“And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:9-10
I don’t want to be too hard on poor Elijah here; after all, he is among the greatest prophets in the history of Israel. He was important enough that he didn’t even die like the rest of us; he was carried to heaven on a flaming chariot! So, Elijah is quite a big deal. We have sort of talked about whether Elijah’s trip to Mt Horeb was God-approved or not; as we read through this passage I think I find myself fairly firmly in the “not God approved or commanded,” camp on this. When God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” I can almost hear, “Elijah, why are you here on this mountain instead of continuing on with the mission I had given you?” Elijah’s response is what really seals my thought on the matter. Not to sound flip, but his response sounded a bit like, “But, what about meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, God?”
We ought to not be shocked by this, or too judgmental about it either; when you are king of the hill, so to speak, it is important to remember that everybody not on top desperately wants to unseat you from your place. Not only should we cut Elijah a bit of slack, but we ought to understand that, in the right circumstance, that could be any one of us.
Standing strong for God can be tiring. Elijah had done exactly as told for a few years, and when things reached their climax no one could deny that the prophet had come through grandly. Undoubtedly, Elijah was simply tired. Elijah may have simply been shocked that suddenly, after all this time of God seemingly taking care of every need, that out of the blue this woman Jezebel wanted to kill him. Maybe that was a shock to the prophet.
All of that notwithstanding, it does seem Elijah did something that we should all be careful of; he seemed to have become quite fixated on himself. Not to be overly harsh, but maybe Elijah got a bit full of just how he fit into God’s plan. He was quick to remind God of all that he had done, and just as quick to remind God about the failure of others. He even seemed to think he was the sole remaining faithful person in God’s service.
Friends, serving our Lord can be a lonely place, especially if one takes a position that is not popular. It is not unusual for those doing brave service for God to feel isolated and even abandoned. God is going to teach Elijah a lesson, and it’s a lesson for all of us to use. Stay tuned.