The Lord, the God of all, showed up on Mount Carmel and the words that Elijah spoke were once again shown truthful, even beyond expectation. What is Ahab’s response? Run to momma! Jezebel strikes out against Elijah, she threatens to kill him within 24 hours so he runs.
“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.1 Kings 19:4-5
An angel appears to Elijah twice, feeds and nourishes him to support his journey to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God, the place where Moses met with God and received the Ten Commandments.
(side note: I searched, Mount Horeb to Mount Carmel, to see how far apart they are and Google provided a map from Mount Carmel, SC to Mount Horeb, WI: 942.4 miles. Wrong. But interesting.)
The NIV Study Bible puts the journey at about 250 miles…on foot! When Elijah finally gets to Mount Horeb, he hides in a cave.
The Lord Appears to Elijah
One of the most powerful scenes in this part of the Old Testament unfolds.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”1 Kings 19:11-13
Pause. Soak it in. God revealed himself on Mount Carmel in a mighty way, supernatural to be sure, but beyond expectations–he was the powerful wind and fire for all to witness. That’s the God I want to see! Enough of this waiting around Lord, kick some butt, let’s get this show going!! No. God is not the Lord of my fantasy, he is the Creator and he will show up in his way in his time.
A gentle whisper.
Elijah knew this was the Lord. Think about it. For the last 60 years Jeroboam and his family has been systematically and boldly destroying everything that Moses lived for. David and Solomon faithfully created the kingdom of Israel in the Promised Land. They had everything they could have wanted until Solomon married and adopted pagan rituals. The whole nation of Israel is torn apart and being flipped upside down. Few can see what is happening. Most just go along with the ridiculous Jeroboam rituals, but Elijah (and others no doubt) can see the turmoil. It’s personal. It’s overwhelmingly difficult. Elijah cries out to God,
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.” 1 Kings 19:14
He trusts God, absolutely no doubt, but that doesn’t make it any easier. This is painful to consider. Oh Elijah, how you must be hurting. God does not rebuke Elijah for his outrageous run. He speaks to him in a whisper and gives him instructions for the next chapter in Israel’s history.
The narrative is only a few verses in length, but the whole trial took weeks to endure. Elijah feels like he’s alone, the only one who gets it, but the Lord assures him he has a plan. God names Elisha as Elijah’s successor, defines who to anoint as the next king and comforts Elijah by letting him know,
“…Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19:18
There are so many times when we feel alone. I know it’s ridiculous even when that emotional reaction happens, but Elijah is an emotional guy. The narrative gives us all grace and reminds us that God is able, even willing, to meet us where we are.
The Call of Elisha
Three verses are used to describe Elijah’s appointment of Elisha, 1 Kings 19:19-21. That’s it! Elijah shows up while Elisha is on the job working the fields. No fanfare, no procession, just shows up and throws his robe on Elisha and says, “tag, you’re it!” Elisha understands. He takes the oxen he was driving to support his vocation and slaughters them, cooks them over the wooden equipment and feeds those around him then departs. He leaves it all behind to follow Elijah, to follow the call of God.
Who is willing to do that today? Am I willing to burn it all and follow God’s call? Or am I holding on tightly to what I have in flagrant disobedience? Decision time.