Summary: A look at Elijah and the events on Mount Horeb as recorded in 1 Kings 19.
Lesson on 1 Kings 19 by Rodney Langley September 2, 2011
Introduction and Background
Elijah was a prophet of God who proclaimed the word of God during the reign of the wicked king Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. In the previous chapter, we see Elijah going up against the prophets of Baal in a contest to see who the true God is. This is recorded for us in 1 Kings 18:16-46.
Elijah had given a great demonstration of faith in God. While the prophets of Baal whooped, hollered, and maimed themselves, Elijah simply prayed to God and God heard and answered his prayer. Elijah then had the people slaughter the prophets of Baal. This was in part reprisal for Jezebel’s killing of the prophets of God, but also death was the penalty for the worship of idols as described in Deuteronomy 13.
I. Jezebel Threatens and Elijah flees
In 1 Kings 19:1-5a, we have the threat made by Jezebel on the life of Elijah and Elijah’s reaction to that threat.
It is amazing that the bold, faithful Elijah so quickly turns tail and runs away when threatened by Jezebel. But it also shows his human nature. Even this great prophet, this great man of faith, had times of doubt and fear just like you and I do from time to time. Elijah flees into the desert and falls down beneath a tree and cries out asking God to take his life. Elijah is depressed because he has stood alone against the wicked prophets of Baal and all it has gotten him is the queen seeking his execution. He feels like he has failed in his mission to turn the hearts and minds of the people back to their God. With Jezebel still essentially in control, he felt it would not be long before she had restored the worship of Baal.
II. God Takes Care of Elijah
In 1 Kings 19:5b-8, we find God taking care of Elijah. God sent his angel to comfort and strengthen Elijah for the rest of his journey. He was awakened to find bread and water. This gave him strength for his journey to Mount Horeb. He would travel for 40 days and 40 nights. This is the same time mentioned for Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18) and for Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2,11).
God provides for the needs of his people. This reminded me of the manna that fell from heaven for the Israelites when they were wandering in the desert. It also reminded me of Jesus words from Matthew 6:25-34 that if we seek first the kingdom of God, all these things will be given to us as well.
III. Elijah at Mount Horeb
In 1 Kings 19:9-14, we read about the interaction between God and Elijah. God first asks him what he is doing there. God did not send him there and apparently Elijah had not taken time to inquire of the Lord what he should do, he just fled to Horeb. Elijah answers God by saying that he had been zealous for the Lord and that Israel had rejected God and put to death all of the prophets of God and that he was the only one left.
God then tells Elijah to stand on the mountain because he was about to pass by. First, there was a great wind that tore through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Third, there was a fire, but God was not in the fire. Finally, there was a gentle whisper. Elijah went out to hear God. The voice again asked Elijah what he was doing there. Elijah gave the same answer once again, but this time with a different tone in mind. The first answer was almost an accusation that God had left him to face the enemy alone. The second answer reaffirms the truth, but acknowledges that God had been with him all along.
God is mighty and powerful. He had demonstrated his power in the showdown with the prophets of Baal and now he is showing his power in the wind, earthquake, and fire. But God’s voice was quiet and gentle. This made me think of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
IV. God’s Instructions to Elijah
In 1 Kings 19:15-18, God gives Elijah his further instructions. Elijah’s time had not yet come and his mission as God’s prophet was not complete. God told him to anoint the next political and spiritual leaders of His kingdom. He was to return the way he come and anoint Hazael king over Aram and Jehu king over Israel. He was also to anoint Elisha to succeed him as prophet.