The Prophet Elijah

1 Kings

The Prophet Elijah

July 29th, 1956 @ 7:30 PM

1 Kings 16

Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, Forasmuch as I exalted thee out of the dust, and made thee prince over my people Israel; and thou hast walked in the way of Jeroboam, and hast made my people Israel to sin, to provoke me to anger with their sins; Behold, I will take away the posterity of Baasha, and the posterity of his house; and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat. Now the rest of the acts of Baasha, and what he did, and his might, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah: and Elah his son reigned in his stead. And also by the hand of the prophet Jehu the son of Hanani came the word of the LORD against Baasha, and against his house, even for all the evil that he did in the sight of the LORD, in provoking him to anger with the work of his hands, in being like the house of Jeroboam; and because he killed him. In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years. And his servant Zimri, captain of half his chariots, conspired against him, as he was in Tirzah, drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah. And Zimri went in and smote him, and killed him, in the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned in his stead. And it came to pass, when he began to reign, as soon as he sat on his throne, that he slew all the house of Baasha: he left him not one that pisseth against a wall, neither of his kinsfolks, nor of his friends. Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake against Baasha by Jehu the prophet, For all the sins of Baasha, and the sins of Elah his son, by which they sinned, and by which they made Israel to sin, in provoking the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities. Now the rest of the acts of Elah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? In the twenty and seventh year of Asa king of Judah did Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah. And the people were encamped against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king: wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp. And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died, For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin. Now the rest of the acts of Zimri, and his treason that he wrought, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? Then were the people of Israel divided into two parts: half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king; and half followed Omri. But the people that followed Omri prevailed against the people that followed Tibni the son of Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned. In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah. And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria. But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities. Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he shewed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead. And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 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. In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.
Related Topics: Ahab, Elijah, Jezebel, Mt. Carmel, 1956, 1 Kings
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THE PROPHET ELIJAH

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Kings 16

7-29-56      7:30 p.m.

 

All of our people received a leaflet in the Reminder, our church paper, announcing the presentation of Felix Mendelssohn’s Oratorio de Elijah, Sunday week; not this coming Sunday night, but Sunday night week, and the following Monday, those two nights.  It is to be presented in dramatic form; a thing I have never seen, but a thing that I am told is most effective, as they take the life of Elijah, the stern-visage prophet of God, and depict his life in music and in drama, here in this auditorium.

So they asked if I might not speak before I go away to preach at Glorietta, and then following a vacation, if I might not preach this last sermon before I go, if I might not preach on Elijah.  Well, I thought about it, then decided to do it; then thought about how I should do it, because some of the most dramatic of all of the stories in the Bible concern this prophet Elijah; thought I might take a text or a part of his life; there are many, many ways that one could take that man’s life and try to present here in a message.  Finally I decided just to take the whole story of Elijah and present it here as you read it in the Bible.

After the days of David and after the days of King Solomon, coming down to the year of about 825 BC, Omri, who was the king of Israel, died, and his son Ahab ascended to the throne [1 Kings 16:28].  At the same time that Ahab was the king in Israel, Jehoshaphat was king in Judah [1 Kings 15:24], and Ben-Hadad was king in Damascus [1 Kings 15:18], and [Ethbaal] was king in Phoenicia [1 Kings 16:31].  And Shalmaneser was king in Assyria [2 Kings 17:3, 18:9], the great growing empire of the world; Assyria, the winged bull of Asshur.  And the people of the Greek colonies on the other side of the Aegean were beginning to read and to circulate the wonderful stories of Homer in the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey.”

At that time, it says in the Bible, in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of 1 Kings, “In the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel” [1 Kings 16:29].  Omri was a very able and successful warrior.  Do you remember in your study in school that one of the keys to the translation of the ancient languages was the discovery of the Moabite Stone?  Do you remember that?  One was the Rosetta Stone and the other was the Moabite Stone.

Well, that Moabite Stone was set up by the king of Moab, and on that stone it tells of the exploits of this Omri, who was the captain of the hosts, who slew his master, who became king over Israel and who greatly extended the borders of the Northern Kingdom.  And Omri bought a hill in the midst of the Northern Kingdom, and he built his capital and his palace there and named it Samaria, after the name of the man from whom he bought the hill [1 Kings 16:23-24].  This Omri was a tremendous man, so much so that the land of Israel came to be known as the land of Omri.  So when Ahab ascended the throne, he ascended it as the son of a most successful conqueror and king [1 Kings 16:28].

