(1 Kings 19:9) “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?”
(1 Kings 19:13) “And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”
The background of the text is that Elijah had gone to the Wilderness (1 Kings 19:4) to request that he might die. He said to God, (1 Kings 19:4) “…he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of God, if not the greatest in the Old Testament, was running for his life from Queen Jezebel. The queen had vowed to kill Elijah for killing the 850 prophets of Baal and of the groves. Later in this chapter, Elijah related to God (1 Kings 19:10,14) that he was the only one left in Israel who was standing for God, and now they are seeking for his life. In so many words, Elijah told God: I am tired of the battle; kill me and get it over with. We have lost, God. The enemy is going to win.
Elijah had gone to sleep under the juniper tree after his request to die, only to be awakened two times by an angel, who gave food to strengthen Elijah. After the second feeding by the Angel (1 Kings 19:7), the angel told Elijah, “…arise and eat, because the journey is too great for thee.” Elijah did arise and eat; and he went forty days and forty nights to Mt. Horeb, the Mount of God. However, the Bible says in (1 Kings 19:9) that Elijah went into a cave and lodged there, instead of coming to Horeb, the Mount of God. Then the Word of the LORD came to him; and God said unto him, “… WHAT DOEST THOU HERE, ELIJAH?” Then, Elijah gave his answer to God, (1 Kings 19:10). As mentioned in a previous devotion of this series, Elijah, had the “I” syndrome. It is un-thinkable after (1 Kings 17 and 1 Kings 18) that God’s mighty servant could get into the state of self-pity that Elijah was now in. Every servant of God needs to take heed to the story and condition of Elijah in (1 Kings 19).
Then, God commanded Elijah to go upon the mount before the LORD (1 Kings 19:11-12), the place Elijah was supposed to go when he left the Angel in the Wilderness; but, he had not, rather he hid in a cave. At first, Elijah did not go out of the cave as God began to demonstrate His Power to Elijah in the Wind, the Earthquake, and the Fire (1 Kings 19:11-12).
Finally, Elijah wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entering in of the cave. 1 Kings 19:13d records, “…There came a voice unto him and said, What doest thou here Elijah?” Note, this is the second time that God asked this of Elijah. Be assured believer, when God repeats His Word two or more times to His child; get ready, child of God, the subject is heavy and weighty for the child of God.
When God asked Elijah the same question the second time, Elijah gave God the same poor lame excuse of why he was in the cave. After the second time asking Elijah the same thing, God handed down Elijah’s marching orders for the final lap of his earthly journey. The remaining part of the story reveals that Elijah did not argue with God, or give God any more excuses of his past actions; but, he obeyed God until the end.
The focus of this devotion is upon the question God asked Elijah, “…What doest thou here Elijah?” The answer to this question must be faced and answered by every servant of God who is to the place of giving in and giving up to the enemy of the cross of Jesus Christ. One might think after the Angel fed Elijah twice, and then in the strength of two meals to have the strength to go 40 days and 40 nights on a journey to see God – that Elijah would have by then been convinced that God was up to something good in his life. But not so for Elijah, he went and hid in a cave, and really did not want to come out, even when the Word of the LORD came to him in the cave. But, even rebellious Elijah, as he heard the wind tearing the mountains apart and the earthquake shaking the earth violently and the all-consuming fire was taking place; knew that he had better go out and speak to God.
This is a sad, sad state for a servant of God to find himself in – when God begins to speak to His servant, and His servant really doesn’t care what God thinks. However, God revealed to Elijah His Mighty Power of Judgment in the wind, the earthquake, and the fire; and that without mercy from God, Elijah and any other servant of God could be destroyed in one word from God. “But God” Who is rich in mercy! God reached out to Elijah the second time to get Elijah’s attention, “…What doest thou here, Elijah?”
Reader, if you are where Elijah was (in a cave hiding from the enemy of the cross; afraid to stand up in the battle against the evil of this world; and using the “I’ syndrome as your defense), then you are in a deplorable state as a soldier of Jesus Christ. What answer do you have for Christ concerning your cave of hiding? Have you justified it to yourself enough that you can face God and know that you are in the right? Is your excuse iron-clad? Surely, you do not believe that you can out-smart God, or that God cannot see right through your sad and lame excuse for giving up as a soldier of Jesus Christ.
