Elijah and Elisha Message #11 “Life After Full Restoration” Ed Miller, Feb. 8, 2023

Listen to the audio above while reading the transcript below, which is also available for download in Word document at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

We’re here to see the Lord Jesus.  As we come to look in God’s word, there’s a principle of Bible study that’s indispensable, and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  It’s His book and He’s given it, and it’s His revelation, and now we need a revelation of the revelation; we need God to show us Christ.  So, before I go to prayer, I want to share a verse.  It’s the first words our Lord Jesus ever spoke to Peter, and it’s in John 1:42, “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon, son of Jonah; you shall be called Peter.’”  You are – you shall be.  That’s the whole message of the Bible.  God finds us one way, and son of Jonah just means of the flesh.  That’s his natural birth.  “You are natural, but you will be spiritual,” and it’s by the grace of the Lord. The reason I use that verse is because we’ve come to the place where Elijah was Elijah, but then God met him on Mt. Horeb, and He said, “But you will be,” and he’s a new man.  So, let’s bow and commit our time to the Lord. 

Father, thank You for Your precious word and Your promises, but mostly Your indwelling Spirit; You live inside of each one of us to point us to Jesus, to show us our Savior and all we have in Him, freely.  We ask, Lord, that You grace us to see Jesus again, and deliver, I pray, all of Your people from anything I might say that is not from You.  We want to hear from You.  Open our ears, open our hearts, and give us the light of the Lord, and then enable us to walk in the light, as He is in the light.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Welcome to our privilege to behold the Lord Jesus in a fresh a way, as we see Him through our study of His servants, Elijah and Elisha.  As you know, last week we stepped aside from our historical look at the record, and we looked at spiritual warfare.  I’m not going to review that, except to give you the main points, and that’s 2 Chronicles 20:15, “The battle is not yours, but God’s.”  I tell you, the sooner we submit to that truth, the more wonderful and the more relaxed our Christian life will be.  We have no more power to keep the victory than we had to obtain it in the first place.  It’s a gift of the Lord, and it’s His to keep.  So, the warfare is His.  It’s not ours; He must fight, and He must win the battle.

When we left off on the history of Elijah, we were on Mt. Horeb, and we’re going back there this morning to begin to leave Mt. Horeb.  Mt. Horeb, Mt. Sinai, is the same place.  On Mt. Horeb, that’s where Elijah’s discouragement led him.  He got so discouraged, so depressed, and we find him just before God rescued him, lodging in a cave.  He’s in a dark hole, a cold cave, away from man, and he’s trying to be alone, and he’s just in that cave.  We don’t know how long he was there.  The Bible doesn’t tell us.  It just says that he lodged there.  That means he was there for a while.  That’s where the Lord, in mercy, met Elijah and did something that drew that discouraged person out of his discouragement, his despair, out of that dark cave.  He had already had a mountain experience on Mt. Carmel, but he needed another mountain experience on Mt. Horeb.  On this mountain, when God drew him out of the cave, he was drawn back into the presence of the Lord.  I just want to read these verses, 1 Kings 19:11-13, “And so He said, ‘Go forth, stand on the mountain before the Lord.’”  That was God’s word to Elijah, “Come on out, and stand again where you once were, in the presence of the Lord,” but he didn’t do it.  Even though God called him out, he didn’t do it, “And behold, the Lord was passing by, and a great and strong wind was rending the mountain, breaking to 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.  And after the fire, a sound of a gentle blowing, a still, small voice, and when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantel, and now he obeyed, and he went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.”

I remind you of the two pictures that we developed. If you didn’t get that, the tapes are available, but one was the still, small voice.  There were no words to that still, small voice, and there was no vocabulary; it was just peace, God spoke peace to a very troubled heart.  He was in despair.  The second picture was the mantel, and he came out and he buried his face in the mantel, and we saw the ways God developed that.  That’s a picture of God’s Life, the Holy Spirit, and when he came out, he left Elijah in the cave, and He came out himself and buried his face in the Life of God.  Later when he dropped that mantel and Elisha picked it up, he said, “Where is the God of Elijah?”  It’s just a picture of the Holy Spirit.

On Mt. Horeb Elijah was fully restored.  His heart was now flooded with the peace of God, and he was now standing in the presence of the Lord.  That restoration took place on Mt. Horeb.  In our last lesson in the history, we were on Mt. Horeb, and we looked at 1 Kings 19:15-18, and we called it the recommission of Elijah.  Now that he had been fully restored, God recommissioned him.  Every time a Christian is fully restored, that Christian is recommissioned.  This is a great transition from Mt. Horeb to where we’re going today, and Lord willing, the next time we gather.  What does life look like after Horeb?  That’s what we want to focus on, after full restoration, after the peace of the Lord, after the Life of God is in my heart, and I’ve buried my face in the Life of God, what follows, what’s next?  That’s what we’re going to look at. 

Just to refresh your mind on the recommission, I’ll give you the principles we touched on.  I called attention to the first principle of recommission, and that is that God has no shelf.  If you sin and fall away and take your eyes off the Lord and are distracted from Him, and then you come back, He’s not going to put you on a shelf.  There’s no such thing as God’s second best.  He doesn’t have a second best, and He doesn’t have a third best.  He only has a will, and that will is good, perfect and acceptable at all times.  At any moment in my life, regardless of my past, how ugly or repulsive in may have been, I can have the perfect, acceptable will of the Lord.  That’s what Elijah experienced.

The second thing we saw is in the recommissioning; your vision is greatly enlarged.  Before this, his whole life of ministry was Mt. Carmel, “There’s going to be a great revival here on Mt. Carmel,” but now God says in the recommissioning that it’s bigger than that.  You’re going to anoint kings, you’re going to anoint prophets, there are going to be wars and rumors of wars, and nations rising, and nations falling.  All of a sudden Elijah got the vision that, “My ministry is not just this little thing; it involved all history to the end of time, until Jesus comes back again.”  And then his vision was also enlarged in terms of the instruments God uses.  On Mt. Carmel he had this idea, “I am the only one, there’s nobody else, and I’m the great prophet of the Lord.”  Now God gives him a command, you remember, “I want you to anoint Hazael over in Syria, and I want you to anoint Jehu over Israel, and I want you to anoint Elisha in your place.

He anoints Elisha, and then God takes him to heaven.  He didn’t have time to do the other two things.  That’s an amazing thing, because now he sees somebody else will do it, “It’s bigger than me.”  So, Elisha does it, and somebody else, an unnamed person does it.  He began to see an increased vision, “Not only is ministry larger than I thought, but God’s instruments are larger than I thought.”  Then, finally, he had an enlarged vision of God’s working.  1 King’s 19:18, “I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, every mouth that has not kissed him.”  Elijah didn’t know that behind-the-scenes God was doing a secret work.  Elijah thought he failed, that there was no fruit in his ministry, and now God whispers to him in that still, small voice, “You thought you were barren; 7,000 have come to the Lord through your ministry.”  And then, that might not be a literal number; that might be seven in terms of the perfect number.  God uses number seven as a number of completion and perfection, and God might be saying, “You have no clue how many people I’m using you to influence.”  So, he had that enlarged vision.

Now, we’re going to begin the next section, which we will not finish today, but Lord willing, we’ll continue.  This lesson is going to take us to Mt. Horeb, but now we’re leaving.  We have found Elijah, and his spiritual history.  We followed it to the brook, we followed him to the widow’s house, we followed him to Mt. Carmel, we followed him to Jezreel, from Jezreel to Beersheba, from Beersheba to the juniper tree, from the juniper tree to forty days wandering in the wilderness, from the wandering to Mt. Horeb, all the way to the cave.  We’ve been following Elijah’s life.  We followed him when he was so depressed, he asked God to take his life away, and we saw the Angel of the Lord pursuing him, even though he didn’t know it.  You don’t run from the Lord by yourself.  The Angel of the Lord goes with you, and the Angel of the Lord watches over you.  We saw, until he was fully restored, and now we’re finished with Horeb.  He’s about to leave this marvelous experience that he had, that God met him, and he’s back in the presence of the Lord.  Now he’s going, and where is he going?  He’s going out to live; that’s where he’s going.  He’s going out just to live his life, but it’s no longer Elijah.  Now it’s Christ in Elijah.

Pray as we go through this because I’m going to try, as the Lord assists, to describe life after Horeb, after restoration.  He had discovered that God was the author of faith at the brook and at the widow’s house, and you remember that, El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough.  Then, he learned the secret of spiritual warfare, that the battle is not yours, but it’s His, the Lord’s.  So, he got discouraged and he learned that God is not only the author of faith but the finisher of faith, the perfector of faith.  The Angel of the Lord is not going to let you go.  You claimed His Son, and His Son claimed you.  You apprehended and He apprehended you.  Psalm 34:6&7, “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.  The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear, and rescues them.”  That’s where we left off, and that’s where we’ll begin.

Let me give you an overview of sort of the introduction of what we’re going to look at.  After that experience on Horeb, before he was caught up to heaven in the fiery chariot, he lived on the earth about 6-8 years.  That’s the commonly accepted chronology.  However, there are others who think it was longer than that, some say as much as 12 or 15 Years.  We don’t know.  I know he lived many years later, at least seven years.  How do I know that?  I know that because he wrote a letter to a king named Jehoram, and that was 7 years later.  Listen to 2 Chronicles 21:12, “Then a letter came to him from Elijah, the prophet, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, God of your fathers…’”  If someone writes a letter, I assume he’s still alive, but not all the commentaries assume that.  Some say that he wrote the letter long before he was caught up to heaven, and then later someone sent the letter, even though it was from Elijah.  I don’t think that’s likely.  I prefer to believe that he lived at least those seven years.  We don’t know how many years, six, seven, eight, twelve, fifteen, I don’t know, but I call attention to that fact because even though Elijah lived for years after Horeb, you start reading your Bible and you don’t read much about him.  Where did he go?  He sort of passes off the pages.  He’s only mentioned four times after that.  We hear of him right away when he anoints Elisha, and we’ll look at that.  Later on, he’s mentioned in connection with Naboth’s Vineyard, and we’ll look at that.  Then we already touched on when he met Ahaziah and called down fire from heaven.  We’re going to look at that in more detail.  And then as he was preparing to die, and was dealing with Elisha, we hear of him then.

Before Elijah’s experience on Horeb, it seems like we heard about him all the time.  It was all about Elijah, Elijah at the brook, and at the widow’s house, and raising the dead, and all of these wonderful things, but now the Lord spoke peace to his heart, and he buried his face in the Life of the Lord, and it’s almost as if he passes off the page, almost as if he becomes invisible.  Four times in many years, that observation introduces us to the method I’m going to follow.  The fact that we don’t hear much about Elijah after his experience with the Lord is wonderfully instructive, because it describes life; He must increase, and I must decrease.  That’s what you’re seeing.  If we truly meet the Lord as Elijah did at Horeb, it’s not going to be about us anymore.  We’re not going to be the ones in the limelight anymore.  Before Horeb the spotlight was on the instrument, on the man, on God’s servant, on the prophet.   

In Elijah, I think God wanted to illustrate that truth of disappearing, because remember, in the New Testament Elijah appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration, Luke 9:30, “Behold, two men were talking with Him; they were Moses and Elijah speaking of the departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  The departure He was to accomplish; if I drop dead right now in front of you, you aren’t going to say, “Oh, Ed accomplished death.”  I don’t accomplish; I succumb, but He accomplished death, and that’s what they talked about.  Verse 7&8, “A cloud formed overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the clouds, ‘This is My beloved Son.  Listen to Him,’ and all at once they looked around and saw no one with Him anymore except Jesus alone.”  What is the point?  It’s what is the greatest revelation of Elijah?  The answer is it’s his disappearance.  That’s the great thing.  It wasn’t his appearance; it was his disappearance, and that’s what you see on Horeb. Elijah sort of phased out of the picture, and he disappears on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Why did he disappear?  It was so people could see Jesus.  Why did he disappear in the Old Testament?  It’s so people could see Jesus.  It’s exactly the same thing.

Before we look at the distinctive characteristic, what my life will look like after Horeb, after full restoration, after I’ve experienced the exchanged life, after God speaks peace into my heart and I embrace the Holy Spirit?  What comes next?  First, illustrated by this all-inclusive principle, I become relatively invisible.  No longer is man the center.  Before that, people have a tendency, “Oh, look at that person, look at that servant; they are so faithful and they have so many gifts and what an education and what a good speaker and oh how they pray and I wish we could pray like that and what a good teacher, and so on.”  After you have your experience with the Lord, you just sort of bow out of all of that.

I want to enlarge a little on that principle before I give you the other principle.  We’ve already talked about 1 Kings 19:15-17 where God commanded Elijah a three-fold command, to anoint Hazael and Jehu and Elisha, and he didn’t do it.  He only did one, because there God opened his eyes to the body.  There are other members in the body, “I don’t necessarily need you, and you’re not that indispensable to My purposes.”  I want to look at that same fact, but just change the principle.  It’s exactly the same principle, that he saw the body, but on the other side, he was no longer limiting the Lord.  We have a tendency to limit the Lord, like, “If he doesn’t use me, how is the work going to get done.  If he doesn’t use my church, then, oh, sad it is!”  We’ve got to have our eyes open.  We can’t limit the Lord. 