Now, Ahab the son of Omri did evil, like so many who are brought up in princely fashion with all of the luxuries that corrupt:

Omri’s son Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord, above all that were before him.  And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who divided the kingdom, that Ahab took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal.  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 16:30-33]

 

Now this man Ahab was, in his heart, not a vile and a vicious, a wicked man.  He had a great respect for the prophets of Jehovah, and he had a leaning in his heart for the God of Israel.  But the thing that happened to Ahab was this: he married one of the most strong-willed women in all this world.  She was some cookie, this Jezebel!  She was an uncompromising foe of the Lord God.  And Ahab many times repented and wore sackcloth and sat in ashes; but not Jezebel.  That strong-willed woman hated and despised the religion of Jehovah, she hated and despised the prophets of the Lord God, and she set herself to eradicating the worship of the Lord God of Israel out of the land [1 Kings 18:4, 13].

Now Ahab, her weak-kneed and pusillanimous husband—if there ever was a hen-pecked man, Ahab was that man.  Poor Ahab; instead of trying to stand up and to stand for the true religion of the Lord God, Ahab gave himself into the hands of his strong-willed queen and watched her try to eradicate the religion of Jehovah from the land.

Now, she had a plan.  She had a program.  She tore down all of the altars of the Lord God [1 Kings 18:30, 19:10], and she sought to slay every one of the prophets and the priests of the Lord God [1 Kings 18:4], and she so intimidated the worshippers of the Lord God that there was not a man nor a woman in the land of Israel who would stand up and say that he was a worshipper of Jehovah God.  The religion of Jehovah under the hand of Jezebel was underground, and it only existed in the dens and the caves of the earth [1 Kings 18:13].  Now, that was the condition when Ahab ruled in Israel and when Jezebel sat by his side on the throne.

Now, the seventeenth chapter of the Book of 1 Kings begins like an earthquake, like a volcano, like a bolt of lightning from the sky:  “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab” [1 Kings 17:1]—who is Elijah the Tishbite?   All we know is that Tishbe was in the great, desolate mountain wilderness over there on the other side of the Jordan River, hard by the vast, illimitable desert of Arabia.  That’s all you know about it.  He comes out of the blue of the sky.  He comes out of the wilderness, this stern visage, this uncompromising man of blood and iron.  He suddenly stands in the presence of Ahab, the king of Israel, and he says, “As the Lord God liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain in this earth, except by my word!” [1 Kings 17:1], and just like that he vanished out of sight.

Well, that could be a joke.  Well, that could be folly.  Well, that could be from a crazy fanatic, “Except my word, there will not be rain nor dew from heaven” [1 Kings 17:1], not a drop of moisture, not even enough to coagulate on a cold vessel at night—and disappeared, and disappeared.  Then a day passed, and a week passed, and a month passed, and a year passed, and two years passed, and three years passed, and there was not dew nor rain; and the ground turned to iron, and the sun blazed in a sky of brass, and there was famine and want in the land [1 Kings 18:1-2].

No wonder Ahab began to write; began to send to all of the kingdoms of the earth, saying, “Have you seen that stern visage man Elijah, dressed with a garment and a mantel of hair, with a leather girdle about his loins?  Have you seen Elijah?”  “We’ve never seen him.  We haven’t seen him.  We haven’t seen him.  We haven’t heard of him.  We haven’t found him.  We don’t know where he is.”  And in the meantime the famine waxed sore, and Ahab sought Elijah [1 Kings 18:2-6].

Where was Elijah?  The Lord hid him.  First sent him over Jordan, on the other side, on the eastern side, way up in those mountains of Gilead, in a place far away, where a little brook ran close by.  And there by the Brook Cherith, with the ravens to feed him, did Elijah remain hidden under the hand of God while the drought waxed sore and sore.  Then, when the little fountain dried up because of the awful drought [1 Kings 17:2-7], God sent him up there into Phoenicia, into a little town between Tyre and Sidon called Zarephath [1 Kings 17:8-9].

There, a poor woman who was a widow, out gathering sticks to bake one last little cake for her and her son and then die of starvation—Elijah accosted the woman and said, “Bring me to drink,” and then, “And a cake, a baked cake to eat.”  And the widow said, “There is nothing left, just this little meal and this little amount of oil, for which I am now preparing to bake a little loaf that my son may eat, and die.”  And Elijah said, “The Lord God says, Bake the cake, feed the prophet of God, and the Lord will take care of you and your son” [1 Kings 17:8-14].

And the widow believed by faith, believed the word of the prophet of God, baked the cake, gave it to the man of God, and thereafter she baked and she baked and she baked, and the barrel of meal did not fail, and the cruse of oil did not waste.  And they lived together there in the home until that terrible drought was done [1 Kings 17:14-16].  In those days the widow’s son became ill unto death, and she said, “Look and see, my kindness to you and my belief in you as a man of God—and what ill and disaster; have you brought death for my son?” [1 Kings 17:17-18].

And the Lord God took the boy and laid him in his own place, and Elijah said to Jehovah God, “Lord, is this requiting?  Is this the reward You give to the widow woman for her kindness to Thy servant, that You take away her son and break her heart?”  And he laid himself warm and alive three times over the dead body of the boy.  And God answered Elijah’s prayer, and the boy came to life again, and he restored the lad once again into the arms of his mother [1 Kings 17:19-24].

After three years, after three years, the Lord God came to Elijah and said, “Get thee up, show thyself unto Ahab; for I shall send abundance of rain” [1 Kings 18:1].  So [Elijah] arose and went down into the land of Israel from that northern country of Phoenicia; and he came into the presence of Obadiah, who was the king’s right hand minister [1 Kings 18:2-7].  Obadiah was a true servant of the Lord God.  When Jezebel was slaying the prophets of Jehovah, he took fifty of them, he took one hundred of them, and in two bands of fifty he fed them and kept them alive, hidden away in caves [1 Kings 18:4].  Elijah came and appeared to Obadiah, and said, “Go to thy master and tell him I will see him today” [1 Kings 18:8].  Obadiah replied and said:

My lord Elijah, how dare I do such a thing?  For Ahab the king has sent to every place and every nation trying to find thee, and thou wert not.  And now you say, Go tell Ahab, Elijah will see him today.  For no sooner will I tell Ahab, Elijah is here, I have seen him, I have talked to him, and then God takes you away, and you are not.

[1 kings 18:9-14]

“But Obadiah,” said Elijah, “Go to thy master and tell him I will see him today” [1 Kings 18:15].  So Obadiah makes his way to Ahab and says, “Elijah is here” [1 Kings 18:16].  And Ahab goes out to meet him, and Elijah runs to meet the king.

And the king looks into the face of the stern visage prophet, and he says, “O thou that troublest Israel, you.”  And Elijah answered back, “I am not he that troubleth Israel, but thou and the wickedness of thy house [1 Kings 18:17-18].  But,” said Elijah, “call all Israel together, and on top of Mount Carmel bring the prophets of Baal, four hundred fifty, bring the prophets of Astarte, who sit at Queen Jezebel’s table, four hundred, bring them [1 Kings 18:19].  And we’ll build an altar and pray to our separate god, and the God that answers by fire, let him be God [1 Kings 18:23-24].  And it pleased Ahab, and he sent word and gathered all Israel to Mount Carmel” [1 Kings 18:20].

Have you ever seen Mount Carmel?  One of the most—have you ever been to Taos, New Mexico, that vast mountain, there is Taos and the great mountain beyond it?  Have you been to Interlaken, and there’s the Jungfrau towering above it?  Any place in the world where there’s a great geographic prominence, that’s Mount Carmel, jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea, the great plain of Esdraelon here, the great plain of Sharon there, and Mount Carmel between the two, jutting out clear to the sea.  Have you seen Diamondhead in the island of Hawaii, jutting out into the sea?  That’s Mount Carmel; a tremendously important looking place in the typography of the land.

