"Take my life" is usually a statement of
commitment, or utter surrender. In the case of Elijah, it was both! Elijah was a
prophet's prophet. He spoke the truth and lived obediently before the Lord. When
faced with possibly life altering (or ending) instructions from God, he
persevered. He brought the news of drought to wicked King Ahab, and then camped
out by the Brook Cherith to be fed by ravens until the water dried up. Next, the
Lord told him to go to Zarephath. There he met a widow and her son, and
according to the Word of the Lord, asked her to bring him a cup of water and
some bread. Though the woman was preparing for the impending death of her son
and self, she obediently did as Elijah said. The vessel of oil in her house did
not run dry from that day forward. When the son died, Elijah petitioned the Lord
for the child to come back to life. He laid himself on the boy three times
saying, "O Lord my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him"..."and
he revived". He faced off with 450 evil prophets of Baal, in a showdown that
would reveal the true God. While the false prophets of Baal cried to their god,
Elijah mocked them. When it was Elijah's turn to offer his sacrifice to the true
and living God, he did so in such a way that no one could say it was trickery.
He confidently poured water three times over the sacrificial animal! The
trenches around the altar were filled with water! God sent fire down from Heaven
that burned up the water, the sacrifice, and even the very stones of the altar!
One might think that was enough...not for Elijah! He had the 450 prophets of
Baal seized and taken down by the Brook Kishon, where he executed them.
What is the point, you might ask? Elijah was a
noteworthy prophet! He had many times experienced the manifestation of God's
POWER! People knew he served the living God! Why he even outran Ahab's horse and
chariot to Jezreel! You would think he was invincible! And, when he was trusting
completely in the Lord of Hosts...HE WAS! But something interesting happened to
the prophet Elijah's confidence when he heard of Queen Jezebel's decree to kill
him. Instead of facing her as he did the prophets of Baal. Instead of sending
her a message in mind bending fashion. Elijah up and ran! That's right...he ran
for his life! (1 Kings 19:3) "And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his
life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant
there." After all that he had just witnessed in the days before...he ran. The
Bible goes on to say in verse 4, "But he himself went a day's journey into the
wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he
might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life; for I am no better
than my fathers!"
Some theologians (Bible scholars) say that
Elijah wasn't necessarily afraid of Jezebel, or death itself. Some say that he
was actually not wanting to die at the hand of Jezebel, as it would be a blight
upon the God of Israel. I actually think there was a momentary lapse in his
resolve, and inner strength, coupled with a disappointment that was
heartbreaking. I believe that he had an emotional "hiccup" if you will. He had
been under extreme stress. He had faced the prophets of Baal alone, even though
he had personally addressed the children of Israel, trying to get them to align
themselves with him, and ultimately God. NO ONE responded to his address, and
their silence was deafening! He obviously felt alone for he stated, "I alone am
left a prophet of the Lord."
We've all experienced that feeling of being
completely alone. We've felt the heavy heart that goes with it too! It isn't
easy to face trial after trial. It isn't easy to overcome the world, when it
seems as if the world is overcoming us! But we shouldn't worry. We don't need to
stress. We simply need to trust in the Lord with all of our heart. You see,
Elijah's plea was also a proclamation of his utter trust and dependence on God.
Think about it. He wasn't just saying "kill me"...he was declaring that this
world had nothing for him. He was declaring that only God could understand him.
He was committing himself completely to the authority and sovereignty of the
Lord! Some might think he was just suicidal...his statement did sound that way.
But what he was saying was he was insufficient to turn the tide in Israel. He
was admitting that if the heart of Jezebel wasn't changed by such a great sign
from Heaven like that on Mount Carmel...NOTHING WOULD CHANGE HER, or the
influence she had over her husband King Ahab. He felt hopeless in regard to
seeing his people return to serving God. He surrendered to the fact that
Jezebel, and everyone like her were hopeless. That thought tore at his
heart...the heart of a prophet! He had hoped to rid Israel of the sin that had
been enslaving it. He had hoped for so much more!
There are times I have felt like I have been
banging my head against a brick wall. I try to persuade others to embrace the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. I study, and write, and then preach messages the Lord
has placed upon my heart. I have literally poured out my heart before groups of
people, speaking with urgency and conviction. I knew the Lord was there...I
could feel his presence in such a powerful way...only to be met with yawns, and
unresponsive stares. It is hard to continue, when you feel that your efforts are
in vain. It is hard to continue, when it seems the only one feeling the
conviction is you. It is hard to continue, when you feel as if you are alone.
However, our God is ALWAYS WITH US! Our God will never leave us or forsake us!
Our God lives! Our God reigns! There is no other God beside our God!
Elijah went to sleep after his passionate plea
to God. He was exhausted mentally, physically, and possibly even spiritually.
But glory Hallelujah, our wonderful Father ministered to him in his hour of
need! An angel awakened him and told him to "arise and eat." So he did, and then
he laid down again. The "angel of the Lord came back the second time, and
touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.
So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty
days and forty nights, as far as Horeb the mountain of God." Do you get it?! Do
you see the parallel to your own life?! When the journey of life is too hard for
us...the Lord will make a way! When we don't have the strength to go another
step...when we are exhausted physically, mentally, spiritually,
emotionally...God will feed us with his food, and His Living Water! Jesus is the
Bread of Heaven. Jesus is the Bread of Life! Jesus is the Living Water! Look at
it from the heart of the writer of Hebrews 12:1-2, "Therefore we also, since we
are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race
that is set before us, looking unto JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
It wasn't time for Elijah to die yet. God had
more work for him to do. God understood Elijah's plea, and met it with hope and
encouragement. God understands you and me. He understands our frailty. He knows
when we need a boost. He knows when we are too drained to continue, and that is
precisely when He will fill us up again. Remember, God is the God of FULLNESS!
He is the God of blessings that can saturate every fiber of our being! If you
are struggling right now, open up your heart completely to Jesus! Cast all your
burdens on to Him! Let Him restore you! Let Him pour His wonderful, all
sufficient grace into your spirit! Until next time, be blessed with God's BEST!