The Journey is too Great for Thee
October 18, 2020 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith
Scripture: 1 Kings 19:1–19:18
The message today is entitled “The Journey is Too Much for You.”
It is taken from 1 Kings 19, verses 1-15.
Before we continue, please, let us stand together and call upon the Lord in prayer.
Looking around the world today, the virus, the mutual distrust, the culture of hate, the political realm, and the state of the churches, one can easily be filled with a sense of dread or fear or anguish or even fruitlessness.
We attend church each Sunday and watch as the numbers continue to dwindle.
We talk to people at the supermarkets, gas stations, and to our friends and family…and we sense their fear and mistrust and diviseness…
We look around ang see that “truth” has become a moving target, shifting more than the sands of the beaches caught in a hurricane. It has fallen in the streets.
We might even begin to wonder if maybe we have something wrong.
That maybe we are the ones that misunderstand and are off-base, off-track…
We might say to ourselves…
- That we don’t know if we can fight any longer.
- How can we continue if the whole world is seemingly against us?
- That it seems like the world has lost its mind!
We might say to ourselves….
- I’m too scared to leave my house for fear of death or disease
- I just need to take care of myself…and begin to lose hope, maybe even faith.
But I tell you today, we are a people that walk by faith --- not by sight.
We ought not to let fear take over.
We ought not to give up and let frustration or fatigue or helplessness take over.
We ought to remember who our God Is.
That He has proven Himself over and over and over again.
He is the faithful one. He is the truthful one.
He is the one that will bind up the brokenhearted.
He is the one whose divine counsel shall come to pass which no one can thwart.
But do not take my word for this.
Remember what Romans 15:4 tells us…
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”
So then, let us do this, let us turn to those things that were written aforetime for our learning, that we me might be able to have that patience and that comfort which on the Scriptures can afford…that we might have hope.
We must turn to the only place where we will find truth.
Solid, unshifting, unchanging truth.
Truth like that can not be found in the media or in the government or in an election of public officials – certainly not in the halls of modern day academia.
The only place this kind of truth – unchanging truth – unassailable truth – can be found is in the Word of God as contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.
And the Scripture that we will look at, comes from the Old Testament, 1 Kings 19: 1-15.
1 Kings 19: Review
Let’s quickly walk through these verses so that we have a good understanding of what is happening.
verse 1 -2:
Ahab returns from Mr. Carmel, where
- God, using the prophet Elijah, has just demonstrated that He is the only one, true and living God.
- Fire fell from the Lord and it entirely consumed an altar saturated with water, consuming not only the wood and the sacrifice but the very stones and the dust and the water itself.
- the people fell on their faces and worshipped the Lord God.
- they killed the 450 prophets of Baal.
Furthermore, the 3-year drought was ended. All this Ahab witnessed.
But there must have been something lacking in his resolve or his faith as he relayed these events to Jezebel, because there is no indication in Scripture that he attempted to stop Jezebel from sending out her threats to kill Elijah.
Here we encounter a textual variant.
Some manuscripts, including the Septuagint and the Vulgate, have the reading “he became afraid.”
The Masoretic Text has the reading “he saw.”
It seems the better rendering might be “he saw”. It would seem strange that after the success of Mt. Carmel and the ending of the drought, he would be afraid for his life from Jezebel after seeing the might of God, first hand.
In fact, based on the internal evidence of Scripture, we can see that the events which follow also do not comport with the sense of being afraid, or in fear.
We read that Elijah travels from Jezreel to Beersheba – to a city at the far southern edge and well within the safe borders of Judah.
Had he only been traveling to flee from and be safe from Jezebel, he could have stopped once safely within the borders of Judah – out of Jezebel’s reach.
But he continues roughly an additional 50 miles to reach the town of Beersheba.
But then, he even travels farther à yet another day’s journey into the desert.
This extensive amount of travel would not have been necessary if his only response was out of fear for his life.
No, it makes more sense to accept the rendering “he saw”…
- Perhaps, he saw that Ahab’s heart had not changed back to the Lord.
- Perhaps, he saw that the people had not truly returned to the Lord.
- Perhaps, he saw it was time to leave because there was no reason to stay.
Having seen the proverbial writing on the wall, Elijah continues to travel and goes an additional day’s journey into the wilderness,
Where, we read, that he sat down and requested that the Lord might kill him.
Again, we must question the rendering of “afraid” for his life for if he wanted to preserve his life, why would we travel so great a distance just to ask that the very thing he tried to prevent now be done to him?
It is important to note that his isn’t the first time in Scripture that a prophet of God requested that his life be taken.
One of those was Jonah – after he preached repentance in Nineveh.
The other was Moses. Let’s turn there now. Numbers 11:10-15
Numbers 11: Review
We see here similar circumstances as that which our Elijah is experiencing.
Moses has just partaken in an amazing deliverance of God’s people from Egypt and watched as God parted the waters and destroyed Egypt’s armies.
- As Elijah brought down fire from heaven and defeated the prophets of Baal
Moses had been used by God in bringing forth water where none existed.
- As Elijah brough rain after a 3-year long drought
Moses watched God care for and give His people food where there was none.
- As Elijah has experience being fed by ravens and the woman at the window
Now it seems that perhaps Moses has reached his end where, leaning upon his own strength, he cannot bear up any more on his own.
- As Elijah, perhaps has reached his end not seeing the revival in the land in the manner in which he most likely expected
1 Kings 19 and Numbers 11: Review
As we stated earlier, perhaps Elijah wasn’t fleeing for his life out of fear. Maybe this isn’t the great loss of faith and moral failure as we might think…
Perhaps, he is reaching the end of his own strength and simply cannot see any way of success for turning back the hearts of the people to the Lord.