There on Mount Carmel, Ahab gathered all Israel together, and the prophets of Baal, and the prophets of Astarte [1 Kings 18:19-20], and then that contest between the two [1 Kings 18:21-24].  Now, you remember the story: they started in the morning, the prophets of Baal with their altar and with their sacrifice, and they began to cry, “Baal, Baal, send the fire.  Baal, Baal, send the fire.  Baal, Baal, send the fire, send the fire.”  All that answered was a hot, blazing, fierce sun; no fire, no answer, no anything.  And then they began, according to their ritual, to lance themselves and cut themselves until they became masses of blood crying aloud, “Baal, Baal, send the fire!” [1 Kings 18:25-26, 28-29].  Finally, when their efforts were weak and fainting, why, Elijah began to mock them [1 Kings 18:27]: “Oh, he is a god; sure he’s a god; but he’s out hunting, you must shout louder.”

“Baal, send the fire!”

“No, he’s asleep, you must wake him up.”

“Oh, Baal, wake up! Send the fire!”

Elijah began to mock and to scorn: “Why, he’s a god; sure he’s a god.  Jezebel says he’s a god; she knows everything.  All of these women know everything, but especially Jezebel.  Sure he’s a god.  Jezebel says so.  All these prophets say so.  Wake him up, wake him up.”

 Then they began to lance themselves deeper, and dance and play around that altar and jump on top of it: “Oh, Baal, send the fire, send the fire!”  There wasn’t any fire.  There wasn’t any answer.  There wasn’t anyone who heard [1 Kings 18:28-29].  And when they had given out and wasted themselves in vain importunity, Elijah said, “At the time of the evening sacrifice, all of you draw near.”  And they drew near [1 Kings 18:30].

There was a broken-down altar that Jezebel had destroyed there on the top of Mount Carmel, and Elijah repaired the broken-down altar of the Lord God, and Elijah took twelve stones, for one of each tribe, and he laid it there on that broken-down altar [1 Kings 18:30-31].

No Hebrew was ever allowed to make an altar of cut stone.  It had to be as God made it: untouched by human hand, rough, unhewn, uncut rock [1 Kings 18:36].  Every altar had to be made of an uncut, unhewn rock, like God had made it.

Then on that, the sacrifice; then around that, a trench; and then, down to the Mediterranean, four barrels of water, pour on the sacrifice, over the altar, fill that trench with water [1 Kings 18:31-35].  Then at the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah knelt down by the side of the altar, and he prayed a humble prayer [1 Kings 18:36], saying:

O Lord God, O Lord God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and Jacob, O God of our fathers, hear now Thy servant this once as he prays, and let this people know that there is a God, and His name is Jehovah the Lord.  Send the fire, send the fire.

 [1 Kings 18:36-37]

And there came out of the bosom of the sky, out of the hand of God, there came bolts, and shafts, and furors of fire and of lightning, and it burned the sacrifice, and it burned the wood, and it burned the stones, and it burned the water, and it licked up the dust of the ground!  And the people said, “The Lord Jehovah, He is God.  The Lord Jehovah, He is God” [1 Kings 18:38-39].

They took the prophets of Baal, who deceived the people and led them into idolatry and orgies of sin, and slew them at the River Kishon [1 Kings 18:40]—right there at the foot of the Mount Carmel—flows into the Mediterranean.  Then Elijah turned to Ahab and said, “Get thee up, eat, drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain” [1 Kings 18:41].  And Elijah took his servant and went to the brow of the mountain—the mountain is like this, then it drops precipitously down to the sea—and Elijah took his servant and went to the brow of the mountain that overlooks the great Mediterranean, and then he knelt down with his face to the ground [1 Kings 18:42].  And he said to his servant, “Go, see,” and the servant looked and came back, and said, “And the sky is clear.”  And Elijah prayed again; to his servant, “Look and see,” and the servant went and looked out over the great blue waters of the Mediterranean, and said, “But it’s clear.”  And Elijah prayed six times, and then the seventh time, he said to his servant, “Go look to see” [1 Kings 18:43].

