Tag Archive | Elijah

Insights from Kings

I Kings 17:24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”

Unbelievable. There she was – no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar (verse 12). Elijah told her plainly that the flour and oil would last until God sent rain again (verse 14) and they ate for many days. That wasn’t enough proof for her that Elijah was a man of God and that his word was true?

II Kings 2-4

I was reading the miracles that Elisha did and wondered why John the Baptist was the Elijah that was to come and not Elisha, since Elisha was greater. I realized that Elisha had a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and Jesus had much more that John the Baptist. I wonder why the Bible never matched Elisha and Jesus the way it did Elijah and John the Baptist. Because Jesus is matchless and no one can compare!

II Kings 7:2 Then the captain, the king’s right hand man, responded to the man of God, “Look even if the Lord were to make windows in heaven, could this really happen?”

Don’t ever speak out against a prophecy. Don’t ever say or think that what God says will happen is impossible. Definitely don’t make mock or make fun or be sarcastic – it got the captain dead.

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Elijah is Taken to Heaven (II Kings 2:1-14)

Elijah had anointed Elisha to be his successor and had discipled him.  On his last day on earth, Elijah tells Elisha to stay behind because God is sending him to Bethel.  Elisha replies that as God and Elijah live, he will not abandon him, and off they go.  Twice more Elijah tells Elisha to stay behind and twice more he refuses.

Elijah doesn’t tell Elisha that God is taking him today, but all the other disciples of the prophets do.  Elisha tells them he knows and to be quiet. 

What a difference Roman rule made in the lives of prophets and disciples.  Elijah tells Elisha to stay.  Jesus told the disciples to follow Him.  Elijah never told Elisha he was leaving, but Elisha knew, admitted it and understood.  Jesus told His disciples plainly that He would be betrayed to the Jewish authorities and crucified, but they never got it.  No matter how many times Jesus told them He would be crucified and rise again, they couldn’t believe the resurrection. 

There are similarities.  Three times Elijah told Elisha to stay and he loyally refused.  Three times Peter denied Jesus.  Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him.  Both Elisha and Peter made the same promise to not abandon their master.  After Elijah’s departure, Elisha received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.  After Jesus’ departure, Peter was able to do Jesus’ miracles and more (John 14:12).  So can we.

 

A Different Look at I Kings 19

I have written on this chapter twice before – both in the same vein.  Harsh on Elijah, critical of his self-pity, and portraying God as disciplining him for his poor, ungrateful attitude. One morning on WMBI’s Breakfast for the Soul, they spoke on this chapter from the Military Devotional Bible and from a much different perspective, so I’m writing again.

Elijah was frightened (verse 3) because of Jezebel’s threat, so he leaves his servant behind not to keep him from interfering with his downward spiral, but to keep him from being killed by Jezebel’s men.

Elijah wants to die.  He’s had enough.  He sees his sinfulness as greater than his accomplishments for God (verses 4-5). He’s exhausted; therefore Satan’s attack has greater effect.  God tenderly provides for him, sending an angel to bake bread and give him water.  Elijah eats and drinks, and immediately falls back to sleep.  The angel wakes him a second time with food and water – just what he needs to travel forty days and nights to Horeb. 

God comes to Elijah where he is (in a cave) and gently asks what he’s doing there.  Elijah recognizes God for who he is, calling Him Lord God of Armies/Hosts. Elijah is in the depths of despair.  He sees Himself as a failure. He’s been alone for over forty days, and sees himself as the only one left.

God tells Elijah to stand in front of Him on the mountain, but Elijah doesn’t have the strength or desire.  A fierce wind doesn’t lure him out of his cave. Neither does an earthquake or a fire, so God uses a quiet, whispering voice to lure him out. God asks Elijah the same question again and Elijah is still stuck in hopelessness and gives the same answer, so God gives him specific instructions for the future: two new kings (one that replaces his enemy) and Elisha to come and work alongside him. God takes care of everything for Elijah: the past – go back the same way you came.  The present – 7,000 Israelites have not worshipped Baal.  The future: God will get His justice through the two new kings and Elisha.

