Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 24 2019 - 1 Kings 19 – Elijah on the run & call of Elisha

At Elijah's command, the prophets of Baal had been put to death. Jezebel, having heard of all that happened on Mount Carmel was determined to kill Elijah. Elijah fled for his life. He travelled south, all the way from the northern kingdom of Israel to the southernmost point of the southern kingdom of Judah. There, at Beersheba, he left his servant and travelled on alone into the wilderness until he was exhausted. Lying down under the shade of a broom bush he asked the Lord to take his life.

But if Elijah has given up on his ministry, God has not given up on Elijah, nor is he ready to take him to glory. First he enables Elijah to recover his strength through sleep. Later, when he is woken by an angel, he is provided with food and water sufficient to continue his journey south until he comes to Mount Horeb, or Sinai, the mountain on which Moses had met with God and received the law. Elijah was convinced that God would meet with him there. But first he finds a cave and lies down to sleep.

The following morning Elijah hears the Lord speaking to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (v. 9). Elijah has no answer except to explain why he has fled for his life. The Lord tells Elijah to go out of the cave and stand on the mountainside for the presence of the Lord is about to pass by. Elijah may have remembered how Moses was hidden in a cleft of the rock on this mountain while the glory of God passed before him. Maybe he is hoping for a similar appearance of God.

All of a sudden a powerful wind blasted the mountain shattering rocks. This was followed by a powerful earthquake and then by fire. These surely were signs of God's presence just as the mountain had shaken and blazed when God had met with Moses? But no, the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire. Then there was gentle whisper of a voice; this was the Lord, come to speak with Elijah.

Elijah must learn that God does not always come in the drama of earthquake and fire. Every day will not be like that day on Carmel when fire fell from heaven. Much of the time God is present without drama and fireworks; present in the gentle voice that speaks a word of challenge and encouragement into the heart of his fearful servant.

God's word addresses Elijah again with the question, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" Elijah repeats his sorry story only to learn that he has things out of perspective. God is still at work among his people – there are 7,000 in Israel who are faithful to him. Moreover, God still has work for Elijah to do. The Lord gently tells Elijah to complete the work to which he has been called, which includes training up one who will succeed him as the Lord's prophet to Israel.

We often feel that we could serve God more effectively if he would only send the fireworks. We long for the buildings in which we meet for prayer to be shaken as they were in the book of Acts. But we need to realise that the work of the kingdom often proceeds quietly and without drama – like seed growing in a field or yeast causing dough to rise. God calls us to live faithfully by his word in the strength and encouragement of his Spirit.

Elijah's presence before God on this mountain, recalling the appearance of God to Moses on the same mountain, points forward to another mountain and another revelation of God's character. When Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain in Galilee he was transformed before them. They saw something of the glory of God displayed in the Lord Jesus. There Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus, talking with him about the death he was soon to suffer in Jerusalem. God displays his glory not by the dramatic striking down of his enemies but through the suffering of his servant on the cross. 

Creator God, your word is powerful and effective, demolishing strongholds. Show me more of your glory in the face of the Lord Jesus and help me to be faithful to your calling upon my life whatever the day may bring.

Peter Misselbrook