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 (Living Waters 1986 Spring)
Before Elijah Went Up Mount Carmel
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S.K. Yang


Elijah, in Hebrew, means "The LORD is my God." Indeed, as a prophet, Elijah demonstrated this steadfast faith in God through his personal living and service for the LORD.  When Elijah was taken up to Heaven, Elisha cried, "My father, my father!  The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" (II King 2:11, 12).  Though he worked during a sinful period in the history of the Kingdom of Israel when the Israelites worshiped idols and drifted away from God (I King 16:29-33), Elijah served the LORD faithfully.  It was through him that the faith of the nation was restored.  Moreover, because of Elijah's prayer, God again sent rain upon the earth after three and half years of famine (I King 18:39, 41-46).  Truly, Elijah was one of the most powerful prophets in the history of Israel.

The work done by Elijah on Mount Carmel was great, but the training and the trials Elijah went through before he went up to the mountain were really the foundation of his success.  A good vessel will serve to do good work.  In order to be a noble vessel like Elijah in the house of God we must study what he went through before he carried out God's work. Then we will be equipped ourselves, ready for work.


            You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.

            -I King 17.4-

Elijah proclaimed to King Ahab the curse from God, that there should be neither dew nor rain three years.  After that' God commanded Elijah to hide himself from the wrath of Ahab by the brook Cherith.  The brook Cherith is at the east side of the River Jordan in the wilderness, but God wanted Elijah to receive the first phase of his discipline there.  The very fundamental idea which we must establish before we work for the LORD is to free ourselves from the bondage of material needs.  There are two phases to our lives - flesh and Spirit -and they are at war against each other.  What the flesh desires is visible, beautiful, and fragrant which will satisfy the senses.  What the spirit pursues is invisible, spiritual, and eternal.  Most people will live by the desires of the flesh though they really wish to be spiritual.  To make progress in the Spirit we must learn to subdue our fleshly needs and pleasures.

Day and night we labor for our physical needs.  Are such needs absolutely necessary?  We need to have discernment about this.  God sent Elijah to the brook Cherith in order to train him to live a frugal life, drinking the water from the brook Cherith, and eating whatever the ravens brought to him.  He did not know what or how much lie would have tomorrow.  But God commanded him to do this and he obeyed.  Worldly enjoyments are just vanities.  Paul stated, "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom 12:2).  The renewing of our mind means that our concept must transcend beyond the world.  Remember we look not to the things that are seen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Cor 4:18).  This is the basic attitude that a Spiritual Christian must have towards the world.  He lives in the world but is not occupied by the world.  Through Spiritual eyes he can see the invisible.  Like Paul, he counts everything in the world as refuse seeing only the surpassing value of Jesus.  To acquire this kind of understanding one must undergo spiritual discipline.  God sent Elijah to the brook Cherith to learn to live a life with minimal material needs.

IN THE HOUSE OF A WIDOW (I King 17:8-24)

            "Arise, go to 7-arephath, which belongs to 5idon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you."

            -1 King 17:9-

After the brook Cherith had dried up, God commanded Elijah to go to a widow in Zarephath.  This is the second phase of Elijah's discipline.  Being human, Elijah actually encountered great temptation.  Many heroes have failed because of their lust of the flesh.  Many vessels have been defiled because of failing into temptation of desire.  "You shall be holy, for I am holy," said God.  In order to be used by God, one must be purified from all that is not worthy in God's sight.  For many days, when Elijah stayed in the widow's house, he proved to be a holy man worthy to be used by God.  By the brook Cherith, he trusted God to send the ravens to him with his food.  But, in the widow's house, his faith encountered a higher test.  He was asked to believe that God would be able to bring something out of nothing.  By the brook Cherith, it required only Elijah himself to trust in God.  But, in the widow's house, he was required to convince others as well as himself to trust God.  We are God's chosen ones to proclaim His wonderful deeds.  How holy are we?  How much are we convinced of God's power?  How much do we believe God's promises?  If our deeds are not worthy of what God has called us to do, how can we lead others?  If our faith is not deeply rooted in God, how can we convince others to rely on Him?  If our hope is not assured, how can we bring the light to others?

After a period of peaceful life, the son of the widow became ill.  The illness was so severe that the boy finally died.  The widow complained that it was because of Elijah that her son died.  Knowing this was another trial from God, Elijah took the boy to the upper chamber where he lodged.  He stretched himself upon the boy three times and cried to God.  With such deep, profound, and consistent prayer, the boy was revived.  To be a servant of God with power, we must learn how to pray.  Prayer is the source of the power and our best weapon to fight for the LORD.  From this experience in prayer, Elijah actually equipped himself to be able to go up to Mount Carmel.  No one attains the perfection of a Christian overnight.  No one receives God's power in one or two prayers.  It takes self-realization plus consistent praying and pursuing.  After the boy was revived, the widow said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is true." (I King 17:24).  Thus, Elijah was ready to carry out God's mission on Mount Carmel.


            "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mt 16:24

It is our desire to do great work in the house of God.  But it is more desirable in the eyes of God that we prepare ourselves to be a noble vessel worthy of carrying out His work.  Before Elijah went up to the Mount Carmel, he endured all the tests.  He was disciplined to minimize his daily material needs, to learn that one does not live by bread alone but also by the words of God.  He succeeded in the test of holiness ready to give his body as an instrument of righteousness.  He also learned the power of consistent and profound prayers.  All these disciplines and trainings carried him up the mountain.