God meets Elijah where he is, accepts him, provides for him, encourages him, and gives him what he needs at the moment – just as He does for us.

God gave Elisha to Elijah not in anger or impatience, but in love to be a help to him.  And so God does for us.

Elijah Flees from Jezebel

Jezebel threatens to kill Elijah for killing her Baal prophets, so he flees to the wilderness where an angel fixes him bread baked on hot stones and provides a jar of water.  Elijah is not impressed with the miracle, and he escapes back to his sleep of depression.  The angel wakes him again and feeds and waters him again, then sends him to the mountain of God. Elijah is still not impressed. 

God asks Elijah what he’s doing there. He replies that he has eagerly served God, forgetting that he’s running away from a woman at the moment. He tells God the Israelites have abandoned Him, torn down His altars, and executed His prophets, neglecting to mention how they just proclaimed Him to be God on Mount Carmel.  He tells God he’s the only one left, even though Obadiah told him about hiding one hundred prophets.  He tells God “they” are trying to take his life when it’s only Jezebel.  He’s gone from mighty prophet challenging the world to a coward hiding from a woman and he’s gotten stuck there.

God tells Elijah to stand in front of Him on the mountain, but for the first time Elijah doesn’t obey immediately. There’s a fierce wind, and earthquake, a fire, but Elijah is not impressed.  Not until Elijah hears the “small whisper” of a voice does he go out to stand at the entrance of the cave, which still isn’t fully obedient to “go out on the mountain”. Elijah is at the entrance to the cave, not out on the mountain. He’s ready to run and hide again if he needs to. Elijah has lost his fear of God – he no longer obeys immediately or completely. Elijah has lost his enthusiasm for God – he’s no longer passionate about serving and honoring Him.  Elijah has lost his love and respect for God – it’s all about  Elijah now.

The small whisper of a voice gives Elijah another chance and asks the same question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah is stuck in his self-pity and repeats his first answer word for word.  He’s forgotten who God is and what He can do. His trust and courage have left him, so God gives him final instructions which include anointing his successor.  The last thing God tells Elijah is that He still has 7,000 people in Israel who have not worshipped Baal.  And Elijah was convinced he was the only one left and everyone was against him!

Beware of self-pity and self-focus lest God take away what He planned for you and give it to someone else.

Elijah – from the Pinnacle of Success to the Depths of Despair

Elijah is at the pinnacle of his career. He has just defeated 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah (I Kings 18:19). He has rebuilt the altar of Yahweh and seen God’s fire come down and engulf and consume an ox drenched in over 120 gallons of water.  He has preached to the people of Israel and watched them progress from saying nothing (I Kings 18:21), to “the contest is a good idea” (18:24) to “Yahweh is God! Yahweh is God!” (18:39). He’s cleaned out idolatry (18:40). He’s prayed the drought-ending rain in (18:42-45) and outrun the king’s chariot over 25 miles.  He’s on top of the world, floating on air.

Then a pagan queen named Jezebel threatens him and pops his balloon.  He runs for his life 985 miles (19:3). He leaves his servant behind so he won’t interfere with his downward spiral. He goes into the desert and plops himself down under a broom tree and asks God to sweep his life away (19:4). Elijah tells God he’s not better than his fathers (19:4), going from “I alone am left” to I’m just like every other idol-worshipping Israelite – from one extreme to the other.

An angel ministers to him (19:5-7), but it has no effect on his attitude. He travels forty days and nights in strength (19:8), but it has no effect on his attitude. At the mountain of God, God asks him what he’s doing there. Instead of replying “obeying/serving You”, he lists his accomplishments, states he alone is left (forgetting the 100 hidden by Obadiah), and that they are seeking his life (“they” are a pagan queen). Since the angel and God’s provision had no effect, God Himself passes by trying to show Elijah that it’s not in strong winds, earthquakes or fire that God is found.  God isn’t power, but a gentle blowing.  And in the gentle blowing, God asks Elijah the same question and Elijah gives the same answer.

