Scripture: Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 1 Kings 19:2-3 ESV
Observation: Having exhibited great faith at Mount Carmel, taking on the prophets of Baal, and then vigilantly waiting for God to bring the promised end to the drought, Elijah boldly comes down the mountain to meet his nemesis, Ahab, at Jezreel. Interestingly, the city of Jezreel borrows its name from two Hebrew words that together mean “God sows.” Indeed, God had and will continue to sow seeds of faith in Elijah. But soon, Elijah will face a new, life-threatening challenge that will test his faith in Yahweh’s strong arm of protection. Queen Jezebel, who, unlike her husband, did not speak idle threats, sends word to Elijah that she will slaughter him by the next day just as he summarily executed her prophets (above verses).
Takeaway: For Elijah, Yahweh sent “the angel of the Lord” (perhaps the prefigure of Christ incarnate) to once again provide food and water to sustain him. With renewed strength, Elijah presses on for forty days (a Hebrew number that symbolizes a season of trial) until reaching another mountaintop (Mount Horeb, “Mount of Yahweh,” where Moses received the Ten Commandments). There, God would speak to Elijah in a low whisper after a display of might and then rhetorically ask Elijah, “What are you doing here?” The Lord then graciously reveals his plan to establish new leaders who will accomplish his purposes of ridding Israel of its wicked king and queen and all those who followed them. And he commands Elijah to come down the mountain again and return to his prophetic ministry (19:9-18). Rebounded in faith, Elijah would press on with greater confidence and boldness in the Lord until taken home in glory.
Similarly, as we sojourn here on earth following the footsteps of Jesus, we will face trials that can even be life-threatening. Thankfully, each step of the way, the Lord sows seeds of faith to prepare us. Sometimes, he leads us to “mountaintops” where we gain faith-building victories and grasp how God is moving and working in our’s and others’ lives. But, eventually, he will lead us down into the valleys where we will encounter new challenges that will deepen our faith in him. And occasionally, like Elijah, we will succumb to fear and take a step back in our faith journey. Thankfully, God’s grace is always sufficient to restore us so that we, like Elijah, can rebound in our faith and carry on into battle with renewed trust and confidence in our Lord.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, in whom we find sustenance when riddled with doubt and fear. Would you please help us listen to your Holy Spirit when he whispers to our minds and hearts words of assurance and direction so that we can rebound in our faith and press back into action? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling