The remainder of these is new material, as in the past I have ended this study with Elijah fleeing to Beersheba in fear of Jezebel. They are going to be substantially shorter, as I no longer feel I have to write 2000 words to make a point. Enjoy!
1 Kings 19:5-8
And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
So, when we closed last time, we see a different-seeming Elijah than we have in the past. He had gone from a bold prophet facing off with hundreds of the prophets of Baal, to a scared prophet hiding away because Jezebel said she would kill him. As we open, Elijah had fallen asleep under the juniper tree under which he had stopped to beseech God with his despair. As this occurs, Elijah is about a days journey from Beersheba in the wilderness.
So, did Elijah really want to die, or was he just being dramatic? It seems that if he really wanted to die that, rather than running from Jezebel, he would just stay and let her kill him. Why exactly did the prophet go to Mt Horeb anyway? In every other occasion, we see God issuing very specific instructions to Elijah to go to the places he went. He was told to go hide in the very first cave he spent that year in. He was told to go find the widow woman who would sustain him for yet another length of time. Finally, Elijah was specifically told to go meet King Ahab and his prophets on Mt Carmel. We see…nothing from God in reference to this seeming side trip to Mt Horeb. Did God know this would happen? Of course, He did! Yet, maybe this was Elijah’s doing.
Why Mt Horeb? Well, Mt Horeb is just another name for Mt Sinai, and obviously, this has great importance to any believers from the Old Testament time period. Did Elijah pick this because of that great significance, or did God pick it for the same reason? Either way, that location certainly would have had vast symbolic meaning for Elijah. This is interesting; From Beersheba, Mt Horeb was no 40-day trip; it was about a 200-mile trip for him. Again, the symbolic nature of 40 days as a remembrance of the original event on Mt Sinai seems notable.
But, none of that is really the point here, so let’s move on. Friends, God cares, understands and provides for us even when we falter in our service to Him. Elijah losing his focus and having a “moment,” was not the best option; the best option would have been to stay strong and continue with whatever mission God had next for him. Elijah did not, just like sometimes we don’t either. God was not done with Elijah, but God apparently knew just what Elijah needed. We see later that God pointed out that the prophet was far from alone as a servant of the Lord; He could have just let Elijah have his wish and die and called one of the remnant to pick up where Elijah left off. He did not.
God knows what is really in our hearts, and I think He must have investigated Elijah’s and known his heart was right. Elijah wasn’t trying to shirk his work; he wasn’t staging some rebellion of disobedience against God. He was just a tired child of God, with a right heart, who needed a hand up. God’s work will do that to us all sometimes, yet just like for Elijah, God stands by to offer us a hand up if we falter while our hearts stay in the right place.