1 Kings 19:10b

Sermon preached on November 11, 2007 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

One of the jokes that I love is the one where the comedian said,

"I wish I was the only man alive. That's right. I wish I was the only man in the whole world. That way I'd find out if what all those girls said about me was true."

The guy must have really been a disappointment to the girls who knew him.

I also like what David Niven said about Errol Flynn.

"You can count on Errol Flynn, he'll always let you down."

The people of Israel were like that. Remember what Moses said to them in Deuteronomy 9:24? He said,

"You have been rebellious against the LORD
ever since I have known you."

In another place (Deuteronomy 31:27) Moses called rebellious and stiff-necked. They were such a disappointment to him.

The same thing happened to Elijah. Look at him here. The people of Israel had let him down and he didn't handle the disappointment well. He's a failure in that regard. He's discouraged and disheartened. He asked God to take his life. In spite of all his faithfulness—the people of Israel didn't rally to the Lord's side and it grieved Elijah greatly. Although initially after the great contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel—the people shouted that the Lord was God—it seemed that their enthusiasm was short lived. They didn't rally to protect him when Queen Jezebel threatened him. Elijah became afraid and fled.

This passage is very important for us because it shows us that we need to react properly when other people disappoint us. Elijah here is an example of what not to be like. So let's look at what out text teaches us.

The great truth we see here is that

you need to be ready for disappointment.

You need to be ready for the fact that other people will disappoint you. If you're prepared for something there's a lot better chance that you'll be able to handle it properly. Other people are going to let you down. It's inevitable. The Israelites let Elijah down. This will happen to you as well. Other people are going to disappoint you. It will happen especially if you try to do things to help other Christians or do good in the church. Throughout your life you're going to find that people will disappoint you—it's inevitable. People in this church will let you down. People outside the church will let you down. People in your family will let you down. People at work will disappoint you. It will happen time after time.

So the first thing is that you need to be ready for it. Expect it.

We see that in the lives of so many of the saints. They let Moses down. They let Jesus down. They let the apostle Paul down. Consider
Moses. How many times in his life did the people murmur against him and God? How many times did they disappoint him? It started early in his career. Right after he went to Pharaoh and told him that God demanded that he let the people go, Pharaoh made the people's work harder. As soon as they heard that, the Israelite foremen said to Moses, (Exodus 5:21)

"May the LORD look upon you and judge you!
You have made us a stench to Pharaoh
and his officials and have put a sword
in their hand to kill us."

After the Israelites left Egypt, they saw Pharaoh pursing them and they said to Moses, (Exodus 14:11-12)

"Was it because there were no graves in Egypt
that you brought us to the desert to die?
What have you done to us
by bringing us out of Egypt?
Didn't we say to you in Egypt,
'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'?
It would have been better for us
to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"

Three days after they crossed the Red Sea they were again grumbling against Moses. Then not long after that they said, (Exodus 16:3)

"If only we had died by the LORD'S hand in Egypt!
There we sat around pots of meat
and ate all the food we wanted,
but you have brought us out into this desert
to starve this entire assembly to death."

Then later in the Desert of Sin, they quarreled again with Moses and were ready to stone him. (Exodus 17:1-4)

Remember what happened when Moses went up onto the mountain to receive the Law? What a blessing it was for him and the people of Israel. God wrote the law on the tablets Himself. We read, (Exodus 32:15-19)

"Moses turned and went down the mountain
with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands.
They were inscribed on both sides, front and back.
The tablets were the work of God;
the writing was the writing of God,
engraved on the tablets."

Yet what were the people doing while Moses was on the mountain? They made a golden calf and were worshipping it. They said to Aaron, (Exodus 32:1)

"Come, make us gods who will go before us.
As for this fellow Moses
who brought us up out of Egypt,
we don't know what has happened to him."

When Moses came down he saw the people dancing and worshipping the golden calf that Aaron made he became so angry that he threw the tablets down and broke them into pieces.

Remember how the people reacted when they sent the twelve spies into the land. Ten of the spies came back with a bad report, saying that there were giants living in the land and that they wouldn't be able to conquer the land. At that, (Numbers 14:2-4)

"All the Israelites grumbled
against Moses and Aaron,
and the whole assembly said to them,
If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!
Why is the LORD bringing us to this land
only to let us fall by the sword?
Our wives and children will be taken as plunder.
Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?
And they said to each other,
We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt."

When Moses tried to dissuade them, the whole assembly talked about stoning Moses.

