Zack Martin
Zack Martin
9 years ago
70 posts

1 Kings Chapter 19 - Elijah Vs Ahab

There is so much to learn in chapter 19 about how God calls His servants. I believe He first breaks them down in humility. A servant has to be humble for God to use him. So with that thought we begin the study of Elijah Vs Ahab & Jezebel in chapter 19 of 1 Kings.

1 Kings 19:4
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; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.

The Order of the Juniper tree: -- Many of us belong to that order, and it may prove useful to consider the suggestive contrast established by these two texts. In the one, the prophet sinks in despair; in the other, he is carried triumphantly into heaven. What has this to do with us? It presents in a dramatic form the experience of God's people in an ages.

I. The sharp contrast in these texts is worthy of being remembered in DAYS OF WORLDLY ADVERSITY. Times of misfortune and disaster not uncommonly induce the mood expressed in the first text. Having suffered the wreck of our circumstances, schemes, happiness, and hopes, we court the shade of the juniper tree and pour out bitter lamentations. What is there to live for? We are failures, and the sooner we are out of the way the better.

1. It is only through discipline that we are fit for glorification. Cars of fire, horses of fire, a path beyond the stars, luminous diadems! we are presumptuous enough to think that at any time we are ready for these. But we are not ready. The perfection that qualifies for high places comes only through some form of suffering.

2. Only God knows when we are fit for glorification. "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life." Are we sure about this enough? When you chastise a child, you find that his opinion and yours wary considerably as to what is enough.

II. We may remember the strong contrast of these texts IN DAYS OF SPIRITUAL DESPONDENCY. Times of deep depression come in our spiritual history. Wesley's new life began in glorious experiences in Aldersgate Street, yet within a year of these glowing feelings we find that he suffered sad relapses into darkness and doubt; he even wrote, "I am not a Christian now." We feel worsted in the spiritual conflict, losing confidence and hope. These sad days of humiliation and despondency need not be lost upon us. They bring home the lesson of our personal unworthiness and helplessness. "I am not better than my fathers."

III. We may remember the strong contrast of our texts IN DAYS WHEN WE ARE DISAPPOINTED BY THE RESULTS OF OUR EVANGELICAL WORK. Elijah was smitten with despair about God's cause. The scornful, scorching words of the wicked and wrathful queen unmanned him. All his grand hopes for his nation and race were to expire at the juniper tree. And very often do the strongest and best of men entertain similar misgivings. Yet Elijah was wrong. God works strangely, He works silently, He works slowly, but He works surely. The funeral was not to be that of Elijah. The one thing we must resolve upon is not to reason and question, but confidently to follow out all the lines and leadings of God in spiritual life and evangelical toil It is the fashion with some modern novelists to finish their stories in the most atheistic and despairing manner -- the mystery and struggle of life ending in unconsoled sorrows, unrequited sacrifices, uncompensated wrongs, unanswered prayers and strivings; the palpable moral of such treatment being that there is no law, government, or purpose in human life. We know otherwise. We believe in the programme of God, so wise, so true, so good; and in our best moments we are confident that His programme cannot fail.

(1 Kings 19:5) Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." NIV

Ver. 5. As he lay and slept under a juniper tree, then an angel touched him.

Loving-kindness better than life: -- We have, in this incident, four thoughts of the love of God.

I. GOD'S LOVE IN ITS CONSTANCY. It is a fact which we all admit; hut which we seldom realise in the moments of depression and darkness to which we are all exposed. It is not difficult to believe that God loves us, when we go with the multitude to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, and stand in the inner sunlit circle; but it is hard to believe that He feels as much love for us when, exiled by our sin to the land of Jordan and of the Hermonites, our soul is cast down within us, and deep calls to deep, as His waves and billows surge around. It is not difficult to believe that God loves us when, like Elijah at Cherith and on Carmel, we do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word; but it is not so easy when, like Elijah in the desert, we lie stranded, or, as dis-masted and rudderless vessels, roll in the trough of the waves. It is not difficult to believe in God's love when with Peter we stand on the mount of glory, and, in the rapture of joy, propose to share a tabernacle with Christ evermore; but it is well-nigh impossible when, with the same Apostle, we deny our Master with oaths, and are abashed by a look in which grief masters reproach. Yet we must learn to know and believe the constancy of the love of God.

II. GOD'S LOVE MANIFESTED IN SPECIAL TENDERNESS BECAUSE OF SPECIAL SIN. Where ordinary methods will not avail, God will employ extraordinary ones. There is one memorable instance of this, which has afforded comfort and hope to multitudes who have sinned as Peter did, and who will bless God for ever for the record of the Master's dealings with His truant servant. The Lord sent a general message to all His disciples to meet Him in Galilee. But He felt that Peter would hardly dare to class himself with the rest; and so He sent to him a special message, saying: "Go tell My disciples, and Peter." It is thus that Jesus is working still throughout the circles of His disciples.

III. GOD'S LOVE IN ITS UNWEARIED CARE. None of us can measure the powers of endurance in the love of God. It never tires. It fainteth not, neither is weary. It does not fail, nor is it discouraged. It bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; endures all things. It clings about its object with a Divine tenacity, until the darkness and wandering are succeeded by the blessedness of former days. It watches over us during the hours of our insensibility to its presence; touching us ever and anon; speaking to us; and summoning us to arise to a nobler, better life, more worthy of ourselves, more glorifying to Him.

IV. GOD'S LOVE ANTICIPATING COMING NEED. This always stands out as one of the most wonderful passages in the prophet's history. We can understand God giving him, instead of a long discourse, a good meal and sleep, as the best means of recruiting his spent powers. This is what we should have expected of One who knows our frame and remembers that we arc dust, and who pities us as a father pitieth his children. But it is very wonderful that God should provision His servant for the long journey that lay before him: "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee."

(1 Kings 19:7-9) 7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you." 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. NIV

Ver. 7. Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee.
The weary child: --
1. Now, what is all this but the Lord nursing His own child? Elijah has come to one of those crises which occur in every one's life, when he stands in need of special tending and treatment; and the Father which is in Heaven is giving them. He is giving them none the less truly, that at the stage of our text it is the bodily condition of Elijah with which the Lord is dealing, and nothing higher or further. It was mostly this which was wrong just then, and it is this therefore that the Lord proceeds first of all to put right. But while the text thus speaks to us of the pity of God, and tells us how wide-winged and close-brooding it is, the text also points us to wise methods of dealing with ourselves in like circumstances. The Great Physician may well leave something of our restorations to be wrought by self-treatment when He has indicated the course which that treatment ought to take. Now, the body has its own share, and not a small one, even in our spiritual history. Our dejection and melancholy, our very unbelief, have frequently no higher or more mysterious source than the disturbance of this material machine of nerves and muscles through which the spirit deals with the outer world. For the sake of our souls themselves, therefore, those conditions of body which tell back unhappily upon the spirit ought, where they are preventable or removable, to be prevented or removed. Dejection is no virtue, but a weakness and humiliation.

2. When the Lord was comforting Elijah in that lonely place one day's journey south of Beersheba, there was being transacted there a living parable of things that lie within the higher sphere of purely spiritual experience. Every Christian of us has his journey before him. Every Christian of us has his weariness not far off within him. Every Christian of us has his Lord's provision brought to his bolster, with the kindly call, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee." The Lord knoweth right well how great it is, and He knoweth well how great our weariness at any time is.

3. You are thinking of seasons of spiritual recruiting more special still than any I have named. One more interval passes, and you are purposing again to sit down together to commemorate the accomplishment, in sacrificial blood, of the most wondrous journey that was ever travelled by human foot in this sorely travelled world. For, to be like us, to understand us and to save us, He would have His mortal journey too; and it was "great," and often He was weary, and often He was refreshed. With thoughts of that journey filling His own heart, and wishing that they may fill your own, He is summoning you again to sit down with Himself, and to nourish your flagging graces by more touching fellowship with Himself, over the emblems of the love which has made you to be His.

Heart-weariness in the journey of life: --
1. The first remark which I would make concerning this heart-weariness in the journey of life is that it does not necessarily betoken any estrangement from God. It is, indeed, true that life naturally becomes "flat, stale, and unprofitable" to the sated worldling. But it is also true that moods of depression and despondency come even to the most pious souls, and are sometimes even associated with a sorrow born of sympathy with the mind of God.

2. The second remark which I would make regarding this spiritual fatigue is that it is often due, in large measure, to physical causes. And this fact ought to teach us two lessons. The first is a lesson of sympathetic forbearance. The young ought to make large allowance for the aged, and the strong for the weak. And the second lesson is one of physical prudence. Seeing that the connection between the body and the spirit is so close and subtle, it is our duty to keep our bodies as healthy as we possibly can. The laws of health are the laws of God.

