Jerry Locke
Series of 11 Short Studies
FAMOUS FAILURES - Part 9 - Elijah — Discouraged
About The Protection Of God

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FAMOUS FAILURES - Part 9 - Elijah — Discouraged About The Protection Of God

1 Kings 19

In in studying the life of Elijah you will see him at Cherith there he is in divine confinement. At Zarephath we see his condescension. And at Carmel he is in a life and death contest. In every way and on every day we have seen a man who was as solid as a rock. In one afternoon at Carmel's contest Elijah became a national hero and rightly so. "And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah," 1 Kings 18:46.

How strange it is to read in chapter nineteen of the hero who became a zero! Although James 5:17 says "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are" most of us would not believe it until we come to this chapter in his life. It is hard for us to believe that the man of God of this chapter is the same man of God of the earlier chapters.

In 1 Kings 17 & 18 Elijah is Fearless...Confrontive...Risking his life...Listens to God...Waits on God….Stands for God.

How is it that Elijah could utterly fall so quickly into discouragement, disillusionment, defeat and depression? And instead of focusing only on a man who lived hundreds of years ago in another country and in another culture, let's be sure we see ourselves. This story is, also, about us! There have been times we, too, have gone from hero to zero in a record-breaking time.

Whether your battle with the blues is just a small-scale scrimmage with sadness or an all-out war with despair — discouragement and depression has touched all our lives. Young and old, rich and poor, wise and unwise, we all share this common ailment.

Consult your maps in the back of your Bible. Find one that has the Holy Land during the times of the Kings. Now follow the travels of Elijah.

<1> Go to the brook Cherith (? miles).

<2> Cherith to Zarephath, Zidon (100 miles).

<3> Zarephath to Mt. Carmel (50 miles).

<4> Mt. Carmel to Jezreel (20 miles running before the chariot of Ahab).

<5> Jezreel to Beersheba (80 miles). Here Elijah camped under a Juniper tree and wished to die. I wouldn't have had to ask to die — that trip would have killed me!

<6> Beersheba to Mt. Horeb, Sinai (200 miles). A trip taking 40 days and 40 nights.

1. The Subtle Snare of Success.

"It is a dangerous day for the preacher when he has just preached his greatest sermon," W. A. Criswell.

It is also a dangerous day for the church when it has had a great day with excellent attendance and souls being saved.

The church in the New Testament advanced during persecution and trials, but backslid during prosperity and acceptance.

Elijah had just had his biggest success and it was about to be followed by his biggest failure. Elijah had gone from a show down at Carmel to a let down at Horeb.

2. The Feebleness of Fallen Flesh.

Jesus said, "The flesh is weak," Matthew 26:41. Paul warned, "Have no confidence in the flesh," Philippians 3:3.

Elijah's discouragement and depression can find their roots in his fallen flesh.

He was tired. Burned out for the moment. Physically and emotionally he was washed out. We never grow tired of the work, but we can easily grow tired in the work. There are several Bible examples of discouragement following intense ministries.

· Jonah,

· Jeremiah

· John the Baptist.

He was threatened. Ahab ruled the roost. But Jezebel ruled the rooster! Ahab told Jezebel that her preacher boys were not going to make it for dinner, ever! Enraged, Jezebel put out a contract on Elijah and declared that he would be dead by the next evening. When we are threatened there is a real emotional drain that sets us up for depression and discouragement.

Evaluate your discouragement.

· The Blahs, effecting our attitude and resulting in apathy.

· The Blues, effecting our emotions and resulting in the weeps.

· The Belly, effecting our appetite and resulting in physical ailments.

· The Bed, effecting our ability to sleep and sex drive.

The first instinct when we have a problem is to run — run as fast and as far as we can do. Abraham did it. So did Lot, Jonah, Peter, the Prodigal Son and Elijah. How fitting are the words of the old hymn, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love."

3.The Goodness of our Gracious God.

The Psalmist asked, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" Psalm 8:4.

God is good to care for us, v. 5-7. God sent no angel to Cherith or Zarephath or Carmel. There were miracles in all those places, but no angels. But, here under the juniper tree God gives Elijah assistance by an angel. And some special food - angel food cake, I suppose.

God is good to comfort us. God knows when to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable! Elijah needed to relax, sleep, and eat. God was willing to wait. Psalm 103:14 tells us that God is aware that we are "dust." And some of us are dustier than others! Jesus told His disciples, "Come ye apart¯," Mark 6:31.

God is good to confront us. 1 Kings 19:9 says Elijah went to Horeb (Mt. Sinai) and lodged in a cave. He was one of several "cave men" in the Bible (Lot and David being at least two others). Elijah had hit the bottom. It is here that God confronts Elijah with the piercing, painful, personal, present, pressing question, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:9, 13. Elijah was having a pity-party and God was not bringing any refreshments.

God is good to communicate with us, v.9. "Behold, the world of the Lord came to him." He didn't go looking for God. God came looking for him. As God passed by Elijah's cave there was a strong wind, a mighty earthquake and a consuming fire, but God was not in those things.

· How did Adam fail? He defied the command of God. God used a symbol to get his attention—an animal slain for his sin.

· How did Moses fail? He disregarded the plan of God. God used to get his attention? A sight - the burning bush.

· How did Jonah fail? He disobeyed the Word of God. And God used a storm to get his attention.

· How did Peter fail? He denied the Son of God. God used a sound to reclaim him– a crowing rooster.

· How did John Mark fail? He deserted the work of God. God used a servant to reclaim him—Barnabas.

· How did David fail? He defiled the purity of God. God used a sermon to reclaim him.

· How did John the Baptist fail? He doubted the purpose of God. God used a scripture to set him right.

· How did Elijah fail? He was discouraged about the protection of God. God used a "a still small voice."

It was the still small voice of God that touched the heart of the old prophet.

God is good to give us a second commission, v. 15-18. God was not through with Elijah. There was a king to crown, enemies to conquer and a prophet to call. There is still plenty to do.

God is good to give a close companion to us, v. 19-21. One of Elijah's incessant excuses that that he felt alone in his tand for the Lord, v. 10, 14. He wasn't alone, for God had seven thousand in Israel who refused to bow to Baal. So, for a special assignment, Elijah was given Elisha who "ministered unto him," v. 21. God was good to give Elijah someone to love, understand and encourage him. God is good to us by giving us marriage partners and friends in the family of God.

Life Lessons:

1. There is a big difference between God's "theres" and our "heres." See 1 Kings 17:4 & 9 contrasted with 1 Kings 19:9.

2. There are both "ups" and "downs" in all peoples lives, saints included. Life is full of hills and valleys.

3. You may occasionally be down, but that does not mean you have to be out.

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