Read 1 Kings 19
Elijah Flees to Horeb
19 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”
3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
7 The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.
The Lord Appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 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.”
11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
14 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.”
15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
The Call of Elisha
19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
Elijah, God’s bold, faithful prophet, has just experienced God’s spectacular display of power discrediting any semblance of Baal’s divinity. However, Elijah’s boldness and God’s response fuel a rage in Queen Jezebel that prompts her threat to kill Elijah. Elijah, fearing for his life, runs long and hard collapsing in exhaustion and despair, even asking God to end his life. Though Elijah expresses his zeal for the Lord, he is discouraged in the response of his people, the Israelites. Elijah is certain he is alone. In his weakness and terror, he seems to forget God’s faithful provision and protection of the past three and a half years.
It’s an incredibly human and relatable moment we see from Elijah. Let’s focus our attention on God’s merciful actions in Elijah’s time of personal, spiritual crisis. God never leaves Elijah in his fear or exhaustion. God provides for Elijah’s physical nourishment by gently awakening him with food. God nourishes him enough for a 40-day journey. Arriving at Mt. Horeb, God converses with Elijah, asking a question and listening to Elijah’s reply.
God then reveals Himself, not in the spectacular display of power Elijah witnessed when confronting Baal worshippers, but in a gentle whisper. Even as Elijah answers with a discouraged statement, God encourages him by giving him tasks that usher in new leadership and provide for Elijah’s successor, Elisha. The Lord also assures Elijah that he alone is not the only Israelite who worships God. God has a remnant of 7,000 who are faithful to Him.
For any of us who face weariness, fear, doubt, or struggles that appear insurmountable, what encouragement there is! God is with us. He hears us. He cares. He provides. He tenderly and mercifully holds us in our times of greatest need. When our body, mind, and spirit is weak, Jesus reminds us to “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
- What do you fear that needs a dose of “remembering God’s faithfulness” in your life?
- How has God encouraged you in times of discouragement or weariness?
- With whom might you offer a word or deed of encouragement today?
Did You Know?
The Mountain of God, Mt. Horeb, where Elijah hears God’s gentle whisper is the same mountain where God revealed Himself to Moses.
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