Yom Shishi, 27 Tammuz 5777 — יוֹם שִׁשִּׁי כז תַּמּוּז ה' תשעז Friday, 21 July 2017
1 Kings 19

I wanted to talk just a little about the Haftorah portion for this week. I think it is pretty amazing to think of Jewish people all around the world reading the same portion of Scripture. The Torah is divided up by weeks so that it is read in one year. A Haftorah portion is also read each week, which is taken from the Prophets or writings. I love this passage of Scripture in the Haftorah. It's 1 Kings 19. I'm amazed at the God we see here. In the Judaism I grew up in, God was out there, far away, not intimately involved in my life. Well, this passage shows a God who is very intimately involved in our lives.

This is the chapter that immediately follows the famous episode on Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged the 400 false prophets to a contest to see who the true God was. He prayed to the Lord and fire came down from heaven and burnt up the offering he laid out, thus the Lord showed to all present that he is the one true God. Elijah then pursued and slew all the false prophets. Then three years of drought brought on by the Lord ceased. He then girded up his loins and outran the chariot of Ahab back to Jezreel.

Now lets read the first four verses.

1 Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." 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 desert. He came to a broom tree, 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."

The evil queen Jezebel heard all Elijah had done and she was mad. She threatens his life. What does Elijah do?

In v.3, he runs, he is terrified. He gets as far away as he can, as fast as he can. Does that make sense to you?

Now if you remember Elijah had just called down fire from heaven in front of 400 false prophets. He had just outrun a chariot in a miraculous way.

Even before this event, King Ahab had sent battalions of men to capture Elijah only to have Elijah fearlessly watch God destroy them. Dead were raised and oil and flour multiplied at Elijah's hand. The Lord even had Ravens bring him food. This is a man who has seen God do things we can only imagine. He has watched God deliver him, do tremendous miracles at his hand.

Then why does Jezebel suddenly have him shaking in his boots so bad? Who is she? What did he think God suddenly forsook him, or suddenly dissappeared or was rendered powerless?

How could the threats of this one woman so terrify him? How could he suddenly have such a lapse of faith? This is crazy, it doesn't make sense.

In v. 4 Elijah prayed that he might die, and said he is no better than his fathers. I believe he was saying he was just like his forefathers who saw the miracles of God in Egypt and in the wilderness yet had no faith. He was no better than they were, and he deserves no better fate than theirs.

He is a beaten man. Just days before, he was literally on top of the mountain, but look at him now. Frightened, Faithless, and self-pitying

Now for an important question.

How did God react to Elijah? What did he do? Was God angry or disappointed with him? Condemning his faithlessness? Lets look.

5 Then he (Elijah) lay down under the tree 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 a cake of 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 travelled for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 _ There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too."11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 14 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." 15 The LORD said to him, "Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

So was God Angry with Elijah? Condemning? Hardly, what did God do? He renewed him. I think we see God renewing Elijah in three ways. Firstly, he renewed his strength, secondly He renewed a sense of His presence and then He renewed his calling.

Look at this in verse 5. Elijah was dead asleep, exhausted depressed. The angel of the Lord, who is the Lord himself, touches him and gives him food and puts him back to sleep.

How did God meet this exhausted failure of faith? It is just like he just put his arm on him, and said rest my child, have something to eat.

Then after a little more sleep, he gave him something more to eat and sent him on Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God. God had renewed his strength. Then, at Horeb, he gave him a renewed sense of his presence.

He was told to stand outside the cave as the presence of the Lord passes by. Then a great wind, and great fire and a great earthquake came by, but the Lord was not in them. But then Lord came to him in a gentle whisper. Then after renewing Elijah with a sense of his presence, he renews Elijah's calling.

in v. 15, he renews Elijah's calling by sending him out for another job. Go anoint Hazael to be king over Aram, Jehu to be king over Israel and Elisha to be prophet. You are still called and set apart to God, and I have work for you to do.

Wow, is that how you picture God, is that the God you know. Intimately understanding us, even in our weakness. God knows us, the Lord comforts us, strengthens us, renews us, makes us to sense his presence and his calling, sending us out to do His will.

But lest we slip into having a view of God like an all-accepting, all-loving warm fuzzy deity. Let us remember the Scripture also calls the Lord a jealous God, and a just God, who hates evil.

God showed incredible love and acceptance and understanding towards Elijah. But does his favor rest on everyone like that, is he really pleased with everyone? What kind of man was Elijah that he should have such favor with God? He is obviously not a perfect man from this passage. Which makes sense, even King David, who is described as the man after God's own heart wasn't perfect, far from it. But God was pleased with him too.

But the key is in Verse 14. I have been zealous for you Lord, Elijah says. He says look around me, look at the Israelites, they have broken your covenant, broken down your altars, killed your prophets, and now they are trying to kill me. I am the only one left who bows his knee only to You.

And God's answer? Actually, there are 7,000 of you. And this is Israel. Israel had gone completely astray of the Lord.

Elijah stood in the midst of a society and a people that were radically opposed to the Lord. And God was not happy with Israel at all, but he was happy with his faithful ones who stood for him no matter what the rest of Israel thought about it.

This situation and verses are quoted by the Apostle Paul in the Book of Romans, chapter 11.

You can tell by Paul's rhetorical question at the start of Chapter 11, "Has God abandoned his people?" what is happening here.

People are looking at a nation of Israel who has rejected Y'shua, Jesus as Messiah. God has sent his promised one, the one promised to Israel through Moses, David and the prophets, yet Israel has rejected him.

And people are saying what happened? Has God now rejected His people whom he foreknew? Essentially saying, This is God's chosen people, how can this be?

And Paul's response. I am paraphrasing here, but essentially he says, no he hasn't. Am I not a Jew, he couldn't have rejected us all, if I am here, and then he says don't you remember what the Lord said to Elijah?

I have reserved for myself 7,000.

Paul goes on to say, just as their was remnant of faithful Jewish people then, so there is a remnant of faithful ones today.

And to our question, does God's favor rest on everyone, Paul goes on in Romans 11 with these troubling words, verse 22 for those following along.

"Consider, therefore the kindness and sternness of God, sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off."

Basically yes, God is a God of incredible love and mercy, beyond all we can imagine. But God is nobody's fool. And so far he is from a fool, God sees everything, God knows everything. Nothing is hidden from his sight. Nothing.

As it is written.

Heb 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

So what does God see when he looks at you and I? Are you one who is resting in God's kindness or God's sternness? Are you standing in his Mercy or under his Judgement?

Are you that faithful, zealous servant of the Lord, who is just having a hard time now, feeling like a failure, feeling faithless?

Take courage, God knows, and he understands and he will renew you.

Or Are you one who claims to believe in Y'shua, but if you are honest with yourself, there are a lot of other things you are bowing down to besides him. Would the people around you describe you as faithful and zealous for the Lord?

Maybe you are here, and you have not really bowed your knee to the Lord, and said you will serve him only.

And if you are Jewish, it will be especially hard to realize that if you are bowing your knee to the Lord in truth and with all your heart, you will bow your knee to the one he has sent, his son, our Lord, the King, the Messiah Y'shua.

And it's only through him, that God can then forgive you for all that you have done. But when you do come to him, you will become one of the remnant today, of Jewish people who stand up for the Lord, God of Israel, in spirit and truth.

Maybe you are ready to make that step, maybe you just want ask God to show you the truth.

We are going to have a little music, this is a time for you to sit before God, and talk to him. After a little bit I will pray, then we will have a closing song. If you want to talk to someone, maybe about some kind of commitment you have made today, please find one of us or the team. If you have made a commitment before God, you will seal it as you tell another person about it.