It was the same with the apostle
Paul. Time after time people disappointed him. In Acts 14 we read that when he healed a lame man a Lystra, the crowd shouted that the gods had come down among them. But after Paul dissuaded them they tried to stone him to death. In 2 Timothy 4:10 he told how Demas loved the world and deserted him. Later in that chapter he tells how Alexander the metalworker did him a great deal of harm, and how, (verse 16)

"At my first defense,
no one came to my support,
but everyone deserted me."

I could go on and on. But I think the point has been established. Moses, Elijah, Jesus, the apostle Paul—they all faced situations where other people greatly disappointed them.

But it's not just Christian leaders who will experience such disappointment. Remember how Jesus said, (Luke 12:51-53)

"Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?
No, I tell you, but division.
From now on there will be five
in one family divided against each other,
three against two and two against three.
They will be divided,
father against son and son against father,
mother against daughter
and daughter against mother,
mother-in-law against daughter-in-law
and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

If you're faithful to Jesus people are going to be a disappointment to you. You will face rejection, hatred, deceit, betrayal and disappointment.

So you need to be ready for the fact that other people will disappoint you. Elijah was extremely frustrated and disappointed with the people of Israel. They hadn't responded to God's grace as they should have.

Unfortunately, Elijah did not react properly to this. He's discouraged, depressed and wants his life to end. He's had enough. It seems that he's given up on the people.

How should you react when people disappoint you? This is a question that is of great importance in the Christian life.

There are three great lessons for us here.

The first lesson we see here is that

you need to be assured that God is in control and He is working out His plan.

Elijah seemed to have forgotten that. Perhaps he thought that after the 3 and a half years drought that the people would all come back to the Lord. Perhaps he thought that after the fire from heaven that there would be no more wavering between two opinions in Israel.

But it didn't turn out that way and Elijah became discouraged.

So the lesson is also that

you shouldn't presume to think you know what God is going to do in the short term.

In the long term we know what God is going to do. He's going to honor His Son Jesus. There's going to be a new heaven and a new earth, wherein will dwell righteousness. We are going to be with God—secure, safe and happy forever and ever.

But in the short term—it will often look like things aren't turning out right. I mean, if you didn't know what happened after Jesus opened the
seven seals in Revelation—which of you would imagine anything like it. Horrors happen on the earth—horrors happen even to the saints! Yet Jesus rules!

If you're going to avoid disappointment you need to be assured that God is working out His plan.
Psalm 135:5-6 declares,

"I know that the LORD is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The LORD does whatever pleases him,
in the heavens and on the earth,
in the seas and all their depths."

If you read Isaiah 45 and 46 you'll see that God is in complete control of all things. In Isaiah 46:9-11 God says,

"Remember the former things,
those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times,
what is still to come.
I say: My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.
From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land,
a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that will I bring about;
what I have planned, that will I do."

Be assured that God rules, that no one can stay His hand. What He has determined, He will do. He is all powerful. Jesus has been exalted to His right hand. Ephesians 1 tells us that He has been given all power—that He has been exalted above all rule and authority, power and dominion and that all things have been placed under His feet.

In other words, if you're going to avoid being disappointed in this life, you need to be a
Calvinist. You need to be assured that God is in control and that He is working out His plan. You need to pray as Jesus taught you to,

"Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven."

Then you need to make your will one with God's.

So that's the first thing—be prepared for things to happen that you don't like. Be prepared for other people to let you down. But know that God is in control. It's all part of His perfect plan. He is going to bring good out of it.

Elijah seemed to think that all was lost. But it wasn't. God had preserved a remnant. There were 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. God was working out His plan. Even with the destruction of Israel by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. and the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem in 586 B.C.—God had a plan. He preserved a remnant. He arranged it all so that His Son would be born and mankind saved. God's purpose always stood firm.

So that's the first thing. Trust God. He's in control. He's working out His plan. No amount of sin and disobedience can stop Jesus from being glorified.

The second great lesson we learn here is that

you should not let the sins of others lead you into sin.

The people of Israel didn't rally around Elijah to protect him from Queen Jezebel. They didn't rally to the Lord. When Elijah received the death threat from Queen Jezebel it seems he looked around him and saw that no one was going to protect him. It seemed that he was the only one that was faithful to the Lord.

If the people of Israel had done their duty, if they had been faithful to the Lord, if they rallied around Elijah and told him that they would protect him from Queen Jezebel, if they were very enthusiastic in their worship of Yahweh—Elijah would not have sinned. He would not have become afraid and run away. He would not have become discouraged and disheartened. He would not have asked for God to take his life.

But because the people didn't do their duty—Elijah sinned. The sin of the people contributed to Elijah's sin.

