The Rest of the Story: God's Promises to Elijah
Sermon on 1 Kings 19
Title: The Rest of the Story: God’s Promises to Elijah
Theme: God has fulfilled his promise to Elijah. He is the only true God.
Goal: to encourage Christians that God fulfills his promises.
Need: The timeframe of God’s promise fulfillment doesn’t always match what we would expect.
How long do we have to wait for God? What is God’s time frame like for fulfilling what he says he promises to do for us? The world we live in is one that expects results now. Right now. We order something that needs to be shipped in from Indonesia, get it here now, ASAP. You want to talk to your family that lives far away, forget writing a letter putting in the mailbox hoping it gets there in a couple of weeks. No. express mail, or email. Or maybe just pick up the phone or hook up the webcam. We live in the NOW culture. Right NOW.
We have grown so accustomed to that, that we have lost sight of things like long range planning, and the virtue of calmly holding the course expecting that the future will bring the desired results.
And that can drive us a little crazy when we are dealing with God. Maybe we feel like God just isn’t listening to us. Maybe we don’t think God realizes that we would like to see something happen in our lifetime and we don’t feel like there’s much time left. We feel like God ought to just hurry up and get to the things that we know he promises he is going to do.
This evenings message is supposed to bring us back to the beginning of this year when Pastor Jake and I started going through a series on the life of Elijah. Looking at the message that he brought against the baal worshippers. God is the god of really real life. He can give it, or he can take it away.
During one of the worst moments in his life, Elijah runs away from God, and from his commissioning as God’s prophet. Off he goes into the pagan lands, away from his responsibility to bring the word of the Lord. He sees no lasting change in Israel, and his life is being threatened by Jezebel and Ahab.
As the way of reinstating Elijah as his prophet, God gives him the message. He will begin the next part of God’s continued work against the baal worshipers, and for those who love him and keep his commandments. And it sets in place much of what happens throughout the book of 2 Kings.
Listen to the passage here again. 15The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
Four layers of assurance God gives Elijah. The baalists won’t conquer. There is Hazael, there is Jehu, there is Elisha, and there are 7000 in Israel that have never bowed to Baal.
This promise was not fulfilled completely in elijah’s life time on earth. Elisha did nothing until after Elijah had been taken up in the whirlwind. And there is no other mention of Jehu or Hazael before Elijah is taken into heaven.
Obviously the success of these people in the mission of God was not something short term. It was in the long range, one step at a time plan of God.
We heard about the life and times of Elisha, the miracles. The way he showed the people that obedience brought life from God. Disobedience brought death. But that is only part of the conclusion to the story of Elijah. Only part of the success of the promise God made.
What about Hazael? 1Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, “Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the Lord has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.” 2The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines seven years.
3At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to the king to beg for her house and land. 4The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, “Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.” 5Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to beg the king for her house and land.
Gehazi said, “This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.” 6The king asked the woman about it, and she told him.
Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, “Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.”
7Elisha went to Damascus, and Ben-Hadad king of Aram was ill. When the king was told, “The man of God has come all the way up here,” 8he said to Hazael, “Take a gift with you and go to meet the man of God. Consult the Lord through him; ask him, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’”
9Hazael went to meet Elisha, taking with him as a gift forty camel-loads of all the finest wares of Damascus. He went in and stood before him, and said, “Your son Ben-Hadad king of Aram has sent me to ask, ‘Will I recover from this illness?’”
10Elisha answered, “Go and say to him, ‘You will certainly recover’; but the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.” 11He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael felt ashamed. Then the man of God began to weep.
12“Why is my lord weeping?” asked Hazael.
“Because I know the harm you will do to the Israelites,” he answered. “You will set fire to their fortified places, kill their young men with the sword, dash their little children to the ground, and rip open their pregnant women.”
13Hazael said, “How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?”
“The Lord has shown me that you will become king of Aram,” answered Elisha.
14Then Hazael left Elisha and returned to his master. When Ben-Hadad asked, “What did Elisha say to you?” Hazael replied, “He told me that you would certainly recover.” 15But the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king’s face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king.
- King of an enemy nation. Aram.
- Used to punish Baal worshipping nation, Israel.
- wrenching for Elisha to bring that message
- Used in later passages to kill the kings of Israel and punish Israel.
- Becomes the king of Israel.
- Is used by God to uphold the curses made by Elijah against the Ahab, Jezebel and their family.
- The last judgement for the Omride dynasty that loved itself, war, and baal.
- it all ends with Elisha in chapter 13:14-24
- One last prophetic word.
- One last life in a surprising way.
God had brought about what he promised.
But his promise of making Israel holy is still not complete. We are a part of the 7000 now that have not bowed a knee to baal. God brought life in the surprising way through Jesus Christ. It only took 800 years to bring that prophecy to it fulfillment. And now we are still in the pattern of waiting on God. His second return will bring the final fulfillment to the prophecy. God’s enemies will be eternally destroyed. God’s people will have eternal blessings. At the return of Jesus Christ, our dead bodies will leap out of the grave like the one that touched Elisha’s bones. Except our resurrection is for eternal life.