Lessons from life of extraordinary prophet
As one of our anthems, my generation sang “Forever Young.” We celebrated youth, and it’s been hard for us to let go of it. Yet our generation, the baby boomers, are aging.
Some of us have entered retirement, and most of us are in denial. We cannot stop the inevitable marching of time. So we should think about what we are leaving behind. What kind of legacy will we leave for the next generation?
In the Old Testament we find the story of Elijah, a great prophet who thought about this very thing. With a message from God, he burst onto the pages of biblical history seemingly out of nowhere. And his departure was as dramatic as his entrance.
Elijah was an uncouth kind of fellow. He spent a lot of time in Israel’s outback, if you will. But one day he arrived at the court of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel with a pronouncement: “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1 NKJV). Then he turned around and walked out.
Afterward there was a drought for three years, exactly as God had said there would be. Then Elijah reemerged on the scene and challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel on Mount Carmel. God won that challenge by sending a stream of fire on the sacrifice Elijah had prepared. Then the prophets of Baal were destroyed.
You would have thought a miracle like that would have convinced Ahab and Jezebel to believe in the Lord God. But they did not believe. Jezebel became even more hardened in her sin and ultimately reaped the consequences of it. King Ahab died as well, defeated on the battlefield, manipulating to the very end. When it was all said and done, Elijah was vindicated.
I believe the reason Elijah was so bold was because he knew God. Notice he had said to King Ahab, “As the Lord God lives, before whom I stand …” (emphasis added). Elijah was cognizant of the fact that wherever he went, he stood consciously in the presence of God. This awareness of God’s presence gave Elijah the courage to stand his ground.
Elijah also was a man of prayer. The Bible tells us that “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!” (James 5:17 NLT). It was Elijah’s prayer in private that was the source of his power in public.
And notice the Scriptures say that he prayed earnestly. After he called on the Lord to send fire down on Mount Carmel, he then prayed for the Lord to bring an end to the drought. He prayed earnestly, with desperation.
Six times he sent his servant to look toward the sea for any clouds. Finally, on the seventh try, the servant reported to Elijah there was one tiny cloud. However, it was so small that it was about the size of a man’s hand.
It was all the encouragement Elijah needed. He essentially told King Ahab, “You’d better get in your chariot and beat a quick path to the palace, because there’s a storm coming.” And sure enough, the rain came.
That’s the interesting thing about prayer. Sometimes we’ll pray for something and won’t see an answer. We will pray again, and there’s still no answer … seemingly. We will pray again. Nothing. Then one day out of nowhere, there’s a breakthrough. Be encouraged by that. And keep praying. Don’t give up.
In addition to being a man of prayer, Elijah was a man of faith and obedience. After his bold pronouncement to King Ahab, God told him to just go and hang out – to fade into obscurity. And to Elijah’s credit, he did.
The victory on Mount Carmel took place three and a half years after Elijah’s pronouncement that a drought was coming. He went and stayed by a little brook, which he drank from, and ravens brought food to him every day.
Yet Elijah had his low moments, too. He spent time with a widow and her son, depending on them for his sustenance. It was very humbling for someone like Elijah. But he was obedient to God.
And after his contest with the prophets of Baal, you would have thought Elijah would have been fearless, unstoppable. But when Queen Jezebel heard that the prophets of Baal were dead, she sent a message to Elijah, saying, “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them” (1 Kings 19:2 NLT).
Ironically, Elijah ran for cover. He was so despondent, in fact, that he told God he was ready to die. I have found that low lows often come after high highs. We are just human. We shouldn’t attach too much significance to these things.
Elijah had been a faithful representative of God. He had done the work God called him to do. Then it was time for him to leave, so he wanted to invest in the life of another. In the same way, we should be investing in the lives of others.
No man is an island, as it’s been said. What we do affects others. And maybe the reason we are reluctant to invest in others is because we’re aware that we are not what we ought to be.
How about asking God to help you be the person he has called you to be? Maybe you aren’t ready for huge things, but you are ready for something. God is not looking for ability as much as he is looking for availability.
We don’t know when this life of ours will come to an end. That is up to God. So let’s make our lives count until then.
Leave a legacy. Live a godly life.
by Greg Laurie