Summary: Elijah’s persecution has been echoed by many ancient prophets and modern preachers. What can we learn from this faithful messenger’s recovery from a bitter experience? Let’s look at his story in 1 Kings 19:1-21.
Elijah’s persecution has been echoed by many ancient prophets and modern preachers. Purpose: What can we learn from this faithful messenger’s recovery from a bitter experience? Plan: Let’s look at his story in 1 Kings 19:1-21.
He Arose and Ran
After his powerful confrontation with the false prophets of Ba’al, God’s remarkable intervention, and the subsequent capital punishment of these men who betrayed Israel’s God and were probably complicit in the massacre of His prophets, a time of severe depression seems to have taken hold on Elijah.
1 Kings 19:1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”
Even in the church age, a Jezebel is pictured, “who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” So serious is this sin that, even in the church age, capital punishment is called for her children (Revelation 2:18-29).
Faithful preachers today still teach God’s truth and fight modern false prophets, heresy and apostasy. Like the ancient Jezebel, modern church leaders seek to protect those who promote the worship of contemporary versions of Ba’al. The battle against idolatry occurs across the spectrum of Christian teaching, and preachers who are faithful to the Word of God are always going to be a target. What happened to Elijah is a familiar story in Christian history as well.
Arise and Eat
1 Kings 19:5 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” 8 So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
When we are in the midst of persecution, sometimes a good meal and a long journey to the mountain of God is best. Whether our message is to hill tribes somewhere in Asia, or a western church that has lost its way, we will face opposition. Whether the threat is to life and limb or status and membership in a local church, we will be hated if we preach the truth and not water it down. Whether the menace is from the progressive left, the legalistic right, or the wishy-washy middle, it will come, angrily in your face at times, and covertly behind your back at other times.
What are You Doing Here
1 Kings 19:9 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
In the midst of depression and a desire to escape for our lives, God may also come to us and ask what we are doing here. Like Elijah, we too may state that we have worked passionately in God’s service, and that God’s word has been ignored and we are being mistreated. There is nothing new under the sun.
The Lord Passed By
1 Kings 19:11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.