Phil Johnson has an excellent message posted online about the topic of Biblical manliness, using I Kings 17 specifically and the account of Elijah in the wilderness as a prime example of a manly Biblical figure. Living in the wilderness and surviving on the water of a drying creek and whatever the ravens delivered definitely counts as roughing it as far as I'm concerned. In discussing the topic of "defeminizing the church", Pastor Phil points out the obvious fact that there are no "soft, effeminate" heroes of the faith. Even Jesus, often portrayed as the blue-eyed, meek-and-mild peace-lover, would in fact often provoke arguments and challenges to others, and wasn't afraid to bundle together a whip to drive out the money changers. So we read how Elijah really stands out as one of the "tough-guys" of the Bible, wearing fur and leather and living in the woods under a juniper plant (which Pastor Phil describes as a scratchy, avoidable plant you wouldn't normally want to be under.)
With Elijah we see him initially appear on the scene, confront Ahab and pronounce no rain for three years. But then, instead of going into any other sort of action, he is then sent out to live three years in the wilderness, completely cut off from culture and society (in a situation similar to that of others in the Bible who also spent a measure of time in wilderness isolation, such as Moses and Jesus.) To us, this may look like wasted opportunity and wasted time to our carnal eyes, but this time in the wilderness was a time of trust, and a time of private instruction. Often the outworking of God's providence can seem to work to detriment in our eyes, but as was the case of Elijah, God used this time to develop and prepare Elijah for his ministry work. From this time of isolation, Elijah emerged with faith stronger than ever.
We can often question why God would work through situations and scenarios that we don't understand, such as trial and persecution, but God's providence often works in situations we do not understand to help develop and unfold our character, and to further strengthen us for His service.
Other Phil Johnson sermons