"WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
Intro. Elijah has just had a great victory over the false prophets. Jehovah was vindicated in the eyes of the nation by sending the fire to consume the the sacrifice which the false God Baal could not do. Elijah seizing the moment killed the 450 prophets of Baal by the Kishon brook.
I. THE THREAT AGAINST HIS LIFE.
A. Jezebel the wicked wife of king Ahab has vowed to kill Elijah and we see this mighty man of God is fleeing for his life.
B. The experiences of Elijah so mirrors the experiences of our lives.
1. It seems that we can go from the highest of mountain top
experiences to the deepest valleys of despair almost overnight.
2. From great victories of faith to fear and defeat.
C. Could not Elijah this mighty man of God called down fire to consume this wicked queen? Must he fear and run for his life?
1. On another occasion when they had sent a captain with fifty men to arrest him and the captain commanded him saying, Thou man of God, the king has commanded you to come down. Elijah said, "If I am a man of God let fire come down and consume you and your fifty men." And fire came down from heaven and consumed them.
2. Was it necessary then for him to flee? Could he not have called fire on her as he did the arresting captain?
3. God had miraculous sustained him through the long draught, but he did not have the faith to believe that God could sustain him from the threats of wicked Jezebel.
D. This story certainly tells us that great men of God can get discouraged. That men of God can sometimes experience fear and defeat
1. We do not always live on the mountain top we must cross the valleys to get to the next peak.
2. We sometimes must pass through deep water.
3. We sometimes find ourselves in a fiery trial.
4. But we have the promise of God.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you.
5. There are times when we feel, surely I'm going under or in a fiery trial, surely I am going to be consumed.
6. But here I am, God was faithful, He saw me through. I stand here today as a living witness of the power of God to keep.
7. If you have done your reading this week, you will remember how that Ben Hadad the Syrian king had come against Israel and how that his forces were defeated. The next year when they had regrouped to attack again, they said, their God is the God of the mountains, our mistake was to meet them in the mountains, let us fight them in the valley. They discovered He was the God of the valleys also. The Lord is with me on the mountain top experiences, He is with me in the valleys.
II. HIS FLIGHT THOROUGH THE WILDERNESS.
A. His servant went with him as far as Beersheba.
1. From there Elijah went on alone a days journey into the wilderness where wearied with the journey sat down under a Juniper tree and requested that God would take away his life.
2. Have you ever been so discouraged that you thought that death was the only way to escape from your problems? Have you ever thought "Move over Elijah, I want to sit down beside you."
B. Fear gripping his racing heart, tired from his flight, he fell asleep under the Juniper tree.
1. Suddenly he is awakened by an angel who has prepared him a Spartan meal of bread and water which he ate and drank and then went back to sleep.
2. Again he was awakened by the angel with more bread and water. He again was commanded to eat for the journey you are about to embark on is too great for you to take.
3. Basically Elijah, you cannot make it on your own strength or reserves, you are going to need this provision from God.
a. God knows that our journey through this life is more than we can handle, we need His provisions if we are to survive.
b. I have no qualms about declaring my dependency upon the Lord.
c. To me the wonderful thing is that God is there to provide me with all that I need to successfully make my journey.
III. ELIJAH IN THE CAVE.
A. We see this lone figure trudging through the barren wilderness to mount Horeb, where Moses met with God.
1. When he arrives, he lodges in a cave.
2. Here where Moses met with God, the discouraged prophet will also meet with God.
3. The word of God came to him saying, "What are you doing here Elijah?"
4. Here is where words on a page do not always convey the true meaning, you need to hear the tonal inflection.
a. Was God saying, "What are you DOING here, Elijah?" emphasis on doing. As you might ask, Whatcha doin?
b. Or was it, "What are you doing HERE, Elijah?" Emphasis on here. This is a barren wilderness, what brings you out here? You are a city boy.
5. Elijah did not really answer the question but only uttered his tale of woe.
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and have slain Your prophets with the sword; and I am the only one left; and they are trying to find me to kill me.
6. Lord if you lose any more prophets, You'll be out of business.
B. The Lord commanded him to go out of the cave and stand on the mount before the Lord, and the Lord passed by.
1. A strong wind ripped through the mountain dislodging rocks. But God was not in the wind.
2. After the wind there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake.
3. Then there was a fire, but God was not in the fire.
4. There have been times when God was in the wind. On the day of Pentecost, sound of a mighty rushing wind as they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
5. Times when God was in the earthquake. When Paul and Silas were fastened in the stocks in the Philippian jail.
6. Times when God was in the fire. The three Hebrew children.
7. Then their came a still small voice, and God was in the still small voice.
8. God can speak in the wind, He can speak in an earthquake, and in the fire, but most generally He speaks in the still small voice.
a. That soft inner voice that assures me of His love.
b. That still small voice that warns me when I am tempted to take the wrong path.
C. God repeated the question, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
1. He repeated it because Elijah did not answer it the first time, he only voiced his complaint to God.
2. It was a direct question and required only a simple answer. The true answer to the question was hiding or I'm doing nothing.
3. Elijah however gave Him the same answer as the first time.
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and have slain Your prophets with the sword; and I, am the only one left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
4. No Elijah, you still don't get it, I didn't ask, "What is your problem? But what are you doing here?
5. Again the correct answer is hiding and doing nothing.
IV. GOD'S ANSWER TO THE DISCOURAGED PROPHET. "GET TO WORK."
A. Go to Damascus and anoint Hazael as king over Syria, anoint Jehu as king over Samaria, and anoint Elisha to take your place.
B. God's answer was to get him back to work.
C. Satan would so often try to discourage us from doing the work of the Lord.
1. He would love to see us hiding in a cave.
2. He seeks to discourage us by causing us to think that we are alone in our devotion for God.
3. He often will use someone to send us nasty letters.
4. I get these kind of letters about once a week. I get scores of letters of thanksgiving for how the Lord has used the teaching of his word to transform lives and families, it is interesting how the one letter can sort of bug you.
5. I used to be troubled by those nasty letters, always unsigned, that were so condemning until I read the question in Romans 8
"Who is he that condemneth, it is Christ who has died, ye rather has risen again and is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us." I realized that those letters of accusation and condemnation are coming from Satan himself, he is the one who has inspired the person to write. So now I just throw them in the trash and say, another letter from hell.
6. Satan seeks to use the tool of discouragement to drive us to inactivity and to hide in some cave, but the Lord comes to our cave and asks, "What are you doing here?" Don't tell Him all your woes, just ask, "What would you have me to do Lord?"
D. God sort of answered as a post script, "You are not alone, Elijah, I have seven thousand who have not bowed their knees to Baal."
1. You are not alone, and things are not as bad as you paint them. If we allow negative thinking or fear to take over the case is always seems to be worse than it is. The problems are always larger when you look at them through fearful eyes.