April 9, 2014.
Do you ever have those days where it just seems like everything is against you? Like everyone is either apathetic or antagonistic? Like you are the only one maybe? I think we all have those days sometimes. Even the prophets of old. Today I want to discuss one of my favorite stories of the prophets, when Elijah hid himself in a cave.
A little background is needed to fully appreciate this story. Elijah was a very powerful prophet. He prayed that it wouldn’t rain in Israel, and it didn’t rain for 3 ½ years. When Ahab (a very wicked king of Israel) sent men after him to bring him in, Elijah simply called down fire from heaven and consumed two captains and their 50. Elijah would go up against a multitude of 400 false prophets in a challenge to show who was the true God, in which he would show that The Lord God of Israel was the only God. You could almost say Elijah was literally on fire for God.
But all Jezebel, queen of Israel and wife of Ahab, had to do was say one little phrase:
“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.'”
(1 Kings 19:1-2)
When she said this, Elijah was so scared that he fled away into the wilderness. Jezebel must have been one evil woman. Elijah didn’t even blink when the king threatened him, but he runs away immediately when the threat comes from Jezebel. But what is most interesting to me is what Elijah does next and the conversation he has with God.
Once Elijah flees to the wilderness, he begins a 40 day journey to Horeb, the mount of God and lodges in a cave in the mountain. The Lord comes to him and ask what he is doing. Overall, this question is asked twice, and twice Elijah gives the same answer, even though God shows him a miraculous displace of natural might between the two times he asks him what he is doing. Both times, Elijah responds like this:
“He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’”
(1 Kings 19:10, 14)
Elijah thought he was the only one left. I can relate to Elijah in this feeling, as I have been there before. It seems that everyone is looking out for themselves and not caring about God or even our fellow man. It can be a bad place to be. My first devo was actually on this topic. But even though it seems so hard, I like how God responds.
Before he says anything, God gives this mighty display of a great wind, earthquake and fire, but the record makes a comment that is very interesting. It says “but The Lord was not in the wind.” Or the earthquake. Or the fire. But afterwards there was a sound of a low whisper. Some translations say a still, small voice, while others say a gentle breeze. The comment is never made that The Lord is not in this low whisper, implying to me that he was. I believe that to be God says “I am the all powerful Creator who has dominion of nature, but I am here for you, to comfort you.” I love that. But then he speaks to Elijah:
“And the Lord said to him, ‘Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.’”
(1 Kings 19:15-18)
“Get up Elijah, you have a job to do. There are still 7,000 people that are on my side. You are not the only one left.” I believe that we are allowed to question God. I believe that he wants us to ask him why. But I also believe that we need to be prepared for the answer. God is omnicient, omnipotent and omnipresent. He knows a little more than we do. So, when we see everything as falling apart, God has a different persepective and sees everything falling together.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
God will take care of us. I know it is hard to believe sometimes, trust me. But he will, as long as we are seeking his kingdom. This is our calling. May God help us all.
Suggested Daily Reading: I Kings 18-19, II Kings 2, Romans 8.
Grace and peace.