ELIJAH, A MAN OF LIKE PASSION
"Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."
The basic tendency of people is to evaluate the good characters mentioned in scripture as being super people, superior people and separated people who are not able to identify with the ordinary populace. This would not have been the case with Elijah. Should this generation see Elijah as he appeared in scripture he would be avoided because of his unusual appearance of being a hairy man with a leather girdle and of all things, eating locusts and wild honey.
The scripture records no less than eight miracles in which Elijah was directly connected; 1) the stopping of rain, 2) the widow's meal barrel, 3) the fire upon fifty-one soldiers, 4) the fire upon fifty-one more soldiers, 5) fire upon the rebuilt altar, 6) the opening of heaven with rain, 7) the raising of the widow’s son, and 8) the dividing of Jordan.
It might be thought that Elijah, being a man of such qualities, was not susceptible to adverse circumstances; however, the opposite is true. He was a man with problems simply because he was born of a woman. The scripture states that Elijah was a man of like passion, which would indicate that he was similarly affected by circumstances even as others; he was affected by the flesh; he was affected by the world and he was affected by the devil.
The next few paragraphs will concentrate on some of the areas in which Elijah was similarly affected.
First, he was affected by being detested (hated): Ahab had tolerated Elijah until he and his kingdom were affected by the absence of rain, caused by Elijah. There was no nation or kingdom that Ahab overlooked in his search to find Elijah and destroy him. The hatred of Ahab placed Elijah in constant danger of losing his life, a condition of which most believers cannot identify.
Second, he was affected by deficiencies: he faced daily necessities. For some time, Elijah camped out by a brook, drank brook water and ate whatever was delivered unto him. Elijah did not have two freezers, a refrigerator, shelves filled with canned goods or a credit card, just in case. His daily necessities were just as real as the necessities of today. It seems that Elijah was appearing to be more normal than was expected.
Third, he was affected by drawings: he felt temptations and allurements just like others. The Lord had commanded him to stay by a brook, but the brook eventually dried up and he must have felt the temptation to depart and seek his welfare elsewhere.
Fourth, he was affected by death: the son of the widow died. No doubt, Elijah had a respectful love and care for the widow who had prepared for him until the famine ended. Now those he loved had experienced a death in the family. He grieved, even as others who had experienced such sorrow.
Fifth, he was affected by derision or sarcasm: The account of Elijah on Mount Carmel, while in contention with the prophets of Baal and the grove, brought out a sarcastic side that had not been revealed previously. He began to mock the false prophets for their god’s failure to answer their cries. Sarcasm is probably a hidden trait within each member of the human family. Sounds like Elijah was getting more normal with each consideration.
Sixth, he was affected by depression: the scripture records Elijah sitting under a juniper tree requesting the Lord to let him die. The reason for his request is that he said he had simply had enough. Depression is defined as a sinking spirit, dejection or a state of sadness with a lack of courage to pull yourself up. Doesn’t most of the human family relate to Elijah’s feelings?
Seventh, he was affected by dullness: he simply became insensitive to the Lord. While sitting under the juniper tree, an angel from the Lord appeared unto him with instructions to arise and eat. When he arose he found a fire with a cake upon it and a bottle of water. As he was commanded, he ate and drank and then, shockingly, he laid down again as if the angel was not even present. He had truly become dull regarding the presence of the Lord. This response is so common to believers who are facing difficulties.
Eighth, he was affected by delusion: while hidden in a cave, the Lord came to him and inquired as to why he was there. Elijah’s reply revealed a delusion about himself that bordered on self-righteousness. He informed the Lord that he was the only remaining servant of the Lord and his life was now in jeopardy.
Ninth, he was affected by dread It is hard to believe that a man like Elijah was a man affected by fear. He feared the religious power of Jezebel. After having slain her false prophets, he received a threat from Jezebel stating that his life would be eliminated. He feared the rejecting power of the people. This fear was probably one of the reasons he was in the cave. He also feared the royal powers of Ahab, who had sent for him the third time to come to meet him. The Lord gave Elijah a word that stated, “go down with him: be not afraid of him.” Elijah had just destroyed a hundred and two of Ahab’s henchmen and he was not in a hurry to see Ahab. The statement of the Lord was revealing that within the heart of this great man was hidden an element of fear.
If Elijah was so much like the rest of the human family, how did he remain an effective and powerful prophet?
The answer to this question is found in James 5:18, “And he prayed again…” The word again has the idea of something that is oscillating or doing it over again. It is the same idea as an oscillating fan; once empowered, it will continue the process over and over again until the power source is disconnected. This process is illustrated in 1 Kings 18:42 and 43 when Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel and placed his face between his knees. Although First Kings did not say that he prayed, the book of James did. After he had prayed, he gave instructions to his servant to look toward the sea, supposedly looking for a sign of rain. This process continued seven times; in other words, he prayed again.
The secret to Elijah’s powerful life with all the like passions he faced was simply, he was like the oscillating fan, he kept praying again, and again, and again, and again, and again. AMEN!!!
As a preacher of the gospel for over fifty years, I have seen many precious people overtaken by the like passions and then dropped off the scene. Our Lord instructed his believers in Luke 18:1 that they should always pray and not to faint. Jesus was saying, pray again, pray again and again. Jesus told Peter to watch and pray that he enter not into temptation, yet Peter found himself asleep instead of praying again and before the night was over he had denied the Lord three times.
Dear reader, what are the like passions you are facing which are enticing you to pray no more? Please receive the Lord’s encouragement to pray again; don’t give up, the answer you desire may very well already be on the way. PRAY AGAIN, PRAY AGAIN AND AGAIN.