In response to Elijah’s obedience and the people’s repentance, God sent the rain that ended the three-year drought. Even before a drop began to fall, Elijah instructed his servant: “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’” (I Kings 18:44b, NLT). Ahab heeded Elijah’s warning and made a beeline for Jezreel.
“When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: ‘May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.’
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died’” (I Kings 19:1-4).
Elijah may have been a prophet, but he was also human – we might need to remember that when we get down on our pastors who are also very much human. Jezebel’s threat so terrified Elijah that he hotfooted it eighty miles south to get away from her. Elijah thought his act of bravery in challenging the false prophets would net him a time of peaceful existence. But clearly that was not to be. Instead, he was on the run for his life.
Note Elijah’s words: “I have had enough, Lord.” Been there, done that; haven’t you? Felt the weight of the world on your shoulders and just wanted to go home to glory and get it over with. That’s where Elijah was; and God knew it.
“He lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, ‘Get up and eat!’ He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.
Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.’
So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. There he came to a cave, where he spent the night” (I Kings 19:5-9a). (NOTE: Mount Sinai is also called Mount Horeb.)
Elijah had just witnessed the awesome power of God, yet he, like the children of Israel, found himself wandering in the wilderness, scared to death of Israel’s evil queen. The angel instructed Elijah to eat and drink or else “the journey ahead will be too much for you.” Brothers and sisters, here’s a word for all of us. When we neglect our time in prayer, fellowship with other believers, and in the Word of God, we run out of steam. Out of spiritual nutrition. The road ahead seems too much for us. And sometimes we feel we can’t go on at all.
That’s not the time to give up; that’s the time to tank up on the Living Water and Bread of Life. Elijah obeyed the angel’s words and “got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength… for forty days and forty nights.”
All of us will one day find ourselves struggling in the wilderness. Stay in the Word; stay in church; and “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17, NASB). You’ll discover a strength that will sustain you through whatever you’re facing.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, ESV).
“Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10b, AKJV).
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates