Video series by Dr. John B. Youngberg (author).
The Book’s Emphasis— Family Relationships and the Cross
The focus of this book is the Elijah Message with emphasis on the Innocent Sacrifice, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His Cross. The book is also, to large degree, family oriented. Why? Because the Elijah Message is an important family message, especially to those living during the time of the three angels’ messages. The following five points give evidence of the family connections.
- The crisis in Elijah’s time was Baal and Ashera worship. This amounted to indiscriminate sexual behavior. Sex was an act of worshiping their gods. The Ashera prophetesses plied their trade in their groves and temples. They were temple prostitutes. It was Satan’s direct attack on the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” On Mount Carmel, God, the Family Maker, interposed to rescue His people Israel from the spell of Satan, the family breaker.
- Integral to Baal and Ashera worship was child sacrifice. When the people had an important request to make of their gods—rain, good crops—they would offer a child on the altar to impress their gods and obtain a positive answer.
- Malachi 4:5–6, “And he [Elijah] will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”
- Author, Ellen White, quoted Malachi 4:5–6 in her classic book, The Great Controversy, 369, and applied it to family reconciliation. Referring to the children and parents in 1844, she wrote, “The hearts of parents were turned to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents. The barriers of pride and reserve were swept away. Heartfelt confessions were made, and the members of the household labored for the salvation of those who were nearest and dearest.”
- The prophetic reform movement of the last days is called to restore all things, particularly the two Eden institutions, the seventh–day Sabbath and marriage, with family implications. The fourth commandment, the Sabbath commandment, is the seal of faithfulness to the true Creator God expressed in the first table of the Decalogue.
The fifth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother,” is the only commandment with a specified promise—long life. The seventh commandment is the seal of faithfulness to a spouse and purity toward others, as is the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” All three of these commandments, enshrined in the second table of the Decalogue, deal with marriage and the family.
In these last days, what a privilege it is to proclaim the importance of the seventh–day Sabbath, marriage, and the family—all in question in today’s world.
Foreword extracted from the book.
“Then the Fire of the Lord Fell”
Victory of One Against Tens of Thousands
It was perhaps the most dramatic moment in Old Testament Ihistory in the battle between right and wrong—King Ahab and his retinue of soldiers standing there on the heights of Mount Carmel. Nearby, stood 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah. Beyond, on the ridges were tens of thousands of Baal devotees who came to see the battle of the gods. Elijah stood alone next to the altar of Jehovah, and he spoke his third recorded prayer in the hearing of the multitude. “Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again” (1 Kings 18:37).
“Oh God, Do Something!”—The Call
Idolatry in Israel
In this chapter, we are going to reflect on the first prayer Iof Elijah in Scripture. The Elijah story tells us he felt great anguish at the idolatrous practices surrounding his hometown and all of northern Israel. Let’s look at the historical scenario.
Ahab was king in Samaria, where he reigned for 22 years over the ten tribes of Israel in the north. Of all Israel’s kings, Ahab was the worst idolater. It was only some 56 years since the death of Solomon when the kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms, the southern kingdom with the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and the northern kingdom with its capital in Samaria. During those 56 years the northern kingdom was swept into the precipice of apostasy. Before the division of the tribes, Jehovah, the Creator God had been recognized throughout all the land of Israel as the only true God
The worship of Jehovah was now outlawed in Ahab’s kingdom on pain of death. Ahab opposed the Schools of the Prophets and tried to weaken their influence as much as possible. Not everyone in northern Israel followed Ahab in his apostasy. Obadiah, one of Ahab’s servants who continued his loyalty and worship of Jehovah, hid 100 students from these schools in two caves (see 1 Kings 18:13). However, the majority of the Israelites in Ahab’s kingdom became idolaters.
The Brook Cherith
“Then the word of the Lord came to him [Elijah], saying, Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan” (1 Kings 17:2–3). God spoke; Elijah obeyed. The exact location of the Brook Cherith is not known today. According to the Bible, it was a brook that ran across the land of Gilead in the highlands east of the Jordan River. Waterways from the highlands cut deep ravines as they flowed down below sea level to the Jordan River. In one of these ravines Elijah found refuge. The word Cherith means “cutting place.”