Thank God that the success of God’s Plans and Purposes are not dependent upon God’s servants; especially, the servants that think they know more than God knows. Thank God for His tender love, mercy and grace to His rebellious servants; even when His servants are unlovable, rebellious, and know more than He does about His plans for the life of the servant.
As long as the giving-up servant is not revealed to be the quitter that he is; as long as he is hiding in the cave, and has not been called out by God – he is usually the first one in the church to condemn others that are falling by the wayside. Always be suspect of those in the church who are so ready to condemn others’ faults and weaknesses; and yet, they are sitting on the sidelines of service.
Notice, God did not condemn Elijah for his spirit of desiring to quit and die; but, quite the contrary. God merely reminded Elijah of the power of Almighty God:
Elijah, there is none like Me; and what I have purposed, will come about (Isa. 46:9-11). Elijah, I Am the Creator, Controller, and Consummator of all things. Elijah, don’t ever forget Who I Am; for I Am that I Am. There is no enemy that can defeat me. Elijah, I Am Omnipresent (I Am everywhere); I Am Omnipotent (I Have all power in heaven and in earth); I Am Omniscience (I Have all knowledge and know all things); I see the end from the beginning.
When God reminded Elijah by the wind, the earthquake, and the fire of His Power, and His ability to judge and destroy; then, God had Elijah’s attention. Many times, God allows His child to go into the cave to be reminded of who the servant is and Who God is. Also, the servant must be prepared to not rely upon his strength, or intellect, etc.; but, once again be pointed to the sufficiency, not in the servant, but in the Master.
The next thing God did for Elijah was to reveal Himself again to Elijah in the “…the still small voice.” God was saying to His servant Elijah: Yes, I could take your life; but, I want to reveal My love and mercy to you. Elijah, you don’t know, nor can you even see, the beautiful things I have prepared for you on this last mission for Me.
Every servant of God who is reading this devotion and is in at this very moment in the cave desiring God to take his life; or scared to death that the enemy is going to kill him – be careful to take note of the love and mercy God gave to His servant Elijah; even in spite of what Elijah thought he wanted. Servant of God, read the rest of the story about Elijah. God had Elijah to anoint two kings; call Elisha, the prophet that would take Elijah’s place; and prepare Elisha for his future role as the prophet of God that would do many miracles and stand in the gap for God to Israel, Judah, and other nations. Then finally, God appeared to Elijah and Elisha in the Chariot of Fire with the horses of fire; which parted Elijah and Elisha, and took Elijah up to heaven in the whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11-13). Yes, Elijah was raptured to God without passing physical death.
In closing, the servant of God does not know the plan of God until either God reveals His plan, or the servant lives out God’s plan for the servant. Either way, (1Co 2:9) “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Therefore, the servant of God is never to take his life into his own plans and fit them for his selfish ends. The servant of God is to “walk by faith”; that is, the servant of God is to walk in the mind of Christ until the end, as did the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 4:7). The servant of God is to (Pro 3:5-6) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Thank God, that God deals with His servant – not according to the servant’s attitude and actions – but according to His Plan and His Purpose. Thank God, that God is ever mindful of the frailties of His servant, and has purposed to show His love and mercy to His servant when the servant is in the cave of unbelief and disobedience. God knows of His servant’s need of encouragement, and of God’s strength to finish his course that God had planned for His servant. Thank God, that He has left his servant the Written Word of God, which is filled with His promises to the servant. It is in the Word of God he will feed upon the heaven Manna in order to make the journey ordained for him; he will know that God would never leave His servant (Heb. 13:5c); and that nothing can, or will, ever separate His servant from the love of God (Rom. 8:31-39).
Thank God, that Elijah did not get his prayer request to die in defeat. But God, in His mercy, took Elijah home to God being accompanied by a Chariot of Fire and horses of fire IN VICTORY; instead of taking Elijah home being blown away by the wind, or swallowed up by the earthquake, or burned in the fire in defeat.
Hallelujah, to the Lamb of God. And Elisha said in (2 Kings 2:12) when he saw Elijah taken up in the whirlwind, “And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof…” The end for Elijah was not only for Elijah to go up in Victory; but, it was as a witness to God’s prophet Elisha to have the witness of God’s Goodness and Mercy on Elijah. Amen and Amen!