3. We ought to welcome and avail ourselves of those messengers whom God sends to revive and help us in the journey of life. But there are other messengers and ministries -- more homely and familiar -- which may be even as angels of God to help us when our hearts are worn and weary. Sometimes the words of a well-known hymn, sung in the house of prayer, will cheer our drooping spirits and put new life into our steps. There are also pleasures of literature in general which are not to be despised; many an old man and many an invalid could tell us that their books do much to lighten for them the burden of their infirmities. Music, too, gives its own peculiar refreshment. Science, and poetry, and art, and humour, and the relaxation afforded by simple, innocent pleasures -- why should we despise such things as these in their true and proper place? Love is a great freshener of human life. So long as we are really useful and helpful to those whom we love, life cannot altogether lose its zest.

4. I remark that God has miraculously provided for us all a special food for the sustenance and refreshment of our souls. Christ is "the Bread of Life which came down from heaven."

Juniper trees: -- In experiences of weariness and discouragement and times of despair, when it seems to us that we are of no use in the world, and are doing nothing in the world, or only blundering and doing harm in the world, there come the juniper tree and the angel; God puts rest-places in our lives; God gives us angels' food and tells us that in the strength of that food we are to rise up and go on our journey. I want you to look with me for a few moments this morning at some of these restplaces, some of these juniper trees of life.

1. And first I put sleep, because God put it first. When Elijah was tired and despairing and discouraged, God put him to sleep. Sometimes the most religious service a man can render himself or the world is to go to sleep. But how many busy people think really the time spent in sleep is wasted! They begrudge all the time that is spent asleep. But the Lord God so made us that we need to put one-third of our time in sleep. And He knew what He was about. Thanks to God for sleep, that is itself a symbol of death; sleep, that is the promise of a new awakening, and so gives us the suggestion of that great awakening when we shall rise refreshed and invigorated for the eternal day! The father takes the tired child in his arms and rocks him into unconsciousness of all the sin and sorrow and weariness and burden of life. Do not think of it as wasted time! Do not think of it as something lost out of life! Take it as God means we shall -- as God's great gift.

2. Next to sleep I put amusement as one of God's juniper trees and as a part of God's angelic food. You remember the three things which the Book of Proverbs says about merriment, which is the lightest form of amusement: first, that a merry heart is a continual feast; second, that a merry heart maketh a glad countenance; and, thirdly, that a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. The merry heart cheers the heart and so makes the face radiant, and, because the face is radiant, therefore the merry soul imparts radiance to others. Merriment, amusement, laughter, just having a good time, is one of God's juniper trees that He plants for us, and when we are discouraged and distressed He means that we shall take advantage of it.

3. The home is one of God's juniper trees. We are all conscious, I am sure, that woman's sphere, whatever that flexible globe may be, is getting bigger and bigger; women are going into all sorts of industrial activities, and giving men pretty hard work by competition; into all sorts of charitable activities, which men are quite ready to leave to the women altogether. Now, on the whole, this is a distinct advance -- The larger life of woman is something to be welcomed and to be rejoiced in; and yet, like every increasing growth, it has its perils also. It does sometimes threaten to impair the usefulness of the home. In the Divine order men are the soldiers; the battle of life ought to be done by the men.

4. The Church ought to be a juniper tree and a resting-place. Dr. Parkhurst has said, "The Church is not the minister's field, but the minister's force." The Church ought to be not merely a working Church, but a rest-giving Church also; and when men and women come to the Church, they ought to be able to find there some angels' food, some real rest, some inspiration that will send them back into life with new vigour for their new toils. The Sabbath chimes ring no sweeter song than this, "Come unto Me, and rest!"

5. And then there is the quiet hour. At Wellesley College, in Massachusetts -- a young ladies' college -- there are twenty minutes reserved in every day for a quiet hour. During that twenty minutes every young lady is expected to be in her room; there is to be no passing through the halls; there is to be no life of conversation, no laughter. What the young lady does in her room is between herself, her own conscience, and her God. She may read, she may study, she may pray, she may think, she may do what she likes; only she must not disturb other pupils in other rooms. For twenty minutes a quiet time. We ought to have our quiet hour; at least, we will say, our quiet quarter of an hour.

