. But it is interesting that what we pay for entertainment in our culture every month exceeds what is invested in God’s kingdom every month.

I don’t need to convince you of all of this. There is just a downward flow to our culture. There is the political turmoil we see. Our political leaders seem to be paralyzed. They can’t get anything done. We have this increasing racial unrest that we are feeling. There is the growing nuclear threat. There is the radical Islam war that is coming upon us; where they want to wipe the western culture off the map.

What is happening in the midst of all of this for those that name the name of Christ? Well, increasing hostility is coming our way, right? Increasing hostility towards followers of Jesus and believers in the Bible. Now we are being called bigots and haters because we desire to uphold God’s standards. The aim in all of this in our culture is to silence those who walk with God and speak for God. We don’t often talk about this stuff, but it is important, I think, for us to acknowledge it.

I want to read to you a quote from John Butler, something he wrote that I think is amazingly spot on. Here is what he wrote, “Evil often seeks to be allowed and permitted on the basis of tolerance, freedom of expression, rights, equal time, etcetera. But once it gets a foothold, you can count on it changing its tune about tolerance and equal rights. It will be sovereign and any competitors will be cruelly battered into submission.” I saw that and I thought, ‘Wow! What a description of what we have been seeing happening recently in our culture.’ You would have thought he wrote that last week, but he actually wrote that in 1994, almost a quarter of a century ago. But he understood the way that it works.

And with all this happening in our culture, let’s just be transparent…I know I struggle with this. It becomes easy to kind of drift with the cultural current. It is easy to just say, ‘I think I will just sort of blend in. I don’t really want to make a lot of waves.’ It is easy to drift. It is easy to blend in rather than stepping up and speaking up, and standing alone, if necessary, and even risking rejection on the part of our culture. You know, men and women, I think we can learn something from Elijah. I think we can learn something from this guy!

Back in chapter 17, verse 1, it begins with the word, “now.” Now we have a better feel for his world. The nations were in a spiritual sewer. That is Elijah’s world. Let’s look at Elijah the man, there in verse 1. It says, “Now Elijah the Tishbite was of the settlers of Gilead.” A Tishbite was someone from the town of Tishbe and as much as we have tried to locate the town of Tishbe, we have never been able to find it. We don’t really know where the town of Tishbe was exactly. It also tells us that he was of the settlers of Gilead. Again, if you think of the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea: east of the Jordan River were the mountains of Gilead.

It is fascinating to me that we know nothing about this guy. He was from Tishbe, we know that, and his family’s background was the mountains of Gilead, but other than that we know nothing. There is no genealogy. There is no word about his parents. There is no word about his grandparents. He was likely not super educated because he was from the mountains, not the big city of Jerusalem. You know what? I think this is all by design by God! It is emphasizing that Elijah was an ordinary, regular guy.

And the New Testament backs that up. In James, chapter 5, verse 17, it says Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. I remember when I first read that. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. I am like, Wait a minute! Time out, God. Are you kidding me? I mean, Elijah was a guy who prayed and resurrected a widow’s young son– dead as a door nail [very clearly dead]. Elijah prayed and the boy was resurrected from the dead. I’ve never done anything like that.

He was a guy who faced down 450 prophets of Baal and called down fire from heaven. I’ve certainly never done that. And, when he died, he was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire! I can say, when I die, I don’t think there will be a chariot of fire pulling up at my house.

So, to me, early on, there was this disconnect that went on. Are you kidding me? He’s an ordinary, regular guy??  But, the truth of the matter is he was really like us…an ordinary, regular guy. He had to face a hostile culture. He, we are going to see, was a regular, ordinary guy who experienced fear and loneliness and doubt in his life. He was a regular guy even after a big spiritual victory like with the prophets of Baal. He hears threats from the woman Jezebel and he takes off running as fast as he can in the other direction.

We are going to see he was a guy who suffered from discouragement and depression. He was an up-and-down guy. Do you identify with that? He even develops a “Lone Ranger syndrome,” you know, a little bit of self-pity like I am the only one who is doing anything spiritual around here. It is just a shame that I am the only one. And he lived in a time of a degrading culture and a time of desperation.

But don’t miss what made this ordinary guy extraordinary. Look again at his name there in verse 1. His name is Elijah, it breaks down into several things. The “E-L” is one of the names for God. The “J-A-H” is a shortened version of Yahweh. And, the “I,” in Hebrew, is “My.” His name means literally: “The Lord, Yahweh, is My God.” That’s what makes an ordinary person extraordinary!! Our relationship with the living and true God.

So, Elijah goes in to Ahab. We know who this dude is now. He says to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives,” he is basically saying, ‘I am a follower of the living God, the real God, the true God.’ Then he says, “Before whom I stand.” There was this confident awareness of the presence of God with him. He didn’t feel alone. The idea was—God knows the situation and God is bigger than this situation, Elijah was saying.

Let me ask you a question, how big really is your God? I don’t mean theoretically up here [points at head]; I mean practically in everyday functioning. How big is your God as we see the culture sliding downward? Is the attitude, Hey, wait a minute, God already knows this situation. He is bigger than the situation. I don’t need to start breaking out into a sweat. How big is your God when you are tempted to step back and sort of blend in and not say much of anything?

