Tonight was the third of Greg Haslam’s three talks on the life and times of Elijah. But before we get there, there is, as always, the safety announcement, the special feature slot, and time to worship through singing, led by Ian Hannah. It turned out too that it was Ian’s turn to share a New Horizon memory.
There was a guest appearance from Steve Clifford, UK director of the Evangelical Alliance. He spoke about the findings of a survey on faith, and in particular some of the findings about people who regularly read the Bible and the impact it seems to have on their praying, giving and serving.
This year is the year of Biblefresh, an initiative that has brought together over 100 organisations, marking the 400th anniversary of the Authorized Version and providing an opportunity to highlight and renew the impact of the Bible. A sub-initiative is the viral Bible. Five Bibles were launched among the audience this evening with the aim of having people mark them, pass them on, and track where they get to. You can read more about it here.
And so to Elijah.
After a brief summary of how Elijah handled the Mount Carmel confrontation, Greg Haslam focussed on the aftermath. Breakthrough was followed by breakdown and 1 Kings 19 tells the story of the emotional collapse of the prophet and how God restored him. Elijah became the victim of acute spiritual attack as Ahab abdicated his authority and Jezebel called the shots, toppling Elijah from the top of Carmel to the valley of despair.
Faithful servants of God sometimes experience burnout. Elijah’s came after a sustained period of success. It was triggered by Jezebel’s vicious attack. Despite what had gone before, Elijah ran. When we hit a low point, things get out of proportion.
Greg suggested that there is a Jezebel spirit. There are echoes of her in the story of Herodias and John the Baptist and she is named in the church at Thyatira. It is an assault on God’s authority. All Jezebels want to silence God’s word.
Without friends we do stupid things. Elijah handled his problem badly, going on the run (a total of some 350 miles). At first he took a servant with him (but servants are not the same as friends). His interactions with God were marked with anger.
- He voices the fact that he has given up.
- He is suicidal – wants to die, but is afraid to die.
- He compares himself negatively with others.
But in response , he finds the warm hearted response of God.
He allowed him to sleep, fed him, allowed more rest. God was just working to get Elijah back to basics – not back to battle.
He took him to a place of special memory. He asked him what he was doing there – a question to trigger reflection. And he speaks in a whisper. This is God in control: he does not need to shout. He is quietly sovereign in spite of all appearances.
Then he renews Elijah’s call and gives him some true friends.
At the end of the evening, the prayer ministry team stood at the front while quite a few people came forward for prayer. Later, the prayer tent was full as others came to seek help.
Tomorrow evening sees a change of speaker as we will welcome Vaughan Roberts from Oxford for the remaining evening celebrations.
Oh – Ian Hannah’s memory of New Horizon? Back in 1994 when he proposed to his wife. As Ken Clarke made sure New Horizon knew what was happening. Ask Ian to tell you about the flowers.