Summary: God comforts Elijah at Mt. Horeb with words of comfort and strength.
8.13.23 1 Kings 19:9–18 (EHV)
9 He came to a cave and spent the night there. Then the word of the LORD suddenly came to him, saying, “Why are you here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life.” 11 Then the LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is passing by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains and shattered rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind came an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a soft, whispering voice. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak, and he went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then a voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of Armies, but the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking to take my life.” 15 Then the LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came and go to the Wilderness of Damascus. When you get there, you are to anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16 You will also anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah as prophet in your place. 17 Whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill, and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. 18 But I have preserved in Israel seven thousand whose knees have not bent to Baal and whose lips have not kissed him.”
Hear God Whisper to Your Fears
Running away seems like something a little child would do. Put the little satchel on a stick and walk out the door. Get two blocks down and realize, “That was a dumb idea.” Go back home with your tail between your legs. But Elijah wasn’t a little kid. He was a grown man. And he was a man’s man. He wasn’t a chicken. Jezebel had been hunting down God’s prophets before this happened. She had a track record of murder. Just previous to this story, Elijah had a showdown with the prophets of Baal, called down fire from heaven, and then ordered the death of 450 prophets of Baal. But once that happened, Queen Jezebel was ticked! Instead of repenting, she vowed to have Elijah dead within 24 hours. So Elijah ran. He ran for a long way, hundreds of miles, to the point of exhaustion. He had good reason to be afraid, facing more danger than any of us have ever faced.
Elijah wasn’t only running FROM Jezebel, he was also running TO the Lord. Elijah went on a mission to go to Mount Horeb, the same mountain range as Mt. Sinai. This is where the Lord had appeared to Moses in the burning bush. It’s where He provided water to the Israelites in the desert. It’s where He gave the Ten Commandments from the fire and smoke on top of the mountain. The LORD had a track record of being present at this mountain range.
And there’s something to be said for what Elijah did. People run from their problems all the time. They have problems at home, so they run to the bar, or they go fishing, or shopping. They try to hide from their responsibilities on the golf course or a thousand other ways. That kind of running doesn’t help one bit. Those things don’t provide any long lasting solutions. When you are worried and troubled, how many of you think, “I need the Lord’s Supper. I need to get to church. I need to pray. I need to read my Bible.” Why not run to the LORD, the One who redeemed you, who knows you better than you know yourself, who loves you? You don’t have to run hundreds of miles and look for a revelation from God on top of a mountain. You can run to your shelf and open up the Word. You can run to church and soak in the sermon and the song. You can run to the sacrament, and receive the body and blood of the Lord. That’s what Elijah was doing.
Notice how gently the Lord approaches Elijah, with a simple question. “Why are you here, Elijah?” It’s not as if God didn’t know why Elijah was there. He saw him run. He fed him on the way. But He wants to give Elijah a chance to express all of his frustrations to the Lord. He lets Elijah do it twice. This is the God who says to us, “Call upon me in the day of trouble.” Express your burdens to the Lord. Lay your heart out to Him. Even though He already knows, He wants you to talk to Him as you would your closest confidant. He is listening intently and eagerly, no matter what it is. Prayer is so important for us, not just because God listens, but also because God ANSWERS. He isn’t like talking to a stone. And He is more than a counselor who just listens and feeds back to you what you said. He is attentive and interactive. He ACTS on our prayers too.