Alright! Anyone here see The Book of Eli? Spoiler Alert: the movie is set in this sorta Post-apocalyptic America where a lone survivor, Eli (played by Denzel Washington) fights his way across a wasteland in order to protect a Sacred Book that holds the secret to saving the world (…a KJV Bible…I’m not kidding).
So what’s this got to do with anything?
Well isn’t it interesting that even today, the entertainment industry invests millions of dollars and enlists Hollywood A-Listers to basically tell the story of a Biblical Character? More specifically, we’re talking about Eli…short for Elijah – THE GREATEST prophet of the OT, say many scholars. And you know…I tend to agree.
(I mean you wanna talk about Highlight Reels?! First of all, did you know that Elijah
NEVER DIED! Yeah, 2 Kings 2 says suddenly a chariot of fire appeared…and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind…)
Crazy, right?! But things turn even more “Hollywood” when HUNDREDS of years later…Elijah REAPPEARES on a mountain and talks with Jesus!
Then, later on, while Jesus was literally hanging from the cross – some folks actually thought Jesus was calling out to Elijah for help!
…Which is why I think maybe the most incredible thing about Elijah was how in the book of James, it specifically says (let’s read this together now): Elijah was a man just like [WHO?] us.
SAY WHAT?! – He never died… He chills out with Jesus hundreds of years later… People thought HE was gonna SAVE JESUS… And yet every ONE OF US in this room is just like him?! How’s that even possible?
See friends no matter WHO you are…or WHAT kind of situation you find yourself (young, old, married, single, up & coming or down & out)…everyone here has something to gain from this Old School prophet, Elijah. So let’s pray and then we’ll jump right in.
– P R A Y…my message & my preaching…Your word in my mouth is a fire…
If you have a Bible, please turn with me to 1 Kings 17…and as you do, lemme just
say… during Elijah’s day, the people of God had been under the rule of 19 consecutive Evil Kings…over the course of about 200 years.
Now just think about that for a second. America (as we know it) is just over 200 years old. Now regardless of what you think of our current Commander in Chief…can you imagine if we had NOT just 19 Poor Leaders in a row… but 19 EVIL Leaders in a row?! What kind of mess do you think we’d be in right now?
Yet those were exactly the days for Elijah. See the King at that moment was Ahab and the Bible says he: did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. PLUS…he was married to Jezebel – a woman who historians say was the Most Wicked Woman ever! (HOW you figure that out…I have no idea. And I don’t want to know. 😉 But with that in mind, notice HOW Elijah enters the scene. This is the VERY FIRST time he’s ever mentioned in the Bible:
1Kings 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
BOOM! [last 2secs of trailer where Eli kicks door open]
Do you see what just happened there? You talk about Making An Entrance! Friends, no one else in the Bible walks onto the scene for the first time with that kinda SWAGGA. See Elijah goes up to this Diabolical Duo and says: By the power of MY GOD, there won’t be a SINGLE drop of rain…until I say so!
PFFFFT WHAT?! [gasp!] Thems Fighting Words, yeah?! You don’t just walk into someone else’s house – Unannounced! A complete stranger! – and challenge everything they believe in!
And so clearly this must be the part where Elijah (whose very name means: The Lord is my God)…this must be where Elijah stands STRONG against the bad guys, right? This is the part in movies when the BASS gets LOUDER… and the MUSIC gets FASTER, right?
Absolutely! (…in Hollywood.)
But in Real Life… Nah. God’s waaaaay more creative! And so – in spite of what Hollywood tells us… God actually tells Elijah (ready for this?) after all that Trash Talk…God tells Elijah (this Great Prophet) to go…and HIDE (like a little schoolgirl).
Can you believe this? Not very Hollywood if you ask me… But don’t take my word for it, look at the next verse:
2 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and [what’s the word there??] hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”
You see what’s happening? The days are evil and corrupt. False gods are being worshipped everywhere and God’s saying, “Enough!” But rather than raise up an ARMY of men to take a stand against an Evil King & his empire… God does what He often does, He starts depleting the numbers … See sometimes God is looking for just ONE person.
Friends. Is there just ONE person among you today willing to let God have at your life completely?
See I gotta wonder if maybe today…God wants to do something similar in our midst. Maybe right here, right now, there’s ONE BUSINESS MAN who needs to
take a stand for INTEGRITY in an environment where Integrity don’t exactly get you the #s you need. Integrity don’t pay the bills, right??
Or maybe this morning, there’s a SINGLE PERSON, who – you know – God’s been on you about trusting Him in this area of sexual PURITY…regardless of what the world and your friends are doing.
Is there ONE person among us who hears the WHISPER of God…THUNDERING for something more, something greater in life tonight?!
See God often raises up ONE person to make a BIG difference. But here’s the thing – God won’t always USE you until He BREAKS you. I love the way A.W. Tozer put it: “It’s doubtful that God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”
I see some of you taking notes…while you’re at it, let me share with you the first 2 Points…I got 2 Points and 1 Question for us today…The First Non-Negotiable of a Godly person…“a man just like us.” A Godly Person… #1) Expects PAIN.
Now friends, there just no way around this one. I don’t care what stage of life you’re in…The Christian life is NOT a life absent of pain. As a matter of fact, if our own Lord & Savior didn’t avoid pain…well then why should we who FOLLOW Him expect anything different?
In fact, let me show you something real quick… Even the very name of the place that God leads Elijah to next, the Kerith Ravine – in Hebrew means “CUT OFF” or “CUT DOWN.”
