Together for the Gospel: Ligon Duncan “The Underestimated God: God’s Ruthless, Compassionate Grace in the Pursuit of His Own Glory and His Ministers’ Joy”

1 Kings 19:1-18

Some of us think that faithfulness in our Christian life will prevent crushing disappoint and despair in our lives and then when it comes we beginning to ask why. What do you do with that? We must learn from our disappointments. If you look at your disappointments, you will find out what you love and believe, what you really believe. You will learn where you really rest; you will learn where you really find your satisfaction and security; you will find what your real treasure is. We forget that God is God and that God is good. No matter on how long you have been teaching that you are still liable to forget that. We are tempted to idolatry. In disappointment and discouragement, we are prone to think that there's a greater treasure that is being withheld from us. You do not want to be in 1 King 19 in ministry; you want to be in 1 King 18.

What our your greatest losses in life? What are our unsatisfied dreams? What are your hopes and treasures that you have never obtained? Or that has been taken away from before your very eyes. We all have them. What do we do with them? How we respond to them there may be the most important thing we do?

Has God ever drawn close with the thing you desire most in hand and in a quiet voice says, "you can't have this." he then brings it before you again, "you still can't have this." No one except Moses knew the power and success Elijah knew yet no one could testify to you more about the ruthless and compassionate care of God.

Even people who believe in the sovereignty can fail to believe that the Lord is God.

Elijah was just part of a spectacular display of God's power and yet when Jezebel threatens him he runs. We don't expect him to respond in that way. We expect him to tell her, "Remember that fire from heaven thing. Who is she gonna bring to me? I'll be standing right here." What is your name mean Elijah MY GOD IS JEHOVAH. This is not craven fear; this is a disappointed man. He has had a dream throughout his ministry and we see it twice in chapter 19. He longed for a nationwide revival after the fire from Mount Carmel yet Ahab's house stood and he received the threat of death but the very next day.

You long to see converts and more people reached but you see none of that. Yet the false prophet next store has 1,000s upon 1,000s. Or maybe you have seen 1,000s of converts but your own son isn't responding to the gospel. Or maybe your ministry is going well but you long to have your wife just "like" you. These circumstance shows where your ultimate rest lies. Elijah's deepest dreams have been shattered. He runs south all the way into the wilderness

Even people who fight against idolatry can succumb to it.

The expressions of discouragement as his flight but the source was he forgot his name and his message. He forgot the God he wants Israel to embrace. His name means My God is LORD. Yet he forgot this. What he desires is also evident in how the Lord comes to him. The picture is what Elijah wants. Elijah wanted a spectacular demonstration of God's Lordship so initially brings the winds, the earthquake, and a fire. He is in the whisper. This is confirmed by the errand that God sends Elijah on. God says the revival will not happen the way you want. It will happen through a pagan Syrian, another king, and not through your ministry but not Elisha. It's like Moses who heard the Lord say, "Take a look T the promised land but you can't have it." anytime you hear a voice saying, "you need to have everything you want," you can be sure it was said with a hiss.
The Lord ruthlessly crushes our idolatry out of compassion because he wants them to have a greater joy. He is constantly weening our affections of anything and everything except themselves. Elijah's message was to give up idolatry and return to the Lord but the Lord would not let Elijah continue to preach a message Elijah did not believe. We may say all he wanted was revival but he had a way he wanted that done that wasn't God's way. As Jesus was sweating great drops of blood in the Garden, he cries out, "my God, if there's any other way, but not my will be done." This is effectively the end of Elijah's ministry. He does not end well. The ESV Study notes say

Is Elijah back on track as a result of his trip to Mount Horeb? The closing verses of ch. 19 suggest not. There is no mention here or in the upcoming chapters of Elijah's ever meeting (or trying to meet) Hazael and Jehu (see vv. 15-16). One never reads of Hazael's being anointed, while it falls to Elisha to arrange the anointing of Jehu (2 Kings 9:11-13). Even Elijah's response to God's command about Elisha seems less than wholehearted. There is no mention of his “anointing” of Elisha as his prophetic successor; he merely enlists him as his assistant (1 Kings 19:21). Yet the names of the two prophets indicate the way that God's plan is nevertheless unfolding. Elijah has all but had his day—the day when it was established that “the Lord, he is God” (18:39), which is what the name “Elijah” means. The new era of salvation belongs to Elisha, whose name means “God saves.”

The Lord says he will show Elijah his glory and he covers his face yet all he wants to do is die. 2 Kings 2:1-14 but especially verses 9-10. Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Elijah goes up to heaven in a whirlwind. God doesn't leave his soldiers on the battlefield. He cares about his servants. So the Lord brings him home in the whirlwind. Elisha has to give testimony about how brought home. It gets better. Luke 9:26-38. God calls Elijah to go down to another mountain, "There's something I want you to see. There's someone I want you to look in the face" Jesus stands before Elijah is changed. Elijah looked in the face Jesus the savior of the world. The northern kingdom wasn't enough. God wanted the entire world, people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. And that's how God works. He gets at our most fundamental idolatry and crushes them. He leaves us with nothing but himself. We go limping on our way knowing that his grace is sufficient and demonstrated in weakness.

Don't think God will use you as his servant and leave you to writhe in your disappoints. He has a plan for your everlasting joy in your declaration in the gospel for the joy of all nations who will embrace it. The Lord does not treat his servants's lives as cheap. Do not lose heart because at those very moments becomes the greatest test. Our response shouldn't be the disconsolate Elijah but "Lord this is what you have built me for." He that endures to the end shall be saved. Never a more a theological robust application to old testament prophets life was that.