Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Scripture References

Scripture references on this site can be viewed by hovering your mouse cursor over the reference to see a pop-up window with the verse displayed. If you wish to use a different version of the Bible, you can make that selection below.

 

Bible Options

 

If you have Logos Bible Study Software installed, you can check Libronix to bring the scripture reference up in Logos.

Tue, Feb 17, 2009

53 - Fear or Faith? [b]

1 Kings 17:2-6 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:58 mins 57 secs

Fear or Faith. 1 Kings 17:2-6

 

When we think about what Elijah said to Ahab we realize that it was tantamount to a capital crime, an act of rebellion against the king. Elijah has challenged him with the existence of God at a time when Jezebel the wife of the king was sending out all of her prophets and priests of Baal and they are killing believers. So this took a tremendous amount of spiritual courage on Elijah's part to take this stand because he knew that it immediately put his life in danger. He challenges Ahab with this truth and then disappears.

1 Kings 17:2 NASB "The word of the LORD came to him, saying." And in the next section there is a command and a promise and a provision of God. There are three tests in this chapter. The first is in the first seven verses where we see God providing the means of life. He is going to teach Elijah that God is the God who supplies the source, the means of life. He is the one who sustains him; He will provide food and will take care of everything. There is a second test, also dealing with the area of logistical grace, of God's provision of that which sustains us, and this is the first part of the episode with the widow of Zarephath in vv. 8-16. A third tests deals with the death of the widow's son, and Elijah prays to God and brings him back to life. All three of these tests are designed to strengthen Elijah in his confidence in God and his trust in God's ability to answer his prayer, so that when he goes to Mount Carmel in the next chapter and prays to God in the midst of that tremendous conflict with the priests of Baal and Asherah, a life or death struggle, he has the confidence to trust in God and to take his stand.

God does the same thing in our lives, taking us through various tests, various circumstances in order to teach us about His power, His provision, and that he is faithful to His promises and we can trust Him in the most unusual circumstances.

The theme is the epistle of James is how the believer is supposed to handle adversity in life. James 1:2, 3 gives us a New Testament framework for understanding the training that God is taking Elijah through. It is the same kind of training that He takes us through. The principles for passing the tests and the training and getting out of the boot camp and going to the next stage are the same. What we have today is because of so many different factors in our culture that are related to the inability to handle suffering and adversity. We just want to keep it away from everybody; we don't want anybody to go through hard times. We think it is just terrible to go through suffering, and the lessons that people learn, believer or unbeliever, by going through difficult time and adversity are what is necessary to build character, what is necessary to teach integrity, what is necessary to get away from this instant gratification syndrome we have gotten into in western civilization, and to get outside of our own little self-absorbed world and begin to think that maybe there is something more significant than our own personal pleasure and that life isn't all about me. The principles that we have to learn to get through hard times, through difficulties, are the same principles that Elijah had to apply while he was waiting on the Lord to provide for him and take care of him on a weekly basis while he was going through the economic crisis in the world around him.

There are all kinds of trials or tests that we get into. The word for a test is the Greek word peirasmos [peirasmoj] and it is one of those words that can have two senses to it. It is a test or it can be a temptation. A lot of people have trouble understanding the difference, especially when we look down to James 1:13 NASB "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." It is the same word. We have to understand that there is a distinction between an objective test and subjective temptation. This is what James is trying to explain in vv. 14, 15 NASB "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death." It is an internal attraction. James says in 1:2, 3 NASB "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." You can count it all joy because you know something. Once again the emphasis is on knowledge of Scripture, knowledge of God, His promises and His plan; and because you know something, a principle. The only way that we can grow strong in the spiritual life is to go through tests. Each time we have a volitional decision where we have to choose to apply doctrine or not, to apply a promise or not, to handle it our way of God's way, that is a test. A test doesn't have to be something big. Each and every time we face a choice where we can either apply the Word and do it right or try to do it on our own; that is a test. The word "endurance" is hupomone [u(pomonh], it has the idea of hanging in there, staying in fellowship, continuing to walk by the Spirit, applying the Word, even though we might have a tremendous desire for my sin nature to be angry or worried or fearful, whatever it may be. That endurance is part of the maturation process. James 1:4 NASB "And let endurance have {its} perfect result [teleois/teleioj/ maturing work], so that you may be [become] perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." We lack nothing because God's Word and God's power is sufficient for each and every situation.

James 1:5 NASB "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." The solution of prayer. When we are in a circumstance and we need to figure out how to apply God's Word we are to ask God to give us wisdom and insight into applying His Word. This is a great promise: God will give the information we need from, His Word to handle the circumstance. But there is a condition [6] "But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." This is trusting God; the faith-rest drill.