I think really what Elijah was saying to him (Ahab) here was, ‘You know what? You are pretty small compared to my God…who is the living God.’ So often we lack boldness and courage. Why? Because we make men out to be bigger than God, and even the circumstances to be bigger than God. We are going to see next time that Elijah was willing to act very clearly on God’s word.

No matter what the situation may be in the culture, God is always at work. He is always at work. He has always been at work. He always has a counter movement that is going on when there is an explosion of evil. That is exactly what happened in the kingdom of Israel. We are going to see that Elijah put his hope in the promises of God. He is a man of prayer who walked with God in the midst of a warped world.

That leads us to the principle we want to begin to look at, and that is that God calls ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. God calls ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

Ray Pritchard—I love the way he wrote it—he said this, “When God wanted to bring forth a great nation, He called a successful, middle-aged businessman named Abram and told him to leave Ur of the Chaldees. When God wanted to deliver His people, He found an introvert, slow of speech, named Moses and sent him to talk to the Pharaoh, the most powerful person on the face of the planet.” God calls ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

“When the Lord needed someone to hide the spies in Jericho, He found a prostitute named Rahab. When God needed someone to defeat the giant Goliath, He chose a very young shepherd boy named David.” God calls ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

“When God wanted to deliver His people from destruction, He chose a young girl named Esther. When Christ wanted some men in His inner circle, He chose fishermen and a despised tax collector and a loud-mouth named Peter and told them to drop everything and follow Him.” God calls ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.

We need men, women and young people this day. We need young people, men and women, in our schools and our businesses and our political offices and our halls of justice and our neighborhoods, who will stand tall and stand strong and boldly declare: “I believe in Jesus Christ.” We need men, women and young people who will heed the call to seize the day, who will step up for the Lord in days of apostasy. Men, women and young people who will stand alone if necessary. Here is one thing that is important to remember: each of us only has so much time on this planet to make a difference for eternity. As I’ve gotten older it has been so vivid to me, there are only so many days to make a difference for eternity. There are only so many days to share the message of Jesus Christ with people.

There was a movie a number of years ago entitled ‘The Dead Poets Society.” It is a movie that stars Robin Williams and in this movie he plays the character of John Keating. John Keating is teaching a literature class in this elite high school boarding school. He is teaching a class of boys. As he is teaching them, he wants these students to learn a principle. He wants them to be different than most high school students who are just sort of drifting along, just sort of blending in. He wants them to be different. He wants them to seize the day while there is opportunity. Part of what he uses to bring that point home to them is a little poem, a line from a poem, that goes like this:

“Gather ye rose buds while ye may”

The idea is to seize the day; to take advantage of the opportunity. What he does with his students is, he takes them out of their classroom, down the hallway, to this place where there is a glass case. In that class case are pictures of students from a hundred years before. He wants to communicate to these students he is teaching now: don’t just drift through life.

Let’s take a look at a clip from the movie:

“Gather ye rose buds while ye may. The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem, seize the day. Gather ye rose buds while ye may. I would like you to just step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times, but I don’t think you’ve really looked at them. They’re not that different from you, are they? They believe they are destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make for their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. If you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Come on, lean in. Listen. Do you hear it? [whispers] Carpe…Carpe…Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

[Bruce speaking now] You know, Elijah is speaking to us twenty-eight centuries later. Are we going to lean in and listen to what we can learn? You know, we only have a limited time to make a difference. We need to seize the day for His kingdom and for His glory. We need to stand up and boldly declare: I believe in Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray together. Father, we just thank You for Elijah and everything that he has to teach us. What an adventure we are going to be on as we lean in and listen to the legacy he wants to pass to us. We would pray that we would be men, women, and young people who stand up and boldly declare, boldly declare:  I believe in Jesus Christ. And we pray these things in His mighty name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection

1 Kings 17:1

1. We all struggle at times with the pressure to sacrifice moral and ethical principles to blend in with the culture.  In what arenas do you find the greatest temptation?

2. What “idols” (anything that we put before God) do you see as the most prominent in our culture?  Which are you most susceptible to be drawn to?  What is the ultimate solution to idol worship?

3. What is the relationship between the morality of a key government leader and his effect on those he leads?

4. Someone might ask, Does God really notice when national leaders live lives that consistently demonstrate rebellion before God?  Give your response and why.

5. John Butler’s quote from 1994:

“Evil often seeks to be allowed and permitted on the basis of tolerance, freedom of expression, rights, equal time, etc.  But once it gets a foothold, you can count on it changing its tune about tolerance and equal rights.  It will be the sovereign, and any competitors will be cruelly battered into submission.”

Where do you see this unfolding in our culture today?

6. Re-read 1 Kings 17:1.  What were the keys for Elijah in holding up and not folding up in the face of his day.

7. What are some practical ways we can “seize the day” for God’s glory, where we can stand tall and strong and declare that we believe in Jesus Christ?

8. Praise God in prayer for providing us the Scriptures and examples like Elijah, reminding us he can use anyone

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