Life of Elijah
Transitions are important. How we share the faith with our kids, reach to lost, develop new leaders, face new seasons of life, and respond to death are all critical in the lives of God’s people. Left to ourselves, our transitions are marked by sin and misery. But through the grace of our changeless Savior we may receive, run with, and pass the baton of gospel ministry with joy, for His glory.
God’s word is perfect, right, and true, bestowing life and granting joy. Yet in our sin we continually seek to live without, and even above, His word. Only the Word of God made flesh, Jesus Christ, can both atone for our sin and enable us to live faithfully and fruitfully under God’s word.
As we saw last week in 1 Kings 21, covetousness is a gateway that leads to many other forms of sin. But the gate may be shut through the grace of the Savior who dwells within us. The One who never yielded to covetousness is able to strengthen us against temptation so that we may live lives of contentment before God.
Covetousness may seem less dangerous than the other nine commandments because it’s listed last, but it’s actually a gateway to all other sin. Discontent with God’s Person and provision leads to many wicked choices that soon spiral out of control. King Ahab desired a garden and ended up taking a man’s life to get it. But another King in another garden would offer His life so that many might live.
In every age God advances His kingdom by using people to point other people to Him. This unbroken chain of discipleship continues in our day as we help one another look to Christ, the ultimate Servant, Mentor, and Savior.
Elijah abandoned his calling, ran in fear, and wallowed in self-pity, yet God neither rebuked nor forsook him. He restored him gently, graciously recommissioning him to His service. Such is God’s mercy to His failed servants. He restores us graciously through the One who secured our ultimate restoration on the cross.
Pity parties are easy to throw, especially when we feel alone and discouraged. But God does not leave us to wallow in our self-pity. He asks probing questions that get to the heart of our sin and self-focus, reorienting us to the One who was shown no pity so that He might reconcile us to God.
Everyone has their physical, emotional, and spiritual breaking point. In 1 Kings 19 Elijah had reached his. Alone and exhausted, he lay down under a tree and asked the Lord to end his life. But under that tree Elijah found grace, ultimately through the One who would go to another tree, alone and exhausted, and willingly give up His life not in despair, but in faith so that others might find their life in Him.
Even in the worst circumstances, God opens windows of opportunity for His grace to be seen. For a brief moment, Elijah had the chance to lead wicked king Ahab in covenantal obedience, anticipating the far greater King who would perfectly obey for our salvation. How will we respond when God opens a window for us to point others to Christ? How will we respond when we are the ones in need of redirection?
God often leads us to the end of our rope, but only to show us that our rope is a poor substitute for His grace. Both Elijah and the widow of Zarephath faced dire circumstances, but only so that they might increasingly rely on the covenantal God who sustains us through His life-giving word that speaks of His life-giving Son.