Read 1 Kings 18:17-40
You can lose focus:
1) When you are falsely accused
“Is it you, troubler of Israel “
We live in a victim culture that believes that what is happening to them is someone elses fault. Elijah was getting the blame for the drought but he quickly reminds Ahab that it was his refusal, as the King of Israel, to do away with the other gods that God brought this judgement upon them. Ahab as the King could have repented and called the nation to repentance but instead he blamed Elijah for the 3 ½ years of drought.
False accusations can cause you to lose focus on the mission of God. Elijah was not detoured by Ahabs false accusation and he countered it with truth. In Acts 17 a bunch of Jews were jealous of Paul and Silas and so the Jews started a riot and blamed it on Paul and Silas. I am glad the Apostle Paul did not lose focus on the mission of Christ simply because some people wanted to stir up trouble and blame him.
1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
The Bible keeps it very simple for us. We just need to live our lives in such a way that although false accusations come, eventually, people will see what the truth is. Peter was addressing Christians who were being accussed of many things and they were seen as a threat to living in a peaceful and productive society. This very things are beginning to happen today in America and around the world. You will hear things like “The world will be a better place without religion” John Lennon wrote this very thing years ago in a song.
Imagine by John Lennon
Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people living for today, Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too, Imagine all the people living life in peace, you, You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one, Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
As Christians we cannot allow the accusations that religion is the problem to keep us from speaking the truth.
2) When you are outnumbered
450 prophets of Baal against Elijah
The numbers do not matter to Elijah because he was focused on what God had him to do. Elijah did not speak softly but called the people out for trying to believe in many gods.
The saying goes, “Tell a lie, tell it enough times and keep repeating it then people will believe it.” They believed they could worship God and worship Baal and they were told that so many times they believed it. Elijah told them to make up their mind and Elijah wanted to use Fire because according to their beliefs that should have been something Baal should have easily done. Elijah challenged Baal in its strength because he knew there is really only one God.
Our society is all about “All roads lead to the same destination” but if that is true then Jesus Christ is a liar and not worth following. (John 14:6)
Joshua 24:15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Of course after Elijah addressed them they did not say a word. So the test of who was really God was to come and so Elijah said either we will prove there is a God or we will all become Atheist because he knew Baal was not going to show up.
So the prophets of Baal went first and shouted and screamed and even cut themselves in order to plead with Baal to come and show himself. (Deuteronomy 14:1 says the people of God should not cut themselves) After the prophets of Baal went all day with their screaming and cutting there was no sign of Baal. Elijah even mocked them and said that Baal must be going to the bathroom.
Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord
So now it is Elijah’s turn to show that there is one true God. One of the things Jezebel did was not only get the people worshiping other gods but then she destroyed everything that reminded her of the true God. You see this today with people wanting to remove every symbol or remembrance of the true God. Whether it is Isis over in the Middle East or , from public buildings here in America people do not want any reminders that there is one true God.
Elijah chose 12 stones to remind the people that although they have been sinning Gods love to them was still there. Elijah would not use the altar the prophets of Baal used which was polluted by their system and their prayers. Elijah wanted to make it clear that there was no mixing God with another god because either God was it or there was no God at all. Either Jesus Christ is the way the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) or He was a liar.
12 Barrels of water. (Some say sea water since the drought, some say a spring near by) were used to make sure the altar was so wet that only a divine intervention from God would be able to cause it to set on fire. Elijah knew that the only way people would believe is to know that this was no hoax or magic trick but only an act of God.
“Let it be known this day that you are God.. that they may turn their hearts back “
Elijah offered up a simple prayer that we should pray every day, “Let it be known this day that you are God.” Our lives should be lived in such a way that people know there is a God. Elijah was not concerned about being proven right he was concerned for the people that they had strayed from God. Do you get angry when people turn from God, or does your heart break for them? Do you want to see them come back to God or are you hoping they get punishment from God?
To have a heart like God you have to have a heart for those who do not know Him or who have wandered away from Him. That is the same heart that Peter talked about when he said for us to live such good lives even if they accuse us of doing wrong because there is a hope that they will turn back to God.
