Ligon Duncan’s T4G 2012 Message

(Listen to the audio HERE. See the video HERE.)

The Underestimated God: God’s Ruthless, Compassionate, Grace in the Pursuit of His Own Glory and His Ministers’ Joy

I want to bring special encouragement for those here who are struggling. We sometimes think the crushing darkness will not come but then it comes.

God wants us to study our disappointments because we will learn what we really love and believe when the bottom falls out.

In our disappointments we forget God is God and that God is good. We are tempted to succumb to idolatry. We think a greater treasure has been taken from us then what God can give us.

You do not want to be in 1 Kings 19 in your ministry. You want to be in 1 Kings 18 at Mount Carmel.

1 Kings 19

What are your greatest losses in life? What are your hopes and treasures that you have never gotten or were taken away.

We all have them, but what do we do with these losses? What we do then may be the most important thing you do in your life.

They could even be good things and holy things.

The story of Elijah is a story of power and nobody but Moses had this kind of ministry and power. Yet he walked to the end of his life and had his hopes dashed. But he can testify to the relentless grace of a pursuing God.

1. Even for people who believe in God’s Sovereignty Can Not Believe God

Remember what just happened in 1 Kings 18. But now we see in verse 19 a man afraid. Did he forget what just happened? Modern commentators say he was manic depressive.

This man has seen his hopes dashed, he is discouraged, and a dream unfulfilled.

What did Elisha want?

See verses 10 and verse 14. He tells us twice why his world is crashing down around his ears.

He longed for a revival to break out in Israel and that Baal would be crushed and thousands would return to the Lord.

But gets a message that he will be dead this time tomorrow.

Elijah longs for God to be glorified and when it does materialize his world comes to an end.

Maybe you long for hundreds and thousands of conversions but you have 60 people who do not get along. Maybe you have a fruitful ministry but your child has still not repented. Maybe it’s your marriage.

It is in these moments that you learn your true god and true treasure.

2. Even People Who Fight Against Idolatry Can Succumb To It

This is a theological crisis. Elisha has forgotten what he is preaching and forgotten the God he wants the people to embrace.

What did he want?

It’s evident not just by what he said but also by the way God comes: a whirlwind, an earthquake, and a fire.

Elisha wanted a spectacular spectacle of God but God was not there in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. He is in the whisper.

Then see that God sends him back to Assyria and it will not happen to him or through him. It will happen through another.

It’s just like Moses when God shows him the promised land and doesn’t let him have it.

That is just like God isn’t it. He shows us what we always want and says “You cannot have it.” God ruthlessly crushes our idolaters because he wants us to have a greater joy.

He does it because of his compassion and grace. He weans us from our good treasures and our bad treasures so that we have nothing but God.

He will not let us preach a message that we do not believe ourselves.

Elijah had a way that he wanted it to be done and it was not God’s way. God loves Elijah too much not to bring the message “Not my will but thy will be done.”

The closing verses of chapter 19 suggest that Elijah’s ministry ends and he gets put in the shelf.

What are you doing here Elijah? This is a rebuke. Is the Lord hard? Is he being hard? No!

Even when he can’t eat, an angel cooks him a hot breakfast. Elijah didn’t even come out when the Lord was revealing himself until the small voice and even then he has a cloak on his face. He just wants to die.

2 Kings 2:9-10 – You want a double portion? What does this mean?

2 Kings 2:11 – You think God leaves soldiers on the battlefield? God goes down and brings him home through fire and whirlwind.

Even when the Lord seems to be hard he is relentlessly pursuing us for our joy. God knows his servants.

But it gets better.

Luke 9:28 – The Elijah who would not come out of the mountain is the Elijah who got to see the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ on the mount of transfiguration.

That is how God works. He gets after our greatest treasures so that we go on limping that way we may learn his grace is sufficient.

Do not underestimate God’s ways too work for your joy and good even when you cannot see it or feel it.

I want to ask Elijah what he said to the Lord when he saw the Lord and got all that he could ever ask or imagine.

That is the God we preach and proclaim. He has a plan for your everlasting joy. The Lord does not treat his servants lives as cheap. BELIEVE THAT!

Do not lose heart. In these moments how we respond is so important. Do not lose heart.

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Filed under 1 Kings, 9 Marks, God, T4G 2012, The Gospel

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