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Bible Insight | Elijah – A Man Just Like Us

ELIJAH 530

Click here to view the Bible Insight | Elijah series

Sometimes the Bible gives a few introductory remarks about its heroes such as how their parents were prepared, or details of their birth or some important childhood events. Elijah is different. He seemed to appear from nowhere. We have no record of his past. He just arrived and his introduction is as follows: ‘Now Elijah …’ (1 Kings 17:1). Eventually he disappeared into heaven. Maybe he was a spaceman or an angel! No, Elijah was ‘a man, just like us’ (James 5:17), flesh and blood, vulnerable and needy.

One moment our great hero was standing confidently on Mount Carmel calling down fire from heaven, the next he was a terrified man running for his life toward the desert. Once he was preoccupied with God’s glory, now he was engrossed in self-preservation. Once he was dictating history, now he was irrelevant. Once he was public and visible, now he was hiding in the wilderness. Once he was crystal clear about issues, now he was thoroughly muddled and suicidal. The powerhouse became a puny mouse. And suddenly we can identify with him because we recognise the same human tendencies.

So where did Elijah go wrong? Here was a man whom God had trained to withstand pressure. ‘Give me your son’ (1 Kings 17:19), Elijah had said to the widow during his training period. ‘Come here to me’ (1 Kings 18:30) he had said to the nation on Mount Carmel. Elijah invited pressure, so why did he suddenly collapse under it? One thing is sure: like Peter on the lake, his eyes must have drifted away from the Lord. But why?

Be angry but don’t sin!

As imperfect human beings, we frequently find it hard to express righteous anger. Someone sins and we confront him, but we allow our own feelings of hostility to take over. So instead of loving the sinner and hating the sin, we lash out and condemn both. Did Elijah fall into this trap? When he challenged the priests of Baal did he slip from God’s holy wrath into his own anger and frustration?

When taking your stand against modern evils, beware of adopting a judgmental spirit and working off your own personal frustrations and pet hatreds. Never forget that God hates the sin but still loves the sinner. Maybe in that moment of pent-up fury Elijah momentarily took his eyes off of God.

Pride before a fall?

Elijah had spent three years concealed from the public eye. All his previous miracles were worked in private – by a hidden stream, or in a widow’s humble home. Suddenly, Elijah faced not seclusion but overwhelming public triumph and vindication. Out of the blue an obscure prophet became the most famous man in the land.

Perhaps you’ve been hidden away for a while. Maybe your whole church used to meet in a living room, but now it’s the biggest in town. Maybe God is beginning to give you words of knowledge or answer your prayers for the sick. Now others are beginning to seek you out and you’re getting a reputation. How are you handling it? Once you begin to gain popularity it can easily go to your head.

Elijah’s early ministry was characterised by God-consciousness. But at some point, did he suddenly become self-conscious? As he ran past the king’s chariot did he think, ‘Hey, Ahab. Look at me. I’m motoring!’ Elijah hadn’t had a public ministry before, but now the spotlight was on him. Maybe self-awareness became his snare.

To Meditate On

God has promises for humble people.

’He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way’ (Ps. 25:9)

’The Lord sustains the humble’ (Ps 147:6).

‘He crowns the humble with salvation’ (Psalm 149:4).

’He … gives grace to the humble’ (Prov. 3:34).

Pride leads to other forms of evil:

Self-deception – Deuteronomy 8:17,18; Isaiah 47:10; Jeremiah 49:16; 1 Corinthians 8:2; Galatians 6:3
Spiritual blindness – Jeremiah 43:2
A hard heart – Daniel 5:20
A malicious spirit – Psalm 73:8; 119:85; 140:5
Contempt for others – Psalm 119:51; 123:4; Proverb 21:24
Quarrelling – Proverb 13:10
Violence – Esther 3:5,6; Psalm 73:6; 86:14
Injustice – Psalm 56:2; 119:78
Oppression – Psalm 10:2; 119:122; Habakkuk 2:4,5
Contempt for God – 2 Kings 19:22; Psalm 10:4

To Consider

What’s the difference between righteous anger and unrighteous anger?

Give examples of both..

To Do

Pray that God will help you to do menial tasks for others, and do those tasks cheerfully when he gives them to you!

To Be Inspired

In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that – and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison – you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud, you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.’
C.S. Lewis

Click here to view the Bible Insight | Elijah series

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