The journey is too great for thee. --
The journey of life: -- In regard to the journey of life God says, "It is too great for thee." It is beyond thy natural powers. Thou needest supernatural strength to enable thee to accomplish it. Men are slow to admit their weakness, especially when they are young and inexperienced. They are full of courage, and they are terrified neither by desert nor by mountain. It is well to begin life in this high spirit. Every young man needs a little of the dare-devil disposition in order to distinguish himself. Courage is a magnificent quality. But men are always chastened by experience. Many an Alpine climber has started up a high mountain with sublime confidence in his skill of foot and in his powers of endurance. But when he reached a certain height his nerve failed. The journey was too great for him. The text has been illustrated by ten thousand men. Livingstone consecrated himself to African exploration. He performed two journeys, but the third was too great for him. His health failed. Two of his servants deserted him, and they took with them his medicine chest. "I never dreamed," he wrote, "that I should lose my precious quinine." One of the last entries in his journal was: "I am pale, bloodless, and weak from bleeding profusely ever since the 31 st of March last. An artery gives off a copious stream, and takes away my strength; oh how I long to be permitted by the Over Power to finish my work!" When he could work no longer, he was carried on a frame of wood with some grass and a blanket upon it. And when he could endure to be carried no further, his faithful servants built him a little hut, and in that rude structure he died. He was a great traveller. He contributed much to our knowledge of Central Africa. The coloured races owe him a mighty debt of gratitude. He was one of the bravest of Christian men. But the journey of African exploration was too great for him. Arctic exploration, again, has had an intense fascination for navigators, sea rovers, and scientific men. Time would fail us to tell of all the brave men, from Frobisher to Franklin, and from Franklin to Lieutenant Greeley, who have penetrated into the regions of ice. Some have returned to tell the tale of their experience, and others have been frozen to death. But they have not succeeded in reaching the North Pole. The secret still remains to tempt the heroism of the men of the future. For the navigators of all nations the journey of Arctic exploration has been too great. In 1870 the late Napoleon of France declared war against William of Germany. Germany was united, and under the leadership of Protestant Prussia she was destined to change the balance of power in Europe. Napoleon was afraid, and resolved to fight in the hope that he would conquer and retain the leadership of Europe himself. The issue proved, however, that he had sadly miscalculated his strength. In a few weeks he had to lay down his sword at the feet of the German Emperor. The journey of aggressive warfare was too great for him.

1. Take the Christian life. During the last ten years there has been a revival of evangelism. By a variety of methods the ungodly have been reached, and thousands have been brought into the Church. I rejoice in this fact with all my heart. But the Churches have not been strengthened by these accessions as some of us hoped they would be. Popular missions attract the weaker members of the community. These people are feeble in original temperament, and some of them have made themselves utterly weak by the evil habits which they have pursued. The journey of the Christian life is too great for people who pursue such habits as these.

2. Take ministerial life. Here is a minister. He entered the sacred profession while he was yet young. He had a keen sense of responsibility, and he was very susceptible in regard to external discipline; and these two things kept him right for ten or fifteen years. After that he allowed his spiritual life to go down, and then his constitutional weakness began to show itself. An intellectual tendency led him astray. In the end he resigned the ministry. He looked back from the Gospel plough, and since then he has not been fit for the kingdom of God. The journey of ministerial life was too great for him.

3. Take the enthusiast. He is sanguine in regard to everything fresh. If any new form of religious activity is started he is fascinated by it at once. But after a time he loses his interest in it. The journey of an unbroken Christian devotion is too great for the spasmodic enthusiastic.

4. Take the practical Christian life. Individual effort is at a discount. Organised effort is the order of the day. Men have the notion that they can do but little unless they act in a crowd and make a display. Some day there will be a reaction in favour of quiet, instructive, and individual modes of service, and the sooner it comes the better. But we must not wait for ideal conditions in which to do our duty. Men will associate, and we must learn to act in association. We have a multiplicity of organisations, and we must help to work them. The temper of the age is practical, and we must sympathise with it. We must serve Christ In the social ways and habits of the generation. We shall do it at some sacrifice of our views and feelings, but we must bear that for Christ's sake.

