Before you begin to believe that God was being unfair to His own prophet Elijah here, hear this last point. I just said that God will sometimes ordain a chapter 19 despairing situation for His glorious purposes in our lives. Or another way to say it is: God will ordain and bring, by His hand, horrible things into our lives, be it pain or problems, cancers or concerns, death or disease, for the purpose of ridding us of our false idols and bring us back to Himself! Remember, it is in despair and the chapter 19’s of life where we find out what our heart really treasures and loves, and God knows these things! He will bring about exactly the right trial in our life to rid us of that which we falsely treasure over Him to bring us back to treasuring Him over and above all things. Let me show you this from Elijah, in two places and give you one final appeal:
a) His departure: Though Elijah’s ministry is done, this is not the last time we see in Elijah in the Bible. Remember, Elijah’s deepest longing is to see the glory of God ravish the hearts of God’s people, and he wanted to be used in this process! He longed for the glory of God to be revealed! Question: do any of you know how Elijah’s life ended? He didn’t die. He was taken! 2 Kings 2:11 says this, “As they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” God knew the deepest desires of Elijah’s heart, He cares about the dashed hopes and broken dreams of his prophet, so what does God do? God said, “I know my servant’s heart, he’s done. I want him here with me, go get him, and bring him home.” The man who was so dead of all hope and bereft of all his dreams that he didn’t get to see on earth during his life was taken home in a glorious whirlwind of fire and was ushered into glory.
b) But…it gets better than this. There is one other place he shows up in the Bible, any of you know where? We see Elijah again in Luke 9:28-31, at the transfiguration. For his whole existence Elijah deeply desired to see the glory of God, and now for the first time ever, he sees it, not in massive conversions, or Israel’s repentance, no, God doesn’t let him see those things. God knows there is greater glory, and if Elijah is yearning to see the glory of God, God will show him, but in the right time. Many years after God took Elijah by firey chariots, God comes and says to Elijah, “Elijah, I want you to go down on a mountain again. There’s something I have for you to see.” Do you know what he saw on this mountain? To use the language of 2 Cor. 4:6, Elijah saw the radiance and the brightness of the glory of God, in the most intense display of glory there could ever be (!), in the face of Jesus Christ! It all makes sense now.
Do you see the lesson that Elijah has learned? Elijah’s dream, yearning, longing, all of his hopes to see the glory of God and be used of God in the process never came to be. So he gave up, and finished his ministry poorly. God took him, but didn’t forget the desire of Elijah’s heart. And in God’s timing and God’s way, God showed Elijah more of His glory than he could have ever imagined seeing. He showed him Jesus.
Do you know who else got to see the transifuration? It’s interesting that Moses sees the transfiguration as well. Because if you recall, Moses got to lead the people of God to the promise land, see it before they went in, but was not allowed to go in himself. Moses’s dreams were crushed and he died. God didn’t forget this either. At the transfiguration Moses is right beside Elijah. So what? In Jesus, Moses got to see the real promise land for God’s people in the face of Jesus.