1 KINGS 19
4 But he himself went a day's journey [derech yom] into the wilderness [midbar], and came and sat down under a juniper [broom] tree: and he requested for himself that he might die [his nefesh to die]; and said, It is enough; now, O Yahweh, take away my life [nefesh]; for I am not better than my fathers [avot].
But Elijah in his despair got things a little out of proportion. He took too low and narrow a view. There are no failures with God. All is foreseen, All is part of the plan. Most of the problems are just to develop us.
God was still in control - His plan would succeed. The whole weight of the problem did not rest on Elijah's shoulders. He was still just a servant of God, just to do what God said, and leave the concern about the outcome to God.
But we find God was very gentle and compassionate with him. God fed him and showed care for him and gave him time to come to himself, and manifested Himself to him in both power and love.
God gave him not just food as such, but a fresh, hot cake baking on the coals-food still bearing the evidence of living, loving preparation and care.
All have these periods of reaction and discouragement, especially after a great effort and a great manifestation of zeal that suddenly is ended, perhaps unexpectedly and not entirely satisfactorily.
It is very comforting to see how the great characters of Scripture have had their times of stress and spiritual exhaustion, and to see how God has borne with them and brought them through - to labour in joy and zeal again.
"He requested that he might die" (1 Kgs. 19:4).
He was taking himself too seriously. He was presuming to tell God what was best.
He had had a job to do and had done it. It had not turned out as he had expected, but there are no mistakes with God. Only God can judge what is success and failure. Present, external results mean nothing.
And only God knows when a servant's work is done. Some have prayed to live when it was time to die. And some have prayed to die when it was time to live.
Both were misguided and unwise, and forgetting that God always knows best, and it is best to leave everything to Him. Only God Himself knows what He expects and what He is working out in us.
Disappointment seems to have been the great problem. He expected great results from great effort, and there were none.
Who are we to get discouraged if things do not go as we planned, or if there seems to be a lack of results in our efforts - just as if our puny little efforts really meant anything in the vast scope of eternity?
He ran away - right down through Judah - to Horeb (Sinai) where God had manifested Himself in power and glory, and where the holy covenant had been made between God and the people through the great mediator Moses - where the nation had been born in glory and in hope.
Why did he run there? Because it seemed like everywhere else there was evil and corruption and failure. There was a place of holiness, away from it all, the Mount of God.
Bro Growcott - Yahweh Elohim Liveth.
10 And he said, I have been very jealous for Yahweh Elohim 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.
He had stood up alone against all the ruling power of Israel. He had fearlessly denounced the king to his face; forced a national showdown with the forces of Baal; and discredited and destroyed Baal's prophets.
Yet now he fled for his life, and hid, and had to be corrected and persuaded by God.
He, the great and zealous champion who had accomplished so much, and through whom the mighty power of God had been manifested; at whose word the heavens had withheld their rain for three and one half years-he gave up, and lost heart, and wanted to die-the great prophet who stood with Moses and Christ at the transfiguration.
There is both comfort and warning in this. He had done all he could-withheld rain-brought down fire from heaven-manifested God's power-exposed and destroyed prophets-still the evil power was in control and was totally unmoved by all the divine manifestation.
He had been fearless; but he fled, lonely and discouraged. Something was wrong in his outlook. He was very jealous for God, but took the whole matter too personally. He had counted on and set his heart on reform.
James says Elijah was a man "of like passions" as we. How true this was! There are no automatic heroes. We tend to expect the old prophets to be automatically and effortlessly strong, as if they were some super race.
This is how we excuse ourselves from manifesting the enduring, suffering faith that they manifested.
But the weak - and God can only use the weak, those who have sufficient wisdom to recognize their weakness - the weak are made strong and kept strong, only by constant effort, constant prayer. This is the record of the faithful.
"Out of weakness they were made strong."
This, and this alone, is how they-
"Subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of aliens" (Heb. 11:33-34). *
13 And it was so, when Elijah [Eliyahu] heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle [aderet (cloak)], and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave [ mouth of the me'arah]. And, behold [ hinei], there came a voice [kol] unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah [Eliyahu]?
Who told you to leave your post of duty, just because of your personal feelings? What happened to your work for God-your joy and zeal and faith in the Lord?
And there was a mighty wind, and an earthquake, and a consuming fire, but God was not in any of these. These are destructive things. God uses them, but He is not in them.
These are but the negative side-necessary because man is evil, and evil must be punished and destroyed. Man in his folly forces God to bring evil when He desires to bring good-
"Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, therefore the Lord bringeth upon them the great river, the King of Assyria" (Isa. 8:6).
We foolishly force God to punish us.
But God is love. God is in the still small voice-the gentle voice of a loving Father's instruction and comfort for His children. This is the real essence of the purpose. The other-the wind, the earthquake, and the fire-is but the passing background of travail through which the still small voice is leading many sons to glory.
Elijah should have known this. It was the seven thousand in Israel who had not bent the knee to Baal that counted. They did not show in the general evil picture, but they were there and God knew them. All others were but dross.
We can see why Elijah, in his discouraged flight, should be drawn to Sinai-why God would lead him there.
He was taken right back to the beginning, the glorious beginning, and was shown a broader view.
He was assured that sin would be punished, and that the purpose would not fail, and that a faithful successor should carry on his work, and Elijah would know that that work would go on and on in the earth-the still small voice of holiness and victory amid all the wind and earthquake and fire of evil and failure.
Jehu was the earthquake, as Hazael king of Syria was the wind, and Elisha was the fire, and the seven thousand faithful were the still, small voice.
If we but keep the right perspective, we can never get discouraged, we can never think of failure. In God's sight there was no failure.
There is never more than a remnant, but that remnant is all-important to God, and He is ever watching over it, though it may sometimes appear that He leaves it alone in the darkness, as He appeared to leave Job-to test him to the uttermost and bring him forth like gold.*
*Bro Growcott - Yahweh Elohim Liveth.
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.
... there have been all along the dark centuries and generations some who have been generated by the Word of God. The work has received a certain feeble revival in our own day, but there is nothing to give any satisfaction.
The only instrumentality in operation (namely, the power of appeal to reason on the basis of the Scriptures) is ineffectual against the high fortresses of human prejudices and vested interests that rear themselves on every hand to the enslavement of the respectable multitudes.
Very little has been done, so little as to be invisible in the general situation of things, and probably very little more will be done. It is likely that the muster-roll is nearly finished, and the moment ready for the Judge to step forth to inspect the result. The result, though meagre in our age, will be glorious in its totality, for the whole number from Eden downwards will be great.
Bro Roberts - Invited to the Son's Marriage