Elijah was no longer placing limits on the Lord.  If God wanted to use him, fine.  If God wanted to use Elijah, fine.  Let me just give you these verses.  1 Kings 20:13, “Now, behold, a prophet approached Ahab, king of Israel…”  Who was that prophet?  We don’t know; it was an unnamed prophet.  It’s no longer, “And God told Elijah.”  It’s an unnamed prophet, and He’s using somebody else.  1 Kings 20:28, “Then a man of God came near and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, ‘Thus says the Lord…’”  Who is the man of God?  I don’t know; the Bible doesn’t tell us, but it’s not Elijah.  And then in 1 Kings 20:35, “Now a certain main of the sons of the prophets said to another by the word of the Lord…”  Now we have one of the sons of the prophets.  This is a student in Bible school, and God is using him.  The whole point is that God doesn’t need Elijah.  He can use Elijah, He can use some unnamed prophet, He can use a man of God or a woman of God, He can use a student, and He can use anybody.  To bring it home, He doesn’t need me; He doesn’t.  And He doesn’t need you.  He doesn’t need us, and we can’t limit Him to His instrument.  We don’t hear Elijah after Horeb proclaiming, “I alone am the prophet of the Lord.”  That’s all gone, and that’s been buried. 

I had to smile when Jehoshaphat asked this question to Ahab, 1 Kings 22:7, “But Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of him?’”  In the context, they are about to go to war, “Am I going to win,” and he wants a word, and he says, “Isn’t there a prophet of the Lord.”  Don’t forget that Elijah is still alive.  Then he describes, and says, “There’s a prophet,” verse 8, “The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he doesn’t prophesy good concerning me, but evil.’”  Wouldn’t you expect that to be Elijah?  It wasn’t Elijah.  It was Micaiah, a different prophet.  The whole point is that Elijah is out of the picture because He’s not being limited.  God can use a prophet, an unnamed person, a man of God, a woman of God, He can use a student at Bible school, he can use a neighbor, and He can use anybody, and the instrument is sort of incidental.  So, after Horeb we don’t see Elijah as the old Elijah.

I once heard Rick Baker, he’s in heaven now, and I heard him speaking from John 9, the healing of the man born blind, and he called attention to the instrument God used: mud and spit.  His comment, of course, was, “If He can use a little mud and a little spit to help somebody see, don’t get too proud if He uses you as His instrument, a little mud and a little spit.”  But then he quoted John 9:7, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam, which is translated Sent.  And so, he went away and washed and came back seeing.”  Rick pointed out that while the instrument, the mud and the spit, was on his eyes, he couldn’t see Jesus until the instrument was washed away.  So, God uses you, but then go away, get out of the way and let God wash his eyes so he can see the Lord Jesus.

In addition to that all-inclusive principle, we disappear and we’re out of sight, I’d like to look at those four incidents: the anointing of Elisha, the Naboth’s vineyard, the fire coming down from heaven with Ahaziah, and then the preparation for Elisha, as he get’s ready to be caught up in a chariot to heaven.  We’re not going to complete that today.  Lord willing, we’ll look at the first two.  Each time we look at an incident, we’re going to pick up a principle, this is what it looks like after Horeb.  That’s all we want today is the principle.  The story we’ll go back and pick up later.  Like we did with the tabernacle, we’re going to sort of fly over it and see the whole thing, and then we’ll go back, and we’ll do the individual story.

The first story is the anointing of Elisha by Elijah, verses 19-21 of chapter 19, “He departed from there and found Elisha, the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, he with the twelve.  And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantel on him, and he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, ‘Please, let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I’ll follow you.’  And he said to him, ‘Go back again, for what have I done to you?’  So, he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen, and sacrificed them, boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people, and they ate.  Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.”

This is an exciting story, and the focus is on Elisha, and not Elijah.  What I’m interested in is Elijah.  So, we’re going to look at the story, not to see the story.  We’ll go back and see how Elisha responded to all of this.  I want to focus on a single verse, verse 20, “He left the oxen, ran after Elijah and said, ‘Please, let me kiss my father and mother, and I’ll follow you.’  And he said to him, ‘Go back again, for what have I done to you?’”  You know the history.  He threw his mantel, and we know what it pictured.  That’s the Life of God.  He’s being anointed with the Life of God, and it landed on top of him, and he’s out plowing the field, and his mantel lands on top of him.  Evidently, Elisha knew what that meant, and he knew the spiritual significance of that.