God's considerateness of our frailty: -- Careless and cruel drivers often load their horses beyond their strength, and the poor creature tugs and pulls until he drops. Daring and foolish engineers will put too much pressure on their boilers, or try to force more power from an engine than it can provide. But our Master guarantees that tasks shall be balanCed with the precise strength we possess. He knoweth our frame: He remembereth that we are but dust. He knows the exact pressure we can stand. He knows the utmost load we can lift. He is a faithful Creator, because an abiding Sustainer.

(1 Kings 19:8) So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. NIV

Elijah's repast: --

1. The sacramental feast is alike simple and plain.
2. Yet is this a mysterious repast.


1. The Lord's Supper is a repast prepared for sinners!
2. True, they must be penitent, broken-hearted sinners.
3. It is for the weary, burthened, troubled servants of Jesus.

III. The great benefit which the prophet derived from this repast, although he was so unworthy.

1. Spiritual benefits are not necessarily so attached to the Christian feast.

Thought, on life: -- This incident suggests three things.
I. AN UNDESIRABLE POSSIBILITY IN HUMAN LIFE. The fact that a man lived forty days and forty nights without food, certainly impresses us with the possibility of his being kept in existence without food for ever. The possibility is obvious. But such a state would clearly be very undesirable. Were men to continue here without food, a disastrous inactivity would ensue. Want of food keeps the world in action, keeps the limbs and faculties of men going. What would life be without action? a weak and worthless thing.

II. THE SUPPORTING ELEMENT OF ALL LIFE. What is it that kept Elijah alive without food? The will of God, nothing else; and this is that which supports all created existences every moment. "Man cannot live by bread alone." God's will can starve men with bread, and sustain them without it. It is He, not material substances, not food, that sustains life. He may do it with means, or without means, according to His pleasure. Let us not trust in means or secondary causes, but in Him who is the "Fountain of Life."

III. THE DIVINE CARE OF A GODLY LIFE. That God takes care of His people individually is

(1) Accordant with reason;
(2) taught by Scripture;
(3) attested by the experience of the good.

1 Kings 19:9-12) 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." 11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. NIV

Vers. 9-12. And he came thither into a cave. --
God manifesting Himself to man: -- We may learn three things from the passage before us.

I. GOD INVESTIGATES THE MOTIVES THAT GOVERN HUMAN CONDUCT. "The word of the Lord came to him, and said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?"

1. When God investigates the motives that governs human conduct He comes near to man. "The word of the Lord came to Elijah."

2. When God investigates the motives that govern human conduct He interrogates man. "What doest thou here, Elijah?"

(1) Life is state of servitude. "What doest thou?" Man must serve.
(2) Life necessitates personal service. "What doest thou?"
(3) Life contains special spheres of service. "What doest thou here?"


1. God's covenant had been forsaken.
2. God's altars had been destroyed.
3. God's servants had been slain.


1. Great achievements are accomplished in nature by gentle agencies.

2. Great achievements are accomplished in grace by gentle agencies.

(1) God works upon the understanding by gentle agencies. The Gospel is "a still small voice; but the power of God unto salvation to every one," etc.

(2) God subdues the restive will by gentle agencies. The life of Christ was "a still small voice." And Christ said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will," etc.

(3) God renews the polluted heart by gentle agencies. The Holy Spirit is "a still small voice."

What doest thou here, Elijah? --
The responsibility of man as an agent: -- The master-thought contained in this question seems to be man's responsibility. "What doest thou here?" I am thy Lord and Master -- thou hast no right here without consulting Me. I demand reason for thy conduct.

I. THE FACT THAT MAN HAS ALL THE PRIMARY CONDITIONS OF RESPONSIBILITY. Were the question put -- What must any creature possess in order to render him accountable to God for his actions? Our answer would be, a threefold capability: a capability to understand, obey, and transgress the Divine will. If a creature has not the first -- the power to understand what his Maker requires of him, he could not in equity be held responsible for not rendering it.


III. TO THE FACT THAT SOCIETY DEALS EVERYWHERE WITH MEN AS RESPONSIBLE. A locomotive rolls its crushing weight over a man and kills him; a billow dashes against a frail barque and buries all on board in the mighty abyss; or a wild beast tears to pieces a human being; has society the same feelings towards that engine, that raging billow, or beast, as it has towards that man that has just murdered his brother? No, there are in the last case, as in none of the rest, popular denunciation and vengeance. It is felt that justice has been outraged, and that the destroyer is to be dealt with as a criminal. All the arrangements of society are based upon the principle that its members are responsible.