And the servant came back and said, “I looked, and over the Mediterranean, there is a cloud about the size of a man’s hand” [1 Kings 18:44].  And Elijah rose up and went to Ahab and said, “Get thee up and drive furiously home, for there’s rain, a cloud the size of a man’s hand” [1 Kings 18: 44].  And the Bible says, and this is one of the most unusual things in the whole book:

And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and as Ahab drove from Mount Carmel to Jezreel—

that’s clear across the land, down almost to the Jordan—

as Ahab got in his chariot to drive to Jezreel, the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins,

That is, he picked up that long, flowing prophet’s mantel, picked it up, tightened it around him:

and ran in the front, before the horses of the chariot of Ahab,

all the way, that thirty or thirty-five miles, down to the entrance of the gate of Jezreel

[1 Kings 18:45-46]. 

As the rain poured, it turned black, the Bible says, and the winds beat, and the rains fell as Ahab drove in his chariot, and as Elijah the prophet of God ran in triumph before him [1 Kings 18:45-46].  What a day!  What a day!

Yeah, what a day, but what a next day; and the story says, “Then Jezebel”—oh, what a sequel.  What a sequel.  Oh, Ahab, that’s right, but not Jezebel: when she heard what had happened, she so intimidated the entire army, and king, and captain of the hosts, the whole nation of Israel.  Jezebel sent word to Elijah by one of her royal guardsmen and said, “God do so to me and more also unless this time by tomorrow you are not like one of those prophets of Baal that were slain down there by the River Kishon [1 Kings 19:1-2].  Your head is going to roll by this time tomorrow.”

Isn’t that funny?  Isn’t that funny?  Elijah stand in the front of Ahab, absolutely unafraid [1 Kings 18:15-18]; Elijah stand in the front of the prophets of Baal, four hundred fifty of them, absolutely unafraid [1 Kings 18:19]; stand in the presence of the prophets of Astarte, four hundred of them, absolutely unafraid [1 Kings 18:19]; stand in the presence of the whole nation of Israel, absolutely unafraid [1 Kings 18:20]; and when that woman Jezebel, when she said, “This time tomorrow your head will be down there rolling in the dust” [1 Kings 19:2], he went for his life [1 Kings 19:3].  That’s what the Bible says.  He went for his life, scared him to death, scared him to death.

Did you know one woman can create more unmitigated hell than all the men you ever knew in your life?  Did you know that?  You never saw such furor, you never saw such duplicity, you never saw such chicanery.  You never saw such carryings on as when a woman gets it in her head, “I’m going to tear up that church.”  Ooh!  What she can do; scares the living daylights out of you because I’ve seen them torn up by a woman.

Now a man, why, he’s just a man; but a woman, brother, she’s something!  If you’re going to build a great church, you’ve got to have the women on your side, you know that?  If you’re going to do anything, you’ve got to have the women on your side.  That’s the reason Bruce Alger’s in Congress today: he’s got the women of Dallas on his side.  That’s the reason Anthony almost conquered the world: he got Cleopatra on his side.

Scared him to death, Jezebel; he made a trip for it, down clear across Israel, clear across Judah, clear down into the Negev, into Beersheba, running for his life [1 Kings 19:3].  And he didn’t feel comfortable down there.  He didn’t feel safe down there.  And he left his servant and said, “I’m taking out into the middle of the wilderness,” and away out into the middle of the wilderness did he go, until finally he couldn’t go anymore, he just dropped, just out, running away from Jezebel [1 Kings 19:4].

Well, an angel came to him and said, “Elijah, eat and drink; there is a cruse of water and something to eat” [1 Kings 19:6].  And the angel said to him again, “Elijah, eat and drink,” and a second time there was food and there was water [1 Kings 19:7].  Then in the strength of that meat, he journeyed yet forty days and forty nights, running away from Jezebel, and finally came down there to the most forsaken place in all this earth: he came to Horeb [1 Kings 19:8].  He came to Mount Sinai, on the other side of the Midian desert.  Now isn’t that a strange thing?

The first time you ever hear of Horeb, Sinai, Moses is there [Exodus 3:1].  And now the next time you hear of Horeb, of Sinai, Elijah is there [1 Kings 19:8].  Those two, Moses and Elijah, the lawgiver and the prophet, both of them are at Mount Sinai.  And there at Mount Sinai the Lord God said to Elijah, “Elijah, Elijah, My prophet, what you doing here?  What you doing here?” [1 Kings 19:9].  And Elijah says:

Lord God, out of all Israel there is not a man that will stand up in the face of that woman, not a one.  There is not an army that will stand up in the face of that woman, not a one.  And out of all of the prophets, I alone am left, and I have run for my life.  That is why I am here.