Elijah is stuck in Himself, in depression and self-pity, so God takes His ministry and passes it on to another (19:16).  We have to focus on God and not ourselves, or the same may happen to us.  We must instead ask, “What would You have me do next?”

Elijah & Ahab – The Drought Ends

(I Kings 18:41-46)

For three and a half years there had been a drought in Israel.  Elijah tells Ahab, “It sounds like a heavy rain”.  In the midst of heat, insects buzzing, cattle bawling and horses whinnying, Elijah hears the sound of a heavy rain!

Elijah goes to the top of the mountain to pray for the rain he’s already heard.  Seven times Elijah sends his servant to look towards the sea, and six times the servant reports there is nothing.  The seventh time, there is “a little cloud like a man’s hand” and Elijah sends the servant out to warn Ahab.

Elijah was so certain God was going to answer his prayer, he heard the rain before he prayed!  He knew what God wanted done, and he knew God would do it and he had no doubts about the outcome.  We wonder why our prayers appear to go unanswered.  Probably the main reason is that we have no clue what God wants because we’ve never put His agenda ahead of our own. 

Elijah goes to the top of the mountain to pray.  He gets away from the people and the pressure of the situation he’s been dealing with and goes to a quiet, special place where he can meet with God.  Jesus did the same thing – He would go up the mountain alone to pray.  We need to create a special, secluded, quiet place to meet with God. 

Elijah is persistent in his prayers.  He sends his servant out to check for the rain cloud seven times and six times it appears God has not answered, has said no, perhaps isn’t even listening.  But Elijah doesn’t give up and neither should we. 

The seventh time, there is a “little cloud”.  That’s enough for Elijah and he sends his servant to tell Ahab to get home before the storm.  It wouldn’t have been enough of an answer for me – I would have waited to make sure the cloud grew bigger – especially when dealing with mean and cruel Ahab!  Never ignore or despise the small answers.  Never give up.  God answers every prayer with His best at the best time.

The Widow of Zarephath (I Kings 17:8-24)

God tells Elijah to go to a widow in Zarephath to stay during the drought.  She has a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug (reminds me of a small number of loaves and a few fish…).  She’s sure about how much she has left because she tells Elijah she’s using it to prepare the last meal for herself and her son. 

Elijah tells the widow that until God sends rain on the land, the jar of flour will never be empty and the jug will always contain oil.  We’re told they had food “for a long time”.  A daily miracle (reminds me of manna in the desert…).

When the widow’s son gets sick and dies, God brings him back to life through Elijah (reminds me of Jesus’ miracles of resurrection…).  Elijah returns the boy to his mother, and then she says, “Now I’m convinced that you are a man of God and that the word of God from your mouth is true.”  Unbelievable. There she was – no bread, only a handful of flour and a little oil.  Elijah tells her plainly that the flour and oil would last until God sent the rain again. And they ate for many days, a long time.  Yet, that wasn’t enough proof for her that Elijah was a man of God and his word was true?

Now why didn’t the long time daily miracle of flour in the jar and oil in the jug replenishing convince her?  Why didn’t she believe until her son was brought back to life?  I find it so hard to understand why the daily miracle wasn’t enough to convince her Elijah was a man of God and make her grateful for God’s intervention in her life.  Every day He saved their lives, but she never recognized or appreciated it.  She doesn’t acknowledge God until her son dies – and she acknowledges God by blaming Him for her son’s death!  How dense!

But then, I am just as dense as she is – we all are.  There are so many daily miracles I take for granted like sight and good health, the job that buys my food and pays my mortgage.  The big miracles have an impact for a short time, but the memory fades and I find myself complaining about something I lost or don’t have or never had.  Shame on me.  Shame on us all.

God of Miracles, open my eyes to see what You have done for me.  Open my mind to recognize Your miracles and Your everyday working in my life and circumstances.  Open my mouth in gratitude.  Open my heart in love.  Open my spirit in worship.