FAITH TURNS TO FEAR
1 Kings 19
Fire fell from the sky on Elijah's sacrifice and then rain fell from the sky ending a three and a half year drought. Elijah's call for repentance combined with God's demonstration of great power might lead one to the conclusion that this would be followed a religious reformation in Israel. The people certainly had stories to tell, but whether or not their hearts would turn to the Lord was still in doubt. King Ahab returned to the palace and told Jezebel all that Elijah had done. When she learned that her god was publicly put to shame and that her prophets were put to death, she was enraged and vowed to kill Elijah. She sent a messenger to personally deliver her vow to end the life of Elijah in less than twenty-four hours. Although it seems counterproductive to tell your adversary that you intend to kill them, Jezebel did just that, and as soon as Elijah heard it, he ran in fear. It seems that Elijah forgot what God had just done on Carmel. Elijah was discouraged, so he fled the country and traveled about a hundred miles to Beersheba where he left his servant. Elijah did not stay, and he went on another day's journey into the wilderness. Elijah was depressed and alone. When he sat down to rest under a broom tree, everything hit him at once, and he desired death. Elijah seemed to think that he would see the people repent of their idolatry and turn to the Lord. However, he was just like those who had gone before him bearing witness to the truth but seeing no revival. Elijah was exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually so he slept. Elijah awoke when an angel touched him and directed him to have something to eat and drink. When Elijah looked, he found a cake and some water. He took some sustenance and then went back to sleep. Later the angel woke Elijah again and gave him the same instructions, explaining that he need it for the journey ahead. Elijah would not eat again for forty days and forty nights, and he traveled to Mount Horeb.
What Are You Doing Here?
Elijah took shelter in a cave, and it was there that the Lord spoke to him. God asked Elijah what he was doing there. Elijah left out of fear, not out of obedience and this question would cause him to think carefully about his heart. Elijah attempts to plead his cause before the Lord, declaring that he has been jealous for the Lord while the people had forsaken the Lord and killed all the prophets. Elijah proclaims that he is the only prophet left and his life is in imminent danger. The Lord commanded Elijah to go and stand before him on the mountain. When he stepped out from the cave, a great and strong wind ripped rocks loose from the mountain and sent them crashing to the valley below, but God was not in the wind. The wind subsided, the earth began to shake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Fire fell next, but God was not in the fire. Finally, the sound of a low whisper. Elijah knew that this was the Lord, so he wrapped his face so that he would not look on God and die. God repeated the same question to Elijah, and he responded in the same way, but perhaps his tone was different. The Lord commissioned Elijah to anoint Hazael as king of Syria, Jehu as king over Israel, and Elisha as a prophet who would take Elijah's place. These three men would be the agents of God's judgment on Israel. God also refutes Elijah's allegation that he is the only faithful one left in Israel. God reveals that there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. A remnant was there, and God was faithful and just.
Elijah found Elisha while he was plowing a field with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him. As Elijah passed by, he cast his mantle on Elisha. Elijah's cloak was well known and a symbol of Elijah's prophetic office. Elijah continued his journey and Elisha chased after him. Elisha was decisive and immediately followed after Elijah. He asked that he be allowed to tell his father and his mother goodbye before he left everything to follow Elijah. Elijah granted Elisha's request, and Elisha told his parents and friends goodbye after offering sacrifices and sharing a meal with them. Elisha arose, followed after Elijah, and became his assistant.
Things To Consider:
- How does fear affect faith?
- Why do you think Elijah was afraid?
- Why do you think Jezebel sent a messenger?
- How can our physical condition affect our emotional health?
- How should Christians view depression?
- Why does a sudden change in our circumstances sometimes result in us forgetting years of God's faithfulness?
- How does the Bible address depression? Did God just tell Elijah to get over it?
- What do you think God was communicating to Elijah through the forces of nature he encountered outside the cave?
- Did Elijah repent? How do you know?
- How does God address Elijah's accusation? Do you think he found comfort in it?
- How does God mediate justice in this world?
- What does Elisha's response to Elijah bring to mind?
- Do you think it was wise for Elisha to begin as an assistant? Why or why not?