1 Kings 19:14-18
“Elijah said, ‘I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
This is the same response that Elijah gave the first time the Lord asked this question, and it reveals that Elijah still didn’t get the message. The core of Elijah’s problem was that he was self-oriented. The biggest problem that Elijah faced wasn’t Jezebel; the biggest problem that Elijah faced was Elijah!
Elijah’s response to God is essentially this: I am discouraged and despondent because I have been faithful to you, but the people of Israel have not. They killed the other prophets, and I’m the only one left. And now they seek to kill me. This is not what I thought being your prophet was all about. The pressure is too great. I just can’t take it.
Elijah was correct that the people of Israel had forsaken the covenant, and he was correct that many of the Lord’s prophets had been killed. But it was not true that Elijah was the only one left. Just a few verses later the Lord tells him there are seven thousand in Israel who have remained faithful.
Elijah was also correct that being a prophet of God requires the faith and strength to stand strong in response to the pressure of difficult circumstances. Often extreme circumstances. And Israel under the control of idolatrous Ahab and evil Jezebel was definitely an extreme circumstance.
The issue for Elijah was that when confronted by Jezebel, his focus on self went up and his faith in God went down. This self-orientation cut him off from the source of true strength, and the pressure, frustration, and fear of the situation overwhelmed him.
The Lord’s message to Elijah is this: You need to reorient yourself. You need to refocus your thinking. I did not give you my Spirit for you; I gave you my Spirit so that you could serve me and serve the people of Israel. You aren’t the object of my power; you are the agent of my power. It’s not about you Elijah!
And if you are truly jealous for me, Elijah, and if you truly want Israel to turn away from idolatry and return to the covenant with me, then stop brooding. Yes, it’s difficult and dangerous. But that is part of the job of being my prophet. Have faith and trust me. Stop dwelling on the negative and Do Your Job!
What a great message for us today. Being a follower of Christ in the 21st century requires the faith and strength to stand strong in response to the pressure of difficult circumstances.
As you face the challenges and pressures of the increasingly secular and hostile culture, what is your focus? Where do you stand? Do you abide in Christ and trust His power in your life, or do you focus on self and fall prey to the forces of anxiety, discouragement, and despair?
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor 16:13)
The Lord is calling.