Elijah was a prophet of God in Israel. He was discouraged that the Israelites had given themselves to worship Baal and Asherah. Elijah persuaded king Ahab to have a contest on Mount Carmel between the prophets of Baal and the Lord (Jehovah/YHWH). You can read about the contest in 1 Kings 18. The prophets of Baal were to select a bull, prepare it as a sacrifice, call on the name of their god, but put no fire under it. Then Elijah would do the same thing and call on the name of YHWH. The contest was that whoever answered by fire would be recognized as God. The prophets of Baal prepared their sacrifice, called to Baal, but Baal did not answer them. Then Elijah prepared his sacrifice and had water poured on the sacrifice; He prayed to YHWH who answered him with fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice, the water, the wood, and the stones. 1 Kings 18:39-40 “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!’ And Elijah said to them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!’ So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.” But Queen Jezebel was very unhappy that Elijah had executed the prophets of Baal. 1 Kings 19:2-3a “Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.’ And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life.” Elijah travelled a long way until he came to Horeb, the mountain of God where the Lord spoke to him. 1 Kings 19:9b-10 “The word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.’” Elijah was very discouraged, and he wanted to give up. But the Lord sent Elijah back to Israel and told him in 1 Kings 19:18 “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” Elijah was very discouraged and needed to be encouraged.
Have you ever been discouraged in life? I suppose that there are times that we all get discouraged. You can get discouraged when you are disappointed in what is happening in your life. Maybe you have significant health issues or other problems. Other people in your life may disappoint you by their actions. Maybe your fellowship of Christians grows smaller and maybe you feel like Elijah that you are the only one left to serve God. Whatever may be the reason for your discouragement, I want to encourage you.
What can encourage you? You can be spiritually encouraged by having fellowship with others who have similar faith to you. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome in Romans 1:11-12 “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established — that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” I find that having close fellowship and communication with others who have similar faith is a great encouragement to me. You can have this close fellowship with a spouse or other brothers and sisters in your congregation. I have had the privilege of travelling throughout my country and other countries and sharing fellowship with others who have similar faith but live far from me. We worship the same God. We have the same salvation. We sing the same spiritual songs. We experience similar problems and trials in life. We share love for each other. We are not alone. We don’t have to be discouraged like Elijah who felt that he was all alone.
I believe that one of the great purposes of the Christian assembly is to encourage each other. Satan is busy throughout the week trying to draw us away from Christ. The assembly can be a time where we encourage each other to draw closer to Christ. Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” You can encourage me to hold fast to my hope of the promises of God. You can stir me up to have the love I should have for God and for others. You can stir me up to have the good works that He wants me to have. I believe that the Christian assembly was designed by God so that we would exhort and encourage each other. Those believers who forsake the assembly do not receive the encouragement they need nor are they fulfilling their duty to encourage their fellow believers. We all need encouraging Christian assemblies. We need each other.
The Christian assembly is not the only way that we can encourage each other. Today we are blessed with other means of communication that we can use to encourage others in addition to the assembly. I cannot be with everyone who reads this message. But I have written it to encourage you. I have written it to encourage you to maintain your faith and your hope without wavering. I have written it to stir you up for love and good works. I encourage you to encourage other believers to draw closer to Christ and God. Others need you.