IV. TO THE FACT THAT THE BIBLE EVERYWHERE TEACHES IT. It is implied in all its appeals to the undecided. "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." It is implied in its allegations against the sinner. "Ye will not come unto Me, that ye might have life." It is implied in its representation of the judgment-day. "God shall bring every idle word into judgment." "Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." Indeed, the very existence of the Bible implies it.

A question from God: -- We may consider this question as addressed to the following cases:
I. TO THE DECEIVER IN THE CAVE OF HYPOCRISY. God asks the deceiver in the cave of hypocrisy, "What doest thou here?" Deceiving, you say, deceiving and being deceived -- deceiving whom? Not a devil; for every devil who knows the man who is a hypocrite, knows that he is a hypocrite. Whom? Not an angel; for every angel who knows the deceiver at all, knows that he is a deceiver. Not the Holy Spirit; for He strives with the man even in this his hypocrisy. Not the Saviour; for He searches the heart. Not the Father of spirits; for He has even foreknown the career of the hypocrite. Deceiving, you say, for how long? At longest only through a few. brief years, and. then the revelation! Deceiving, and for what? What profit is there of deception and hypocrisy? The man who openly saith, "I am an atheist -- I am a deist -- I am a sceptic -- I have no religion," is a far better man than he who, with unbelief at heart, makes a profession of Christianity. "What doest thou here?" saith God to the deceiver in the cave of hypocrisy.

II. God addresses this question TO THE NOTABLE SINNER IN THE CAVE OF SUPPOSED SECRECY. Few notable transgressors sin openly. There is something mean about sin. You see men sneak into the haunts of vice. They go when they think that the darkness covers them. Here! God saith, here! And you a husband! Here! God saith, at the threshold of these places, and you a father! Here! God saith, and you betrothed to unpolluted virtue, and to unsuspecting love! Here! risking money that a diligent and careful father has provided for you! Here! spending the patrimony which has been left you by a devoted and loving mother! Here! Men and brethren, you talk of secrecy, there is no such thing as secrecy. It never has been; and it never can be. The notable sinner in the cave of his supposed secrecy is recognised by God, who calls to him, and speaks of him by name. "What doest thou here, Elijah?"

III. "What doest thou here?" God saith TO THE PENITENT SINNER IN THE CAVE OF DESPAIR. What art thou doing? Despair cannot secure pardon. Despair cannot bring peace. Despair cannot purify the heart. Despair will not pray. Despair can find no promise. And, what is more, despair, in the heart of a penitent sinner, hath neither warrant nor justification.

IV. "What doest thou here?" GOD SAITH TO THE CONVERTED MAN IN THE CAVE OF NON-CONFESSION. Here is a man walking in the counsel of the ungodly; a man standing in the way of sinners; a man sitting in the seat of the scornful. He becomes converted: but he is yoked with unbelievers; he is connected with unrighteousness -- with unrighteousness in his business -- unrighteousness in his recreations -- unrighteousness in his connections and friendships. And God saith to him, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing."


VI. HE SPEAKS ALSO TO THE GODLY IN THE CAVE OF MISANTHROPY AND DISGUST. There is a cave Adullam -- an old resort for religious people, and it has been well kept up. There is such a cave near every Church of God; and thither the contented with themselves, and the discontented with everybody else, have constantly resorted.

A call to self-knowledge: -- Every wise master mariner wants to know at sea just where his ship is, just what his longitude and latitude are. Years ago, when I was crossing the Atlantic Ocean, we had a long spell of bad foggy weather. For several days and nights neither sun nor stars had been visible. We had been sailing by dead reckoning, and did not know where we were exactly. One night while I was on deck, there was a sudden rift in the clouds, and the North Star shone out. Word was sent ai; once to the captain, and I remember how the captain fairly laid himself across the compass, and took an observation of that star, because he wanted to know just where he was. Every wise man wants to know where he stands physically, whether he has a sound heart and sound lungs. He may find out his physical condition is not as good as he hoped, but if his physical condition is bad, he wants to know it, so that he can guard against the dangers he might plunge into. Many a man lies in the grave to-night because he had a weak heart and didn't know it. It is very important in all the affairs of this world, that we know just where we are, but it is infinitely more important that we know where we are in the affairs of eternity.

