This past week I finished reading through the book of 1 Kings in the Bible.
In the book of 1 Kings we are introduced to the great prophet, Elijah.
The name Elijah means my God is Yahweh.
Yahweh is the name of Hebrew God of the Old Testament.
In 1 Kings God called Elijah to confront the people that worshipped the Canaanite god, Baal.
In doing so Elijah demonstrated to the people the strong power of God.
In calling upon God Elijah defeats the prophets of the false god at Mount Carmel and fire descends from heaven upon the altar of the false god.
Soon after this Elijah travels for forty days and forty nights until he reaches Horeb, the mountain of God.
There at that mountain God speaks to Elijah in a still, small voice.
In this mysterious encounter with God, God provides a new companion and friend.
God calls Elijah to anoint Elisha as a prophet who will eventually be Elijah’s successor.
The name Elisha means my God is salvation.
From this point forward Elisha will be Elijah’s friend for the rest of his life.
On the mountaintop God also gives Elijah a new job and helps Elijah to have a new perspective on his life.
Elijah was a strong and brave prophet but he also struggled with fear and discouragement.
God ministered to Elijah when he needed encouragement and God helped him to continue his work.
Elijah ran from his calling to serve as the prophet of Yahweh.
He ran out of fear for his life.
But by God’s grace he was able to remain devoted to God through his mystical encounter with the Lord at Horeb.
At the end of his life Elijah was only the second person in the Bible who was taken up to heaven without actually dying.
Later in 2 Kings God suddenly takes Elijah up into heaven in a chariot of fire with horses of fire.
And remarkably this happens while he was still alive.
This is a fascinating scene to read about in the Bible.
On a side not here don’t ever let anyone tell you that reading the Bible is boring.
If someone tells you that they probably have never read about the fiery prophet, Elijah and how Elijah was taken up into heaven through a chariot on fire with horses on fire.
Now in the Bible the only other person who was taken alive to heaven was Enoch.
Enoch is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Genesis.
In Genesis chapter five we hear: “Enoch walked faithfully with God and then God took him away.”
It does not say that he died only that God takes him when he is 365 years old.
So in this case I think God says it’s time for Enoch to go and then God simply takes him.
Now back to Elijah.
This morning what can we take away from the prophet, Elijah this man of God?
First, and I believe this point is so important especially at this time, remember that you are not alone.
It may feel that way sometimes and it might even at times appear to be so but we are never alone.
In the book of Hebrews we hear that we are always surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
Elijah felt that he was the only defender of God’s ways.
He says to God, “I alone am left.”
But God assured him that there were many others that were still faithfully.
People that had not turned away to serve other gods.
And God brought Elisha into his life so that he might have a true friend and companion in the Lord.
During this time of the pandemic I hope that our community, this congregation, has been a blessing for you.
With the help of Ron and Carol we have created together this beautiful little, interactive community through our on-line worship and now through meeting in person.
In the past five months I hope that whenever you tuned in or came to worship that you were able to find peace and friendship and most importantly I pray that were able to experience God’s presence just as Elijah did on that mountain.
Again in the book of Hebrews we hear let us consider how we might spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together… but always encouraging one another.
Secondly, by God’s grace continue to remain strong in your faith.
Elijah challenged 450 priests of Baal at Mount Carmel and because God was on his side Elijah ended up on top.
God will see us through the challenges and difficulties of life when we remain faithful to him.
Christ will lead us to victory from that which would harm us and take us away from God.
Like Elijah God will give us the encouragement and strength to do the work that God has called us to do and God will help us to do it well.
God will give us a voice to speak words of peace, justice, love, and grace.
And lastly, know that God is with us even now God is with us.
Elijah is remembered as this great and fiery prophet but he also struggled greatly in his own life.
He faced the demons of fear, depression, and discouragement like many of the other prophets and priest in Scripture.
During that time of great discouragement when he chooses to run in fear to Horeb in order to escape his work and calling.
What does God do?
God intervenes and God give Elijah the push that he needs to continue being faithful.
Have there been times in your life when you have felt overcome with fear or discouragement?
As God ministered to Elijah so too can God come to our aid when we need help.
God knows us and he knows our needs… he also knows our weaknesses.
God can help us.
God will help us even in the hour of our greatest need.
In the Bible Elijah is known as a truly great prophet.
Even Jesus speaks about Elijah in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus speaks about the prophetic work of God through Elijah.
The Apostle Paul speaks about Elijah in Romans as he uses Elijah’s story to make a point about God’s grace.
Elijah even appears with Moses at the transfiguration of our Lord on the mountaintop.
And in James we hear that Elijah was simply a man but that he prayed earnestly and God heard him.
In James, by using Elijah as an example, James make an important point about prayer and how we should pray for and encourage one another in the faith.
James then gives that often quoted verse from Scripture: The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Remembering the prophet Elijah may we take to heart this great truth.
Never underestimate the power of prayer and the power of God.
God can come to us even in a moment of sheer silence.
May you continue being faithful to the Lord.
This coming week may you see Christ in new and surprising ways.