I know that I usually write on women of the Bible, but today I decided to step outside the box to a man who we all know from the Old Testament, Elijah. Elijah is one of my favorite prophets in the Bible because he reminds me of myself, even though I believe him to be a stronger man of God than I am….but I am hoping to fix that.
In 1 Kings 17, we are introduced to Elijah. 1 Kings 17:1 “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” Oh, yeah. He’s the prophet that made it not rain for awhile. Well, God made it not rain, Elijah was the messenger. And of course, just as he said, it didn’t rain. Not one drop. Rivers and streams dried up, but God provided for Elijah during this time and kept him safe from the angry King Ahab and his evil wife, Jezebel. After three years of no rain, God told Elijah “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.”, so Elijah obeyed. (1 Kings 18:1) So Elijah met with King Ahab and told him that for too long he had worshipped Baal and had stopped obeying God’s commands. He had a challenge for Ahab. Send 450 of your prophets of Baal to build an altar, slaughter a bull to be sacrificed and Elijah would do the same. Then they should call on their god to burn up the offering. He let the prophets of Baal go first. They prepared their bull to be sacrificed and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon. They danced and called out to Baal. Can you picture what that looked like? I bet they did some crazy things! Elijah even taunted them, “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:27) These prophets shouted and cut themselves with swords (ouch!) until evening. Still, no word from Baal. The sacrifice was not burned. (By the way, I LOVE the way he taunts them…maybe your god is traveling? busy? deep in thought? SLEEPING? bahahahahaha)
At that point, Elijah repaired the altar for God that was Jacob’s and his 12 descendants. He dug a trench around it. He arranged wood on it and cut his bull into pieces for the offering and laid it on the wood. He then had the people fill 12 large jars of water and poured it on the offering and the wood. Hold on a minute. He just poured all this water on his offering. There is no way that wet wood burns, right? The water covered the offering and filled the trench around the altar! “At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. (1 Kings 18:36-38) If I had witnessed this myself, I would have been staring at these events with my mouth hitting the floor. WOW! Isn’t God amazing? Elijah obeyed all that God told him to do, and God showed up! Well, not that he isn’t always there, but these people who were worshipping Baal saw God show up in a big way!
All you have to do is turn one page. One page in the Bible, and this faithful man of God has a brain fart. (Okay, someday in Heaven, I promise to apologize to Elijah for that one)
Her name was Jezebel, the prophet killer. (1 Kings 19:1-2) Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
Now, Elijah had been provided for by God when all the other prophets were being hidden or were killed by Jezebel. God just showed up in a big way on Mt. Carmel. So Elijah stood up with his chest stuck out and told her to come and get me…..
Nope. He ran. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. That’s what the Bible says. Top it off, he ran into the desert. He ran for a whole day into the desert. Elijah, where are you going?? Surely you know that God has more planned for you! We’ve only known you for 2 chapters! He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.“
Wow. I wonder if he were depressed. It seemed to him like he was the only prophet left in the world. All the others were gone, and now they were after him. Christian, have you ever felt like you were the only one left? Have you ever felt despondent, hopeless, and this desperate? Elijah was so down that all he wanted to do was sleep. Jonah did the same thing while the ship he was sailing in was about to be destroyed by the storm. But take my life? Was Elijah serious? If that was part of God’s plan, wouldn’t he be dead like the rest of the prophets? It wasn’t part of God’s plan because God sent him an angel. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. Yoo hoo! Elijah! That was an angel trying to strengthen you…not only your body, but your soul! And you are sleeping again? Here’s my confession time. I am Elijah. Lots of people I know look up to me as a woman of true faith, but I am Elijah. I have seen great things that the Lord has done, but yet, I sleep, too. Literally. My son calls me narcoleptic. He might be right. Just today, he fell asleep on my bed after school. When I woke him up for dinner, he literally said, “Hey, I pulled a Mom!” I may be depressed somewhat, too lately. I haven’t really been able to put my finger on why. Is it because I feel like I am the only one at work who can do things correctly? Probably. Is it because when I see a miracle or when I see God’s hand in something, but then something else goes wrong, that I lose sight? Yes, I am sure it is that now. Like Elijah, I have seen some wonderful things that can only be God’s doing. Yet, I run from him when something goes wrong. And I sleep. Literally.
The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.
Just last week, a new problem at work hit…. I bet I had at least 3 employees that thought I was crazy … I was muttering, “Something for God to do… Something for God to do” over and over and over, to convince myself that I needed to give it up to Him.
I just love this next part. God speaks to Elijah in that cave… “What are you doing here, Elijah?“ Elijah goes on to tell God, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” I can hear God saying to him, “Be still, listen to me.” The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Okay, do you see the scene from Titanic when Rose is standing on the bow of the ship with her arms outstretched…..feeling the wind whipping though her hair and how exhilarating it is to be there? Elijah goes up to the mountain…. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Sometimes, loved ones, we just need to take the time to be still and listen. I tell the children I teach that yes, sometimes God speaks to us in a loud audible voice, but other times he is so quiet because he wants us to be still and listen for him. Let all the noise leave us. Leave all the stress behind us. Just come to the feet of our Abba Father, and wait for him. Be still, my child. Daddy is here.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God’s calm, quiet voice. What is wrong, my child?
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
Like the patient Father that he is, the LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel-all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
I have a plan my child….and like the scene in The Empire Strikes Back, when Luke goes off to face Darth Vader….Obi Wan Kenobi says, “That boy was our last hope.”, but Yoda responds with “No, there is another.” Elijah was saying, I am your last hope, Lord…but God told him there were others….7,000 others! Talk about lifting your spirits!
Please remember, when it looks like there is no hope, the Lord is your hope. Be still and know that He is God. He knows the beginning. He knows the end. He knows who wins. He does. Take some time to be still.