August 12 – 12th Sunday After Pentecost
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read 1 Kings 19: 1 – 18
Grace and peace to you as you learn from God’s past about your future, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have you ever had one of those day, weeks or months when you’ve just had enough? You’ve had enough of the pressure of meet everyone’s expectations, you’ve had enough of the problems dealing with time, money and relationships, you’ve had enough of this life and all the people that are against you and your belief and you’re ready to just lie down and die. That’s where we find Elijah in our Old Testament scripture reading for this morning, he’s had enough of the lows and the highs of being a prophet of God and he can’t find the energy to go on. I’m sure that each of us here have had that experience at some time in our lives or we will have that experience at some time in our life and so it is important for us learn from the past about how God will help us when we find ourselves at our wit’s end.
Now to really understand how Elijah got to his wit’s end we need to review quickly what Elijah’s life had been like for the past few years. Elijah the Tishbite was sent by God to tell King Ahab, the king of Israel, and his queen Jezebel for the evil that they were doing in the sigh to God. They were leading the people of Israel away from God and to other gods, so God was going to stop the rain from coming down in Israel until King Ahab repented of his sins and turned back to worshiping the true God. During the first year of the drought Elijah lived in the Kerith Ravine where a stream flowed and the ravens brought him meat and bread to eat from God. When the stream dried up he lived with the widow of Zarephath and her son. Then after three year of drought God called Elijah to go back to King Ahab and challenge the prophets of Baal to a contest to see who truly was the God of the universe. God demonstrates that He truly is the God of the universe by burning up the sacrifice that Elijah made and had drenched in water. The people and King Ahab acknowledged that God was the true God of the universe and they killed all the prophets of Baal and then Elijah prayed to God to allow the rain to come down again. Then, Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” (1 Kg. 19:1-2)
Have you ever had one of those days when everything seemed to be going in the right direction and then the bottom falls out and everything get even worse than it was before? Well that’s the sort of day that Elijah was having and we learn, ‘Then Elijah was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”  And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”  And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.’ (1 Kg. 19:3 – 6)
“Arise and eat.” Each of us are dealing with the same struggle each day that Elijah was dealing with. We are no better than our fathers before us, for we to are sinners. Though we have strived to do God’s will in our life, we let our old sin filled self take over our emotions and life, leaving us with no hope. Jesus comes to us and says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (Jn. 6:35)
Why do we deserve life instead of death in this world? We are no better than any of the people of the past and yet just as it was with Elijah, when there seemed to be no more hope in this world but death, God gives us the food that will truly give us life instead of death, His Only Son, Jesus Christ. God’s concern for each of us comes out of His love for the life that He gave to us, not the life of sin that we lead in this world. ‘And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched Elijah and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”  And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.’ (1 Kg 19:7-8)
The journey of life with all the good and bad moments of this world are too great for any of us to accomplish. That’s why we need God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit working in our life daily, for as Jesus says to us, “I am the bread of life. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Jn. 6:48, 50-51)
God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into this world not to condemn us of our sins but to given us the everlasting life that we were created to live with Him for all eternity. This is the life and hope that we are given as we let Jesus Christ take all our sins away and feed us with the forgiveness, love and mercy that he has won for us. It is the food that God gives to us through His Word and Sacraments that enables us to move on in our journey in this world facing all the trials and temptations that Elijah had, that Jesus had and we have to face in the wilderness of this world until we get to the mountain of God. Without the bread of life in our life we have no hope for a future and can only look forward to death instead of life. With the bread of life in our life we have a hope and a life that is beyond this world as it gives us hope in the perfect life that God wants to give to us now and for all eternity.
‘There Elijah came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”’ (1 Kg 19:9-10)
What are you doing here? Have you ever asked that question of yourself? God didn’t just put you here in this world for a few years to let you die and become the dust of the earth again, even though that’s what many people in our world believe. No, God made this world out of His love for each of us so that He could give each of us His love and we could live in that love now and for all eternity with Him. Oh, at times it will feel like all the world is against us and we are the only ones that are following God’s Word and trying to live a life striving to do God’s will in our life. Yet God throughout history has given us the reason why we are here in this world, to share God’s love with others so that they too will come to know the love, hope and peace that only God can give to us. What are you doing here in this world? Hopefully you are striving to share the love of God given to you, by the life, death and resurrection of God’s Only Son, Jesus Christ, so that other may come to know God’s love, grace and mercy for them and take part in the living bread that will give them life eternal.
‘And God said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.’ (1 Kg 19:11-12)
I want you to notice that God does not choose to come to us in the three different powers of nature that only He has control of. No, God doesn’t choose to show Himself to us in the works of the law but in His love, grace and mercy. Oh, the works of the law are there for us to see and come to an understand that God has every right to destroy that which we have corrupted because of our sins, but out of love for each of us He doesn’t come to us in the powers of this world but through His Word and Sacraments so that we come to understand His great love, grace and mercy for us.
‘After the fire the sound of a low whisper.  And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”  And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus.’ (1 Kg 12-15)
Today we to have come in humility before our Lord God as He presents Himself to us in His Words and Sacraments. As we come to receive His Words, the living Water that gives us life, and take part in the bread of life given to us, we receive the knowledge and strength that is needed to go and return to the wilderness of our world, where we have a task to accomplish. We will have to continue to fight against our enemies, Satan, the world and our sin filled self our whole live, but at the same time we need to be preparing someone else to take our place as a prophet of God in this world. Yes, we are the prophets of God who live in this word holding onto and proclaiming the Words of God given to us, that’s our task with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are to share God’s Words that proclaim God’s law and still at the same time bring others to the love, grace and mercy that God wants to give to us. Elijah was told to make Elisha the prophet to the people of Israel in his place and he did. Who are you preparing to take you place in this world as a spokesman of God? That’s one of the tasks given to you as you share God’s Love, grace and mercy with the world.
Oh, Elijah would still have to face King Ahab and Jezebel in other situations and still proclaim the love, mercy and grace that God was offering to all who believed in the Son of God as the bread of life. Elijah’s life didn’t get any easier after coming face to face with God, just as we know each time that we walk out of our time with God in His Word and sacraments. God is with us throughout all the good times and the bad all the way to the end. Now Elijah was one of the two people who ever lived in this world that didn’t have to die but he was taken to be with God in heaven by a chariot of fire. Oh, I wish that I could tell you that if you were as faithful as Elijah was, you will get to ride a chariot of fire to heaven and skip all the pain of death, but it’s my guess that we all will have to face the trials of this world and as we hold onto the Bread of life we will enjoy the love, grace and mercy of God in our lives now and for all eternity in the heavenly home prepared for us. So, Arise and eat the bread of life and drink the living water so that you can continue your journey in life sharing the love, grace and mercy of God. Amen.