Elijah in the cave: -- This strange narrative serves to illustrate the following things: --
I. THE FALLIBILITY OF AN EMINENT SAINT. Elijah was undoubtedly an eminent saint. His teachings, miracles, prayers, and the testimony of God's word show this. But he was not perfect, and the fact of his fleeing to the cave shows this. Why did he retire to solitude?

1. The want of success. We are not judges of success. Nor is success the right rule of life.

2. The corruptness of his times. The very reason why he of all men should be out in public life.

3. The fear of persecution.


1. God knows everything about the individual man. Jacob at Bethel, Jonah on the sea, Moses at Midian, John in Patmos, and now Elijah in the cave.

2. God demands from individual man an account of himself. "What doest thou here?"

(1) Thou art a reasonable being, and must have reasons for thy conduct. What are they?

(2) Thou art a moral being, and art responsible to Me for thy conduct. Providence has to do with the most minute as well as the most vast.

III. THE ORDER OF DIVINE PROCEDURE. This terrible manifestation came first. Then came the "still small voice."

1. This is a type of God's dispensations with the race at large. First came the terrible, and then the more pacific. Judaism is the terrible -- Christianity the mild. "Ye are not come to the mount that might be touched," etc.

2. This is a type of God's dealing with His people individually. There must first come the storm, earthquake, and fire of moral conviction; and then the "still small voice," etc.


1. The pacific is most manifestly Divine. "The Lord was not in the wind," etc. But He was in the "still small voice." God is a "God of peace." Nature shows this. Storms are exceptions. The history of Christ shows this. "He did not cause His voice to be heard," etc. The influence of His Gospel shows this.

2. The pacific is most morally effective. Neither the thunders of civil law, nor the fulminations of a heartless declaimer, can touch the soul. Nothing can travel to her seat but the gentle message of the truth in love. "Thy gentleness hath made me great."

(1 Kings 19:10) He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." NIV

Ver. 10. I have been very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts. --
Impatience of results: -- In moments of depression the wisest may fall into it, but it is nevertheless a mistake, as the following observations by Dr. Storrs suggest: "I do not see the cathedral as yet, when I go into the confused quarry-yard and see there the half-wrought stones, the clumsy blocks that are by and by to be decorated capitals. But when at last they are finished in form and brought together, the mighty building rises in the air, an ever-enduring psalm in rock. I do not see the picture yet, when I look upon the palette, with its blotches and stains and lumps of colour. By and by, when the skilful brush of the painter has distributed those colours, I see the radiant beauty of the Madonna, the pathos of the Magdalene. I do not see yet the perfect kingdom of God upon the earth, but I see the colours which are to blend in it. I see the already half-chiselled rock out of which it shall be wrought, and I am not going to despond now, when so much already has been accomplished."

I, even I only, am left. --
God's cure for depression: -- That is how God encouraged a brave worker in his moment of depression. The signs of the time were ominous. Ahab sat upon the throne, with an unscrupulous and powerful queen by his side. A corrupt court had produced a corrupt nation. Israel had denied her high and singular election, and had vaunted her infidelity in the face of Heaven. No wonder the prophet seeks the end of his pathetic and apparently ineffective ministry. "I, even I only, am left." But he was mistaken. There was more goodness in the nation than he perceived. God's reply was, "I have left Me seven thousand in Israel." A needed word this for worked in every age, perhaps never more needed than to-day. This is a great age for publicity. Our work is done on the platform as never before. In politics, in social reform, in philanthropy, we estimate our strength by the number who join our processions and attend our demonstrations. It can scarcely be said of organised religion, "It does not cry, nor lift up, nor cause its voice to be heard in the street." But let us not imagine that spiritual religion is confined to that which parades itself before, the public eye, nor try to estimate Christian progress by a Church census. God s work goes on when the prophet has ceased to preach, and retires in deep despondency from the world. "I have left Me seven thousand." In face of all the scandal which disgraced Italy and the Church in the fifteenth century, Savonarola could still point to a living witness to the Divine power which might be constantly seen in the lives of humble disciples. Contemporary with our English Restoration, with all its abominations, we find Herbert, Vaughan, Crashaw, Milton, and some of the sweetest spiritual singers God has given to our nation. It is easy to see the power of the Baalim in England to-day -- the practical denial of God found in high places; the corruption and fraud which now and again manifest their deep-seated power in the commercial world; the selfishness, the heartlessness, of many of our pleasures and pursuits; the timidity, the wrongful compromise, the inconsistencies of the churches and churchgoers. These things, alas, are very obvious. What then! God preserves His remnant, and never forgets the seven thousand. Virtue is not so sensational as vice, nor does it attract the same attention, but it is stronger and more substantial. London should not be judged by Piccadilly at night. Out of sight of the casual visitor you have the purity and peace of thousands of homes where parents live and pray, and where brothers and sisters learn the joy of mutual help. Goodness appears in unexpected places. Heartened by this, each soul is to return to the duty of the moment. "Go thou thy way." The seven thousand belong to God -- duty belongs to us. In the presence of the powerful Baalim I can do the duty that lies next to me. We may not be able to shatter the idol to pieces in the Senate, or the market-place, but we can now shatter its power within our own lives. None the less, remember that our own loyalty to God will help others, though we may be unconscious of this. Seven thousand hearts were encouraged by that brave stand upon Carmel, but Elijah knew nothing of it. Our cities to-day frequently draw their water from distant lakes. In deep underground channels the precious stream is conveyed to rise in our homes. Elijah conceived himself as a solitary lake "embosomed among the hills." But out from him proceeded streams of living waters which cleansed and refreshed human hearts in distant places. Loyalty to God does not cease with itself; it finds an indestructible ally within every soul. A brave stand for the right frequently brings those to decision who were halting between two opinions, while it rebukes the evil and heartens the good.