Another promise that goes with this is 1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." Again, it is talking about temptation testing, the same word as James 1:2, peirasmos. Generally, our tests are the same kind of tests that everybody else takes. Jesus didn't go through every single circumstance and situation that we go through but he went through every kind of situation and circumstance that we go through. In contrast to the vagaries, uncertain ties and instabilities of life God is stable. "… beyond what you are able" is one of the most misunderstood, misapplied, misinterpreted promises. It does not mean that if we are going through some test God must think we can handle it. This verse is saying that if we are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ God has given us everything we need to handle each and every situation in the Word. We can handle a situation by taking the principles that are in the Word and applying them to the circumstance, no matter how tough it is. "…way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."  It doesn't mean to get out from under it but that you can bear it; to escape the self-destruction of handling the problem through our own sin nature and our own resources. We are able to escape the negative, subjective stress-producing results of the circumstances because we apply the Word; therefore we are able to endure it, hang in there is the midst of those circumstances. That is what God is teaching Elijah. It is wisdom training.

The book of Proverbs is designed to teach basic skills and principles for living, so that we can live a skilful life. That is the meaning of wisdom in a Jewish sense. It is not abstract philosophical knowledge which is what the Greeks refer to by sophia [sofia]. Chakmah in the Hebrew has to do with producing something of beauty and value. The first time we run into it is the Old Testament is when it is used in relation to the skill of the craftsmen who constructed all the furniture and the ark in the tabernacle. When we transfer that to spirituality we go through the process of learning basic facts about the Word, basic knowledge. Then as we believe it the Holy Spirit transfers it to our soul, it becomes what is referred to as epignosis [e)pignwsij] which is a fuller or usable knowledge. But usable knowledge isn't used knowledge; it just has the potential for spiritual growth. When it is applied and when we practice that application again and again and again and apply it in our lives we develop a skill. That means preparation. You think about it ahead of time and realize that the Word of God has a priority, and so right now you are going to take the time to listen and study every single day, to learn as much as you can and apply as much as you can on a consistent basis. Once the crisis comes it is too late. 

Wisdom personified. Proverbs 1:20 NASB "Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square." Wisdom is depicted as out in the public square, walking up and down, inviting everyone to come and listen. [21] "At the head of the noisy {streets} she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings." All of that is to depict the availability of doctrine that God has made available and will provide it for anyone who wants it. [22] "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? ..." This applies to those who are not skilful in applying the Word or borderline on naivety and not being in the realm of reality. "… And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing And fools hate knowledge?" In negative volition you convince yourself that you are right, you don't need God, and so you are suppressing truth in unrighteousness. Somebody who rejects the Word is a fool. [23] "Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. [24] [But] Because I called and you refused…" You didn't go to Bible class, you didn't learn, you thought you would just turn up on Sunday or Easter or Christmas with the nod-to-God crowd. "… I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; [25] And you neglected all my counsel And did not want my reproof; [26] I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread comes. [27] When your dread comes like a storm And your calamity comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. [28] Then they will call on me…" It is too late now. It is a process; you have to learn it and take the time and  discipline to apply it. "… but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,  [29] Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD. [30] They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof. [31] So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way And be satiated with their own devices. [32] For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them." They will reap what they sow; they will experience the consequences of their bad decisions.

But there is always a future. Proverbs 1:33 "But he who listens to me shall live securely And will be at ease from the dread of evil." Notice: Without fear of evil. That is really the basic issue that Elijah is going to face and that we all face when the physical resources of life disappear. The way to handle fear is always through the use of a promise, and the promise that God gave Elijah is expressed in 1 Kings 17:4 NASB "It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there." God is saying the same thing to him as He says to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12: "My grace is sufficient for you." Ravens were an unclean bird in the Mosaic Law, and it meant you couldn't eat a raven.

The response of faith.  1 Kings 17:5 NASB "So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. [6] The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook." God provided for and sustained Elijah is the same way that God provides for and sustains us. He does this through His Word. We all need to be reminded of the faith-rest drill because when times get tough the doctrine in our soul, the promises we know, have memorized and drilled ourselves on are the principles that are going to get us through the difficult times. Step one is to claim a promise—know what the promise is, rehearse it; we are basically holding God to His Word. It is mixing our faith with the promises of God. Step two is to think through the promise, the doctrinal rationales, the thinking that is embedded in the promise. That allows us to reach certain conclusions about what God is going to do. It is what we call appropriating the doctrinal conclusions. But it starts with knowing the promise; we don't just skip to the conclusion itself and say we know a doctrinal principle. Jesus quoted the Word to Satan in the wilderness, again and again and again.

Illustrations