1 Kings 18:1-40 (Part 3) – Do You Really Believe It When You Say It?

Posted: February 28, 2019 in 11-1 Kings

1 Kings 18:1-40 (Part 3 of 3)

The Contest on Mount Carmel

God will provide. It is a saying that you here us Christians bandy about to one another quite often. Sometimes, it is our fallback response when we can’t think of anything else to say. If you have a friend who is going through a crisis of need and you can’t really help them, we sometimes throw out this saying, “God will provide” but how often, when we say it, do we really believe that it is true.

In today’s text, we see God provide miraculous help to Elijah as evidence that God is the real God and that He is the one who controls the universe and all that is in it. Elijah, maybe had doubts, but he had faith to proceed with what God commanded him to do. How often do we have that kind of faith? How often do we have that kind of faith when people we know are going through uncertain times? Do we tell them that “God will provide” as a cop-out because we don’t know what else to say or do we have faith that God, indeed, will provide?

Have you lost your job or are you going through a seemingly insurmountable financial crisis or anything that seems too big to overcome? That’s where we encounter real faith ourselves. That’s where we encounter real faith when we intercede in prayer for others who are going through some insurmountable thing. Do we really believe that saying, “God will provide!”

I think that there are four things that we need to learn about God’s provision. First, God may provide differently than we expect. The Israelites escaped captivity in Egypt only to face the challenges of the desert. One of the biggest challenges for such a large group of nomads was enough food to eat. Over and over again God provided supernaturally for his people. If God could provide for many thousands of Israelites in the middle of a desert, he can surely provide for you and your family’s needs. Sometimes, though, we do not recognize how God is providing for us because it is not in the manner that we expected. Just think about the Israelites in the desert. They grumbled and complained about have to eat miraculously provided food because it was the same thing every day. God was literally providing bread from heaven — enough for each day — but they wanted his provision a different way. They wanted it their own way.

Second, God provides more of Himself to us in times of distress. It is during times of distress and hardship when we need provision that we find ourselves at the foot of the Creator. It is in times of distress that we often grow the most in our learning to be dependent on the Lord. Sure, we worry. We are human. We’re just going to do that. However, when your worry becomes all-consuming and it becomes your god instead of resting in the arms of God then that’s when we falter. It’s OK to have that tension between worry and dependence. However, it is our faith in God that gives us even that smallest flicker of hope that He will provide a way, a path, a solution. We learn this most in times of distress.

Third, we ask God for many things, but the greatest thing we could ever receive from him has already been given. What God has given us in the gospel is light-years ahead of every other provision and care we could ever seek from him. When we trust in Christ, we have decisively secured for us every ultimately good thing from him. It’s just a matter of time. James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Every truly good thing in our lives comes straight from the Father. The ultimate good he provided us, through whom much of the other good things come to us, is Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate treasure. Thus, whatever we are going through, even when it is the hardest thing ever in our lives, we have assurance that this is just temporary. We have peace in knowing that God has us covered in Jesus’ arms. That is assurance that we can rely on no matter what we face. We are not failures. We are not defeated. We are a child of God and He will bring us through the valley and set us on a high place.

Fourth, God provides for us ultimately in eternity. No matter what you are going through, you can be assured that your ultimate victory awaits us in heaven. Life on earth is just a mist, a vapor, a flash in the pan. It sounds trite to say that if you are reading this and you are not a believer. However, for those who have assurance through their salvation in Jesus Christ, heaven is the ultimate reward. No matter what we are going through we can cling to the fact that God will richly reward us in heaven. You are not a loser. You are not in the valley forever. You are a child of God. He will provide richly for you in heaven. So, keep pushing, keep struggling, keep climbing, God loves you so much that He has a rich storehouse awaiting you in heaven. While you are here on earth, though, know that God is with you and He will provide a way out of your current troubles. If He loved you enough to send His Son to die for your sins and assure you of an eternity in heaven with Him, He will provide a way out of your current situation – it may not be exactly the way you had planned it yourself, but He will provide.

That’s what I thought of this morning when I read 1 Kings 18:1-40 – about how God will provide. I thought about how much faith Elijah had to have to do what He did. He fully believed in God’s provision. That got me to thinking about how often we forget to have the faith that Elijah had:

Chapter 18

1 Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!” 2 So Elijah went to appear before Ahab.