The strength and weakness of human sympathy: -- This was the darkest hour in the prophet's history, and this a sad revelation of the weakness to be found in a character possessing so many elements of strength. There are two truths we propose to illustrate here.

I. THE BLESSEDNESS OF HUMAN SYMPATHY. God has not designed that we should live alone. He gathers men into families. He collects His people into churches that they may afford mutual help, take their respective parts in a common work, and together share a common reward. He requires that we all be as links in this grand chain of love, adding some strength to it, and yet receiving strength from it in our turn.

II. THE LIMITS OF HUMAN SYMPATHY. Though its power to aid and comfort be great, there are bounds to its influence. It is only within a certain range, and that range comparatively narrow, that it can carry on its ministry of love. There is a vast region of spiritual experiences, some bright and joyous, but more of the sad and sombre character, closely fenced against it by barriers which it can never pass. Emphatically is it true that there is a bitterness which each heart must taste for Itself, and that it has joys with which no stranger can intermeddle.

1. More particularly, we observe life's most serious perplexities must generally be solved by ourselves.

2. Again, life's severest conflicts must be fought by ourselves. Another man's temptations are not mine -- another man's doubts are not mine -- another man's perplexities are. not mine -- and therefore independently I must stand and struggle.

3. So with the heaviest sorrows we have to endure. They are those which no friend, however beloved, can fully understand or share.

4. So in some of life's greatest works, we have to stand alone. The world has always been slow to recognise her best benefactors, and even the men who by their discoveries in science have contributed most to the advance of civilisation and the increase of wealth, have generally had a solitary and toilsome, often a dangerous path to tread, their teachings distrusted, their aims described as utopian, themselves despised as foolish visionaries.

Alone, yet not atone: -- Behold a real and a right bravery. In the British Museum I saw the MS. of a letter from General Gordon to his sister, dated Khartoum, February 27 th, 1884 -- "I have sent Stewart off to scour the river White Nile, and another expedition to push back rebels on the Blue Nile. With Stewart has gone Power, the British consul and Times correspondent; so I am left alone in the vast palace, but not alone, for I feel great confidence in my Saviour's presence. I trust and stay myself in the fact that not one sparrow falls to the ground without our Lord's permission; also that enough for the day is the evil. All things are ruled by Him for His glory, and it is rebellion to murmur against His will" A real bravery springs out of oneness with God. Do we not all need that sort of courage for this new year?

As you see there is an enormous amount of knowledge to be obtained in how God teaches Elijah here in Chapter 19 what He wants Elijah to do and where He send Elijah to be taught. I believe we can learn a lot from God as to our own teachings from God. Part 4 of "Elijah Vs Ahab" begins in verse 11 of 1 Kings Chapter 19.

God Bless Each of You,

Rev. Zack Martin Sr.

In His Name,
Rev. Zack martin Sr.

updated by @zack-martin: 04/04/15 01:27:36AM


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