We’ve talked a lot about things that make you afraid, and we’ve looked at people who have stood up to that fear with the help of God. This week we’re going to take a hard look at FAITH — the faith of a great prophet in the Old Testament – and your faith. We’re going to look at where you are in your relationship with God, and how strong your faith really is.
Elijah was a prophet – a man who could hear God very plainly and communicate what God told him to other people. At the time he lived, it wasn’t an easy time to worship God — most of the kings and rulers worshipped other gods and idols. During Elijah’s lifetime, a man named Ahab became the king of Judah. (Read 1 Kings 16:29-33).
Ahab wasn’t such a bad guy on his own, but his wife was another story. She came from a culture that worshipped the Phoenician god Baal, and when she came to Judah, she convinced Ahab to build altars and temples to worship Baal there also. She then took it all a step further and started killing any of God’s prophets that she could find. Many died, but some hid from her in caves and other countries, and they lived. Elijah was led by God to hide in a cave east of the Jordan river and assured that God would take care of Him there.
After a while of hiding in the cave, God told Elijah to go and confront Ahab. This had to be really scary — after all, Ahab and Jezebel were killing prophets left and right, and God wanted Elijah to walk up and say, “Hey, Ahab – what’s up?” It was pretty intense, but old Elijah had a lot of faith that God would protect him, so he went. When Ahab and Elijah got together, Elijah challenged Ahab to gather up all the prophets of Baal, and meet him on Mount Carmel for a big showdown. (Read 1 Kings 18:20-38). God proved that He was not only going to protect His servants, but that He was MUCH more powerful than the puny god Baal.
After the showdown, Ahab went back and told sweet little Jezebel everything that had happened, and she got pretty mad. She vowed to kill Elijah, no matter what the gods (or God) would do to her in the meantime. Elijah was afraid, and so he went and hid in a cave again. He even prayed that he would die, thinking that he had had enough and that he couldn’t take any more. But God had other plans for him. (Read 1 Kings 19:9-13a.)
At his bleakest moment, God spoke to Elijah, but He didn’t do it in a way that we would expect. When we think of God’s power, we think of big, powerful, loud, obvious things — winds, earthquakes, fires, etc… God does sometimes use those things to get our attention, but more often He speaks to us in the stillness and quiet. A wind tore through the mountain, then an earthquake rocked the mountain, but that wasn’t God. Next, a fire came, but again – not the Lord. Finally, a gentle whisper came — and in that gentle whisper, Elijah heard God speaking to him, and he found his strength and faith in God once more.
Remember this…Faith — it’s not something that you just decide to have one day. Faith is something that you acquire throughout your life…as YOU see God at work, as YOU experience Him in your life, and YOU see the amazing things He does!