And the Word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” ~ I Kings 19:9-10 NIV
The prophet Elijah has just experienced two miraculous spiritual victories: God miraculously defeats the false prophets of Baal and Asherah at Mt. Carmel and then He answers Elijah’s prayer for rain. Queen Jezebel is hopping mad at Elijah for ordering the death of her favored false prophets so she threatens Elijah’s life. What is Elijah’s reaction?
“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” ~ I Kings 19:3 NIV
The prophet Elijah is hiding out in a cave He is exhausted, so God sends an angel to feed him and allows Elijah a period of rest before dealing with Elijah’s defeated spirit. How often has God shown such patience and love in the lives of His servants? Probably innumerable by man, but our Father knows the exact number, of course.
So many times I have experienced a period of defeat after victory or completion of a task. When will I learn to spend that time praising God for His blessings and seek His will? Perhaps when I remember what comes next in this story:
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also anoint Jehu son of Nimishi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel – all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” ~ I Kings 19:15-18 NIV
Well! Jehovah God is not wasting any time raising up new leaders of His choosing; two new kings and a new prophet named Elisha to replace Elijah. God also declares that Elijah is not the only faithful one left in all of Israel. God has seven thousand more ready to serve! Elijah must have been very embarrassed thinking that he was the only faithful believer left in the country.
So now comes the most remarkable part of this story – at least for me. It is known as the Calling of Elisha:
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. ~ I Kings 19:19-21 NIV
Elisha commits to serving God without reservation. He quits plowing, slaughters the oxen, burns his farm equipment and then barbeques up the oxen in the blaze. Elisha invites the neighbors to eat the feast and then he follows Elijah. What an example of obedience to God’s calling! Elisha makes sure nothing is left behind – no temptation to return. He is all in; totally committed to serving God. His eagerness to get started is obvious, since he doesn’t hang around selling anything – burning is more expedient.
So often we hear God’s calling, but never get past saying our family goodbyes or clinging to our stuff instead of showing up for God’s work. When Jesus called His disciples to follow him, they dropped what they were doing and obeyed. There is no other way acceptable to our Almighty God – His work must come first.
How often has the Holy Spirit asked me, “What are you doing here?” – I cannot count the number. In this case, Elijah was so despondent and tired of running from Jezebel’s wrath that he sat under a bush and prayed that God would kill him. “I have had enough, Lord,” He complained. Little did he know that God would answer that prayer in a miraculous way, for Elijah would never die. God later took him to heaven in a chariot alive! Only one other man, Enoch, was granted such a privilege. In the meantime, God provided not only Elijah’s replacement in Elisha, but a servant to help Elijah. God’s grace is more than sufficient:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with your whole heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord. ~ Jeremiah 29:11-14a NIV
As the deer pants for the water:
Prayer: Father, forgive me for putting other people and my own plans ahead of Yours; for indulging in depressive, doubting thoughts which cause me to be of no service to You. Thank you for reminding me that Your plans are perfect. Thank you for giving us Your Word full of love, instruction, and wisdom that strengthens my faith. May You never have to ask me again, “What are you doing here?” Keep me at the earthly location of Your choosing and obediently doing Your will. Remind me to call on You and to seek You with my whole heart – longing like the deer for Your Living Water. Thank You for promising that You will listen and be found. In the name of our blessed Savior Jesus, Amen!
God’s blessings on all readers of ImportantStuff.live, and thank you for following.
Feature photo credit: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Ariec