- Sermon Notes
Elijah and the Secret of God’s Provision
1 Kings 16:29 – 17:16
November 6-7, 2021
In 1 Kings 16 we meet Ahab, seventh king of the northern kingdom of Israel. The nation of Israel became divided after Solomon’s death; 10 tribes in the north called Israel and two tribes in the south called Judah.
The spiritual condition in the north was not good. I saw a chart which listed the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel, and it included a description of whether a king was bad or good. Beginning with Jeroboam, the first king of the northern kingdom, the kings were listed as bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, very bad, and the worst; that would be King Ahab.
In verse 31 it reads, “as though it had been a trivial thing to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, Ahab married Jezebel and worshiped and served Baal.” So here we are introduced to King Ahab as well as to Jezebel.
Without question, many already know that Jezebel was a wicked woman. If a woman today is described as a “Jezebel,” you can be sure it is not a compliment, it’s an insult.
Young parents often research to find interesting names for their children. I have never yet met anyone who named their daughter Jezebel. Her name is used in the book of Revelation to describe a wicked and adulterous generation.
We are introduced to Elijah the prophet in chapter 17. Elijah was perhaps the greatest prophet in the Old Testament. We know nothing of his background. We don’t know who his parents were, although we do know that he was hairy in appearance.
His name means “God is Jehovah.” Which tells you something about his parents that they would choose such a powerful, God honoring name.
The times in which Elijah lived were some of the darkest in the history of the northern kingdom of Israel. King Ahab erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom. He also made the Asherah.
These were the gods that had caused God to remove the nations from that land and give it to Israel. Can you imagine how it must have broken God’s heart to see his own people falling into such spiritual darkness?
Baal was the male god of fertility and Asherah was the female god of fertility. They were idols. Israel looked to the gods of fertility as the source of the rain and would give sacrifices and offerings to them so these idols would make their lands fertile.
But Jehovah is the God of Israel. He and He alone is the One who will bless their land…
Psalm 1:1-4, How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
They looked to Baal and Asherah to make their lands fertile, to be the source of rain, so God sent Elijah to shut the heavens. There would be no rain until Elijah gave the word.
It’s a story filled with life lessons. Who is your source? May it be God and God alone. “Whom have I in heaven but you?… God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
I. You Have One Source. All Else Fails
- Elijah knew there was no power in these gods. They had ears but they couldn’t hear, they had eyes but couldn’t see, and they had mouths, but couldn’t speak.
- He also knew that those who pursued them would be like them. They were empty.
- Where does your help come from? To whom do you look to be the provision of your life?
- Israel looked to Baal and Asherah to be their source of rain? Then there would be no rain. God will make a point of it.
- Without rain there is no blessing, there is no produce, there is no provision. It becomes a dry and dusty land where there is no water. It was a perfect reflection of their soul.
Psalm 63:1, O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
A. Elijah’s heart was on fire
- When Elijah stood before Ahab, you could see the confidence of his faith. “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there will be no rain or dew, except at my word.”
- A couple chapters later he says, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts.”
- Israel’s heart had turned from God. They were as empty as the idols they pursued. Elijah had a zeal for the Lord because there is no one like our God.
- You see the great things Elijah did and you could say to yourself, well, he’s unique; there’s no comparison to me at all.
- But God does make a comparison to you and me in the New Testament.
James 5:16-18, The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
- Elijah knew that the heart of the nation was key to God’s strength in their nation or their downfall and ruin.
Deuteronomy 11:13-15, “It shall come about… If you love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give rain for your land in its season, the early and latter rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”
B. Consider the ravens as God’s provision
- After Elijah gave God’s message to Ahab, the Lord told him to go east to the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
- Verse 4 – “And it shall be that you shall drink of the brook, I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.”
- When an interesting phrase, “I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.”
- Who would have thought that God could use ravens? They have such a negative image. They are large black birds, much larger than a crow. Their wingspan can be more than 4 feet.
- But God didn’t ask Elijah to approve. Ravens were unclean, they are not kosher to eat. But God commanded the ravens. It was His “black raven catering service.”
- God’s provision may not come in the way you might like or choose. But God cares for the ravens, and He will use them for His purpose.
Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens, they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable are you than the birds!”
- God was providing, and Elijah had enough. God was doing something in Elijah. He was building his faith and teaching him to trust.
- This is a pattern you see in those that God used to make a difference in their generation.
Illus – Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God would use him to lead Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. Joseph spent years in prison in Egypt waiting while God fulfilled every word that He had given to Joseph. Paul spent three years in the desert of Arabia before God used him to reach his generation.