Just as the stream had cut down through the rock and made a canyon, a ravine, Elijah’s refuge became a cutting place. Early in his ministry, Elijah had been sent to this cutting place. Far removed from human habitation, he had time to meditate and commune with God alone. God was taking this rough-hewn prophet and shaping him into the kind of man who would be able to complete the difficult tasks that were ahead of him in his unique ministry. Not only did God care for Elijah’s spiritual needs, but He also provided for his physical needs by sending him to a place where he would have water to drink. Then God sent ravens to provide his daily food.
Zarephath – Raising the Dead
“Then the word of the Lord came to him [Elijah], saying, ‘Arise go to Zarephath’” (1 Kings 17:8–9). He did not question the Lord saying, Where did you say, Lord? Zarephath? That’s in the land of Sidon. That’s Jezebel’s hometown! When God calls, we answer, wherever He sends us.
Traveling by night, Elijah crossed the land of Israel, some 85 miles to arrive at the gate of Zarephath. There he found a widow gathering two sticks to prepare her last meal. The barrel of flour was almost empty. The cruise of oil was failing. He asked for water. He asked for a morsel to eat, and the widow invited Elijah to stay with her and her son. God had arranged this, giving her the promise that the bin of flour would not be depleted, and the oil would not be used up until God sent rain upon the land.
On Carmel’s Heights
The Battle of the Gods
All morning long the prophets of Baal cried out, “‘O Baal, hear us!’ But there was no voice; no one answered” (1 Kings 18:26). At noontime Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened” (1 Kings 18:27). But although the Baal prophets called until they were hoarse and cut themselves with lances until the blood gushed out, yet no voice was heard, no one answered or paid any attention to their cries.
Come Near To Me
Elijah’s message was a relational message. In 1 Kings 18:21 Scripture says, “Elijah came to all the people.” There is closeness here. “Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near to me.’ So all the people came near to him” (1 Kings 18:30). He was ready to prepare the evening sacrifice to Jehovah. Before he prayed, the Bible says again, “Elijah the prophet came near” (1 Kings 18:36). The Elijah Message is clear, it is a message of nearness, of closeness, of relationships with other people. It is not just about denouncing sins.
An Abundance of Rain
Our topic, On Carmel’s Heights Part II, is about the fourth recorded prayer of Elijah, for “… abundance of rain.” The Bible specifically says Elijah prayed and it did not rain, and he prayed again and it did rain (see 1 Kings 18:41–45; James 5:17–18).
You will remember that the story in Chapter 2 of this book told about the innocent sacrifice being burnt when the fire fell from heaven in answer to Elijah’s third recorded prayer. Then the false prophets were slain, and Elijah sent Ahab off to feast. He told Ahab to eat for there was the sound of an abundance of rain. No one else heard any sound but Elijah’s eyes could see things that other eyes did not see. His ears could hear things that other people’s ears could not hear.
Amazing things happened when Elijah prayed. I think also of other great prayer warriors history has revealed to us. One of the greatest who stands out in my mind is evangelist and educator, George Müller, who lived in the 1800s. In his book on Müller’s life, Arthur T. Pierson tells about the work he did for orphans over a period of more than 50 years.
When I visited his orphanages in Bristol, England, I tried to relive and understand the experience of this devoted man of prayer. During his lifetime he provided for thousands of orphans, but he never asked anyone for money to support his ministry. He depended entirely on God to provide for their needs in response to his own untiring, unwavering prayers and the prayers of his devoted staff.
May God grant the latter rain power of the Holy Spirit to our families, to our ministries, and to our churches in these final days of Earth’s history. John 16:23–24 gives us this promise, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
Under the Juniper Tree
Elijah—we could call him “the marathoner.” He ran 17 Emiles on muddy roads from Mount Carmel to the gate of Jezreel, Ahab’s summer capital, while staying ahead of Ahab’s chariot. Then he traveled by foot another 95 to 100 miles down to Beersheba, and finally a day’s journey into the desert. There he lay down under the juniper (broom) tree, totally discouraged, and prayed that he might die. “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4). This is Elijah’s fifth prayer.
There in the desert under the juniper tree he slept the sleep of exhaustion, wanting to die after running away from Jezebel’s threats to kill him. He had been sleeping for a while when an angel of God suddenly awakened him. No, it was not an enemy. It was a friendly face bending tenderly over him and saying, “Arise, and eat” (1 Kings 19:5). Elijah looked and found a cake baked on coals and a jar of water. He ate and drank. 1 Kings 19:7–8 says, “The angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, ‘Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.’ So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.”