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1 Kings 17:17-24

Elijah and the Resurrected Life

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • November 14, 2021

Elijah is perhaps the most powerful prophet in the Old Testament and there are life lessons in the power of God to live the resurrected life!

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Elijah and the Resurrected Life
1 Kings 17:17-24
November 13-14, 2021

1 Kings 17 takes place in the northern kingdom of Israel during their darkest days. They had turned away from God and the result was predictable. Their hard hearts brought hard times. Israel had turned away from God who had done so much for them. He brought them out of Egypt by His mighty hand and outstretched arm. He brought them into this land He promised to Abraham. He blessed them and poured His favor upon them.

But there was something in them that was drawn to the gods of the nations around them. This is where it’s important to see the application in our modern times. There is something in many people that is drawn to the world and worldly things. And if they allow their lives to be drawn into spiritual darkness, hard hearts bring hard times.

Ahab was king of Israel, in the north. He did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him. He built an altar to Baal in the house of Baal which he built in Samaria, the capital in the north.

And then, as though it had been a trivial thing to walk in these sins, he married Jezebel and served Baal and worshiped him. Baal was the male god of fertility and rain. And if Israel turned away from the God of Israel and trusted in Baal to bring fertility and rain, then God would remove His hand from their land. There would be no rain.

God declared a drought through the prophet Elijah. During the drought, God instructed Elijah to go to Zarephath. There, he was told, a widow would provide for him.

The widow was kind to Elijah and allowed him to stay in an upper room on the roof, she provided meals from the bowl of flour and jar of oil that God miraculously replenished.

But tragedy struck when the woman’s son became sick and died. This is where we gain insight for our own faith.

Here’s what I’ve come to understand, God has purpose in our pain. Nowhere does scripture promise that we will never encounter evil, or difficulty, or experience pain. But God does promise to be with us, even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Even there, we fear no evil because God is with us.

There are many life lessons in the story. It’s about living the resurrected life.

I. Don’t Jump to Wrong Conclusions

  • When tragedy strikes, when things go terribly wrong, how do you interpret these things? You must process through them. But how do you see them?
  • How you interpret the things that happen in life has everything to do with your faith. The perspective that comes from faith in God will change how you see, how you process, how you interpret the things that happen in life.
  • We can understand the widow’s broken heart. She was a widow; she had already lost her husband and now her only son was dead as well.
  • But when she confronted Elijah it’s clear she had reached certain conclusions; she had figured it out; in her mind, she thought she knew why this was happening. It’s how she interpreted it.
  • But she reached the wrong conclusion. It’s easy for many today to reach the wrong conclusion about what is happening in their lives.

A. Wrong conclusion: God is punishing you

  • Clearly, this was the widow’s conclusion. She said it outright, “You have come to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!”
  • This interpretation is as old as the book of Job, he suffered through many tragedies and his so-called friends insisted there was sin in his life, and he was hiding it.
  • Jesus came upon a man who was born blind, and the disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?” In other words, they concluded that someone sinned; they just wanted to know who. Was that this man or his parents who sinned, that he should be born blind?

John 9:3, Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

  • Are you going through something difficult or painful? Could it be that the works of God might be displayed in you? This I know for certain; God brings beauty out of ashes. I have seen it over and over in my life and in others.
  • Don’t assume you know what God is doing. God may not be punishing or disciplining you at all, God may be preparing you — that the works of God might be displayed in you.
  • There are several reasons why people often jump to this conclusion.
    o Everyone has enough sin to “prove” this conclusion is “right.”
    o They confuse consequences of their actions with the punishment of God.

Proverbs 6:26, Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?

  • Jesus taught His disciples this very thing.

Luke 13:4-5, “Do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

B. Wrong conclusion: bad things shouldn’t happen

  • Or to say it more completely, “Bad things shouldn’t happen to good people.”
  • It’s common for people to come to this conclusion when something bad happens.
  • This is the same kind of logic used in the first wrong conclusion, but in reverse; if every tragedy is the result of sin, then every good thing is the result of doing something good to deserve it. In other words, good people deserve good things. Bad people deserve bad things.
  • In other words, bad things shouldn’t happen to good people, good things should happen to good people.

Illus – If you hit a golf ball and it goes flying into the trees, hits a branch and lands squarely in the middle of the fairway, someone will no doubt say, “Wow, you must be livin’ right!”

Illus – In the Sound of Music, Maria sang these lyrics when she discovered that Capt. von Trapp was in love with her, “Perhaps I had a wicked childhood, perhaps I had a miserable youth; but somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, there must have been a moment of truth. For here you are, standing there, loving me; whether or not you should. So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must’ve done something good. Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could. So somewhere in my youth or childhood I must’ve done something good.”

  • Many believe — if you’ve done something good, something worthy and honorable, then good things should happen to you, and you should be protected from bad things.
  • Shortly after our daughter was killed a reporter asked me, “You’re a pastor, how do you reconcile this with your faith?”
  • The assumption behind the question is that because I’m a pastor, because I’m a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, only good things should happen to me.

Illus – No need for an umbrella, when I walk in the rain, I never get wet, bugs never splatter on my windshield, I never get burned by the sun. Really? Then why was I raised in extreme poverty? Why did I have an alcoholic father who abused my mother? And why was my daughter killed by someone who simply wanted to know what it felt like?

Illus – This widow had been showing kindness to Elijah; she gave him an apartment above her house and made meals for him from the supply of flour and oil God had provided. If she had been doing good, then where is God’s love and God’s power? Many people cannot understand this.

  • Another way to ask it would be why do bad things happen to good people and why do good things happen to bad people?
  • Jesus said in Matthew 5 that the rain falls on the just and the unjust, but we have grace in the midst of it. That’s the difference.

Matthew 5:44-46, “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even tax collectors do the same?”

  • God is gracious to those who don’t deserve it and God extends mercy to those who don’t deserve it.

II. God’s Purpose is Resurrected Life

  • Elijah didn’t understand what was happening either. “God, are you causing her son to die?” He then prayed for the child’s life to return to him.
  • The Lord heard Elijah’s prayer and the child returned to life. This is where we need God’s perspective.
  • What God was doing had nothing to do with the widow at all. It had nothing to do with her sin, or whether she had been kind to Elijah.
  • It had to do with the purpose of God.

A. God transforms you through pain

  • God’s purpose was to transform and strengthen Elijah as a man of faith for the challenges soon coming into his life.
  • This event was also a foreshadow of God’s power over death so that when Jesus raised a widow’s son the people would know He was a mighty man of God and a prophet!

Luke 7:11-17, Soon afterwards He went to a city called Nain; and His disciples were going along with Him, accompanied by a large crowd. Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Fear gripped them all, and they all began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”

  • God has purpose in pain, He used it to transform Elijah and He will use it to transform you and me as well.

Illus – Sometime after our daughter was killed, I was having coffee with a friend, and we were talking about the upcoming trial. At some point in our conversation, he referred to the man who killed our daughter by name. I interjected, “I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t use his name.” He responded graciously, “I know that someday you will let go of this. Not only will you say his name. you will forgive him.” And God did heal my heart. I went from not wanting to hear his name to standing in front of him in court and offering him forgiveness, by name.

B. Our hope is not for this life only

  • Our perspective is so limited. We commonly see things only in light of what is happening at the moment, but there is a bigger picture.
  • It takes a long time before a child understands the concept of tomorrow or what might happen in the future. It comes with maturity. Your eyes open as you mature in life and in faith.
  • When God brings purpose out of pain, He is giving an eternal perspective — a perspective that is more than for this life only.

1 Corinthians 15:19, If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

Illus – Fanny Crosby could see for only the first six weeks of her life. Doctors applied mustard poultices to treat eye inflammation, but it made her blind. Later, she wrote, “It seemed intended by the providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered to me tomorrow, I would not accept it.” She wrote more than 8000 hymns and poems: some of the most powerful in church history. She wrote the hymn, “Blessed Assurance — Jesus is mine, O what a foretaste of glory divine… Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love. This is my story; this is my song. Praising my Savior, all the day long.”

  • There is more to life than this physical world in which we live. God’s purpose is higher. God’s purpose is that we would live the resurrected life.

C. Know in whom you have believed

  • God wants to change your perspective, your view, how you interpret the things that happen in life.
  • He knows that when difficulty comes many will rise up and accuse Him. “Why did my son die? This isn’t right! This isn’t fair. You say you love me and yet my son is dead.”
  • But if you could see from God’s perspective you could also hear God’s words of comfort, “Your child is not dead. I’m holding him in heaven, and you will see him again.”
  • This is what you must know… God is faithful in His love for you.

Lamentations 3:21-23, This I recall to my mind; therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses never cease, His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness.

  • This is what you must know… God’s purpose is for your good and for His glory.

Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity; to give you a future and a hope.”

  • What did God say through the Apostle Paul?

2 Timothy 1:12, For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.

17 Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his [a]condition became very grave, until at the end [b]he was no longer breathing. 18 So she said to Elijah, “[c]Why is my business any of yours, you man of God? Yet you have come to me to bring my wrongdoing to remembrance, and to put my son to death!” 19 But he said to her, “Give me your son.” Then he took him from her [d]arms and carried him up to the upstairs room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed. 20 And he called to the Lord and said, “Lord, my God, have You also brought catastrophe upon the widow with whom I am [e]staying, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out over the boy three times, and called to the Lord and said, “Lord, my God, please, let this boy’s life return [f]to him.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah, and the life of the boy returned [g]to him and he revived. 23 Elijah then took the boy and brought him down from the upstairs room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.” 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

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