The books we now know as 1 and 2 Kings were
first written for exiled Jews in Babylon, as a way to maintain their
history. Elijah was a prophet in Israel during the 9th century
In 1 Kings 19:10-18, we catch a glimpse of what it must have been
like to stand up for the truth in tough times. Lessons from Elijah
and God's conversation can help us in our fears and search for
purpose. The Archeological Study Bible gives this story the title
“The LORD Appears to Elijah.”
1 Kings 19 begins with Elijah fleeing for his life, after Queen
Jezebel threatens to kill him in retaliation for the recent deaths
of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel as revealed in 1 King 18.
Elijah then prays that he will die and falls asleep. Soon an angel
touches him and gives him freshly-baked bread and water. Elijah now
has enough energy for a 40-day journey to Horeb, the mountain of
God. He arrives and spends the night in a cave.
The story in 1 Kings 19:10-18 begins with God speaking to this weary
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1
He replied, “I have been very zealous
for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your
covenant, broken 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 19:10)
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the
mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass
by.” (1 Kings 19:11a)
"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." (1 Kings 19:11b)
"After the earthquake came a fire, but the
LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper."
(1 Kings 19:12)
"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
He replied, "I have been very zealous for
the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant,
broken 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)
The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the
Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram.
Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha
son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu
will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha
will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I will
reserve seven thousand in Israel—all those whose knees have not
bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1
What can we learn from Elijah?
One lesson comes from how he responds to the LORD’s voice. He
obviously trusts God enough to go stand by the cave’s opening, even
after destructive wind, shaking ground, and a fire. Elijah obeys God
and does not stay in the shelter of the cave.
In his obedience, there is also a kind of fear and/or reverence, as
Elijah pulls the garment over his face. This covering is probably
not just to prevent exposure to smoke remnants in the aftermath of
the fire. I liken it to how Moses could not regard the majesty of
the presence of God without dying (see
Exodus 33:20) – there is a certain
awesomeness about being that close to God, which the human body
What are the implications of God’s
conversation with Elijah?
First, we see God inquiring “what are
you doing here?” Elijah is obviously
running away and has been frightened to the point of wanting to die.
However, God is not going to let him go this easily. He pursues
Elijah, even after providing food for him through an angel. Then he
gives Elijah specific directions that will impact Israel’s and
Aram’s future: who to anoint as kings and who to anoint as a
prophet, to follow Elijah’s role.
By telling Elijah about who will succeed him as prophet, God is
letting Elijah know that his work will go on. I imagine that this
would be a tremendous encouragement to Elijah, as he realizes that
he is really not alone in the purpose of helping Israel turn back to
What could God be saying to us through
Are we in situations that are similar
If we are running away from something, the
Lord does not want to leave us in fear.
"He has not given us a spirit of
timidity but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind! (2 Timothy
If we are in Christ, He has blessed us in
the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3).
Claim these promises as your own, and
the truth will set you free (John
Are there people we need to teach?
Just as Elijah’s ministry would be left to
Elisha, the New Testament Apostles also modeled this transfer of
duty that made their load lighter.
Delegating tasks and training up new
leaders are important aspects of how the church works and carries on
into the future. We definitely do not need to feel alone in
Is the Lord calling us to come out and
I encourage you to prayerfully respond to
Kristen Agnew is a
graduate student and a cell group leader
of Living Acts which is part of Oakland International Fellowship, the
English congregation for Pittsburgh Chinese Church-Oakland!