God responds to our personal falterings in an amazing way. The prophet Elijah had experienced considerable fireworks in his ministry. One could easily dismiss an incident when he failed big time.
“Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 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.” 3 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 19:1-3, ESV
Up to this time:
- Elijah was coming off Mt. Carmel having witnessed fire from heaven.
- The 450 prophets of Baal had been executed.
- Rain was coming through his prayer, the long drought was ending.
Things seemed right on track for a nationwide revival. Life was good for Elijah, and for the Kingdom of Israel. “Laissez les bons temps rouler.”
But Queen Jezebel wasn’t about to give up her stranglehold on the kingdom. She threatens Elijah. A messenger is dispatched to him; and Elijah is completely intimidated. He reacts by running as fast as he can to get away. The prophet known for boldness and miracles flees for his life into the wilderness.
What was it about Jezebel that caused such a frantic and irrational move? Why didn’t Elijah’s faith stand this test? He had been in stickier places.
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
1 Kings 19:4
Fear and fatigue were working on Elijah’s mind. This is a fact, if you’re acting unscripturally you will behave irrationally.
God ministers to his sinning servant with a powerful and formidable gentleness. It takes awhile for Elijah to react to this tenderness. But there is a no condemnation, no recrimination, no words of rebuke; all we hear is God’s still small voice. God doesn’t chide, but quietly asks his prophet to consider. All Elijah does is accept a certain grace. That’s it.
“And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:13
Fear, defeat, and self-pity were real issues for Elijah (the man of God). Scripture tells us that, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). We are not machines, but mere men who falter and trip. That is good to remember.
In 2 Corinthians 12:10 Paul comments, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” The Gospel is predicated on human weakness and flaws. It reaches us consistently where we need it most. The God of Elijah still whispers to broken hearts.