Summary: The price of exhaustion
Great men are dying every day and I don’t feel well. If you don’t believe that God has a sense of humor just look at the person beside you.
What happens when too much happens I Kings 19:1-18
Elijah had just experienced a tremendous victory on Mt. Carmel and I think he also had a sense of personal vindication because for the previous three and a half-years he had been on the run. He had been hiding both in Cherith and Zaraphath. He saw answered prayer as fire came down from heaven while at the same time the prophets of Baal were ignored by their god. This was followed by a revival among the people of Israel after which they took all the prophets of Baal down to the creek bed and killed every one of them. I think Elijah must have felt as though he had the world by the tail. And just when he thought he was about to see revival taking hold of the entire land he heard the deadly words of Jezebel, who said he had twenty-four hours to live. When he heard this he thought he would stretch out his time a bit by hitting the road and so he ran away.
James 5:17 says he is a man of like passions. And just to show you that he’s not the only prophet with problems we see a few others like him. In Jeremiah 20:14,15 the prophet says, “Cursed is the day on which I was born; let not the day on which my mother bore be blessed. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A male child is born unto thee; making him very glad.” In other words don’t waste any money on a birthday cake for me. I’m not very happy to be here. Or we also have the example of Job in Job 3:3-6 who said, “Let the day perish in which I was born, and the night in which it was said, there is a male child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it, let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it. As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year; let it not come into the number of months.” And so Job like Jeremiah wasn’t too happy about life on planet earth. Like Elijah they showed what they could be when God filled and controlled them and also what they were when left to themselves. So, Elijah wasn’t the first to have emotional problems and he certainly won’t be the last. He has all the same feelings and fears that you and I have. He is just like us in that he had his share of both victory and defeat.
We might have a hard time relating to him when he’s challenging the king or confronting evil but when we see run for his life we can easily say now I know what it means to be a man of like passions. He experiences the same fears and insecurities as the rest of us do. Now as I said he is a man with many of the same problems as you and I and today we want to see his problems and what he did about them.
The first thing I see is, in running away Elijah had forgotten the faithfulness of God. There were seven supernatural things that had happened in his life. The famine he foretold had come to pass. He had been fed by the ravens. The widow’s flour and oil never ran out. The widow’s son had been raised from the dead. God sent fire to consume his offering on Mt. Carmel. The rains returned at the prophet’s request. And then with supernatural power he outran the king’s chariot. But in spite of all these things happening he ran away. And we’d ask ourselves why?
I First problem: physical and emotional exhaustion. Verse 3 and 4.
a He ran from Jerusalem all the way to Beersheba, there he left his servant and went another days journey into the wilderness. As I said last week he ran about one hundred and three miles in the dry desert air. A marathon race is 26 miles 385 yards. So this means Elijah would have run the equivalent of four marathons at one time without a break. They tell us that the body loses about fifteen pounds of water from running a marathon and we have to keep in mind that Elijah is running in a hot dry climate. So not only would he be suffering from water loss but there would also be the problem of heat exhaustion. Then he comes to the end of his run and collapses under a juniper tree. He had simply pushed himself too hard. Chuck Swindoll says, “The greatest temptation that any of us face in setting goals is that we tend to set our goals too high.” I think Elijah’s primary goal was to get as far away from Jezebel as he could. His problem was, with all his running he almost killed himself. He didn’t realize it but although the body is a marvelous creation it does have it’s limitations. God’s word speaks about how we need to care for our bodies. i In I Corinthians 6:19 we are told that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. If you were entrusted by God to care for the holy temple in Jerusalem would you keep it clean? Would you make sure it was presentable? Would you care for it in such a way that others would know that this temple belonged to God? Well, I’m sure you’d say, of course I would. And so logic tells us that we are to do the same with our physical bodies. After all, these are the temples of the living God.