An in depth study of the prophet Elijah
I. We first hear of Elijah in 1 Kings 17.
A. The Bible doesn’t tell us about Elijah’s past except where he came from, and that his name means Yahew is my God.
1. (1 Kings 17:1) And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
B. The town of Tishbe was a town east of the Jordan river where 2 of the tribes of Israel settled. We are not even told which tribe he was from, but it is believed that the tribe of Gad settled in this area.
C. Israel had a wicked king at this point King Ahab and his wife Jezebel were ruling the land and Jezebel especially had turned the nation away from God and towards the worship of Baal.
1. Baal was the Phoenician fertility god who sent rain and bountiful crops to the land. The worship of this god was extremely immoral in practice.
2. By shutting of the rain God was showing them that He is in control. He promised the people of Israel that God Himself would provide the rain for them in the fall and the spring if they followed Him and did not turn away. (Deuteronomy 28).
a. God held back the rain based on the prayers of Elijah. Elijah had a heart that wanted to see the people follow God and not the false idols promoted by the King Ahab.
D. Next we see that God is telling Elijah where he needs to go and how he will provide for him during this coming drought.
1. (1 Kings 17:2-7) Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,“Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. “And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
2. The announcement to the king would place him in great danger. We will see later on that the king blames all the drought problems on Elijah. Ahab does not realize that it is his own sin that is causing the conditions in his country and that the actions of God through Elijah are just the results of the sin of idolatry.
a. So Elijah follows the instructions of God and gets out of there to the exact place that God tells him to go to. He trusts God to keep His Word and to provide for him there.
(1) it would have seemed odd to Elijah for him to go to a brook that is only around part of the time. There were many brooks in the area that flowed during the rainy season but then dried up when the weather turned hot and the rain was not falling. Still he trusted God and followed the commands even though he did not know all the things that God had planned for him.
(2) Do we take the instructions from God that we get and follow them without knowing the whole plan or do we take it a step at a time. Walking with God is to walk by faith.
3. God provided for him by having the ravens bring him food. The birds which were considered unclean by Jewish law would be brining him food suitable for Elijah. Warren Wiersbe points out in his commentary on 1 Kings that they did not bring the food that the birds would eat, but that God Himself provided the food and that the birds were the transportation to get the food to Elijah.
a. Here we see another example in the Bible that an animal is obeying God and doing as He asks of them. Much like we see in the book of Jonah. We also saw Baalams donkey would stop because the angel was there telling him to stop even though Baalam himself could not see the angel and would beat the donkey to get it to move. (Numbers 22:26-34)
b. We are created in the image of God and were created to have a special relationship with Him. We should know that He is not going to ask us to do things that will harm us, but yet we still have trouble following His instructions.
4. One last thing to note in this passage is that the brook dried up. Elijah could see that the brook was drying up and he knew that the brook always dried up in the hot season.
a. Elijah did not move from the location that God told him to go to. He was being fed by the ravens but the brook was his source of water and now it was gone. He still did not move until God told him the next step in the journey. He trusted God that all he needed would be provided for if he would just follow God and do what God asked.
b. Sometimes even when we are doing the work of God and following Him exactly the things in our life might dry up a little bit, but God has a plan and we need to be open to it and follow it as He leads.
(1) Take the lesson here from this passage and seek God, trust Him, and follow His instructions.
(2) Move and do when God says to.
(3) Stay put when God says to stay put even if it looks like the provision is drying up. God will always have a way to take care of His children.
II. Next we will look at how Elijah was provided for and the directions that God gave him to follow to make this happen. If you want to read ahead it is 1 Kings 17:8-24.