Elijah was a very prominent prophet of the Old Testament. When Jesus was transfigured before certain of the apostles, he appeared with Elijah to represent the prophets. (Mt. 17:1-5) Elijah was prophesied to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ. (Mal 4:5) To those who can believe it, Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah. (Mt 11:13,14) James mentioned him as evidence of the powerful effect of a righteous man’s prayer (Jas. 5:16-18); Paul pointed to him as one being mistaken about his lonely state because many faithful peoples were serving God. (Rom. 11:2-5)
Elijah made it known that the source of his power derived from God Almighty. (1 Kings 18:21-46). He spoke out against evil, opposing the prophets of Baal, as a spokesman for God. However, Elijah was as human as you and I, with the same weaknesses characterized by mankind. He had the same limitations as most, who when faced with an insurmountable task, are tempted to give up (1 Kings 19:1-21).
Elijah was not a quitter. He was the epitome of courage and determination in announcing to King Ahab that there was going to be neither “dew nor rain” (1 Kings 17: 1) due to the evil behavior of the wickedness of the king. He challenged the people to make a choice to decide whether the Lord is God or Baal and to follow the ronly true and living God. (1 Kings 18:21) He had revealed his kindness and relationship to God in dealing with the widow and her child (1 Kings 17:17-24).
What Caused Elijah Desire To Give Up?
Elijah called the people together and asked for the prophets of Baal to call on their god to reveal himself to show that he was alive, able, and willing to respond to their needs. This allowed all to witness that Baal was nothing more but the vain imagination of Ahab and Jezebel, and nothing more. After the failure of Baal and his prophets, Elijah called on the Lord God and He responded, burning the sacrifice and drying up the water. This was a powerful demonstration of God’s power and Elijah’s relationship to Him. One would expect all observers and knowledgeable people to recognize the power of Almighty God and to yield to it.
Yet, when his work was conveyed to Jezebel, she promised to continue her opposition and resistance to him (1 Kings 19:2-3). With Elijah’s experience and recent victory over Baal’s 450 false prophets, we would expect him to be prepared for any fight, pointing to the fact that God was on his side and willing to stand with him.
His Action Of Requesting To Die
It is difficult to comprehend why a mighty man like Elijah was desire to die ” (1 Kin 19:4). However, the Lord did not grant his request to die. He sent an angel who “touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.” He was strengthened and traveled for 40 days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God (19:8).
Yet, Elijah was not ready and prepared to face reality. Rather, he went into a cave. The Lord, as He had done before, challenged him as to what he was doing there. The answer was not really a response: “I have been jealous for the Lord of Host: for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and slain your prophets with the sword; and 1, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (19:10,14).
Elijah revealed the facts surrounding him but it didn’t explain why he was prepared to back down from the fight and run away. Elijah was hiding in a cave, and the question God addressed to Elijah was: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9) Elijah was simply afraid for his life.
What Can Be Learned From Elijah
1. Like Elijah, man is more vulnerable right after a battle, even one which he has won! He is exhausted, with his guard down! Just because we win an occasional battle doesn’t of necessity mean our war is over. It is in God’s hands to determine the end of our life and struggles here on earth and not ours.
2. Christians, like Elijah, need to see that there is and will remain temptations, but there is no justification for dropping out, till God calls us home! Rev 2:10 f; Mt 10:22 All Christians will suffer persecutions and afflictions and we all need to be reminded that God is testing us even as we are attempting to do God’s Will. 2 Tim 3:12 f; 1 Pet 4:16 If we overcome these trials and temptations we shall receive a crown of life. Jam 1:12
3. Like Elijah, we need to climb a mountain, get a different view! (1 Kin 19:11-12 cf, 15-18). Even as Jesus who when he was about to face the ultimate trial, the crucifixion, retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed to God for strength. Let us never forget to cast all of our care upon our Savior and ask for help in our hour of need. (1 Pet 5:7)
It is evident that Elijah had miscalculated: he was not the only one left faithfully serving God but rather there were 7 thousand who were hid away who also was obeying God. We today often think we are all alone or that no one else is suffering as we are. Don’t believe it! All Christians are being tried even as we are. (1 Pet 5:9,10)
Conclusion: Every person who has served God, will at times feel as Elijah, feel like dropping out! I’m no better than the others who have gone before me, they suffered and died, I might as well die now! But the Lord is the only should determine our end. Jeremiah wrote concerning God’s desire for his own: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer 29:11) Even the beloved Paul was between the desire to live in this present world or to go to his heavenly reward. Yet for our sake and those who needed him in his time, he remained and finished his course, kept the faith and received his crown of life. 2 Tim 4:7,8 So, let us remain faithful and vigilant to fight the good fight of faith for as long as we are allowed to live and serve our King. (1 Tim 6:12) Let us make friends of God’s children and be willing to bear one another’s burdens in both words and in deeds. 1 Jn 3:17,18 Let us love one another even as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us; Jn 13:34,35 And when life is over for a child of God, let us all who remain rejoice, knowing precious in the sight of God is the death of his saints, and blessed is the one who dies in the Lord. Ps 116:15 f; Rev 14:13 Knowing to this end were we all born and yearn for who are called of God. But until then, let us never give up!