Almost all who read Elisha’s words, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother,” relate it to a similar story in the New Testament, Matthew 8:21, “Another of the disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’”  They are not parallel; those are different stories.  There’s a big difference between saying, “I’ll follow you; let me first bury my parents, or my father,” and, “Give me permission to kiss them goodbye.”  There’s a big difference.  We won’t develop that now, but I want to focus on Elijah’s response.

When Elisha asked permission, “Let me go kiss my parents,” Elijah said in verse 20, “Go back; what have I done to you?”  I want to focus on those words, “Go back; what have I done to you?”  Let me paraphrase what I think is taking place here.  I think he was saying, “You just received a mantel, and you seem to know what it means, and now you’re coming to me to ask me permission. I haven’t called you; you don’t need my permission.  You don’t have to answer to me.  What have I done to you?  This isn’t about what I have done, and I threw my mantel on you.  No, no; this is something God has done.  I’m just a messenger of the Lord, and you don’t need my permission.  It’s the Lord who is calling you, the Lord anointing you, the Lord setting you apart.  If you’ve got a question, go ask Him; go ask the Lord.  You don’t have to answer to me.  You don’t need my permission.  I’m not your master.  You’ve got to deal with the Lord.

I remember some years ago I worked with a mission called “Open Air Campaigners,” not for a long time, but about a year, and their ministry was to reach the lost where they lived.  They all don’t live in the church, so they went out in the streets and the beaches, and they would do open air meetings, and that’s why they are called Open Air Campaigners.  I used to go out on the street corners and preach with this team.  It was a very fruitful ministry. I could tell many stories of how the Lord met us then, but one of the problems that many church people had with Open Air Campaigners was what they called follow-up; there was no follow-up.  In other words, we were accused of leaving the converts on their own.  We’d get them saved and then go to the next corner.  At one of the meetings I was at a heckler cried out, “What do you do with your converts?” because he thought we should stay around and follow them up and lead them to a good church, and all that kind of thing.  The leader that was with us, Bron Carlisle was his name, and when the heckler said, “What do you do with your converts,” he quoted Acts 8:35, “Phillip opened his mouth, beginning from the scripture, he preached Jesus to him,” and then he quoted Acts 8:39, “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Phillip away, and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”  So, he said to the heckler, “What do we do with our converts?  The same thing Phillip did with his; we preach Jesus and send them on their way rejoicing.  What a wonderful answer, and so instructive. 

It’s a great truth when Elijah says, “What have I done to you?”  The Lord follows up.  If the Lord begins a work, the Lord is going to continue the work.  An awful lot of what man calls follow-up is foul-up; they’re trying to help them, but they’re not helping them at all.  This is the characteristic that I want you to see, that Elijah did not play Holy Spirit.  He did not try to help God.  He did not put himself in the place of the Trinity.  Stay out of the Godhead.  Only God can do what only God can do?  Is that a great principle?  Only God can do it, and when He does a work, the instrument, really, should take his hands off.  It’s very much like John the Baptist in the New Testament, his disciples came to him and said, I’m paraphrasing, “John, we have bad news for you; you are losing disciples to Jesus.”  He said, “Bad news?  That’s not bad news.”  John 3:29, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.  So, this joy of mine has been made full.  He must increase, but I must decrease.”

In effect, what John said is, “I am not the groom; I’m the best man, and the best man facilitates the union of the bride and groom.  That’s his place.  The message is, “Hands off the bride.”  I wish God’s ministers and God’s people would keep their hands off God’s bride.  You facilitate union a person and Christ, and help them in their union, and make sure that it’s Him; He increases, and I decrease.  That’s what follows full restoration.  That’s our attitude; it’s the Lord’s work.  I think after Mt. Carmel and his contest with the prophets of Baal, I think he wanted to be the leader of a great mega-church, “The nation is coming back to the Lord.”  I think Elijah at that time thought it was his job, and God used him to turn people back to the Lord, and now he’s got to stay there and shepherd them and lead them, but it didn’t work that way.  His ministry there lasted about one day, and he got chased away by Jezebel.  But at that time, I think he thought it was, “My responsibility, it’s my ministry,” but now that he’s fully restored he says, “It’s the Lord.”