 [1 Kings 19:10]

And the Lord God said to Elijah, “Elijah, you stand out there in front.”  And Elijah stood out there in the front.  And there in the front of that mountain, the Lord God made a tremendous earthquake.  He shook the boulders and that old mountain rocked back and forth like you would rock a teacup.  “That is My power.  You are scared of a woman, Elijah?  Look what I can do.”  Then, after the earthquake, there came a wind, and a furious hurricane passed by and blew up half the earth.  And the Lord God said, “That is what I can do.”  Then, after that, the Lord God made a fire to burn, and it burned up half of creation.  Then there was a tremendously small, quiet stillness, and in that tremendous small, quite stillness, the Lord God said, “Elijah, what you doing here?” [1 Kings 19:11-13].

And Elijah replied, “Lord, out of all the prophets I am the only one that is left, and nobody will stand up for God Jehovah.  And I have run for my life, that is what I am doing here” [1 Kings 19:14].  And the Lord God said:

Elijah, you just get you up and go back where you came from.  This is no place for My prophet.  This is no place for My servant.  Elijah, you get up, and you go back right where you came from.  There is work to do, Elijah.  Now, you get up and go back, and instead of sitting around here under a juniper tree, and instead of moaning and carrying on, and instead of thinking this thing is lost and you are the only one left—Elijah, I have got seven thousand that have not bowed the knee to Baal.  Now, you get up and go back.  There are lots of you there.  And in My time, and in My time, and in My day, and in My program, and in My will I will take care of all of the enemies of God in that land.  Now you get up and go back.  There is work to do.

 [from 1 Kings 19:15-18]

 

So Elijah got up, and he went back to the land of his fathers [1 Kings 19:19].  Well, just how long you all want to stay here tonight?  We’ll try to hurry now, just briefly.  I like to read these things.

“There is work to do, lots of it.”  For you see, Samaria is way up high.  You know, in a country like, oh, Glorietta, way up high, that’s nice for the summertime, way up high, that’s nice, cool; but in the wintertime, freezes the ears off of a brass monkey.  And that’s what it was at Samaria: get cold up there, and it’d snow and get cold up there.  So Ahab went down to the Valley of Jezreel—remember that Plain of Esdraelon going along, going along, then it goes down into that deep arroyo through which the Jordan River flows?  Jezreel, the Valley of Jezreel goes down; it’s way down.  Samaria is way up here.  Oh, Samaria would have an elevation between thirty-five hundred and four thousand feet.  Samaria is way up here, and then Jezreel is way down there.  Jezreel is just about sea level, or maybe a little below, way down there.  And so in order to get away from the cold of the wintertime, why, Ahab and Jezebel went down there and built a summer palace, and, oh, it was so nice and pretty, and everything was so fine.

And so Ahab, standing on the wall of his palace, looked, and there was the prettiest little plot of ground, just so nice, and it was hard by his palace.  And he said, “Wouldn’t that be a fine place to raise cucumbers, and garlic, and onions, and all of those nice vegetables by which we can whet our appetites and make our dinners dainty, and oh, wouldn’t that just be wonderful?”  And so he said, “Who owns that?” and they said, “Well, there’s a Jezreelite named Naboth; he owns that pretty little garden” [1 Kings 21:1].

“Well, send for him,” said the king.  So Naboth stood in the presence of the king, and the king said to Naboth, “Naboth, this beautiful little garden you have next to my house, you’ve got it filled with flowers and all.  I’d love to have it for a garden of vegetables, and now I’ll pay thee well for it, and I’ll give thee money for it, and if you do not wish to have the money, I’ll buy thee a better garden where you can raise more beautiful roses and petunias and gladiolas and geraniums and all those pretty things.  That’s what I’ll do.”

Naboth said, “I cannot do that.  I cannot do that” [1 Kings 21:1-3]. 

