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Elijah 11. Elijah Runs Away!


Elijah 11.  Elijah Runs Away!

Text:1 Kings 19:1-3

We have reached the point in Elijah’s life story, where the prophet has faced down Ahab and the prophets of Baal, has slain those false prophets, and has been rewarded by an  answer to his marvellous prayer, as we saw last week – rain has begun to fall!  Jezebel is outraged, and threatens to kill Elijah!And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 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 tomorrow about this time.  Elijah is so terrified by this threat that he runs away – literally flees the country!  What lessons do we learn from this short passage?

1. After Climax – Anti-Climax!

What a great victory Carmel was! But very often after a great victory like that, God’s people wonder why there is a sudden coming down to earth with a bump!

  • Because God’s evaluation of success is different from ours!  We are human and we measure things in human terms.  We love to COUNT things.  Now, spend a moment considering some of the great heros of the Bible:
    • Noah.  God gave Noah a specific ministry, to preach the Gospel to a people who were under condemnation because of their sin.  He did it well, and he did it faithfully – he carried it out to the letter as he built the ark.  How many were saved? Just Noah and his family!  (and there’s doubts about his family!)
    • Isaiah.  Now Isaiah was a man of great influence, called by God to minister to Jerusalem.  When God called him, he asked God about the nature of this ministry and the prospects of its success. Isaiah 6:9-12  God was literally telling Isaiah to go and preach to people who would never listen!  He would have NO CONVERTS AT ALL!
    • Jeremiah.  He was called by God to preach the word to Judah – given a distinct commission.   Jeremiah 1:5-8  His name is eternally remembered!  He wrote one of the longest books in the Bible.  How many converts did Jeremiah have?  NONE!
    • Stephen.  In the NT, Stephen preached a marvellous sermon.  You can read it in Acts 7.  He faithfully stood before the leaders of his day, and preached a Gospel message as directed by God.  What was his success rate?  1 convert, and a martyrs death!

Now, why does this happen?  Because God’s measure of success is totally different than ours.  Mt Carmel was successful, because there God was GLORIFIED!

  • Because sometimes that’s the way God has planned it!  Sometimes, in his providence, God actually places preachers and Christian workers into a situation like Isaiah was in!  The effect of that will be that the people will come under the condemnation of God, so that on judgement day they will be without excuse. 2 Cor. 2:15-17  The preaching of the Gospel to those who hear it and belief, brings life.  To those who hear it and reject it, it brings deeper condemnation in the sight of God.
  • Because great miracles rarely convert the soul!  Look back to Carmel.  There had been a general acclamation of God’s sovereignty.  But how many true converts were there?    Luke 16:27-31  Great miracles, seen by men, like Carmel’s fire, may impress people, but they don’t save people!  Salvation requires conviction of sin, and God tells us in his word that the only way that happens is through the oral transmission of the Word of God.  There is one miracle that is needed, but it’s a miracle of Grace, not a miracle of nature!

So, after the great climax of God on Carmel, after the great triumph, was this awful kicking for God’s servant – Jezebel still doesn’t believe, still has the upper hand, is still determined to wipe out the religion of the Lord from Israel.


2. After Power – Panic!

Who was it that said, ‘Much prayer, much power.’  ‘Little prayer, little power.’ ‘No prayer, no power.’  We might be seeing an example of it here, for the man who had withstood Ahab, and had faced down 850 false clergymen on Carmel, and had called down rain from heaven, all through the power of prayer, is now quaking in his boots because a woman is mad with him!  When Elijah heard about Zezebel’s threat, he fled for his life.   1 Kings 19:1-3  

  • Elijah grasped the situationwhen he saw that Actually, the word THAT is not in the Hebrew, its implied by the other words in the text.  One modern translation records, When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah.  Elijah really did see how things were!  He knew that as far as Jezebel was concerned, nothing had changed.  Folks – we need to see how things are!
  • Elijah acted upon IMPULSE!  Elijah had fled to Cherith, because god told him to.  He fled to Zarepheth, because God told him to.  He went to confront Ahab, because God told him too.  Here he flees the country, goes to Beersheba, and he does it on IMPULSE.  There is no command from God to do this!  Why?  Is it because Elijah hasn’t taken time to pray?  He’s just panicked and jumped up and ran!
  • Even Elijah’s Impulsive behaviour was Godward!  One commentator has suggested that even in his state of panic, Elijah was so conditioned to doing God’s will that he instinctively knew where to run to!


So where do you run, when all things seem against you?  Do you run to the Saviour?  What’s your instinct – to run to man, to run for the help of man, or to trust in Christ?

From → 1st & 2nd Kings

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