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THE ELIJAH COMPLEX
Loneliness In The Midst Of Apostasy
As our world seems to be spinning out of control and newspaper headlines continue to proclaim more bad news, it is easy for believers to feel alone. The core doctrines of Christendom at large have all but completely deviated from those taught in the Bible and a materialistic “feel-good” faith is the comfortable cocoon they have spun for themselves. Like a powerful narcotic, spiritual ignorance coupled with satanic deception is lulling them into a dreamy sense of personal piety and well being. So is it any wonder that those who have not “bought into” that mass defection from the truth will feel marginalized and left out? But praise the Lord, being among the relative few like the Old Testament prophet Elijah is the right place to be!
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV, emphasis mine).
So to better understand how swimming upstream against the flow does not make us quite as isolated as it may seem at times, we need to pay attention to what God taught Elijah.
Somewhere around 975 B.C.
Why is that important? The first reason is that it obviously
depleted the numbers of true believers from among the people of the northern
kingdom—contributing greatly to their rapid decline into apostasy and idol
worship. And the second is that it refutes the pernicious occult belief
concerning the “Ten lost tribes of
It was into this deplorable spiritual condition of the northern tribes that God sent His prophet Elijah. His unenviable task was to warn wicked Ahab—who by that time had become the king—that they must repent or be judged. And the triumphs, as well as the low points, of that rugged individual’s ministry continue to be a source of inspiration for God’s people.
In the Book of I Kings, Chapter 17 and verse 1, God’s man comes upon the scene with a bang! He boldly marches into the presence of King Ahab and makes an amazing pronouncement:
“And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (KJV).
The message of a severe drought was intended to get Ahab’s attention, but before the king could react in anger to that unwanted intrusion, God told Elijah to “get out of Dodge” and hide! Then while he made himself scarce, God miraculously provided food by having wild birds bring it to him.
“And the word of the LORD came
unto him, saying, 3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide
thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before
Once there was no water left, God then sent His man to a
Gentile widow in the town of
“But in truth I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were closed up for three years and six months, so that there came a great famine over all the land; 26 And yet Elijah was not sent to a single one of them, but only to Zarephath in the country of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow” Luke 4:25-26 (Amplified Bible).
That particular woman had been “commanded” by God to take care of Elijah (1Ki.17:9). And the amazing thing is that she and her only son were on the verge of starvation themselves! As a matter of fact, when Elijah arrived on the scene, she was gathering some sticks to make a fire so she could prepare what she thought was going to be their last meal. And when this Jew asked her to give him some water and food, her reply was probably somewhat sarcastic in tone.
“And she said, As the Lord your God lives, I have not a loaf baked but only a handful of meal in the jar and a little oil in the bottle. See, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it—and die” 1 Ki.17:12 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).
Aha! Note that she said “your” God and not “my” God. From this it appears quite obvious there was a double motive for God sending Elijah to her. Not only did His prophet need her help, she was spiritually dead and desperately needed his! So the first thing Elijah did was to challenge her to believe:
“Elijah said to her, Fear
not; go and do as you have said. But make me a little cake of [it] first and
bring it to me, and afterward prepare some for yourself and your son. For
thus says the Lord, the God of
Humanly speaking, such faith was impossible! (1) She was a Gentile having only a minimal knowledge of the God of Israel and, (2) it was a fact that the Jews despised her people. But to make a bad situation even worse, this man is asking her to give the majority of what little food she had to him first and then prepare what was left over for herself and her son. Talk about unmitigated gall! Under those exact circumstances, who would be surprised is she told him to take a flying leap off of the nearest cliff? Yet, incredibly, she complied with his directions. But what could possibly have prompted her to do so when she knew that a failure of his promise would result in both her and her son dying even sooner? The answer is found in verse 9 where it says God had “commanded” her. The Hebrew word “sawa” (Strong’s #6680, translated “commanded” in this instance) can also be translated “appointed.” And we find it thus in 2 Samuel 6:21, where King David tells his wife Michal, King Saul’s daughter, the following:
“David said to Michal, It was before the Lord, Who chose me above your father and all his house to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord. Therefore will I make merry [in pure enjoyment] before the Lord” (KJV, emphasis mine).
So God prepared the heart of this widow to react in the way she did. And the miraculous continuance of the meal and oil served to confirm to her that the God of Elijah was real. Then later after her son died and Elijah raised him from the dead, she evidenced true faith:
“And the woman said to Elijah, By this I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth” 1 Ki.17:24 (KJV).
