If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it (it’s longer than usual) and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
Historians say of US President George Washington that he was never so dangerous as the day after a defeat. Many of us are never so vulnerable as the day after a victory.
Elijah had just had a David over Goliath victory. It is known as Elijah’s Mount Carmel victory. He took on 450 prophets of Baal, each group… er… each side prepared a sacrifice. Eash side called down their god to consume the sacrifice. The prophets of Baal got nothing. The people saw the One, True God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29) when He consumed the sacrifice. All the people fell on their faces repeating, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” And Elijah has the people dispose of the prophets of Baal by sword.
And that victory on Mount Carmel signaled the end of the drought – many understand it as a 3 ½ year drought.
But Ahab, the king whom has witnessed it all, goes home to his wife Queen Jezebel and tells her what happened. She sends word to Elijah that by the next day he would meet the same fate as all the prophets he had killed. So Elijah runs for his life, a day’s journey into the wilderness, and sits down under a broom tree and prays to God that he may die. But God does not answer that prayer. Instead, God sends an angel to give Elijah a cake of bread baked on hot coals and some water. Elijah eats and drinks and goes back to sleep. Then the Angel comes back again (I’m thinking of when you are trying to sleep in the hospital), and there is more bread and more water. And the angel says something very interesting. The angel said, eat and drink because “the journey is too great for you”.
When people say God will not give you more than you can bear – bad theology. Many times things are too great for you. Sometimes the journey is too great for me. They are never too great for Him and He is with you – even carrying you at times.
The Bible says in 1 Kings 19:8 that on that sustenance, he went 40 days as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave. And the word of the Lord came to Him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And Elijah sat in the dark of the cave, a prisoner in his own mind and therefore a prisoner of his own making, he had shut out the light and drawn the shutters of his heart. Distrust begets distrust and he says, “I have been eager to serve the Lord God, yet the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, killed your prophets, and now they are after the last one….me. And the Word of the Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” In other words, leave the darkness of the cave and go out into the light. Get out among them. And amid all the chaos of the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, Elijah hears a still small voice. Anyone who knows this part of the story knows the still small voice line. But in the original Hebrew, “a sound of gentle stillness” is more accurate. And that makes me think of “beside the still waters” in the 23rd Psalm.
Elijah had gotten up, looked up, and now he was going to get linked up. God lets Elijah know that he is not alone. As a matter of fact, all this time that Elijah thought he was alone, going clear back to Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18:22, he only THOUGHT he was the last one left. He only thought nobody else understood. He was mistaken to believe that there would be nobody else to encourage him. God says, Elijah – I have 7,000 people in Israel who have not turned to Baal. And you, my child, are going to make some new friends. You will meet Hazeal, and you will anoint him king of Syria. You will meed Jehu and anoint him king of Israel. And you are going to come across Elisha – he’s going to eventually be your replacement. But we know the replacement part was not going to be until about 10 years down the road.
In 10 years Elijah will be swept up by a chariot of fire into a whirlwind after training his replacement Elisha. King Ahab was going to die, as his death was predicted by the prophets Elijah and Micaiah (1 Kings 21:19; 22:28). Queen Jezebel’s gruesome death was also predicted by Elijah (1 Kings 21:23). True to the prophecy, Ahab was killed in a battle with Syria. Later, Jezebel was thrown from a tower, “and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her” (2 Kings 9:33).
Now we are going to Transition to Part 2 or Example 2 of the “You are not alone” stories which happens to Elisha after he replaces Elijah.
Interesting concept in 2 Kings 6 – The King of Aram is enraged because during this war the Arameans had with the Israelites, every time the Arameans have a strategy, God tells Elisha (Elijah’s replacement) who then tells the King of Israel, so they know exaclty what the Arameans are doing. The King of Aram wants to know how Israel always seeme to know and they tell him it is the prophet Elisha. So they plot this assault on Elisha. The king sends a massive army with thousands of soldiers and horses and chariots to Dothan where Elisha is. They surround the city. And let me pick that story up in 2 Kings 6:15 (to 23).
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked. Elisha told them, “This is not the road and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will lead you to the man you are looking for.” And he led them to Samaria. After they entered the city, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” Then the Lord opened their eyes and they looked, and there they were, inside Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them, he asked Elisha, “Shall I kill them, my father? Shall I kill them?” “Do not kill them,” he answered. “Would you kill those you have captured with your own sword or bow? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink and then go back to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.
When Elisha says those who are with us are more than those against us, the servant must have surely said to himself, “Elisha is very bad at math. I see thousands of them, and I see two of us.” But Elisha prays for his servant to see what Elisha sees. And God does what Elisha asks and the servant sees the truth. Chariots of fire all around them, all who are on their side. Yet Elisha does not even need these Chariots of fire. It does not matter how many others are on your side when the God of the Universe is on your side.
Like Elijah, who alone on Mount Carmel, defeated the prophets of Baal because the One, True God was on his side, Elisha needs nobody else when he and God are on the same side with the same mission.
We, as believers in the One True God, see more than any other people. The common phrase is “seeing is believing”. Followers of Jesus turn that upside down – if we were to turn that around, what would we say – “Believing is seeing”. The one who has believed has “the proof of what is not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We have faith – and faith is like new eyes – eyes with a far greater range of vision than natural eyes. We have eyes that see the truths of God. The natural eyes grow dim as we get older. As believers get older, their eyes of faith see clearer and farther. Blessed is the one who has the eyes of faith.
The message thus far has been all about realizing we are not alone in our battles – that God is with us when we are His. But as important as anything is to understand we are not alone when it comes to sitting under a broom tree. Here’s a new phrase I want you to learn today – “Sitting under a broom tree” –
Job describes the broom tree as a place of desolation, ruin, and abandonment (Job 30:3-4)
The Psalmist connects the broom tree with mourning, distress, and punishment (120).
Some of the greatest victors in the Bible have sat under that proverbial broom tree. Do you get what I am saying here? You are not alone even under the broom tree – you are not alone in depression, you are not alone in feeling helpless and hopeless. You are not alone.
The greatest weapon of the enemy of God is to try and make God’s children think they are alone – to make them think that He has abandoned them and that they have no friends. This goes against God’s own Word. When we believe that, we do not believe God. Do you have a guess the last time God abandoned someone in the Bible? Judas? No. Judas abandoned God. If Judas had waited three days and repented, I know Jesus would have forgiven him. The last time anyone was abandoned by God was on the cross. When they mock Jesus on the cross and say, “He saved others, but can’t save Himself”, the truth is He could have saved Himself. He chose instead to save me. He couldn’t save Himself AND save us. So Jesus stayed on the cross, abandoned by God. And because of that, you and I may be forgiven. And we will never be left alone by God. Anything since then is us abandoning Him – us not believing His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Jesus died alone on the cross that you you never need be alone again. What did He say? It is better that I go so I can send you a helper. You have a helper. That Helper is the Holy Spirit, sent to live in those who have Jesus as their Savior. And that Helper is very often the sound of gentle stillness that you can hear in the midst of the chaos and confusion of this world.