We see that time and again is Scripture.
Adam sinned because Eve had sinned. Her sin contributed to his sin. He wasn't deceived when he sinned. He sinned because she sinned.

Remember the sin of
Moses that kept him from entering the promised land? What led up to it? It was the sin of the people. In Numbers 20:2-13 we read about how there was no water for the people. So they gather together is opposition to Moses and Aaron and quarreled wit them. They said,

"If only we had died when our brothers
fell dead before the LORD!
Why did you bring the LORD'S community
into this desert,
that we and our livestock should die here?
Why did you bring us up out of Egypt
to this terrible place?
It has no grain or figs,
grapevines or pomegranates.
And there is no water to drink!"

God told Moses to take his staff and speak to the rock in front of the people and that it would bring out water. But Moses gathered the people together and said,

"'Listen, you rebels,
must we bring you water out of this rock?'
Then Moses raised his arm
and struck the rock twice with his staff.
Water gushed out,
and the community and their livestock drank."

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron,

"Because you did not trust in me enough
to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites,
you will not bring this community
into the land I give them."

If the people had not grumbled against the Lord, Moses would not have sinned. Their sin led him into sin.

Don't let the sin of other people led you into sin. There are so many ways to sin when other people disappoint you.

For example, you can become proud. Like the Pharisees, when other people disappoint you, you can become self-righteous and look down on them. The Pharisee in the temple prayed, (Luke 18:11)

"God, I thank you that I am not like other men—
robbers, evildoers, adulterers—
or even like this tax collector."

Or you can become discouraged like Elijah.

David sinned and then he gave orders for Joab to make sure that Uriah died in battle. David's sin led to Joab's sin. When
Adolf Eichmann was tried for war crimes under the Nazis he said he was merely following orders. People gave him sinful orders and he followed them and he argued that he was blameless. No. If you follow sinful orders you sin. Don't let your boss or superior led you into sin.

The Samaritans sinned by not welcoming Jesus when He was on His way to Jerusalem.
James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven on them. That was a sinful desire. Jesus rebuked them and told them that they didn't know what spirit they were of. (Luke 9:54) In 1 Corinthians 5 we read that there was a great sexual sin in the church, a man had his father's wife. That led to sin on the church's part because they didn't do anything about it. Paul said to them, (verses 4-5)

"When you are assembled
in the name of our Lord Jesus
and I am with you in spirit,
and the power of our Lord Jesus is present,
hand this man over to Satan,
so that the sinful nature may be destroyed
and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord."

This is the pattern so often—someone sins and that leads to sin on the part of other people.

Don't let it happen to you. Don't let the sinful actions of others lead you into sin.

Young people, you need to be especially vigilant here. People will entice you to sin and they'll tell you that everyone is doing it. Perhaps a boyfriend or girlfriend will want you to have sex and tell you that it's no big thing, that everyone is doing it. No. That's a lie. Not everyone is doing it. Lots of Christian teens are being faithful to God. But even if they weren't—does the fact that everyone else is on their way to hell make it okay for you to go to hell? Don't let people fool you—the fact that everyone else is doing something does not make it right. As we read in Revelation 21:8,

"But the cowardly,
the unbelieving, the vile,
the murderers, the sexually immoral,
those who practice magic arts,
the idolaters and all liars—
their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
This is the second death."

Don't let the sins of others lead you into sin.

The third lesson we learn from Elijah is that

your joy, your determination, your courage, your commitment to the Lord is not to be rooted in other people and how they behave.

Elijah wanted to die. It was because of how the people reacted after his victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. If they had turned en masse to the Lord, Elijah would have been in a very different frame of mind.

You need to be careful that you don't become dependent upon the actions of others for your courage, for your determination to serve God, for your perseverance in serving Him. Like you, other people are sinners. If your joy, fortitude and commitment to the Lord is at all rooted in them—Satan will use that against you. You can't depend on others. They may let you down.

The apostle John taught us this in John 2:24f. He tells us that while Jesus was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. Then John adds,

"But Jesus would not entrust himself to them,
for he knew all men.
He did not need man's testimony about man,
for he knew what was in a man."

People are sinners. Your hope, your joy, your courage, your steadfastness—these are not to have their source in others. Those things have their source in Jesus. They are rooted in Him and Him alone. Jesus loves you. He died for you. He has brought you into God's family. He is not ashamed to call you brothers and sisters. He is preparing a place for you. You are going to reign with Him in glory. Your joy, your courage, your determination, your perseverance—is to be rooted in God and His promises. He has done and will do great things for you.

