The God of Elijah

by Earl Roberts on May 25, 2013

                                             THE GOD OF ELIJAH

Dare To Take Up the Mantle
Rev. Earl Roberts
Marstons Mills Community Church
What They Say
I’ve heard it said, ad nauseum, and I’m sure that you have as well, the oft-repeated conventional wisdom that New England is the graveyard of evangelical churches, of pastors, ministries and ministerial careers.
The most common sentiment expressed when some aspiring minister is called to a church in our area is one of pity.  This is hard ground, they say.  Churches don’t flourish here, they die.  The people are obdurate.  It must be that cold northeast weather.  Do your best, gain experience, and then look for another church in a more church-friendly area of the country.
We Say
This is the land of Jonathan Edwards, and the Great Awakenings; of John Harvard, the land of Charles Finney and D. L. Moody.  This is Phil Sherman country.   Phil Sherman, who in 1980, redeemed this property with his own money and returned it to its original purpose – the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
The question is, how do we transition from the undeniable glories of yesteryear to our current situation.  Are we like the nation of Israel who after being in the Promised Land for a few generations lamented:
“The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, "The LORD is with you, mighty warrior." "But sir," Gideon replied, "if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian."  (Judges 6:11-13)
Like Gideon, we are too often trying our best to reap a harvest while hiding, disguising, and doing our best to appear innocuous.  We don’t want to offend the Midianites because they are more numerous.  We have allowed conventional wisdom to dilute the creeds of our churches and now the only sin we truly fear is the sin of offending some or other group of people.
From last week’s sermon:  One of the instructions that God had given to Elijah when he fled to Horeb was that he should anoint his successor (God always has one, or 7000!).  He then anointed Elisha and trained him.
As Elijah was getting ready to depart, Elisha framed his future ministry thusly: 
“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?" "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied. "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours--otherwise not." – (2 Kings 2:9)
Go beyond your abilities. Unshackle God. Let Him off the leash.
In the eyes of some, there was the chance that this request could have been interpreted as an invalidation of his mentor’s ministry. It was not. It was both a compliment, and the natural outcome for someone who had been well trained.  Doesn’t everyone want their children to do better than they have?
When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel." But Elisha said, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went to Jericho. Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So the two of them walked on.”  -(2 Kings 2:1-2, 4, 6)
Woody Allen is reputed to have said that 90% of life is just showing up.  Elisha followed Elijah with dogged determination in order to be there when the mantle was passed.  He persevered in the face of negative news from his peers, and friendly advice from his mentor.
(Yes, I said that. You heard me right.)
“Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it.”Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.” (2 Kings 2:14)
“Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17-18)
Every Christian has the same access to our omnipotent Father, and He is looking for a people with whom He can communicate, commune and collaborate, to effect change in our community (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, the World). Change is no less than the will of God being done on the earth.  In real time, in our everyday lives.  It is as Jesus taught us to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mt 6:10)
Just as love is measured in “time spent”, so our desire for revival is measured in “time spent in prayer”.
Where is the God of Elijah? 
Or rather:
Where are the Elijahs of God?