Text 1 Kings 19:1-18
Context and Setting
Elijah has just finished confronting the false prophets of baal and Asherah. God graciously intervenes in history and calls His people back to His worship. Ahab returns to Jezreel and reports the events to wicked Jezebel. Perhaps Jezebel was expecting to hear how the people had followed her and her apostate husband Ahab. The news of the deaths of her prophets would have been infuriating to her! Jezebel responds true to her character when she sends an ominous threat to Elijah. She goes so far as to swear an oath on her gods that she will strike Elijah down. Elijah responds in fear–for he had good reason to fear. Jezebel had already put to death many of God’s prophets. Elijah is certain that he is next.
In verse 3 we see that “Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life.” Notice that he doesn’t pray or seek God–he flees in fear. He leaves his servant behind and goes out into the wilderness, sits under a broom tree, and asks God to take his life. He then falls asleep.
Elijah is exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Praise God for including this narrative in His Living Word! Even the faithful and miracle workers experience weariness and trials. The Bible doesn’t sugar coat the hard truths of walking with God. What are you facing in your journey with Christ? Are you growing weary in your service and walk?
I can relate to Elijah’s feelings of discouragement and weariness. Can you? Most importantly, are you willing to learn from God as He graciously helps Elijah?
God’s Responds verses 6-8
How does God respond to His weary servant? God responds with grace and presence! Notice that God doesn’t angrily confront Elijah or harshly criticize him. God sends an angel to minister to Elijah. The angel touches Elijah and provides him with a cake of baked bread and a jar of water. Elijah then physically rests until the angel comes a second time with instructions. In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus is the Bread of Life and Source of Living Water (conversation with Samaritan woman). God graciously provides for our needs! Even when we are overcome with weariness, despair, and exhaustion. The angel instructs Elijah to journey to Mt. Horeb. Mt. Horeb/Mt. Sinai is known as the mountain of God because God revealed Himself there numerous times in Old Testament. Elijah would be expecting to meet with his God there. God sustains Elijah for a 40 day/night trek with this one meal!
God’s Presence in the Soft Whisper v11-18
Elijah would have expected God to be in the mighty wind that tore rocks apart, the earthquake, and the fire–but that’s not how God revealed Himself. God speaks through a “soft whisper.” God has spoken through wind, earthquake(s), and fire–remember Moses and the Ten Commandments! Yet God also speaks through a soft whisper in our hearts! God reminds Elijah that He can speak to his spirit in ways other than dramatic displays of overwhelming power.
Why does God speak through a soft whisper? I believe that God is revealing His Gentleness and Kindness. Elijah was weary, heart broken, scared, and feeling as though his ministry was a failure. Notice that God asks: “what are you doing here, Elijah?” God was giving Elijah a chance to explain his situation. Obviously, God knows all things so the purpose of the question was to allow Elijah to pour out his heart. It was God after all who had commanded him to travel. God patiently listens to us when we cry out to Him in our moments of desperation.
God Responds with another task and mission verses 15-18
God gives Elijah instructions. God specifically commands Elijah to anoint Hazael and Jehu as kings. God provides a helper and eventual successor in Elisha. Elisha’s name means God is my helper/savior. El–means God and sha means helper/savior. Interestingly, the names Joshua, Elisha, and Yeshua (Jesus) all mean the same thing! Remember that God provided Joshua to lead the Hebrews after Moses’ death. There are parallels here that we need to consider. First, God gives specific instructions regarding leaders who will serve as His instruments of judgment upon the baal followers/Ahab’s family. Second, in verses 16-17, God gives Elijah purpose and knowledge that His purposes will come about. Baal will be defeated! In verse 18, God declares that there will be 7,000 in Israel who remain true. The number 7,000 represents a remnant. The number “7” in scripture(s) typically means completion and/or perfection. Thirdly, God will provide the person/people necessary for His mission to continue! Elijah wouldn’t have to be alone in his task anymore.
Personal Applications from Elijah’s Cave Experience
1. We will face times of despair, weariness, and tribulation when serving God. Serving God is a high calling that involves risk and cost.
2. God knows our situation and sustains us. We need to trust and obey Him knowing that His purposes will come about.
3. God cares about us! He listens and ministers to use! Cry out to Him while listening for His soft whisper!
4. Even when things seem hopeless and lost, God has a plan! Our feelings may not be the reality of the situation. We are called to walk by faith not by sight. In the end God always triumphs!
If you’ve read thus far, I hope that you are encouraged by this blog post. I hope that these truths will encourage and renew you as they have me. No one is immune from the sorrows and grief of life. I humbly admit that I have my broom tree and dark cave moments. BUT, I can testify that God has always walked with me and carried me through those dark moments. Life is about so much more than ourselves and our problems. When we are hurting it’s easy to get stuck on our present circumstances. The healing begins when we begin to look to God above instead of at ourselves. Discouragement and emotional exhaustion are real! I encourage you to surround yourself with people who love, support, encourage, and hold you accountable. If you are suffering with depression then professional help is appropriate/necessary. Often a wise counselor can help you to regain a proper perspective and work through some of the underlying issues. With the pandemic/pestilence, frequent bad news, natural disasters, personal traumas, etc, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed! Know that you are not alone and that God loves you perfectly! Please reach out to the appropriate medical, mental professionals, and trusted pastor if you need help.
In Christ and for His glory, a fellow pilgrim on a journey of faith,