1 Kings 19:1-4
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
As we left our previous discussion, Elijah had run ahead of King Ahab all the way back to Jezreel, and seemingly dropped him off at the gate of the city, more or less. As was typical of Ahab, the first thing he did was run in and tell his evil wife, Queen Jezebel, what had happened back on mount Carmel. As was typical of Jezebel, she immediately took control of things and came up with a solution. As was typical of Jezebel, her solution was simply to get rid of the problem!
When informed of how Elijah has slain all the prophets of Baal, she immediately sent word to Elijah that his fate would be the same. “By this time tomorrow, you will be dead too!” is what she informed the great prophet of. Immediately, Elijah returned to the palace and boldly proclaimed a message of repentance and forgiveness to Queen Jezebel, right? He fearlessly confronted her with the Word of God, knowing that his God would continue to protect him, right?
Since we all have the book, we know that none of that happened. For three years, Elijah had trusted God; for three years Elijah had done all that God had called him to do. Elijah had stood bold and alone against the dancing prophets of Baal on mount Carmel. Elijah had mocked and defeated(in God’s power, or course), the 450 prophets of the false god. Elijah had chased the false prophets down and killed them all. Now, when given a message from Queen Jezebel of his imminent demise, he tucks tail and runs; Elijah heads for the hills! What has happened to the great man of God?
We really do not know exactly why Elijah reacted the way he did to Jezebel’s threat, as Scripture never comes right out and tells us, We can only theorize; so let’s theorize a little bit. As we theorize, let’s consider how many of these thoughts apply to believers today, even as we do The Lord’s work.
This threat was personal; it was aimed directly and personally against Elijah. He had just been the channel by which God showcased His amazing power and proved just who He was. But think about the conversation between Ahab and Jezebel. No doubt, Ahab gave a blow by blow description of what happened, with every intention of making Elijah look as bad a possible and himself as good as possible. He told Jezebel about all that Elijah had done. The responsibility for these things had been laid squarely at Elijah’s feet; God was not acknowledged as the source for them. That must have hurt! There was Elijah, just doing God’s called work, and all of these horrible things had been laid at his feet. Does that happen today?
Elijah was tired. He had maintained focus for three long years, and had done all things God had asked of him. Think about this: that day on mount Carmel must have been a long one. This all started early in the morning, continued into the evening, and was capped by a 25 mile road march! Elijah was no doubt exhausted. How often do we push so hard in God’s service that we become exhausted?
Perhaps Elijah was disappointed. Surely he expected everybody to see the great thing God had done and react in repentance and faith. Perhaps he even expected Jezebel to react this way. Her heart, however, was so hard she did not. Have we ever been disappointed to see our best efforts, often at personal cost to us, fail when they confront a hardened heart?
Elijah was simply a human being, just like the rest of us. Elijah was nothing special; his only notable characteristic is that God called him. He tells us himself, that I am not better than my fathers. Elijah was a human, with human emotions and weaknesses. He, and any of us, can fail to rely on the presence of the Holy Spirit on our lives and slip into a slump.
It’s not far from the Penthouse to the outhouse. I used to know a fellow who said that quite often, and it is a true statement. Just like Elijah, we can all be used greatly and mightily by The Lord. Just like Elijah, even at the height of our God given successes, we can find ourselves quickly in trouble.