Learning From Elijah

By Marvin Pitney

Paul says in Romans 15:4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” As we read the Old Testament, there are so many examples of godly men and women that we can learn from that can bring us strength and comfort to help us live our lives for God’s glory. These were men and women who had faith in God. We read in Hebrews 11:39-40 “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” We go on to read in Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” We are to look at the great examples of men and women in the Bible to help us run our own race that God has given us to run. Elijah the Tishbite, a prophet of God in the Old Testament, is one of these great witnesses that we can glean from that will help us in our race to the end. I want to encourage you with three character traits that we see in the life of Elijah that I believe will help you in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, Elijah was a man who trusted the Word of God. The life of Elijah is recorded in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings Chapter 17 and goes through 2 Kings Chapter 2. The very first thing we read about Elijah is that he stands before the wicked king Ahab of Israel and proclaims the Word of the Lord. We know that he was exhibiting great trust in the Word of God because he was doing this at the threat of his own life. The next couple of verses tell us that the Word of the Lord came to Elijah and told him to go hide himself from the king. Elijah not only trusted the Word of the Lord by proclaiming it to the king, but because he also obeyed what the Lord told him to do. 1 Kings 17:24 says, “And the women said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the Word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.” To trust the Word of God means that we will obey what it tells us to do. Sometimes this is very hard, and it may come with much pain and difficulty as it did in the life of Elijah. You should trust the Word of God because He knows what is best for your life! So the first character trait that we see in the life of Elijah was a man of God who had an unwavering trust in the perfect Word of God.

Second, Elijah was a man of God who had to overcome fear of man, and  the feeling that he was the only person who was being faithful to God. We read in James 5:17 that Elijah was “a man subject to like passions as we are.” Elijah struggled with fear of man. After the great victory over the prophets of Baal in I Kings 18, Elijah ran to hide himself from the fury of queen Jezebel. We read in 1 Kings 19:4, “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” Elijah was in a moment of weakness, and was fearing man rather than trusting in God. God was very merciful to Elijah and sent him an angel to touch him and give him something to eat. After this we read in 1 Kings 19:10, “And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it way.” Elijah was feeling like he was the only one who hadn’t forsaken God and was throwing a pity party for himself. He was being very selfish and displaying a little bit of bitterness against the Lord at this moment. The Lord was gracious again to Elijah, and showed to him that there were over seven thousand that were still serving God faithfully and had not bowed the knee to Baal. You can take comfort from this that even though Elijah was a great man of God, he still struggled with sinful attitudes and thoughts. If you are struggling with fear of man or thinking that you are one of the few that are still faithfully serving the Lord, be reminded of the mercy, grace and compassion of our loving Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. Fear God rather than men. Realize that God’s Kingdom is far bigger than you think and just be faithful to Him and what he has called you to do. We have seen that Elijah was a man of God who trusted in the Word of God, and that he struggled with fear of man and self pity. Lastly, let's be encouraged that he was unwavering in his commitment to the Lord!

We read in James 1:8 that “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Elijah was not that kind of man! He was a single-minded man of God who had a single-minded focus on an unwavering commitment to the Lord. The children of Israel at the time of Elijah were wavering in their commitment to the Lord and to His Word. Some of them were worshiping the Lord alone and listening to His prophets, and others were listening to the false prophets of Baal and worshiping this false god. When Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he stirred up the hearts of the children with this message in 1 Kings 18:21: “And Elijah came unto all the people and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” For Elijah, it was black and white. You need to either serve God because He is God or need to choose any other false god and serve them. You cannot do both! We can learn from Elijah in this because we too are often tempted to serve God and something else. You need to be unwavering in your commitment to Jesus Christ and give no place to the devil!

There are many other character traits from Elijah that we could learn from, but I believe that these are three that are very practical for you and I. First, he was a man who trusted in the Word of God. Second, he struggled with fear of man and self pity, but God was merciful and gracious to him. Third, he was a man of God with an unwavering commitment to God to serve Him faithfully to the end! Ultimately, Elijah was a great picture of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the good that Elijah was...without any of the bad! Going back to Hebrews 12 where we are encouraged to look back at men like Elijah to help us faithfully run our race, we are exhorted in verse 2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Learn from Elijah, but look to Jesus! On the mount of Transfiguration, Elijah appeared with Moses to talk with Jesus. When Elijah and Moses disappeared, Jesus was still standing there and God the Father spoke from Heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son; hear him". Read about Abraham, Moses and Elijah and learn from them, but listen to Jesus and look to Jesus and be conformed into His image for the glory of God!

Marvin Pitney is one of the pastors at Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church, McDonough, GA.