IOW the author is getting on his BULLHORN here and making it crystal clear – Elijah is being “CUT OFF”…“CUT DOWN.” This is a season of PAIN. Some of you are nodding your head because you’ve been there…or you’re there right now, this morning.
See it’s like God was saying to Elijah: “Oh you think standing up to those 2 Clowns was SOMETHING ~ that ain’t NOTHING compared to how much MORE I want to use you! But not until I take you thru Boot Camp – where you learn how to Totally Depend on Me. Because I won’t use you in a mighty way PUBLICALLY…until I take you down PRIVATELY.”
…See…this ain’t no nice little sermonette for Christianettes… We talkin real talk
here. Which is what makes this next verse so sweet:
5 So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Did you see that? It’s the 2nd Element of a GODLY person. Another non-negotiable… A Godly person: #2) Quickly OBEYS.
IOW there are just some things you don’t have to THINK about it. You don’t have to PRAY about. You JUST DO IT! See sometimes you just need to say you were WRONG & apologize. Sometimes you just need to GIVE more. You need to LOVE more. You need to DIE to self more. Quick Obedience. The Word of God simply says: 5 So he did what the LORD had told him. And in that process… God was teaching Elijah to depend on Him daily for food and water. So let me ask you: Where is God asking you to Obey Him – RIGHT NOW?! (Finances…Saying sorry…Cutting a habit…)
…Now honestly, on my best days, I get it…I’m cool with it…maybe you’re are too. BUT here’s where it goes A LITTLE TOO FAR for me… In fact, what we’re about to read (in my opinion) is one of THE MOST FRUSTRATING verses in the Bible…ready? I need your help, let’s read this together:
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.
Ooooookaaay…not exactly what you had in mind. But whatever – you do it cuz God’s God and you’re not. BUT THEN once you’ve spent some time down there – by yourself, fed by ravens – the BROOK DRIES UP cuz there’s no rain.
…And do you remember WHY there’s NO RAIN?!
Or let me ask you this way: Have you ever felt like you’ve given it your very best…only to have it blow up in your face? [Minister’s Wife Retreat – last year…I wrote a Love Letter…took care of the kids for 3 days… Biggest fight of the year was the day she came back!]
Not exactly the way it’s supposed to go, right? Same thing with God sometimes, right? You obey God, you’re supposed to be blessed. Yeah? Quick obedience. Quick blessing. Right?! Wrong. Well who signs up for that?!
Welcome to the world of Elijah…a man just like us. And ya know something? God’s not done:
8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon [foreign land – outside of “God’s country”] and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, [now imagine this…!] “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” [Ummm…some toast too, please…with a little marmalade on the side…] [Watch her response: ]
12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” [Jersey girl: Fuget about it!] she replied,
“I don’t have any bread — only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it — and die.”
AWWKWARD! And the only thing that could make it worse…actually happens in v.17:
17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. [this poor widow’s son, DIED!] 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
I mean this has gone from BAD too much WORSE! And Elijah didn’t ask for any of it! I mean:
Who made the brook DRY UP in the first place? GOD! Who told Elijah to go to this poor widow? GOD!
Who holds LIFE & DEATH in His hands? GOD!
Yet who finds himself in a deep ditch? ELIJAH!
So can’t you just hear the desperation in his voice:
20 Then he cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, have you brought tragedy also [as if the ravens and dried up brook weren’t enough!] upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
Friends, have you ever been here? God! WHAT are you doing? WHY are You doing this to me! PLEASE just make it STOP! Stop the bleeding!
What do you do when LIFE DRIES UP? And the only one who could possibly DELIVER you from the DRY BROOK…is the one who lead you there in the first place?
What do you do when GOD leads you to DRYNESS?
I’m talking now to the ONE lady here who married her dream guy… but now feels trapped & lifeless.
Or the ONE guy here who’s career was going up and to the right but for reasons still unknown, got laid off…
You see we’ve all got areas in our lives where we know God lead us…TO A BROOK… and things were great for a while: plenty to eat and drink…BUT THEN IT ALL DRIED UP and went south.
IOW: Where is a place of DRYNESS, GOD has actually lead you to?
For some of you, it might be in your dating relationship or marriage. For others it’s in your job. Maybe your health. Maybe it’s this whole parenting thing. Maybe it’s your sense of purpose. What is it for you? What’s that one area in life where you feel like God has intentionally allowed things to DRY UP?
Go ahead and jot it down. One word. This is your way of acknowledging before God: God…honestly HERE is where I feel like things have dried up in my life. And I don’t get it! You brought me here…and now it’s dried up! And so now I’m asking you to help me out of it![shaking bag] Where has your brook dried up? [after a minute or two w music]
Friends, as each of you walked in here, you were handed a SMALL BAG OF SAND with a piece of paper… Go ahead and take out that piece of paper…it’s ok if it’s messy (life is messy in the desert) and just write down one word, name, situation that describes the DRYNESS (and maybe DEATH) you’re experiencing right now: What is that one area in your life where you feel like God has intentionally (for whatever reason) allowed things to DRY UP?
…Now friends if you were to read the rest of Elijah’s story you’d notice that not lonely does God use Elijah immediately to bring that little boy back to life…but God continues to use Elijah mightily to rewrite the entire story of his people! BUT NOT BEFORE leading Elijah to a BROOK…that DRIED UP…AFTER a highlight reel moment in his own life.
Friends, don’t abandon God at your dried up brook.
He has not abandoned you.
No, in fact, He may just be STARTING…cultivating…a deep work in you…in that very place – to use you for the rest of your life. Just like for Elijah, the best was yet to come.
So don’t be surprised by pain.
And identify your dry brooks – it’s the actual Starting Place for some of God’s finest works in and through you.