(1 Kings 19:2-3) “Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. (3) And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.”
A casual reading of (1 Kings 18:1-46) reveals the Prophet of God stood before King Ahab, and told Ahab that both he and his father’s house “have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:18). Elijah then commanded Ahab to come and meet him with the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 hundred prophets of the groves (the groves were the places that the false prophets practiced paganism or a false religion). Elijah set the stage to prove that God is the Truth, and the religion of Baal was false. (Read 1 Kings 18:21-40.) Then, Elijah prophesied that the famine of no rain (3-½ years) was soon to end, and it did (1 Kings 18:41-45). Chapter 18 ended with (1 Kings 18:46), “And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah…”
Chapter 19 presents a completely different picture of the prophet Elijah as Elijah receives word from the messengers of Jezebel (Ahab’s wife, and the Queen of Israel) that she was going to kill him. Upon hearing this message of death, he ran for his life. Now, instead of standing for God, he is running from the enemy, Jezebel.
Questions: ‘What made the difference in Elijah’s actions from one day to the next? Was he afraid of Jezebel? Or was he plainly tired of fighting the war against evil in the Name of God (Jehovah)?’ Either way, it denotes a real problem for Elijah. To reveal the depths of Elijah’s problem, see (1 Kings 19:4d), “…and 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.”
When questioned by the LORD, “…what doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9c), Elijah’s answer to God reveals Elijah’s problem, (1 Kings 19:10) “And he said I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts:
- “for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant,
- “thrown down thine altars,
- “and slain thy prophets with the sword;
- “and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
Elijah’s problem is the “I” problem. ‘God, it is only “I”; everyone has left You and are now following a false god, and worshipping at false altars, and have slain Your prophets. I am the only one left and now they are coming to take my life.’ What God had not revealed to Elijah, is found in (1Ki 19:18), “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”
Question again, ‘How can you stand for God and tell the king his sin; slay 850 false prophets of Baal; and break the 3-½ year famine on one day – and the next day, be a coward and run from the enemy, and then ask God to take your life?’ Then, to make matters worse, when questioned by God as to why he was in the cave; Elijah gave God the lame excuse, essentially, ‘God it is over; I am the only one left who is following You; and they are coming to take my life even now.’
Take note of three things;
First: The desire to stand for God; the power to perform the miracles; the boldness to face the enemy and call out his sins; and the determination to call the people of God to repentance, and to acknowledge that Jehovah is the only True and Living God (for there is none like Him; for there is no God but Jehovah, The Creator, The Controller, and the Consummator of His creation); comes not in the power of the prophet, but in the power of God Himself, living and abiding in the Prophet. Remember this, God is the Planner; all purposes and decrees begin with God, and are carried out by the Power of God. No man is the Author of the Prophet’s service for God (Phil. 2:13; Prov. 19:21). It is God’s Plan; not man’s. God’s Plan is not by the strength or desire or determination of man; but only because of God’s Will and Purpose, and through His Power and His Power alone. Elijah knew of his calling, and Who it was that had called him to be a Prophet of God. Elijah also had the witness of others that he was a man of God (1 Kings 17:24), the woman who had fed Elijah with a barrel of meal that never went dry and a cruse of oil that never went dry through the duration of the famine.
Yet, with this knowledge, and witness of other miracles by his hand, Elijah grew weary in the battle; and he wanted to quit. But, the Apostle Paul reminds the servant of God, (Gal.6:9) “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Secondly: The servant is not the one to say: ‘It is over; it is time for me to die.’ No, only God has this right. Since God is the One Who created the servant, chose and called and equipped the servant to fulfill God’s Plans and Purposes; since God set the day of birth, his characteristics, and the day of his death – then, don’t try to mind God’s business. He is well able to carry out His appointments for the servant of God (Job 14:5; 23:13-14). The servant of God is wasting time trying to tell God anything; especially as to the when the servant’s course has been completed. Remember this, the success of the mission that God sent the servant to perform is not based upon what you think, or what you see, or what you feel. But, success is based on Who God is, and the Power of God to perform what He appointed, or purposed, to be accomplished in the servant’s life, and in the lives of the people where the servant was sent to serve.
Elijah’s action to run and hide, and request to die based upon his answers to God, is the height of pride in the servant. Pride has many faces; but, it all boils down to the “I” syndrome. It does not matter if it is Elijah, or the lowest servant of God; the servant of the Lord must remember he is to daily surrender to the Sovereignty of God in all things, and know for a certainty that God has made, and will continue to make, the right decision for the servant’s life (Rom. 8:28). In summary, the servant of the Lord must never try to dictate the future to God, Who is the Future for the servant of the Lord.
Thirdly: The servant must – at all times, even on the mountain tops, for a valley is below every mountain – take heed wherein he stands; (1Co 10:12) “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Imagine you telling God when it is over. The same shoe must fit even Elijah; for the Bible says that Elijah was, “…a man subject to like passions as we are…” That is, he was a man which still battled with his flesh. The servant of Christ must take note of the deception of the indwelling flesh (Rom. 7:14-24). The flesh is where sin dwells in the servant of the Lord. The flesh is the fountain-head of all pride. One definition of pride is: looking out for self above anyone or anything; always determining what is best for self. No servant, not even Elijah, would admit to himself that he is walking in pride when he wants to give up and quit on God.
The Apostle Peter is a prime example of this face of pride, (Lk. 22:33-34) “And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. (34) And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.” Within hours of Christ telling Peter of his pride, Peter did deny Christ.
The servant of the Lord must never rely upon his own reasoning, or his short eyesight. But, the servant of the Lord must always do as Solomon told his son to do in, (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.”
Here was Elijah’s problem, and the problem of the servant of the Lord – that is the opposite of this instruction; not leaning on Christ, but, leaning on his own understanding – when he wants to give up, and even desires to die, rather than continue to wage war on the enemy of the Lord.
So, the actions of Elijah should not discourage the servant of the Lord; but, it should encourage the servant of the Lord. For it is a warning of the strength of the flesh, which is the great deceiver in the believer, and the cause of pride rearing its nasty head in the servant’s attitude and actions. Know this, Servant of the Lord: the flesh must constantly be brought into subjection to the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Cor. 10:3-5); the flesh must follow the dictates of the spirit that is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. There must be a putting off the “old man” (Eph. 4:22), and a putting on the “new man” (Eph. 4:23-24). There must be (Col. 3:1-4), seeking the Will of God constantly, and a constant denial of the flesh.
In conclusion, Elijah, and many of God’s servants at this present time, are in a spiritual and physical mess because of trying to do God’s business for their lives. Trying to be the Master and not the servant. Allowing the pride of life to control them. Listening to the flesh saying, ‘You fool, it is over. You have not won; but, you have lost. Give up, it’s over.’
Always remember (2Ch. 20:15) “And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
And always remember, the entire life and mission of the servant of the Lord is for the honor and glory of God. Then, since this is a truth; stay in the battle, and be a good soldier of Jesus Christ until Christ says it is over; not when the flesh says it is over.