In the book of 1 Kings, we find one of the greatest stories ever told: the story of Elijah. This great prophet burst onto the pages of biblical history, seemingly out of nowhere, with a message from God.
He entered the court of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel with the pronouncement, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah disappeared and a three-year drought followed, exactly as God had said.
When Elijah reemerged on the scene, he challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown on Mount Carmel. God answered Elijah’s prayer with a stream of fire from heaven.
You would think that a miracle like this one would have convinced Ahab and Jezebel to believe in the Lord God. But they did not believe.
Instead, Jezebel became even more hardened in her sin. She ultimately reaped the consequences, suffering a violent death. King Ahab died as well, defeated on the battlefield and still manipulating to the very end. So when it was all said and done, Elijah ruled the day.
What made Elijah such a bold and effective servant of God? Let’s look at some principles together.
First, Elijah knew God. Elijah began his statement to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand...” (1 Kings 17:1, emphasis mine). Elijah was cognizant of the fact that wherever he went, he stood consciously in the presence of God.
This awareness of God’s presence gave Elijah the courage to stand His ground. We need to remember that wherever we go, whomever we speak to, God is with us.
Maybe you are the only Christian in your family, on your campus, in your neighborhood, or at your office. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the odds and feel as though one life cannot make a difference. If we have learned nothing else from the life of Elijah, it is that with God, one is a majority.
Second, he was a man of prayer. James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.” Notice that he prayed earnestly.
The interesting thing about prayer is that often we don’t see an immediate answer. But keep praying, and don’t give up. It was Elijah’s prayer in private that was the source of his power in public.
Third, Elijah faithfully delivered the message. His message was not an easy one to deliver. He was essentially telling Israel that a drought was coming because of their disobedience to God.
We too have a message to deliver to our generation, and it is far more hopeful than Elijah’s. We are delivering the message of the gospel, the good news that if people will turn from their sin and put their faith in Christ, they can be forgiven.
Elijah faithfully delivered his message. Are you faithfully delivering yours?
Fourth, Elijah was a man of faith and obedience. After his bold proclamation to Ahab and Jezebel, God told him to disappear. And to Elijah’s credit, he did. That must have been very humbling for a man like Elijah, but he was obedient to God.
Is the Lord telling you to do a certain thing? Have you done it?
Fifth, Elijah had his low moments. Remember, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours...” (James 5:17).
After his contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, you would have thought that Elijah would have been fearless. But when Queen Jezebel threatened his life, Elijah ran for cover. He was so despondent that he said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life...” (1 Kings 19:4).
What I have found is that low lows often come after high highs. Many times after there has been a great work or blessing of God, a low may follow. The real test is whether you will stay faithful to the Lord, even when it is difficult or challenging.
Elijah left a tremendous legacy. How about you? Are you living a life today that is worth emulating? Or are you a fair-weather follower who turns back at the first sign of difficulty?May God help us to follow Him, just like Elijah did.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!