Meanwhile, the famine had become very severe in Samaria. 3 So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Obadiah was a devoted follower of the Lord. 4 Once when Jezebel had tried to kill all the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had hidden 100 of them in two caves. He put fifty prophets in each cave and supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab said to Obadiah, “We must check every spring and valley in the land to see if we can find enough grass to save at least some of my horses and mules.” 6 So they divided the land between them. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

7 As Obadiah was walking along, he suddenly saw Elijah coming toward him. Obadiah recognized him at once and bowed low to the ground before him. “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” he asked.

8 “Yes, it is,” Elijah replied. “Now go and tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

9 “Oh, sir,” Obadiah protested, “what harm have I done to you that you are sending me to my death at the hands of Ahab? 10 For I swear by the Lord your God that the king has searched every nation and kingdom on earth from end to end to find you. And each time he was told, ‘Elijah isn’t here,’ King Ahab forced the king of that nation to swear to the truth of his claim. 11 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ 12 But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you away to who knows where. When Ahab comes and cannot find you, he will kill me. Yet I have been a true servant of the Lord all my life. 13 Has no one told you, my lord, about the time when Jezebel was trying to kill the Lord’s prophets? I hid 100 of them in two caves and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ Sir, if I do that, Ahab will certainly kill me.”

15 But Elijah said, “I swear by the Lord Almighty, in whose presence I stand, that I will present myself to Ahab this very day.”

16 So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. 17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”

18 “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead. 19 Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.[a]”

20 So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. 21 Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but Baal has 450 prophets. 23 Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. 24 Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” And all the people agreed.

25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “You go first, for there are many of you. Choose one of the bulls, and prepare it and call on the name of your god. But do not set fire to the wood.”

26 So they prepared one of the bulls and placed it on the altar. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning until noontime, shouting, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no reply of any kind. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made.

27 About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself.[b] Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!”

28 So they shouted louder, and following their normal custom, they cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood gushed out. 29 They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response.

30 Then Elijah called to the people, “Come over here!” They all crowded around him as he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been torn down. 31 He took twelve stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel,[c] 32 and he used the stones to rebuild the altar in the name of the Lord. Then he dug a trench around the altar large enough to hold about three gallons.[d] 33 He piled wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces, and laid the pieces on the wood.[e]

Then he said, “Fill four large jars with water, and pour the water over the offering and the wood.”

34 After they had done this, he said, “Do the same thing again!” And when they were finished, he said, “Now do it a third time!” So they did as he said, 35 and the water ran around the altar and even filled the trench.

36 At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,[f] prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. 37 O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”

38 Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded, “Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one escape!” So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there.

In this passage, we see that God flashed fire from heaven for Elijah. He will also help us accomplish what He commands us to do. The proof may not be as dramatic in our lives as in Elijah’s life, but God will make provision available to us in creative ways to accomplish His purposes. Like Elijah, we can have faith that whatever God commands us to do, He will provide what we need to carry it through.

How often do we doubt God? How often do we say God will provide but not really believe it and go back to wallowing in worry to the point that we can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t really function. Are we so like the Israelites after leaving Egypt? Time after time, God provided miracle after miracle to provide for them. However, in very short order, they would forget about God’s miraculous provisions in the past and begin to grumble and rail against God. How often do you and I do that?

When I look at Elijah here, I think of how many of us would NOT step out in faith as He did. However, Elijah had the faith. He stepped out and did what God directed Him to do. There was no visual evidence that He should trust God. He heard from God and followed. He had faith. He had faith in God’s provision to Him as He stepped into the unknown future. He really did believe that God would provide. That’s the thing that you and I must take away this morning – really believing, really trusting that God will provide. Let us have the faith to believe that God will make a way for us – no matter how bleak a situation may be.

We must have the faith to see the provision too. We must not say God did not provide a way because we wanted the provision to come from the west, so to speak, and not see the path that God provided to the east or north or south, figuratively speaking. Sometimes, we miss God’s miracles because we are looking for what we want the provision to look like or where we wanted it to come from. Let us be aware of God’s provision and not demand that He do it a certain way.

Father, help to really believe it when we say, “God will provide!” Let this no longer be a default response, an empty saying, a saying with no guts to it. Let us fully believe and be aware of how you provide for us daily and in eternity. Let us live our lives trusting that you have got this. Let us live our lives in full dependence on you and grow in boldness as a result. Let us be an example to the world of the joy that you can have even in the toughest situations because “God will provide!”

Amen and Amen.

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