1 Kings 19:1-14; Acts 12:20-23; Psalms 136:13-26; Proverbs 29:1
OT: “Ahab told Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “May the gods punish me and do so severely if I don’t make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow!” Then Elijah became afraid and immediately ran for his life. When he came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! Lord, take my life, for I’m no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. Suddenly, an angel touched him. The angel told him, “Get up and eat.” …Then the angel of the Lord returned for a second time and touched him. He said, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” So he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. He entered a cave there and spent the night. Suddenly, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” …Then he said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.” At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs 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 there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Suddenly, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Armies,” he replied, “but the Israelites have abandoned your covenant, torn down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they’re looking for me to take my life.”” (1 Kings 19:1-5, 7-9, 11-14 CSB)
I wonder if Elijah thought, after Baal was humiliated on Mt Carmel and God proved Himself to be the God of all gods, that the war was over… that God had won and that the nation would return to following Him… that Elijah’s life could go back to “normal.” Unfortunately, the enemy does not give up that easily. Even when Jesus defeated the devil’s temptations in the wilderness, the Bible says that the devil went away until a more opportune time. The devil, and those under his influence, do not give up. When we resist the enemy, he will insist, and we must persist by grace through faith. Elijah literally had a mountain top experience as he defeated Baal, executed his priests and prophets, and prayed for rain to come once again to the parched land. We are always the most vulnerable to valleys of despair right after our mountaintop victories, and Elijah was no different. God had sustained Elijah during years of drought and had demonstrated that Baal was powerless – but all it took was a threat from Jezebel to send Elijah running in fear. Thankfully, God showed Elijah grace even when Elijah was ready to give up and die. First, God sent an angel to bring nourishment to a worn-out Elijah – much like angels ministered to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as He was tormented over what was about to come. Then God presented Himself to Elijah, not only as an all-powerful force, but also as a tender small voice. There was more that God had for Elijah, and through God’s grace, tenderness, and strength; Elijah was given what he needed to faithfully persist. Just because we win a battle, it doesn’t mean that the war is over. Moments of joyous victory will always be followed by valleys of self-doubt and despair, as the enemy of our souls seeks to reclaim any lost ground and insist on his will. We need to expect that and be prepared for that – and know that by grace from the Lord, that we receive by faith in the Lord’s word and purposes, we will be able to persist against the enemy until the end. Don’t give up! Rest in and receive strength from the Lord.