Ephesians 4:22-24, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Ephesians 3:16, I pray that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,
Illus – Some years ago we did something powerful called cardboard testimonies. Men and women would come on stage with a cardboard sign, one side speaking of their defeat, then they would turn it over and reveal the victory God brought to their lives. It was powerful to see the transformation of what God can do with a life surrendered to him and trusting him for power to transform the inner man. Others said that they had always thought that everyone here had always been good and nice people and that it made them realize that everyone has a past that needed to be transformed.
And that’s what God is doing. Even now. God is transforming people; strengthening with power through His Spirit in the inner man.
- What is it that transforms us? It has everything to do with whether our souls are hungering and thirsting after the things of God or the things of the world.
Matthew 5:6, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
II. A Dry Brook may be God’s Provision
- After Elijah had been by the brook Cherith for some time, the brook began to dry up because there was no water in the land.
- That seems at first to be almost incidental to the story, but I believe it’s an important key to what God was doing in Elijah’s life.
- Brooks can dry up and you can still be in God’s will. God may be your only source, but He has many resources. For if the brook dries up… It may be God’s provision. In other words, …
A. Then God is doing something new
- It’s important to have the right perspective on the things that are happening in our lives. We really need to have eyes of faith to see from God’s perspective.
- It would be easy for many in Elijah’s situation to conclude that God had removed His favor, or that God didn’t care what was happening in their lives anymore. But neither of those things would be true.
- The brook had dried up, so God told Elijah to go to the next place. In other words, God was doing something in Elijah while he was by the brook Cherith, but now God was doing something new.
App – Can I add something extremely important here? We really need to pray for God’s discernment when we hear a message like this. Many people hear a message and immediately think that it applies to where they are at that very moment. But that may not be so. Maybe you’re at the place where God is building, maybe you’re at the place where God is moving you to something new. Maybe you’re supposed to stay faithful to where you’re planted right now. We all need to be pray for God’s wisdom and discernment in applying God’s Word.
- The point is that if the brook dries up it may be that God has something else in mind, but the lessons that Elijah learned at Cherith would always be with him.
Illus – When Elijah went to Zarephath he met a widow who had run out of everything. “I know this one,” you can almost hear Elijah say, “God will provide.”
Illus – When I was going to bible college and ran out of food, God was teaching me something I needed to learn as a lesson of faith. But God had already shown me that He has many resources.
Illus – When we planted the church, we didn’t have a sending church. We didn’t have supporters. We didn’t look to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa or any other church for help or support, God had already shown me that He is more than able to provide. He has birds, or people, or whatever he chooses to do what He call them to do.
B. God will stir your faith to action
- If the brook dries up, that’s when we should get much more attuned to God. “Okay, God, what’s next, I’m listening.”
- When the brook dried up, did Elijah fall into despair? Was his hope in the brook or in the God who provided the brook? Was his hope in the ravens or the God who provided the ravens?
- Elijah was told to go to Zarephath. He had commanded a widow there to provide for him.
- But what amazing lessons in faith. She’s come to the end of her provision. Elijah challenges her to believe, to trust, to have faith by moving in that faith.
- If she would make a cake for him first, just a little cake, then she could make one for herself and the boy. If she trusted, if she believed, God would be her daily provision until the rains came again.
- Faith is made stronger when faith moves.
Luke 6:36, 38, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful… Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
- Do you want to receive mercy? Be merciful. Do need encouragement? Be encouraging. Do you need kindness? Be kind.
- Who is your source? Jesus even promised that He would give the Holy Spirit within and that you would therefore have the resources of heaven itself dwelling in your heart!
John 7:37-39, Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” By this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive;
1 Kings 16:29-17:16 NASB
29 Now Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria for twenty-two years. 30 Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him.
31 And as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. 32 So he erected an altar for Baal at the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made the [a]Asherah. So Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. 34 In his days Hiel the Bethelite rebuilt Jericho; he laid its foundations with the loss of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates with the loss of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord, which He spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.
1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of [b]the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall certainly be neither dew nor rain during these years, except by my word.” 2 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 3 “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is [c]east of the Jordan. 4 And it shall be that you will drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide food for you there.” 5 So he went and did everything according to the word of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is [d]east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. 7 But it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide food for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the entrance of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a [e]cup, so that I may drink.” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no food, only a handful of flour in the [f]bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering [g]a few sticks so that I may go in and prepare it for me and my son, so that we may [h]eat it and die.” 13 However, Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said. Just make me a little bread loaf from [i]it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: ‘The [j]bowl of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil become empty, until the day that the Lord provides rain on the face of the earth.’” 15 So she went and did everything in accordance with the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The [k]bowl of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil become empty, in accordance with the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah.