Bible Ballistics: Vol. 11 No. 11 Hand Fed???
I know this is a bit of a strange title for a Bible post, but it just seems to fit what I’d like to share with you today, as we look as Elijah; a powerful and unique prophet of Israel, yet a man of flesh and blood just like you and me, one whom God provided for in unusual ways. Yet Elijah was a man often misunderstood, so let’s begin our consideration of him in the book of James.
“Elias was a man subject to like passions
as we are,
and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain:
and it rained not on the earth
by the space of three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again,
and the heaven gave rain,
and the earth brought forth her fruit.” James 5:17-18
James calls us to a life of humility, prayer and openness in our lives—not the “ranting and venting” that many are known for on social media—but an openness of our faith and dependence on our Father God, Jesus His Son and the directions and promptings of His Holy Spirit, which He has given to direct our steps from within! In this passage James gives us an example of Elijah (also called Elias in the New Testament) and his life of prayer and dependence on God.
When many people look at this verse they don’t dig deep enough—they read that Elijah prayed and things happened, or didn’t happen—and they often take this as a license to be presumptuous upon God! Many in our culture have twisted God’s Word to make prayer a way of ‘twisting’ God’s arm to get what we want; they have missed the call of our Lord Jesus to have a heart that is ready to “delight thyself also in the Lord…” even as Jesus put it in The Model Prayer:
“Thy kingdom come…..Thy will be done….”
Elijah had a heart after God, but James already knew that, and when we read in this letter “he prayed earnestly that it might not rain”, James knew that Elijah hadn’t been presumptuous, but that he was doing what God told him to do. How about you and I? Have we allowed God to lead and direct our steps, or are we walking our own way?
“And Elijah the Tishbite,
who was of the inhabitants of Gilead,
said unto Ahab,
As the LORD God of Israel liveth,
before whom I stand,
there shall not be dew nor rain these years,
but according to my word.” 1 Kings 17:1
God sent Elijah unto Ahab, the king of Israel (the northern kingdom, known as ‘Israel’, who had a continual string of kings who had refused to obey God for many years); Ahab was the most wicked of kings and you might remember his wife, Jezebel!
“And Ahab made a grove;
and Ahab did more to provoke
the LORD God of Israel to anger
than all the kings of Israel
that were before him.” 1 Kings 16:33
Elijah didn’t come to speak for himself, or to show off his “prayer prowess”, but he came to Ahab at the bidding of God, and relayed the message of God to a wicked king. Note, it wasn’t a message that Ahab or anyone else would have been eager to receive, but Elijah not only prayed, he took the answer, knowing it could cost him his life at the hands of this wicked, evil, idolatrous, un-repentant king!
“And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
3 Get thee hence,
and turn thee eastward,
and hide thyself by the brook Cherith,
that is before Jordan.
4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink
of the brook;
and I have commanded the ravens
to feed thee there.
5 So he went and did according unto
the word of the LORD:
for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith,
that is before Jordan.
6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh
in the morning,
and bread and flesh
in the evening;
and he drank of the brook.
7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.” 1 Kings 17:2-7
We often miss the fact that while God made provision for Elijah in unusual ways, Elijah was also enduring the drought that God had sent! Yet Elijah pressed on, knowing that his GOD was faithful, and the people needed to hear from God rather than their wicked kings and leaders. God wanted Israel to look to Him and trust Him. While we don’t have time to look at all the things that God did for Elijah, I do want us to look at the provisions that God made; in particular one that even Jesus confirmed.
“And he said, Verily I say unto you,
No prophet is accepted in his own country.
25 But I tell you of a truth,
many widows were in Israel
in the days of Elias,
when the heaven was shut up
three years and six months,
when great famine
was throughout all the land;
26 But unto none of them was Elias sent,
save unto Sarepta,
a city of Sidon,
unto a woman that was a widow.” Luke 4:24-26 (See 1 Kings 17:8-24)
Jesus validated the account of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath/Serepta, knowing that the people as a whole were only interested in what they “saw” and “ate”; like the account of the day after HE fed the five thousand!
“The day following,
when the people which stood on the other side of the sea
saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; 23 (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:)
24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples,
they also took shipping,
and came to Capernaum,
seeking for Jesus.
25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea,
they said unto him,
Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
26 Jesus answered them and said,
Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Ye seek me, not
because ye saw the miracles,
but because ye did eat of the loaves,
and were filled.
27 Labour not for the meat
but for that meat
which endureth unto everlasting life,
which the Son of man
shall give unto you:
for him hath God the Father sealed.” John 6:22-27
Much like these people, we get our eyes on the material rather than the spiritual—and Jesus calls us, as well as them, to seek “for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life”! Even as He told the disciples in John 4 as He encountered the ‘woman at the well’.
“But he said unto them,
I have meat to eat
that ye know not of.
33 Therefore said the disciples one to another,
Hath any man brought him ought to eat?
34 Jesus saith unto them,
My meat is to do the will of him
that sent me,
and to finish his work.” John 4:32-34
When we pursue God, He is ever making provision for us and directing our steps. Even as Elijah, so let’s look at one more account of His walk with God, and the other end of the “prayer” which James mentioned.