Perhaps, as with Moses, they both are tired, worn out, exhausted, and not sure what to do next not having seen the results they were expecting to see. [KEY]
“not better than his fathers”
- some commentators read this as saying that he was about the same age as his ancestors and didn’t deserve to live longer than them since he wasn’t any better than them…
Perhaps, though, in his not seeing the results he was expecting, he realized he was unable to reverse the apostasy of Israel as the other prophets before him were unable also to return the hearts of the people back to God.
He was no better than his fathers – also being unable to reverse the apostacy.
In the next set of verses, we see Elijah lay down, perhaps expecting to die.
But God, reveals a different plan.
The Angel of the Lord comes to him and gives him food and water.
And a second time, the Angel of Lord comes and says…
”Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for thee.”
Is this not also the similar sentiment we see with Moses?
Moses also declared the burden was too much for him.
The Lord, in His mercy, provides both a solution and path to ease the burden.
Here we see the great Goodness/ Mercy/ Love of God laid before His servant.
Scarcely any other words could have brought such comfort, such reassurance, such relief to Elijah as these….
It is here, we can begin to see the Lord reminding Elijah that strength is not found in oneself but strength is to be found in the Lord.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. -Ephesians 6:10
To make the point even stronger, this meal is the only sustenance of which Elijah partakes for the next 40 days.
Where was this journey to take him?
Back to Beersheba? Back to Jezreel? Back to Ahab?
No, he was going to Mount Horeb. There was still more to learn.
The remainder of this section, up through verse 18, takes place in a cave in Mt. Horeb.
It is here that Elijah receives the remainder of the lesson.
The Lord God asks him twice, “What doest thou here, Elijah”
Just imagine the intimacy of this scene. Having been nursed and given life sustaining food when he wanted to lay and die…
Having been carried by the strength of the Lord…for 40 days and nights with only that last meal – certainly Elijah would have been considering such a miraculous strength and unusually long time without eating!
The Lord God, speaks to Elijah, by name. With the care of an Almighty Father, already knowing the answer to the question before it is asked, ask the child…
What Doest Thou Here?
“What doest thou here, Elijah?”
Elijah answers, casting His burden upon the Lord (Ps. 55)
“I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts…”
- I have burned with zeal for you, within my very being
- But the people have forsaken you
- “There is no hope. Everyone has utterly left you and I am all alone.”
And what does the Lord do?
- Does He rebuke Elijah?
- Does He chastise him?
- Does He call him a fool or accuse him of having failed in his task?
No. He provides a terrible and wonderful display.
The wind, the earthquake, the fire……
The Scripture says that the Lord was not in any of those.
But then the still small voice calls to Elijah, and again asks him the question…
“What doest thou here, Elijah?”
Elijah gives the same response.
Just as with Moses, the Lord gave him the solution and answer…He told him to go and do.
No explanation is given. No explanation is needed. The lesson has been given.
Furthermore, the Lord reveals to Elijah that He had persevered 7,000 others in Israel that have not bowed the knee to Ba-al. Elijah was not alone.
There was still hope even though it wasn’t as Elijah had expected to see.
Remnant of 7,000
Can you imagine, what Elijah might have learned from this?
What might we learn from this?
Perhaps Elijah learned and was reminded that God does not always work in the ways we expect
- That He might not always be found in the great and terrible and wonderful events and acts of the mighty
- That He might be in the small, quiet places of everyday activities
- That He might be found in the daily trusting and walking in faith and humility of His people
Perhaps, Elijah was reminded of the Providence of God – in His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing of all creatures, ordering them and all their actions, to His own glory.
Providence of God
Perhaps we can learn and be reminded that it is the Providence of God, in which all things are ordered and directed for His glory.
- His decrees, those wise, free, & holy acts of His counsel, from all eternity, which will accomplish whatsoever He has deemed shall come to pass
- That, in cases when we are brought low in the world, when we have only a little oil remaining in our cruse—let us rest in God's Providence.
- That, in cases when we have done all that we could imagine and still the result we desired has not come to pass. —let us trust in God's Providence.
- That, in cases, when death and danger and disease and corruption in all around us and we see no way of escape—let us keep faith in God's Providence.
- When we wonder what God is doing with us, and are ready to give up or “lay down and die”, in a manner of speaking
- Let us rest and trust and keep faith in God.
He knows best what He is to do and how He is to do it. We don’t always see nor understand…
"Your way went through the sea, and Your path through the great waters, but Your footprints were unseen." Psalms 77:19.
And when we think God's church is, as it were, in the grave, and there is a tombstone laid upon her,
His wisdom can roll away the stone from the sepulcher.
In short, like Elijah, remember that this journey is too great for you, alone.
- He sees and knows your condition, your state, your suffering, your sorrows.
- He knows what is best for you.
- Perhaps it is to cure you from pride or worldliness.
- Perhaps it is to remind you that He is in charge and know the best path for all things.
- Perhaps, by your current trials and sufferings and seeming failures, God is teaching you and preparing you for the next stage in your journey.
- Perhaps God is making you rich in faith.
Thomas Watson -> Whatever it is you lack in temporals, shall be made up in spirituals.
Oh, my friend, rest in the providence of God. Rest in the wisdom of God.
- That He might not always be found in the incredibly large congregations
- That He might, instead, be found in the small, out-of-the-way congregations that are of no reputation
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