Bear with me here, my blog post is not about Elijah, per se, but rather about Elijah and Elisha, and the relationship they had. First of all, I want to talk about one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament, the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, and what happens after the show-down with the false prophets at the altar. But first, I need to set the stage.
Elijah lives under the oppressive rule of king Ahab and Jezebel, and Ahab has forced the people of his nation to commit sin with idol worship and fertility groves, angering the Lord. When Ahab institutes his new policies, Elijah is sent to tell him that there will be a drought until Elijah speaks again. Then the Lord tells Elijah to hide by a brook. Elijah is fed by ravens. When the book dries up, Elijah is sent to Zarephath where he is cared for by a widow and her son.
After three years of horrible suffering by the people, the Lord finally tells Elijah to call on Ahab. When Elijah meets with the Ahab, the king accuses him of causing all of this trouble. Elijah corrects him, and places the blame for the drought and famine squarely on Ahab’s shoulders. Elijah then makes his famous request: Gather all of Israel to mount Carmel, and bring all the prophets of Baal.
Are you still with me? Don’t go away yet! I’ll get to my point soon . . .
This is the setting for the famous show-down. Elijah makes an altar. The 450 prophets of Baal make an altar too. The prophets of Baal pray all day, asking their god to send fire from heaven to consume their sacrifice. It doesn’t happen. Elijah preps his sacrifice by pouring barrels of water, three times, all over his altar, soaking the wood, and filling a trench around the altar. Then Elijah prays. Fire roars from the heavens. The sacrifice, the wood, the water . . . even the stones, are consumed.
The Israelites in attendance, capture the prophets of Baal and execute them. It seems like the Lord has saved the day.
But then, things turn very sour. Rather than repent, Ahab and Jezebel now seek Elijah’s life. Jezebel swears to kill him before the next day ends.
Distraught, tired, and feeling like he had utterly failed, Elijah flees into the wilderness. Alone, he prays to the Lord, asking God to take his worthless life.
After forty days in the wilderness, the Lord visits Elijah. This is what Elijah says: “. . . 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, emphasis added)
Did you notice that? Elijah’s real problem was that he felt all alone. Alone in a wicked world. Alone in the face of huge challenges. Alone and surrounded by people who wanted to kill him.
So what did the Lord do? He sends Elijah a friend: Elisha.
And then Elijah . . . no longer alone . . . and strengthened by Elisha, goes back to the kingdom and finishes the job. Elijah fearlessly prophesies about the end of Ahab and Jezebel’s kingdom. Elijah defeats armies by calling fire down from the heavens. When his mission is finished, Elijah is finally able to pass the torch, or more specifically the mantle, on to his friend, Elisha.
I am immensely grateful for the friends I have had in my life. I am in awe of the power and perception of God, to send friends to my aid in those times that I know and recognize that I am hurting, but have not mentioned it to anyone. Has that ever happened to you? Has God ever answered an unspoken prayer for you? Has He ever sent you aid, when you didn’t even ask for it?
That is the boundless mercy and great love of our wonderful God. I love Him. I thank Him. I am so grateful that He knows who I am.
May I never forget who He is.