Thursday, April 11, 2013

CXXXVII - I Kings 19 - Elijah Faces God

The prophet Elijah has appeared in Israel during the terrible reign of Ahab, who is being made even worse by the influence of his wife Jezebel, the daughter of a Baal priest.  Elijah challenged the Baal priests to prove that Baal was indeed a true god, knowing they would fail miserably.  God displayed His power through the burning of the wet wood at the altar Elijah built on Mount Carmel.  This was a very convincing display to the many Israelites in attendance, and they slayed all 450 Baal priests who had participated in the failed attempt to show that Baal was a more powerful god.  Although Ahab was also in attendance at Mount Carmel, Jezebel was not.  In fact, she had withheld 400 priests and priestesses from the activities on Mount Carmel.

Chapter 19

Ahab reported all that had happened to his wife Jezebel.  Her response to it was to send a message to Elijah that she was going to kill him.  {At first reading, this puzzled me.  I thought, "why didn't she immediately have Elijah killed, instead of just threaten to kill him?"  One possibility was that Ahab had just witnessed the power of the Lord God of Israel.  Knowing Ahab's personality, he was probably frightened of such power, having just witnessed it.  That would have made him frightened of Elijah also, as Elijah had proven that he was God's spokesman, and Ahab would have forebidden any harm to come to him out of fear of retaliation by God Himself.  Therefore, Jezebel would have been forced to wait on revenge and settle on frightening Elijah enough to make him leave.  Which he did.}  The following verses show us that Elijah was human, and he was frightened for his life.  He knew that Jezebel was evil and eventually she would get her way and order Elijah's death.  So he fled Israel, hopefully for the safety of Judah.  But he left his servant in Beersheba (which is in Judah) and Elijah kept going in hopes of putting even more distance between himself and Jezebel.

Vss 4-->  {I began post CXXXVI by introducing the "great prophet Elijah".  I realize all of God's prophets are "great", but few have the distinction of having been placed in such devout circumstances as Elijah.  In this next passage, we're going to see how Elijah literally followed in the footsteps of none other than Moses.}  Elijah put too much on himself.  As he fled from Jezebel, he suffered
physical, emotional, and spiritual fatigue.  He even prayed (vs 4) for God to take his life, as Elijah felt he had failed God.  One evening when he fell asleep, an angel of the Lord woke him up and had provided food for him.  Elijah needed to eat in order to gain back strength.  After he ate, he lay back down.  After he slept some more, the angel woke him up again and had provided more food and drink.  Then in verse 8 God sent Elijah on a journey.  For forty days and forty nights, Elijah traveled through the wilderness that took him to Mount Horeb.  Sound familiar?  Moses traveled through this same wilderness.  Mount Horeb is where God appeared to Moses.  When Elijah arrived at Mount Horeb he went into a cave to spend the night.

Vss 9-18  -  God appears to Elijah

God asks Elijah "What are you doing here, Elijah?"  Elijah doesn't really answer His question, but rather pours his heart out to God (which is never a bad idea.  He understands).  Elijah seems to forget the great victory on Mount Carmel, defeating the Baal priests in the sight of Ahab and vertually all of Israel.  Elijah told God that he has been zealous for Him.  But Elijah goes on and admits failure.  {Elijah did not fail.}  Elijah was tired and frustrated.  Like the rest of us, when fatigue and frustration
really sets in hard, we are inclined to exagerate the negative.  He tells God in verse 10 that he is the only one left.  (He seems to forget about Obadiah and the other men of God mentioned in the previous chapter.)  On top of everything else, Elijah felt alone.  {Have you ever felt alone?  I have.   My wife and I have together felt alone.  It is a terrible and discouraging feeling.}  But God is merciful to Elijah.  And God is about to reveal Himself to him.  How many human beings have been
privileged to actually be in the direct presence of God?  These next verses have always been important to me.  God stirs up a great wind, but He was not in the wind.  God made a powerful earthquake, but He was not in the earthquake.  God sent fire down in Elijah's midst, but He was not in the fire.  Then God sent silence and Elijah knew that he was then in the presence of God Almighty.

{This passage always stirs my soul.  Please suffer me a moment to express a few personal thoughts.  I have always been one to experience my most worshipful moments feeling closeness to God during silence.  I realize we're all different.  (I don't want all the people on earth to be like me.  It would be a boring world.)  Ever since I've had a saving knowledge of our Lord and accepted His indescribable gift, I've observed people in worship, and I truly respect differences.  For example, I've observed people whose souls are stirred when they are actively involved in spiritual music.  I understand and respect this.  The older I get, the more respect I feel for human diversity, especially when it comes to matters of the Spirit.  I encourage anyone and everyone to find and experience closeness to God any way available to them.  But as for me:  Any noise, even the sounds of people singing songs of praise and worship, does not take my mind and heart closer to God.  I have always desired to allow myself deep concentration on Him and His greatness  It is at these times that I desire to express my grateful heart to Him.  Noise of any kind, even worshipful sounds, are but a disturbance when my soul seeks close fellowship with God.  I've heard very few people express this about themselves.  In fact, I haven't heard anybody at all express this about themselves.  This must be another area where I find myself in the minority.  But that's okey.  I know God made me the way I am, and in recent years He has comforted me with that knowledge.  And I am so thankful He has.  For years I experienced thoughts of spiritual inferiority because I didn't think exactly like most Christians.  (If there is any reader out there who has similar thoughts, please do me a gracious favor and let me know with a simple "me too".  I know there aren't very many of you, but I also know I'm not the only one, although sometimes I feel like I am.)  Allow me to share with you one of my greatest pleasures.  I'm not changing the subject.  Every time it is snowing heavily (which is not often here), I take a moment and step outside to just listen.  It is wonderful.  The silence is deafening.  I refer to it as "virgin silence".  Not a sound.  Not a cricket chirping.  Not a bird singing.  Not even a squirrel making noise in the twigs.  Just pure breathtaking silence.  I hold my breath and I can hear only the sound of my own heartbeat, and sometimes not even that.  My limited vocabulary cannot provide the words that can describe how wonderful this is.  More than once I have sensed God's greatness in this pure silence.  I recommend this to anyone who can place himself or herself  in this situation.}

In the remaining verse of this chapter 19 of I Kings, Elijah has a restored sense of purpose.  His spirit has been revitalized.  He receives and follows God's instructions.  He returns northerly toward the desert of Damascus.  There he anoints Hazael to be king over Aram; Jehu to be king of Israel; Elisha to succeed him as God's prophet.  Then God assures Elijah that He will reserve and protect seven thousand holy men who will have stayed loyal to God.

In verses  19-21 Elisha is introduced.  Per God's instructions, Elijah finds Elisha to anoint him as the next prophet of God.  Elisha was busy plowing his family's field.  He can feel the presence of God as Elijah approaches him.  When Elisha realized his business was now that of God, he drops what he is doing and quickly runs to kiss his father and mother goodbye, upon which he followed Elijah to be his servant and student.

Next post  -  Ahab and Ben-Hadad  


  1. Thanks for sharing this dad. I do find it interesting how God gives everyone different styles of worship. While I don't share the same way to connect with God as you, I can appreciate the manner in which others worship and connect with God. It again shows me God's creativity in His creation. Personally for me, I feel closest to God when I am deep in worship music whether I am in a crowded church with everyone praising God or just by myself with my headphones sitting on the porch by myself. That's where God meets me and confirms the relationship we have.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this with me, son. I'm so proud of you.