Daniel Agee

1st Kings 19: Did Eliyahu understand what God wanted?

Daniel AgeeJust as God didn’t let the prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) quit from the mission, God doesn’t want us to become discouraged and quit our tasks.

When Ahab returns home from Mt. Carmel and tells Yezebel (Jezebel) what happened, she does not argue with Ahab. She sends her messenger to Eliyahu and threatened to kill him. Yezebel had already killed as many of God’s prophets as she could get her hands on.

Death is a typical end for a prophet of God and Eliyahu doesn’t believe that he is any better than they are. Even though Eliyahu had convinced the people and even Ahab of God’s authority, he fled because the real power in Israel, who was Yezebel, was not convinced. 

When Eliyahu fled Israel the first time, during the drought, he flees to Sidon, which is Yezebel’s home territory. When he flees this time, not to Judah, even though Judah at this time was ruled by Jehoshaphat, who would have most likely have sheltered him. 

Eliyahu understands that most prophets die a violent death. He expects that, but what he doesn’t want is to die at Yezebel’s hand, as his peers had before him. 

God confronts Eliyahu at the רֹתֶם rothem (Strong’s lexicon No. H7574), which is called a Spanish Bloom tree. It has large leaves, fragrant flowers, and lives in a desert environment. Eliyahu seems himself like he sees this tree: as along, solitary, out in the middle of nowhere.  God does not see Eliyahu this way. By sending him to Mt. Horeb, assures Eliyahu that his job is not done yet and that he is not alone. 

Eliyahu was on Mt. Horeb for 40 days without food and water, preserved by God’s power. God asks Eliyahu, “What are you doing here?” (1st Kings 19:9). God put Eliyahu there so there’s a deeper issue God is wanting Eliyahu to address. 

Eliyahu is feeling hopeless here. To him, this massive effort at Mt. Carmel did no good. The prophets of God were still killed and Ahab and Yezebel do not repent. Eliyahu’s explicit goal was to re-explain to people who God was. He is basically a second Moses, having to re-teach the Northern Tribes about who God really is. Moses tried it for 40 years, with great miracles, yet the entire generation died in the wilderness because they didn’t get it. The miracles are not the teaching tool. 

God spoke to Eliyahu through the earthquake, violent wind and blazing fire. These are things that mankind have no control over. The winds and the fire were worshiped by the Israelites in the form of Ba’al and Molech and God is showing His ultimate control of these things just like Moses had control over the pagan gods of Egypt in the plagues. 

But God was not really in the big, mighty things but as “a sound of a gentle blowing” (1st Kings 19:12). It was when Eliyahu heard the soft, gentle voice, that Eliyahu covered his face with his mantle. 

At this point, God asks again, “What are you doing here?” Eliyahu gives the same answer but that is not the answer God was seeking. I think the answer God was seeking was, “Lord, what are my next orders.” God tells Eliyahu, “Go…” and puts him back to work. He sends him out to bring more people into the cause. 

This is what God tells Eliyahu to do:

“you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram;  and Yehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place” (1st Kings 19:15-16).

But Eliyahu did not anoint Yehu (Jehu) or Hazael. He does anoint Elisha, who is the one who anoints Hazael and Yehu. 

There is a distinction between Eliyahu and Elisha. Eliyahu was a prophet to Northern Israel, not the Southern Kingdom, Yehudah (Judah). Elisha was a prophet to all 12 tribes. That is prophetic. We are waiting for the “Eliyahu” who is to come, who will not minister to Judah but to the Northern Tribes. It is the Messiah who in the future, who ministers to and for all. 

Eliyahu only saw death in his future but God tells him otherwise. Eliyahu had a lot more to do. Here’s food for thought: Is it better to do the word of God or to serve someone who does the word of God. 

Neither Jehu or Hazael were not ready to be anointed yet. Certain events had to occur first but they were not in sequential order. 

The lesson of this chapter: We are allowed to be discouraged at times but we are not allowed to quit. 

Speaker: Daniel Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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