Now in the face of it, that looks like just incorrigible obstreperousness, it’s just down right meanness, “I cannot do that,” but that’s not right.  You look at your Book, and you’ll find the law of the Lord God said, “You are not to sell your inheritance, not to do it, not to do it.”  Here in the last chapter of the Book of Numbers, in the seventh verse, it says, “So shall not the inheritance of the children remove from one to one; for every one of the children of Israel shall keep himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers” [Numbers 36:7].  And when Ahab said, “I want that little garden for my own to raise vegetables in,” why, Naboth said, “The Lord God forbid that I should give up the inheritance of my fathers!” [1 Kings 21:3].

It’s a matter of the Lord God.  It’s a matter of the commandments of the Lord.  It was a matter of religion, of being true to Jehovah, with Naboth: “I cannot sell it.  I cannot do it.  God says I cannot.  It cannot be done.  No matter how much money you buy, or no matter how much you try to take its place, I cannot do it.”

And what did Ahab do?  Well sir, that’s the beatenest thing you ever read in the Bible: Ahab pouted like a little boy [1 Kings 21:4].  He pouted, and he went up to his room.  And Jezebel was seated down there at the table of the king and the queen, and the king didn’t come, and she sent up and said, “Dinner is ready, come.”

  “No!”

“Soup’s on, come.”

He’s up there in his room pouting, and so Jezebel went up to the room and looked at him, and there he was pouting on his bed, lying down.  And when she stepped into the room to look at him, he turned his face to the wall, and he wouldn’t look at her.  And she went over to him and said, “Baby, what’s the matter with you?”  That’s what she said.  And then he said, he said, “It’s on account of Naboth!”  And she said, “Tell your honeybunny, what’s Naboth done to you?  What’s Naboth done to you?”

“No,” says Ahab, “that beautiful garden he’s got down there by my palace, I want it for vegetables to raise a garden in.  And I offered him money, and he wouldn’t take it.  And I offered him other land, and he wouldn’t take it.”  And she said to him, “Don’t you worry, little honeypot, I’ll get you that garden.”  Oh, brother!  “You get up.  And you quit pouting.  You get up, and you come down here to dinner, and I’ll get you that garden.  Now, I’ll get it” [1 Kings 21:5-7].  So Ahab got up and dressed and went down to dinner.

And the next day Jezebel sent a courier, and the courier, said, “Gather all the citizens in Jezreel and put Naboth in the midst, and suborn two no-account, trifling, good-for-nothing refuse—no matter who they are, suborn them, pay them, and get them to stand up there in the presence of the citizens of Jezreel, and get them to swear, ‘I heard Naboth curse God and blaspheme the king!’ [1 Kings 21:8-10].  Don’t you worry, those judges won’t dare do anything but what I’m telling them to do; they wouldn’t dare.”

So the courier gathered the citizens together, and they put Naboth in the midst, and the judges there, and two suborned no-count rats stood up and said, “We heard Naboth curse God and blaspheme the name of the king” [1 Kings 21:11-13].  The penalty was death, and they took Naboth down and they stoned him till he died [1 Kings 21:13], and the Bible says the blood—“and the dogs licked up his blood” [I Kings 21:19].  What the Bible means by that is that the wild dogs couldn’t get to his body for the heap of stones on top of him by which they slew him, but his blood trickled out between the stones and stained and gathered in little cups there in the earth, and the dogs came and licked it up.

Then Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, get thee up, possess, possess.  Rise, get thee up, possess; for Naboth is dead, and he doesn’t live!” [1 Kings 21:15].  According to the law of the land, the properties of executed criminals went into the possession of the king.  So Ahab arose, the Bible says, to possess; and he got in his chariot, with Jehu the captain of his hosts and Bidkar the captain of his hosts, those two captains, and rode down to Jezreel and into the gate of the little garden that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite [2 Kings 9:25].

And when the gate swung open and the king entered in to possess, who stood there but the prophet of the Lord God, Elijah! standing there in the midst of the garden of Naboth, and Ahab looked at him.  And Elijah looked back, stern, silent, like a mountain, like the presence of a God Himself, standing there, Elijah in the vineyard of Naboth [1 Kings 21:17-18].  And Ahab says:

My enemy, has thou found me, O mine enemy?  You [1 Kings 21:20], you—

and Elijah replies—

By the Lord God, where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, there will the dogs lick thy blood! [1 Kings 21:19].