I need to qualify that because does God ever lead to someone to follow-up?  The answer is yes, but it’s a matter of listening to the Lord.  I praise God for those that watched over me after I became a new Christian, and they helped me a lot, but I’m terrified at the word “mentor”.  You have a mentor living in your heart.  I have a mentor living in my heart, and His name is Jesus, and He lives there in the Person of the Holy Spirit.  1 John 2:27, “As for you, the anointing that you have received from Him, abides in you and you have no need for anyone to teach you, but as His anointing teaches about all things is true, and it’s not a lie, just as it has been taught you; abide in Him.”  I’m not saying that God doesn’t use teachers.  He has given them; they are His gift to the church, but I will not clear my throat when I say that you don’t need them.  You have the Lord.  They are a blessing.  Thank God for them.  “He is all I need; He is all I ever need.”  You have Him.  John, on the Isle of Patmos would have been in big trouble being all by himself, if he didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit.  That’s the first principle, and it’s really an evidence of a change.

Let’s look at Naboth’s Vineyard.  The story is in chapter 21 and takes in 24 verses, but I’m just going to tell the story because I don’t want to get involved in the story.  It’s a very intriguing story.  It’s Ahab’s greed.  Ahab was the king, and it was his greed for his neighbor’s vineyard; he had a lust for that vineyard, even after he had just had a victory, but that victory didn’t give him contentment.  Naboth, on the other hand, the one who owned the vineyard, refused to trade it for another or sell it, and that’s because of his obedience to the Lord.  That was an inheritance from the Lord.  That property was not allowed to be sold, and he just wanted to live for the Lord.  To Naboth it would have been a sin to release that vineyard, but Ahab lusted after it, and his wife Jezebel who didn’t have a moral bone in her body, and such a sinful, sinful woman, she said, “I’ll get you that vineyard.”  So, she hired lying witnesses that he had blasphemed the God of heaven and he was going against the king, God’s instrument.  She invited him to a party, and at the party he was condemned and accused, and the lying witnesses got up and said that he did exactly what Jezebel said, and then they had a quick trial, and he was found guilty, and they brought him out and stoned him, and put to death.  Then Ahab went in as king and confiscated the vineyard, and Ahab was happy, until God sent Elijah into his life.

I don’t want to focus on Naboth or his vineyard or Ahab or his wicked wife Jezebel, or the lying witnesses or the corrupt court that took place, or the execution.  I want to focus on how Elijah fits into this story.  Look at verses 17&18, “The word of the Lord came to Elijah, the Tishbite, saying, ‘Arise, go down and meet Ahab, king of Israel, who is in Samaria.’”  The word of the Lord came to Elijah.  I pointed out earlier that we don’t hear much about Elijah.  It had been years since the word of the Lord came to Elijah.  Elijah had heard the still, small voice, and had it in his heart, he’s living by the Life of the Lord, and he buried his face in the mantel, but where has he been?  How come he’s not on the front lines fighting for the Lord?  Where is he, and why is he absent? 

I’ll tell you where he is; he’s living his life in the world, just living.  He’d been fully restored.  You remember what the Old Testament calls the presence of the Lord, “He went into the presence of the Lord?”  The New Testament says it’s the presence of the Lord in you.  The Old Testament he went into the presence of the Lord, but the fully developed form of that is that the Lord is now living in him.  He had discovered the exchanged life, and it’s not about Elijah anymore, and it’s not about him helping God do His work, anymore.  He now sees that he’s one member of a great body called the church.  He was one member in which there are many members.

At Naboth’s Vineyard he’s manifesting this characteristic.  Let me give a title to the principle.  Elijah is available.  He’s just living, and he’s available, “Any time, Lord; if You want to use a man of God, go use a man of God, if you want to use somebody else, go use them, “I’m available.  If you want me, here I am.”  At Horeb the presence of the Lord flooded his heart, and now he’s living in that union, and he’s completely at rest, and not being used.  1 Kings 21:17, “The word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘Arise, go down to meet Ahab.”  He was available, and suddenly years later God said, “Alright, Elijah, arise and go.”  His obedience is so instant and so complete that we don’t even read about it in the Bible.  The next things we read in verse 20, “Ahab said to Elijah..,” and he’s already there.  God said, “Arise, go,” and the next thing you read is that they’re talking together.  He’s already obeyed the Lord.  We don’t see the process, “I’ve got to pack up, and get ready..”  He just goes.  The strain is taken away, and that’s the glory of the exchanged life.  I not only fade away, and I don’t try to do what only God can do, but I am available at any time.  Has Elijah been passive for years?  I don’t like to call it passive.  He’s Jesus active and ready at any time.  He’s available, and if the word of the Lord comes, he clicks his heals, stands up straight and solutes, and says, “Yes, Lord, I’ll go,” but he’s just available.  Elijah discovered that he was not the only member of the body, and God might be using this person, that person.

