Read I Kings 19 -- 20
Apparently, Elijah believed that the miraculous fire from Heaven and the end of the drought would prove that Baal was a false god, and would result in Ahab and Jezebel's conversion. If the Israelites were to worship the One True God, it would mean a return to Jerusalem, the only God-appointed worship center. This would mean the kingdoms of Judah and Israel could once again become a united nation.
Ahab had witnessed this entire scene -- the futility of his and Queen Jezebel's 850 false prophets who were executed and Elijah proven to be the true prophet of God. Ahab then headed toward his palace in Jezreel, about 17 miles away, to tell Jezebel what had happened.
The prophet was undoubtedly shocked when Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them (the slain prophets) by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life and came to Beer-sheba (more than 100 miles south), which belonged to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness (beyond Jezebel's jurisdiction) (I Kings 19:2-4). Avoiding the ruthless Jezebel was not weakness, but wisdom. Feeling defeated and discouraged, he sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers (19:4). Had Elijah truly wanted to die, he would have stayed in Samaria where Jezebel would have killed him.
There is no indication that Elijah contemplated suicide; he believed that God was the Creator and Lord of life and only He had the right to take life. What he meant was: "I'm a failure. I have not achieved my mission, and there seems to be no hope of restoring the nation to worship the One True God." However, God did not say: "Shame on you." Instead He lovingly provided Elijah's physical needs by sending an angel to provide nourishment after his long journey (19:5-6). Often our mountaintop spiritual victories will be quickly followed by opposition and desert testing.
On that soon-coming day when we stand before the Lord, each person's work shall be judged, not by how spectacular it was, but by its true eternal worth. As servants of the Lord, like Elijah, all of us have moments of disappointment and hopelessness when it seems we have failed and our expectations would not be realized. Often our estimation of what we should achieve and God's estimation are far apart. Never forget, we are not called to be successful, but to be available and to remain faithful to God (I Corinthians 1:9).
Although he did not know it, Elijah did accomplish what God wanted him to do. Among many other things, one of his great successes was that all the leaders from all the tribes of the Northern Kingdom went home with a renewed conviction that the Lord, He is the God. For almost 3000 years Elijah has given encouragement to millions of believers that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).
Christ Portrayed: By the unnamed prophet who prophesied victory to King Ahab so that he would know his victory was controlled by God: I am the Lord (I Kings 20:13,28).
Word Studies: 19:8 Horeb means Sinai; 19:14 jealous means zealous; 19:21 instruments means yokes; 20:11 harness means armor; 20:12 set yourselves in array means get ready to attack.
Government Officials: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Rep. Carrie Meek (FL), Rep. Jim Ryun (KS), and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) · Pray for Christian and Missionary Alliance missionaries in 54 countries · Country: Finland (5 million) in northern Europe · Major languages: Finnish and Swedish · Religious freedom · 91% Protestant; 1% Eastern Orthodox; 1% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to reveal what is not pleasing to Him (Psalms 139:23-24).
Optional Reading: Romans 2
Memory Verse for the Week: James 5:16