“… and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ So he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life’” (1 Kings 19:9-10).
Elijah the prophet was a great man of God. He was God’s spokesman who faced the great challenge of trying to lead Israel back to God at a time when the forces of government opposed him and God’s people had backslidden into idol worship. He was a great man of faith who, when he called upon God to cause it not to rain in order to chasten God’s people to see the error of their ways, God answered his prayer by causing it not to rain for 3 ½ years (1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17-18). Elijah courageously opposed the wicked King Ahab and won a great challenge against the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel in order to get the people of Israel to see and proclaim that “The Lord, He is God!” (1 Kings 18:22-40). Elijah would be rewarded for his faithfulness to God by not having to experience death as he was called up to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). The apostles James, Peter, and John would later see Elijah at the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:1-3).
However, as great a man of faith as Elijah was, he was a man who struggled with discouragement. As the opening verses above indicate, following his challenge against the 450 prophets of Baal and Jezebel’s vow to take Elijah’s life, Elijah becomes very discouraged. He felt like he was all alone. He believed in his heart that there were no more faithful followers of God. In fact, his despair is so great that he prayed that he might die and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4). He was so depressed he wanted to die!
God intervened to encourage his faithful follower Elijah. God sends an angel to give him nourishment (1 Kings 19:5-8). However, Elijah’s struggle with discouragement is not over (1 Kings 19:9-10). God has Elijah stand on the mountain before the Lord to witnesses a great and strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire (1 Kings 19:11-12a). After witnessing these strong and mighty acts of the Lord, Elijah will hear the Lord speak to him in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12a-18). In the midst of all these awesome acts of the Lord (i.e. great wind, earthquake, and fire) and in the midst of all the crazy things happening in Israel, what Elijah needed to do was to take heed to carefully listen to God’s voice. As God speaks to Elijah, He says, “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him" (1 Kings 19:18).
As I consider Elijah and the challenges he faced in serving God in the midst of a godless nation, it is easy for me to relate to him as I serve God today. It is difficult to serve God when so many around you walk contrary to God’s Will and you receive little encouragement to remain faithful to God from other people. It is easy to become discouraged when trying to serve God in such circumstances.
However, like Elijah, I need to take time to listen to God’s “still small voice”. When everything appears to be tumultuous around me, I need to reflect upon the promises He has made to me. I also need to remember there are faithful servants of God who have not “bowed the knee to Baal” and be encouraged by them. Today, I will rejoice that God still speaks to me through His Word in a “still small voice” and I will rejoice in my brethren who continue to strive to serve God faithfully!
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).