Let me expand on that picture of the body, because it’s such a wonderful picture.  It’s used in the New Testament.  The human body is a picture of the body, the church.  I don’t know a greater picture of the truth, being available, than the members of the body.  Every member must be available to do the bidding of the head.  The head is the life, and the head gives a command, and the members obey.  My legs and my arms, my toes and my fingers, they don’t have independent life.  If you amputate my leg, it will wither and die.  I’ll still live; I have life.  My leg doesn’t have life.  If I cut my arm off, it’s going to die.  Gut my finger off, it’s going to die, because it doesn’t have independent life. 

My paternal grandmother had serious sugar diabetes, and she suffered so.  They cut off one limb and then they cut off another limb, and then they cut off both her legs; she was a stump, sitting on a wheelchair, but she’s alive.  The members had no life in themselves.  That’s true of every member.  When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have a committee meeting with my members and say, “Okay, hands, here is what is going to happen today.  Okay feet and legs, here’s what’s going to happen today.”  I expect my members, the members of my body, to be available to the commands that my head might give them, and I want them to instantly respond.  My members must be living for the pleasure of my head, and since in the church the head is Christ, every member should be living for the pleasure of the head, and when the head gives a command, every member should respond. 

What if as I’m teaching you right now my legs had independent life, and all of a sudden, my legs decided, “I think I’m going to stand up and start walking, or running, or dancing?”  I’d have a hard time teaching this lesson, if my legs decided to do those things.  For example, picture me in my study.  Let’s say I need a reference book, and I’m sitting at my desk, I expect my legs to be available when my brain tells my legs, “Get up and go over to that shelf, because that’s where the book is that I need, I just want you available.” And then my legs respond, and they go to the shelf.  And then I expect my arms to be available to lift my hand up to the shelf where the book is.  And I expect my fingers to respond to the command to get the book and take it down.  I expect my legs to then be available to take me back to my chair, and I expect my body to be available to bend over in a seated position and sit down and start reading the book.  Available, and Elijah was available. 

If this hand is living for the pleasure of the head, and this hand is living for the pleasure of the head, these hands are in perfect unity.  Do you know why there is disunity in the body of Christ?  Somebody has independent life.  There is no way to live a life, except by one Life; there’s only one life in the body, and anytime there is independent life, there’s going to be conflict in the body.  All the problems of the church are because somebody is trying to live their own life.  All of that to say that Elijah is experiencing the exchanged life, and he’s available whenever the Lord wants to use him.  Being available makes life wonderfully simple.  The Christian life is so simple, wonderfully simple.  In his early life his prayer was, “Lord, use me.”  His prayer now is, “Make me useable.  I want to be useable.  If at any time and any place for any reason You call me, I want to be available. 

A surgeon has many instruments in his bag that he uses, many tools.  He has scissors and scalpels and hooks and clamps and forceps, and all kinds of things, and there is only one quality that he insists upon; it must be clean.  If he asks for a scalpel and the nurse drops it on the floor, he can’t use that.  We saw this a couple of weeks ago in 2 Kings 1:10, “Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, ‘If I am a man of God…’”  Then again in verse 11, “If I am a man of God…’”  That’s what he’s concerned about now.  It’s just being a man of God.  If I’m a man of God, I’m available for anything the Lord wants.  God wants to use an unnamed prophet, that’s alright with me.  If God wants to use a man of God, that’s okay with me.  If He wants to use a son of a prophet, that’s okay with me.  If He wants to use a wicked nation, that’s okay with me.  No matter what God wants to do, when He says, “Elijah, rise and go,” that’s the time that it becomes wonderfully simple.  He’s not exhausting himself.

I went through this, so I’m not condemning others, because this was my early Christian life, pre-Horeb.  I thought God called me to win my generation to the Lord.  I thought it was my duty and my obligation to witness to everybody.  I drove a lot of people away, “We need to saturate this neighborhood with literature.”  I tried to arrange all of our opportunities, and we had programs and programs, and tried to force Jesus into every conversation.  I had a little lapel thing, and it was a brass tack, and somebody would say, “What is that?” and I would say, “That’s a brass tack.  Let’s get down to brass tacks.  Do you know Jesus?”  I did!  That’s how I lived my life, trying to force the circumstances.

