He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” – 1Kgs 19:10 NIV
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Elijah had just displayed the enormous power of God by praying to God for restoration, after he had pronounced that there will be no rain except at his word and this was so for a period of 40 months – 1Kgs. 17:1; 18:36-38. In the course of that restoration, he had issued a directive which was instantly executed, that all the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah be gathered and slaughtered (1Kgs. 18:40), probably in revenge for similar act by Jezebel on the Prophets of God – 1Kgs. 18:4. This information got to Jezebel who obviously was not too interested in the restoration of rain as much as the death of all those prophets. She decided to fight back by seeking the death of Elijah who on hearing of the decision of Jezebel, ran for his life ( 1Kgs. 19:1-3) just as he did when he decreed that there will be no rain. He seemed to have the habit of running at the very first sign of danger.
He had this time, ran to Beersheba and ensuring a distance equal to a day’s journey between himself and his servant, he decided to take a rest under a broom tree where he spent the whole night praying that his life should be terminated – 1Kgs. 19:4. He had had enough, he concluded, but that was not God’s view. As far as the Almighty God was concerned, there was still work to be done.
Like the Almighty God will always do, knowing that there was work to be done, he sent an angel to energise him, which he wasted no time accepting but went back to being spiritually cold. His reaction to a similar gesture, on the second occasion, of the angel was to travel for 40 days in the direction of Mount Horeb, where again he went to into a cave and decided to sleep. He had spent almost 4 years eating and sleeping and he was probably not aware that it was time to receive empowerment for work.
His response to the enquiry of the Almighty God as to why he was still idle after his empowerment is the foundation scripture for today’s devotion and it can be summarised as follows:
1. He felt fulfilled that he had been zealous for the Lord. The tone of that statement will mean that, there is no need to be more zealous than he has already done.
2. He felt lonely and powerless since God’s people had
a. Rejected God’s covenant.
b. Broken all the altars dedicated to God.
c. Killed all the prophets of God.
3. He probably thought it was his smartness that has enabled him escape been killed and so, he is better off not exposing himself to any further danger.
God’s reaction to the comment of Elijah was really very sad and an experience that every Christian should avoid by all means and they are summarised as follows:
1. He instructed him to go back. By implication, from that moment on, Elijah was rejected by the Almighty God. He was no longer in the plan of God going forward – 1Kgs. 19:15.
2. Like the case of Moses, he it was that will choose his replacement who in this case was Elisha, son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah – 1Kgs. 19:16. One can only imagine the pain of Elijah not only due to loss of his position with the Lord, but having to be the one to choose a replacement whilst he is still alive, and in such circumstances.
3. God humbled him with the information that he was not the only one remaining as He, the Almighty God still had 7,000 prophets who were still very loyal to him – 1Kgs. 19:18. The comment of Elijah with regards to his being the only remaining prophet, must be the most upsetting one for the Almighty God because, if indeed, it is true that he was the only remaining prophet of God, he should have thought of the state of things if God did not have any representation among his people. That did not matter to Elijah as all he thought about was his own safety, which actually could only be assured by this same God that he was letting down.
From that point onwards, the clout of Elijah started waning until he finally faded completely. He was still going to do that same task he was running away from but with his tenure fast going to an end, just like the case of Moses.
The Christian must always realise that to be chosen by God for a role is a special privilege that should never be taken for granted. Backing down from a role He chose you for is, you letting Him down completely, and fear, especially of being killed, will not be an acceptable excuse for letting him down, after all what is the advantage of calling your self a Christian when your living is not for Him – Phill. 1:21. It must be made clear that no one can take the life of one whom God has not permitted to be killed, and even when they can kill the flesh, it will never be possible for the enemy to kill the spirit, so why fret – Job 1:12.
That set back you are experiencing may just be the result of your refusal of his schedule for your life. You will be lucky if He is willing to give you a second chance as He obviously hardly gives a second chance in such circumstances. Note always that the reward is not for those who start the work, like this case of Elijah, but for those who finish the race well – 2Tim. 4:7-8. Avoid refusing His Call, entertain no fear about your safety and you can be sure of a good reward, not only in this world but in the world to come. May that be your testimony in Jesus name. Amen.