OT: 1 Kings 19.1-15a
NT: Luke 5.27-32
Last week I told you that things were about to get real—and by that let me clearly say that it was about to hit the fan—between Elijah, Ahab, and Jezebel. Elijah was one of God’s most revered prophets. Ahab and Jezebel were two of God’s most defiled royals. Prophets, kings, and queens were supposed to work together like governors and senators and delegates…and that’s exactly how dysfunctional their relationship was. Ahab, Elijah, & Jezebel were not cordial. They did not agree to disagree. They did not say nice things about one another to mutual friends. They lived at each other’s throat.
Verse 1. Most of the time, Elijah had the upper hand. If you read chapter 18, you see that Elijah bested 400 of Ahab’s prophets and then outran the king’s chariots in a getaway which would make Smoky & the Bandit proud. But the sheriff is about to change the game.
Verse 2. Jezebel decides to kill Elijah. We know from last week’s story that when Jezebel sets her mind to something, she does it. If we know that just from reading the story, Elijah knew it in real time. Jezebel was not to be trifled with.
Verse 3. He was so afraid that he fled 100 miles…on foot. Few people know that kind of fear. It would be like packing your bags and fleeing to rural Russia today. Taking such a large step would signal real fear for your life.
Verse 4. Elijah, who has spoken truth to power for God for years, who has gone toe to toe with Ahab & Jezebel at every chance, suddenly gives up. He wants to die so he doesn’t have to run anymore. He’s done with all the mayhem his life has become.
Verse 5-8. Sometimes if I want my dogs to go somewhere they don’t really want to go, I’ll lead them with a trail of milk bones along the way. God does the same to Elijah…all the way to the destination God has in mind for him.
Verse 9-10. Elijah must have been incredulous. He surely wanted to say, “What am I doing here? YOU sent me here!” But he put his big boy pants on and said something more professional. “I have tried my best to do your work, God, and now they want to kill me for it.”
Verse 11-12. Elijah fears for his life. This is his moment of need, and he expects God to speak to him loud and clear with a message. After all, that is how their relationship works. God speaks, and Elijah relays the message. Without hearing from God, Elijah cannot do his job. God tells him to step outside the cave and listen. A mighty wind blows, but Elijah does not go outside to listen. A towering earthquake shakes the ground, but Elijah does not go outside to listen. A crackling fire wrecks the desert, but Elijah does not go outside to listen. This is how it works. God speaks, and Elijah listens. God often speaks in burning bushes and bolts of fire and earthquakes that raise the dead. But Elijah pays no attention to any of that…until…he hears the sound of the sheer silence.
Verse 13. The still, small voice of God speaks, and Elijah finally comes outside to listen. In a rushed and loud world, we can certainly identify with Elijah’s curiosity at the sound of sheer silence and what it might mean. God says again, “Why are you here?”
Verse 14. If you’re feeling déjà vu, then you’re paying attention. Elijah responds, word for word, the same way he does before. “I have tried my best to do your work, God, and now they want to kill me for it.”
Verse 15. God says, “Ok, now get back there.” What? You mean to tell me that’s what God has to say? After the buildup of the100-mile chase and the wind and the earthquake and the fire and the sheer silence, God tells his best prophet who’s hit rock bottom, “Get back there where you came from and do it again?” How is that compassionate, loving, or supportive? How is that fitting of God the Father?
Because Elijah never should’ve walked away in the first place. God called him to a do a certain job at a certain time, and a little trash talking had Elijah ready to walk away. Have you ever doubted God’s call on your life? Do you ever want to hit the reset button and start again? Do you sometimes just want the wind and the fire and the earthquakes to be replaced by the sound of sheer silence…so you’ll be able to hear clearly exactly what God wants for you?
When you’re ready to give up before the race is over…that is precisely when you need somebody who loves you and is on your side to remind you that it gets better. God the Father is doing that very thing for Elijah. Pushing him to fulfill his calling and reminding him that he’s doing the right thing.
God placed a call on your life many moons ago. We all stray from that call sometimes, and we may even have to make a 100-mile journey just to realize where we were is where we need to be. But God’s call is true. Trust it. Trust God’s call on your life. Amen.