Finally at some point during the third year of the drought, God told Elijah to go to King Ahab and “show himself,” because rain was on the way!
Then the first thing Elijah did when he met Ahab was to denounce him for his wickedness and propose a “contest” to determine Who was the true and living God of Israel:
“When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, Are you he who
Next he turned to the people and berated them because of their unbelief:
“Elijah came near to all the people and said, How long will you halt and limp between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word” 1 Kings 18:21 (Amplified Bible).
Then all the heathen prophets, along the people of
And what transpired next was downright comical. The prophets
of Baal (and we assume those of Asherah as well) prayed fervently from morning
until noon saying, “O Baal, hear us.” But nothing happened. Then they really got
serious and began to leap about, crying out to their gods, and cutting
themselves with knives until the blood gushed out—all the while being taunted by
Elijah! This went on until late in the afternoon and then Elijah turned to the
As they looked on, Elijah repaired an old altar that had been
used at some point in the past. He selected 12 stones (representing the original
12 tribes of
Then Elijah prayed to God:
“And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again” 1 Kings 18:36-37 (KJV).
And God answered the genuine prophet’s prayer instantly:
“Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. 40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there” 1 Kings 18:38-40 (KJV).
Elijah then told King Ahab to get ready because rain would be coming soon! And as Ahab rode in his chariot back to Jezreel, with Elijah on foot running before him, they went through a “great rain” (18:46). What a great victory for God and vindication for His faithful prophet! But, wait, there is a surprise for Elijah waiting just around the corner to keep him humble.
When Ahab told his queen Jezebel about all that had transpired, she was livid with rage. How dare the God of Israel mock her prophets and have them put to death!
“Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time” 1 Kings 19:2 (KJV).
Well, Elijah knew that wicked Jezebel meant business so he did not “pass go” or “collect 200 dollars,” but immediately headed for the hills, fleeing for his life! The same man who had just faced down 850 false prophets and had them put to death was now running from one angry woman. But as they say, “discretion is the better part of valor.”
So for the second time in a period of about three years
Elijah finds himself totally dependent upon God for survival. But this time,
rather than walking by faith, the prophet did what so many of us are prone to do
when we face similar circumstances. Fearful and physically exhausted, he plopped
down under a juniper tree (19:4) and prayed for God to take his life! It no
longer mattered that just the day before he had literally been through a
spiritual “mountaintop experience!” He did not care that God had used him in a
mighty way to prove to
How do you suppose that idea got into his head? The narrative does not tell us, but to me it definitely has a smell of brimstone about it!
And if that great prophet of God was reduced to such a deplorable state of mind, is it not reasonable to conclude that we are also susceptible?
To soothe his troubled servant after he awoke from sleep, God sent an angel to meet the immediate physical need of food and water. Then after receiving the meal, Elijah rested again. The same man who was so physically fit that he was able to run before Ahab’s chariot “hit the wall” and was completely drained by the experience.
But God had even more of a physical challenge in store:
“The angel of the Lord came the second time and touched him and said, Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you. 8 So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God” 1 Kings 19:7-8 (Amplified Bible).
So when the Lord came to speak with Elijah, the first thing He said was, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” (19:9 KJV), and the prophets’ reply is most revealing:
“And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” 1 Kings 19:10 (KJV, emphasis mine).
The Lord’s reply to this pitiful excuse was:
“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake 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 a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-13 (KJV).
Note that after a cataclysmic demonstration of His divine power, God repeated the question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And the hardheaded prophet repeated the original excuse almost verbatim in verse 14! But rather than criticize Elijah, we need to realize that we have more Scripture from which to better understand God’s question. For instance, the Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:31(b), “…if God is for us, who can be against us?” In other words God was saying something to the effect that, “why are you hiding here in the wilderness when I am infinitely capable of protecting you?” But when the same complaining excuse was offered the second time, God’s gave his emotionally distraught servant some desperately needed reassurance:
“And the Lord said to him, Go, return on your way to the
Then to correct Elijah’s somewhat egotistical conclusion that
he was the only prophet left (which totally overlooked the fact that the Lord
could instantly raise up a million more just like him if He chose to do
so)—along with an apparent feeling that
“Yet I will leave Myself 7,000 in
Divine judgment was about to fall on
So the point we need to remember is that our sovereign God constantly watches over us and we are never alone! Even as the Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14-18 continues to burst at the seams with tares and wheat becomes increasingly scarce, take heart in the knowledge that no matter how dark it gets—the Lord always preserves a remnant of those who remain faithful to Him.
If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
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