Elijah Feared, God Fed

“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.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life…”

-1 Kings 19:2-3

Elijah was not a prophet of Israel, but the Prophet of Israel. Jezebel, the queen of Israel, out of jealousy and hatred, callously murdered anyone who spoke the word of God. Besides a few prophets hidden safely in a cave far away, Elijah was the only man left to speak the word of the Lord to his nation.

God empowered this wild man; the Bible describes Elijah as a hairy man/man who wore a hairy garment and had a belt of leather around his waist. He was a nomad, traveling from place to place constantly relying on God to provide him with his every need. Sometimes his food came from a bottomless flour pot owned by a desperate widow, sometimes from feral birds roaming the countryside, and sometimes he went days without food and survived solely on the strength of God. Fire was Elijah’s signature move. He called down fire from heaven not once, not twice, but three times! Once the king sent an army to arrest him and two times he burned the evil troops with God’s flame. The third was when Elijah stood before the nation and asked God to set his waterlogged offering ablaze.

Elijah is not a man you want to mess with. Imagine him as a scruffy woodsman living out in the wild, eating his food with untamed animals, and constantly outmaneuvering the governmental authorities who want him dead.

He is one of the most well-known and celebrated Bible heroes. He even got to come down from heaven to speak with Jesus in the flesh thousands of years after a fiery chariot stole him from death!

A man like that you might think invincible.

But he wasn’t.

Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life.”

-1 Kings 19:3

Wait, wait, the guy who has defied the king and queen countless times and just put hundreds of false prophets in an early grave a few paragraphs before this is afraid? Why?

Because Elijah remained human, like us.

We glorify and romanticize Bible characters to the point they become superhuman. Of course, they did great things! They are bible heroes! It’s in their blood.

Elijah experienced the Holy Spirit pressed upon him, but he had the same flesh and blood as us. The horrors the queen brought down on his fellow Israelite brothers and her heartless gaze that was perpetually fixed upon them terrified Elijah. He ran for his life. Undoubtedly afraid his servant would get caught up in his peril, Elijah told his servant to stay behind as he fled.

1 Kings 19 tells us after running for an entire day, Elijah went deep into the wilderness. When he could run more, he collapsed under a broom tree.

Imagine his heart beating through torn muscles, his lungs gasping for hair, and his hand shaking as he swipes sweat from his burning brow.

This is just days after his greatest victory. With water from a parched land and a ball of fire from heaven, Elijah stood before his people and proved that God is a God of all. As heavenly fire licked up water, wood, and stone, Elijah proved his righteousness before his naysayers. After all that, here he sits, bent over in exhaustion, tired, hungry, and alone.

Anger and fear course through him like a roaring lion and he screams, “Enough!” he pulls at disheveled, greasy hair, “O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

He begs for death and compares his selfless life to those who have brought evil into Israel. Tired of living on the edge, tired of the bounty hung over his head, and tired of running, Elijah admitted he was afraid.

In his darkest moment of deep anguish, God sends him an angel. Not one with a glowing sword to pierce his enemies’ hearts, not a towering, winged warrior to burn the forest down and attack the queen, hot on his heels. God sends a messenger with food, drink, and a command. “Arise and eat.”

God met Elijah in his humanness. He handles Eliah’s physical needs and then his emotional and mental. Twice Elijah fell asleep and twice he awoke to food and drink. God gave him supernatural slumber and nutrition that replenished him for forty days.

What happens when we mortals are honest with God? What happens when we confess the agony and peril tearing us apart from within? God wants our honesty, and He wants us to cling to Him.

Speak the fears that plague you aloud, scream and shout if you must. God isn’t afraid. He wants you to throw all your burdens on Him, every sticky, bleeding, bubbling mess, right at his feet.

Give God your humanness and He will replenish you with everlasting water and the deep sleep of peace.

You cannot run forever, and you cannot fight the forces of darkness alone, you are human but God is God. Learn from Elijah and know it’s okay to fall apart.

After this, God spoke His word to Elijah, and Elijah continued defiantly speaking God’s word to the wicked rulers and prophesied what kind of death the wicked queen would suffer (It’s pretty gnarly, check out 2 Kings 9:30-37).

Elijah still had mountains to climb, storms to withstand, and earthquakes to shake him to his core, but through it all, he listened to the still quiet voice of God and obeyed.

He became one of only two known people who went straight to heaven without experiencing death. If God rewarded and loved such a man, I think it’s okay if we admit our fears to God and let Him tend to us in our weakness.

Chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

2 Kings 2:11

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