There are a lot of great stories in this week’s reading. I remember my childhood imagination dancing as I stood next to Elisha’s servant looking to the hills filled with an army of fire! What a great story! I’ve echoed Elisha’s assurance in my mind over the years, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” You have the lepers in 2 Kings 7 (not in this week’s reading but from this section of scripture) who take a chance to survive and walk into the Syrian camp to see if they can get some food. When they get there, they find that God scared them all away! They had food and riches at their disposal but they quickly realized that this good news must be shared with everyone. That’ll preach! My favorite story of all is the story that builds up to what I want to focus my sermon on this week. Mount Carmel is one of the all-time greats! And…it is one of the few occurrences of “prophetic trash talking.”
The story I want to focus on this week is the one that comes immediately after the victory at Mount Carmel. Take a moment to read these two stories together: 1 Kings 18:16-19:18.
- Why is Elijah running?
- Does he have any reason to be running?
- What direction is he running? Horeb is also called “Sinai”
- What is God doing for Elijah while he’s running? How is Elijah’s response to the angel different than everyone else’s in scripture?
- Why does Elijah go to Horeb/Sinai?
- What is Elijah’s attitude before and after his encounter with God?
- What is God’s response to Elijah?
I don’t want to give everything away from this text but there is great imagery taking place. Elijah has left the Promised Land to go to the desert. God provides for him what he needs. It takes him 40 days/nights (getting it yet?). Finally, he arrives where? Horeb (Sinai), the Mountain of God. Elijah just reversed the story of Israel, moving from Promised Land to covenant mountain.
There are times in life when you feel like you are all alone. Specifically, for Elijah, he felt like he was the only faithful follower of God. He’s ready to die. God shows up in an unexpected way and Elijah’s attitude is completely unmoved. How does Elijah go from his “mountaintop experience” at Mount Carmel to entering the presence of God and wanting to die? We can get so wrapped up in how we expect the story to go that we miss what God is doing. I think this happened with Elijah. He had a story written but things did not play out the way he wanted. We expect God to show up in big ways but that isn’t always how God reveals His presence. After Mount Carmel, Elijah assumed God wasn’t working because basically nothing changed. Jezebel did not recognize him as God’s representative and vowed to kill him.
When has there been a time when you thought God did not show up in a situation but you look back and see where He was working? Where are some areas of your life where you need to examine your expectations of God? Where are you failing to miss God in the small things? Are you writing your story or are you letting God write it?