Friday, August 29, 2014
Mike Pilavachi: How Elijah learned friendship with God
Mike Pilavachi leads Soul Survivor which is based in Watford and holds a number of Soul Survivor weeks in the summer, in Scotland, the Midlands and on the Bath and West Showground following New Wine. He has been known to preach with his eyes open – on occasion.
ELIJAH was one of the great Old Testament prophets – mentioned 29 times in the New Testament. Mike in his Wednesday evening Area message recounted Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.
The context was that King Ahab had unwisely married Jezebel, a pagan Syro-phoenician princess, and Jezebel had turned Ahab and most of the nation against God and following Baal worship.
The Mount Carmel part of the story is in 1 Kings 18:16-39 – a film-script scene where Elijah taunts the 450 prophets of Baal with sarcasm at their failure. “And they shouted louder, but no fire came.” Elijah then brought his sacrifice, and three times had people drench it with water. As he prayed, fire came and consumed it. And the people saw that the Lord was God, and that Elijah was the Lord’s – a wonderful triumph.
The next day he came down the mountain, and after one woman threatened to sort him out, he crumbled. Elijah was afraid, and he ran. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die… (1 Kings 19:3-9)
So, what happened to Elijah, the great and courageous prophet? Why is he found saying to God, in effect: “I am on my own and I am lonely and I want to die.”?
What happened to him is a version of what often happens to us – the day after. You will get back from New Wine, you have seen miracles and you are filled with wonder with what God has done. And then some of you will have a row with your parents, or with your kids, or each other, or a problem with the neighbours – and it will feel like it’s all just drained away.
Mount Carmel is the mountain with power where we have a great experience. Down the ‘mountain’ the anointing leaves or the adrenaline goes, or both, and then it can feel difficult and we question what happened.
So the Lord begins to gently sort Elijah out (1 Kings 19:5-8). “Have a sleep and here is some cake and a drink.” It doesn’t seem very spiritual…
Mike told a story from his youth pastor days at St Andrew’s, Chorleywood, when he got spiritually depressed and asked Barry Kissell for help. He fully expected to be told to pray longer, to read his Bible more, to get up even earlier for the early morning prayer meeting, to fast and not just between meals (!). Barry read his situation differently. His advice to Mike was to go home, get a Chinese takeaway and a DVD and a bottle of wine and just chill.
Sometimes we are more “spiritual” than God is.
Sometimes God will say to you, it’s OK, you just need to rest and then I am going to take you up another mountain, Mount Horeb.
Here Elijah experienced an earthquake, and then a mighty wind. God wasn’t in those. Then, a fire. God wasn’t in any of those (1 Kings 19:11-12).
The one that must have tripped him up a bit was the fire. On the other mountain, Mount Carmel, God did come with fire. Not this time.
1 Kings 19:12-13
And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”.
Like Elijah, we have got to learn to listen to the still small voice, the gentle whisper. This is what sustains us.
Not the earthquake wind and fire…. However great any of these festivals are, they will never sustain you. It is relationship with Jesus that will sustain you.
Mount Carmel is the mountain of power. The Carmel experience won’t do it for you on its own. Mount Horeb is the mountain of intimacy.
We need both.