“And it came to pass after many days,
that the word of the LORD came to Elijah
in the third year,
Go, shew thyself unto Ahab;
and I will send rain upon the earth.
2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria……17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him,
Art thou he that troubleth Israel?v
18 And he answered,
I have not troubled Israel;
and thy father’s house,
in that ye have forsaken
of the LORD,
and thou hast followed Baalim.
19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said,
How long halt ye between two opinions?
if the LORD be God,
but if Baal,
then follow him.
And the people answered him not a word.” 1 Kings 18:1-2, 17-21
Elijah wasn’t concerned with popularity, but with following and obeying his God, so he called the people together that they might see the hand of God and return to HIM! Most are familiar with the account of Elijah and the prophets of Baal and the challenge to call for a sacrifice to be supernaturally burned up proving who is the “true” God.
“And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice,
that Elijah the prophet came near,
LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel,
let it be known this day
that thou art God in Israel,
and that I am thy servant,
and that I have done all these things
at thy word.
37 Hear me, O LORD,
that this people may know
that thou art the LORD God,
and that thou hast turned
their heart back again.
38 Then the fire of the LORD fell,
and consumed the burnt sacrifice,
and the wood,
and the stones,
and the dust,
and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39 And when all the people saw it,
they fell on their faces:
and they said,
he is the God;
he is the God.” 1 Kings 18:36-39
Did you see the issue? Elijah was following and obeying God, with a purpose of manifesting the glory of God and calling the people back to God Almighty, who loved them! Same now as then—our prayers are to be Spirit led and not flesh led! Yet there is even more to the story! While Elijah had a great victory with God, and the people acknowledged God with their words—the challenge for us is the same today—will we simply ‘speak’ allegiance or will we “be” aligned and devoted to our God! But when we stand with God there will be those who hate us for it—and Elijah was no exception. He prayed and the rain stopped—he prayed again and the rain came—but only at God’s leading, direction and provision.
“And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink.
And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel;
and he cast himself down upon the earth,
and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant,
Go up now,
look toward the sea.
And he went up,
and said, There is nothing.
And he said,
Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time,
that he said,
Behold, there ariseth
a little cloud out of the sea,
like a man’s hand.
And he said,
Go up, say unto Ahab,
Prepare thy chariot,
and get thee down,
that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the mean while,
that the heaven was black with clouds
and wind, and there was a great rain.
And Ahab rode,
and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the LORD
was on Elijah;
and he girded up his loins,
and ran before Ahab
to the entrance of Jezreel.” 1 Kings 18:41-46
Elijah prayed, and it rained—but by God’s direction, and provision! Elijah knew whom he served, but the boom was about to be lowered by the enemy! Yet God was there with him even then!
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying,
So let the gods do to me,
and more also,
if I make not thy life as
the life of one of them
by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that,
and went for his life,
and came to Beersheba,
which belongeth to Judah,
and left his servant there.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey
into the wilderness,
and came and sat down under a juniper tree:
and he requested for himself
that he might die;
It is enough; now, O LORD,
take away my life;
for I am not better than my fathers.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree,
behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him,
Arise and eat.
6 And he looked,
there was a cake baken
on the coals,
and a cruse of water
at his head.
And he did eat and drink,
and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the LORD came again
the second time,
and touched him,
Arise and eat;
because the journey is too great
8 And he arose,
and did eat and drink,
and went in the strength of that meat
and forty nights
unto Horeb the mount of God.” 1 Kings 19:1-8
Often times when we see great victories, we will encounter great spiritual warfare (often, before, during and after, it’s why we must put on the “armor of God” each day—see Ephesians 6:10-18) and yet even when it catches us by surprise, our God is always faithful to meet us where we are. There is no rebuke here, just a time of God’s provision for Elijah to be “hand fed” by angels, and given time to sleep and be refreshed; for our God knows that there are things that drain us not only physically, but mentally, emotionally, and zap our strength and stamina. It’s not a sin to “REST”! We all need it, and God will provide if we will but listen to the voice of His Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts and minds!
God gives renewal, as Elijah went on the rest of his journey, he heard from God in a new and vibrant way (and while God sometimes speaks in new ways to us, we aren’t to base our decisions or choices on the spectacular, but on the historic faithfulness of God and HIS Word!)!!! God showed Elijah that HE wasn’t necessarily in the spectacular, but in the simple things from God, which speaks to our hearts!
“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.
And, behold, the LORD passed by,
and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD;
but the LORD was not in the wind:
and after the wind an earthquake;
but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire;
but the LORD was not in the fire:
and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it,
that he wrapped his face in his mantle,
and went out,
and stood in the entering in of the cave.
And, behold, there came a voice unto him…..
15 And the LORD said unto him,
Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus:” 1 Kings 19:11-15
Whatever your need—rely on God’s provision today! Simply rely upon HIS faithfulness, stay in His Word, and put on that armor of God each day, and you can be ready for the battles that will come! Remember, God will meet you in those times of need: “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him”, (Psalms 37:7a)! Amen and Amen!!!