Tag Archive | self-pity

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.

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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?”