The fire consumed the sacrifice, the stones, the dust and the water
God showed up and let it be known there is only one God. The people all shouted in unison “The Lord He is God” (Vs39) I think we lose focus sometimes because we are not sure God is going to come through. We also lose focus because we do not fully understand Gods ways and how He is working. Remember, Elijah was acting on Gods word and not his own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6) and that is how we need to act as well.
Read 1 Kings 19:1-5
3) When you are threatened
God just showed up but instead of believing the reports Jezebel threatened Elijah. She did not threaten him directly because she was scared and so she sent a messenger. People that do not address you directly do not need to be listened to. Matthew 18 is clear that if you have a problem with someone then you should go to them. Many in our society are like Jezebel where they send other people to speak for them so they do not have to address the person directly. With social media today the same problem is happening as people are setting up blogs or accounts anonymously in order to talk bad about someone without having to be confronted.
Jezebel was either scared of the people or because of the act that God just carried out and that is why she did not want to address Elijah personally. This shows a Divine miracle and act of God is not enough to persuade some people. People always say if God would do this and that then they would believe. God has done many things to show Himself and yet it is not enough. (Romans 1)
Matthew 12:39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Jesus sign and proof was that He would be in the grave three days and then rise again just like Jonah was in the whale for three days and came out. Signs are not always enough for some people but we have to make sure that their unbelief does not cause us to run.
Elijah was able to keep his focus up to this point but then with one statement from one person Elijah lost his faith. Jezebel used fear to distract Elijah from the mission of God. He ran from death only to wish that he might die. Instead of facing Jezebel he ran thinking that he would escape only to find himself wanting to die by the hand of God.
How many times do we lose focus because of the voice of one person. If you do anything for God you will have people who will say negative things about you and to you.
We do not get our life threatened but we might be threatened to lose a job, or even friends when we speak up for the truth. In the middle of God moving and showing the people that He is God Elijah ran because of his false thinking that one person put into his head.
Read 1 Kings 19:9-10
What are you doing here Elijah?
In Genesis 3:9 God asked Adam and Eve a similar question with Where are you? God knows what Elijah is thinking but God wants Elijah to work through why he ran and to come to his senses about what he is doing.
Elijah makes several statements that are not true. “I am the only one left” (Not true because God had 7000 others hidden see vs 18) How would Elijah know he was the only one left? He may have felt like he was the only one left but how could he know for sure? One of the first indicators that you are not focused on the things of God is when you begin your sentences with the word “I”. Satan will make you start thinking things that are not true in order to get you to lose your focus.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Your first question you need to ask yourself when you are thinking about things is “Is It TRUE?
The second lie he believed is They seek to take my life away. Jezebel was powerful but she was still scared of Elijah and the people who were praising God because of him. So there was no “They” there was only one person who sought to kill him. When we do not understand Gods ways or when we feel like we are the only ones who are serving Him we cannot lose focus. We have to trust that He not only has a plan but He has the people to accomplish that plan.
The Rest of the Story
God was able to speak to Elijah and show him that his thinking was wrong. God set an angel to minister to Elijah and God did not leave Elijah there even though he ran away. God showed Elijah that it was not the Strong wind, earthquake or fire, which are all a part of Gods judgement on sin (Psalm 18:7,12; Isaiah 13:13), but that God spoke but it was with a still small voice. In the midst of our noisy world we have to take time to hear the voice of God. Jesus always knew when it was time to stay engaged with the religious leaders and when to avoid them. When to keep ministering and when to pull back from the crowd. At the end of the day Jesus accomplished everything He was supposed to do. (John 17:4)
Mark 1:35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
If we do not take that time and refocus on what He wants then we will lose focus and start focusing on ourselves. We have to take the time to hear the voice of God daily and not be pulled away by the demands and sometimes even the lies of the world. When you do not wait for a word from the Lord and you only rely on your feelings then you will run. The first time Elijah was told by God to flee but this time he was not so you have to pay attention to God’s voice and not your feelings.
Have you lost your focus? Maybe it was not because of someone but because of some things. God has placed you in a place of employment, neighborhood or ball team to be His spokesperson no matter if you are outnumbered or accused of doing wrong. Don’t run from the responsibility because it is difficult wait and see the miracle God does.