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Bible Pathways 04/29/2002

April 29

Read 1 Kings 19 -- 20

In Today's Reading:

Jezebel's threat against Elijah l Elijah's flight l Revelation from God to Elijah l The call of Elisha l Ahab defeats Syria but makes treaty with Ben-hadad l Ahab sealed his fate because of this compromise.

Verse for Today:

He (Elijah) requested . . . that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life (1 Kings 19:4).

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. This would mean a return to Jerusalem, the only God-appointed worship center and the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel would once again become a united nation.

Ahab had witnessed the entire scene -- the failure of his and Queen Jezebel's 850 false prophets, who were then executed, and how Elijah was 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. [Elijah] 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) (1 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 . . . said . . . O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers (19:4). If Elijah had 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, no better than my fathers; we have all failed, and there seems to be no hope of restoring a united nation worshipping the One True God." However, God did not say: "Shame on you." Instead He lovingly rewarded Elijah by providing for His servant's physical needs by an angel that brought him nourishment (19:5-8). Elijah was far from a failure. Often our mountaintop spiritual victories will be quickly followed by opposition and a time of testing and loneliness in "our desert."

On that soon-coming day when we stand before the Lord, each person's work shall be judged, not by how successful it may appear to the world, but by how faithful and available we have been with the abilities and opportunities we were given. As servants of the Lord, like Elijah, all of us have moments of disappointment when it seems we have failed the Lord. Often our estimation of what we think we should achieve or be and God's estimation are far apart. As much as we may desire, no one is perfect. Never forget, we are not called to be successful but faithful.

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 (1 Kings 18:39). For almost 3000 years Elijah has given encouragement to millions of believers. Elias (Elijah) was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit (James 5:17-18).

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 (1 Kings 20:13). Thanks be to God, [Who gives] us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57).

Word Studies:

19:8 Horeb = Sinai; 19:14 jealous = zealous; 19:21 instruments = yokes; 20:11 harness = armor; 20:12 set yourselves in array = get ready to attack; 20:22 mark = take note; 20:24 rooms = positions.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Rep. Carrie Meek (FL), Rep. Jim Ryun (KS), and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) · Pray for one another · Country: Chile (15 million) on the southwestern coast of South America · Major language: Spanish · Religious freedom · 63% Roman Catholic; 23% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Confess and forsake your sins that you may receive mercy (Proverbs 28:13).

Optional Reading: Romans 2

Memory Verse for the Week: Jeremiah 15:16

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