And by the entrance of Jezreel, where your chariot wheels just passed, there will the dogs eat Jezebel, thy queen [1 Kings 21:23].

And he dashed away.  Well, we’ve got to quit.  Let me finish that, and I’ll stop.

Ahab went to war with Jehoshaphat, over the Jordan to Ramoth-gilead; disguised himself as a common soldier so they wouldn’t know he was a king [1 Kings 22:29-30].  And the Bible says, “And a soldier drew back a bow at a venture,” that is, it wasn’t aiming at anything, he just drew it back and let it go,  and that arrow pierced the body of Ahab between the breastplate and the joint of his armor, and entered his body like that [1 Kings 22:34].  And lest the enemy see him fall, they held him up in the chariot while they drove away; and the blood flowed out of his body into the floor of the chariot.  And they washed it, and where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth, there the dogs licked up the blood as they washed the blood of Ahab from his chariot [1 Kings 22:38].

And Jehu, anointed captain of the hosts and now king over Israel, came to Jezreel [2 Kings 9:16].  And her two sons there, both of them kings now, Jehu says to Bidkar, “Bidkar, remember that day when we drove into this vineyard with Ahab to possess, remember?  The Lord God of Elijah, remember?”  And Jehu drew back his arrow, and the arrow went clear through Jehoram, one of those king’s sons [2 Kings 9:24].  And he fell with the arrow through his heart, and they seized Ahaziah, the other son [2 Kings 9:27].  And they cast them in the portion of Naboth at Jezreel [2 Kings 9:25].

And he came to the wall of the city and looked up there, and there was Jezebel, tired out, painted her face, all of the hair dressers and all of the manicurists and all of the cosmetics, cosmeticians, all of them in the world couldn’t hide that heart of that woman.  And Jehu looked up and said, “Who is on my side?”  And several of the eunuchs came and said, “We are.”  And Jehu said, “Throw her down!” [2 Kings 9:30-33].

And they took Jezebel and cast her down, and those soldiers ran over her with their chariots [2 Kings 9:33], and went in to conquer the city, and sat down to banquet after the triumph, and Jehu said, “Go out and get her, after all, she’s a king’s daughter, and bury her.”  And they went out, and all they could find was her skull and her feet and the palms of her hands, for, the Bible says, the dogs had eaten her, according to the word of Elijah the prophet of God [1 Kings 21:23; 2 Kings 9:34-36]. Oh, what things, what things, what things.

Well, and he went to heaven in a fiery chariot [2 kings 2:11].  Gilgal to Bethel, Bethel to Jericho, Jericho to Jordan, crossed over, and as they walked on the other side, Elisha said to Elijah, “My father, my father,” and Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for thee?” [2 Kings 2:9].  And Elisha said, “That I might have a double portion of thy spirit upon me” [2 Kings 2:9].  And Elijah said, “It is a hard thing; but if you see me when I go, it will be.  If not, it will not be” [2 Kings 10].

And as they walked along together, the heavens opened, and there appeared a chariot of fire, and Elisha replied, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!” [2 Kings 2:11-12].  And Elijah went up to glory, translated, transfigured, immortalized, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, went up to glory; a symbol of those who someday will be translated at the glorious appearing of the Lord [1 Corinthians 15:51-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].

And when he left, there fell from his hands the mantel of the prophet.  And Elisha picked it up and smote the waters of the Jordan and crossed back over.  And the sons of the prophets at Jericho came out to see him, and they cried, saying, “Look, look, the spirit of Elijah doth rest upon Elisha” [2 Kings 2:13-15], and he began his incomparably blessed and wonderful ministry as the prophet of God.  And so the torch is handed from generation to generation.  It’ll never finally die.  It may quiet, almost go out, but there’ll always be seven thousand who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal [1 Kings 19:18].  We may not be many when He comes again, but we’ll be some.  There’ll always be some who will be faithful to Him unto death.  “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].

Now we sing our song, and while we sing it, while we sing it, somebody you, somebody you, giving your heart to God, putting your life with us in the church, somebody you, while we sing this song, while we make the appeal, you come and stand by me.  As the Lord shall open the door, as God shall lead the way, as He would say the word, your time, your hour, your day, giving your heart to the Lord: “Here I am, and here I come,” while we stand and while we sing.