I know a pastor personally who built one of those circus seats, and he set it up in his baptistry, and if you would bring somebody to church, you would get a ball to throw at the target, so he could fall into the baptistry.  Can you imagine that?  It was because he was trying to win souls, and if you get three balls or five balls, it depended on how many visitors you would bring.  We don’t need to try to do those kinds of things and all those gimmicks.  Praise God for those He saved, but we don’t have to lure people by the testimonies of converted athletes and converted politicians, (is that possible?), or Hollywood celebrities.  We try to trick them.  We don’t tell them, “Come and hear about Jesus, and how you need to get saved.”  We say, “We’ve got a magician in our church tonight, and you ought to come, and we have a weightlifter and he’s going to lift the organist as she plays High Ground.  We don’t need gimmicks; we just need to be available to the Lord.  That makes life wonderfully simple, and wonderfully exciting.

I am in the most exciting experience in the time season of my life because I don’t know what’s next.  I’m losing my hair and my eyes and my hearing and my strength and my energy, everything but weight, but I’m available.  If He wants to take me to the hospital, I’m available, if He wants to take me to the nursing home, I’m available.  I don’t care, because it’s the Lord living in me, wherever He calls me, whatever He does.  If he going to have somebody suddenly come to my door?  That’s exciting.  Is He going to have somebody call me on the phone?  That’s exciting.  Is He going to have me suddenly prompted to call somebody?  That’s exciting.  Am I going to get a letter?  That’s exciting.  Am I going to write a letter?  That’s also exciting.  I might need a nurse, I might need an answer..  I wake up giddy; I say, “What next, Lord?” because it doesn’t matter.  If I’m going to go somewhere and meet somebody, and even if weeks and months go by and there’s nothing but just life, it doesn’t matter.  Then when God says, “Go, arise,” I’m there.

Let me give you one example of how exciting it is.  Sometimes when the Lord makes you available you don’t even know what’s going on.  You have no clue.  As you know, I have many pages that I follow in my notes.  Let me tell you why I do that.  I have a deaf son and he can’t get tapes.  So, in 1975 the Lord laid it on my heart to write in manuscript all of my teaching so my son could have an inheritance.  That’s why I’ve got a lot of pages.

One day when I was in Rhode Island, a dear friend of mine who is in heaven now and knows better, he decided it would be a funny joke if he shuffled my notes.  When I was fellowshipping with someone, he went and shuffled my notes.  Now they’re all out of order.  At that time, we had outside chimes that we would play fifteen minutes, just music, before the Bible study, so that people could come to the Bible study in the neighborhood; they would hear the chimes and they would know.  So, the chimes were playing. 

I stood up to get ready to teach and I saw a young lady who I didn’t know, never met her, that came and sat it the back of the church.  We would finish singing and I’m ready to start teaching.  The first few pages I was on a roll, because they were in order.  But after a while I’m thinking, “Oh my, what…,” and now I’m trying to teach and ad lib, and while I’m trying to find my place and put my notes in order.  I’m trying to get everything right, and somehow, I got on the doctrine of eternal security, because I’m just talking while I’m looking and I love the security, not that there’s a doctrine that keeps you, but there’s a Keeper that keeps you, and His name is Jesus.  I was excited about that, but I got my tang tungled in my muth, and it was all mixed up.  Anyway, the only thing I could do, and I was very embarrassed, was to close the service, and I apologized, “We have to close; I have a problem here.”  We prayed, and everybody left, except that one person sitting in the back.

So, I went up to her and introduced myself and welcomed her.  She started to cry.  I said, “What’s wrong?”  She said, “I was walking by, and I heard the chimes, and so I decided to come in.  I’m a Christian.  I’m on my way to Newport Bridge to kill myself and commit suicide, and I heard you talking about eternal security, and I was scared to death.  I don’t know if I’m going to heaven or not, because I screwed it up so badly that she was afraid to commit suicide.  What a season we had as we prayed, and she came back to the Lord.

Available, God doesn’t care about my reputation, God doesn’t care if I’m embarrassed, God wants to use you.  After Horeb things are different.  After the Life of God things are different, and you’re going to disappear, but you’re going to live, and it’s going to be exciting, and God every now and then is going to surprise you with some opportunity, someone is coming into your life, and you’re going into someone’s life. 

We’re not done.  We still have to look at a couple of other stories, but I want to show you what life is like after Horeb.  Let’s pray together. 

Father, thank You, not for what we think we know, but everything You’ve inspired Your word to mean.  Work it in our hearts.  Thank You for recording the history of Elijah.  Thank You that we can see these great truths.  We pray that You would work them in our hearts.  Lord, if there is someone here still struggling and needs to hear the still, small voice, and needs to bury their face in the Life of God, Lord, draw that person out of their cave.  Thank You.  In Jesus name.  Amen.