We need to learn how to react properly to disappointment—because the fact is that God wants you to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit no matter what other people are like. God wants you to show Christ living in you no matter how other people behave. He doesn't want you becoming discouraged and depressed because of the way that other people act. He wants you to shine for Him no matter what other people are doing.

Don't let your disappointment in other people rob you of your joy in the Lord.

Elijah was depressed and discouraged. Most of it seemed to be because the people hadn't rallied to the Lord's side.

Now part of this is understandable. Christian leaders can't be really fulfilled when it appears that their work is in vain. Indeed, in Luke 15:10 Jesus said that,

"there is rejoicing in the presence
of the angels of God
over one sinner who repents."

If the people of Israel had repented and turned from Baal to God it would have given Elijah great joy. It was the apostle Paul's greatest joy to hear that his converts were being faithful to the Lord. Remember how Paul expressed his delight at the Thessalonian Christians and their belief and devotion to the Lord? He said, (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)

"For what is our hope, our joy,
or the crown in which we will glory
in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?
Is it not you?
Indeed, you are our glory and joy."

Paul had some anxiety when he had to leave the Thessalonian Christians in the middle of great persecution. He was afraid for them. But when Timothy went to visit them and came back with a report that they were doing well, Paul wrote, (1 Thessalonians 3:8)

"For now we really live,
since you are standing firm in the Lord."

So some sorrow is appropriate when you see that sinners don't repent. Jesus Himself was wept over Jerusalem. He was greatly grieved because they didn't repent and turn from their sins. He said, (Luke 13:34)

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets
and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed
to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
but you were not willing!"

Jesus was grieved at the unbelief of people and the punishment that was going to fall upon them.

So, in a sense, we can understand Elijah's complaint.
But He was wrong to be so discouraged. Remember what the Holy Spirit teaches us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-20?

"Be joyful always; pray continually;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not put out the Spirit's fire…"

One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy and you Christians are never to lose that, no matter what your circumstances. Even in grief you are to mourn like those who have no hope. You are never to lose your joy.

This also means that

you shouldn't give up on people, on doing the Lord's work even when people greatly disappoint you.

Elijah had had enough. He was ready to die. It seems he had given up on the Israelites. There almost seems to be a note of hopelessness in his words,

"The Israelites have rejected your covenant,
broken down your altars,
and put your prophets to death with the sword.
I am the only one left,
and now they are trying to kill me too."

He wanted to give up. That was wrong. God still had work for him to do.

In his failure Elijah points us to Jesus.

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. But he got tired of dealing with their sin and lack of devotion to the Lord. He couldn't bring them to God. So he was ready to give up. He didn't want to deal with the disappointment anymore.

It was different with
Jesus. How many times did His disciples disappoint Him? How often did they fail to exercise faith and He had to rebuke them for having so little faith? Can you imagine His disappointment when right after telling them that He was going to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be killed—they argued about which of them would be the greatest! (Mark 9:30f) Can you imagine His disappointment when people reacted to His miracles with unbelief and hatred?

When Jesus was arrested they all deserted Him. Only Peter stayed close—and he denied Jesus three times. Peter had bragged that even if everyone else deserted Jesus—He never would! But he did.

After He rose from the dead Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene and she went and told them that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him—but they did not believe her. (Mark 16:11) Later, he appeared to two others in the country and when they returned and reported it to the rest, they did not believe either. (Mark 16:13) How often people disappointed Him!

Yet Jesus did not give up.

Consider how He persevered for you. Think of how He stayed on the cross—for hours—suffering for your sins. He endured right to the end. He stayed on the cross until it was finished, till He had paid the full price.

Christians, don't give up on other people—even those who disappoint you greatly. Don't give up on the Lord's work. Jesus persevered for you. You are called to persevere for Him.

Lastly, for those of you who are not Christians,

this passage shows you that there's hope for you.

Elijah said that the Israelites had rejected the covenant, broken down God's altars, and put the prophets to death with the sword. Yet God did not give up on them. He sent a drought to bring them back to Himself. It was designed to bring them to repentance. Yet when Elijah asked them if Lord was God—they remained silent. But God did not give up on them. He sent fire from heaven to prove He was God. After that, when they refused to protect Elijah—God still did not give up on them. When Elijah asked to die, God refused his request. God still had work for Elijah to do in Israel. One of the things Elijah had to do was appoint a successor—the prophet Elisha. God had another prophet to go and work among the people.

God hasn't given up on you. Go to Him. Find salvation in Jesus today. He's your only hope. Do it before it's too late.