1 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)
Elijah’s amazing story continues. After he has confronted the evil king, Ahab, called fire down from heaven, prayed and brought rain to relieve a 3 year drought, won the hearts of the Israelites who had met him at the top of the mountain, ordered the deaths of 400 prophets of Baal who couldn’t meet Elijah’s challenge, and outrun the king’s chariots down the mountain we find him afraid and depressed. The evil queen, Jezebel, did not attend Elijah’s challenge and she isn’t moved by what has happened. Instead, she promises to kill Elijah when she gets her hands on him.
Elijah’s story so mirrors many of our own. Perhaps you can’t boast of quite the dramatic experience of Elijah but you can probably remember a time or two when you were breathtakingly excited about something God was doing in your life. Maybe it was at a retreat or a camp, or maybe even in a Sunday morning worship service or Bible study. But then you come back to the same old life you had before the experience. Others around you are just the same, your work is still waiting to be done, and your problems still exist. It’s enough to bring you off that “mountaintop” experience in a hurray. But we must keep reading Elijah’s story. He runs into the wilderness and asks to die. But God sustains him until he reaches a cave on Mt. Sinai.
9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.t13 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 19:9-13)
God teaches Elijah an important lesson. Hurricane force winds come, followed by an earthquake and then fire. But after each we read that God was not in these great forces, that remind us of the dramatic events of Elijah’s recent experience. After these great dramatic events we find that God is in the low whisper. The lesson for Elijah is this: God is God in the times when you don’t feel him present; in the midst of your reality when you face problems and work and strained relationships. God is in the everyday, ordinary events of life. God had not abandoned Elijah when his miraculous works were finished, and God was at work even after the miracles were done, just as he is in your life too.
Have you ever had a “mountaintop experience?” Did you face a down time afterward? How does this story encourage you about your own life and the everyday experiences that you have?
Thank God that he works even when we don’t see him working.
McCheyne’s Bible Reading Plan: 1 Kings 19, 1 Thes 2, Da 1, Ps 40-41