(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
What could Elijah be thankful for? Pictured above is the prophet in a cave on Mount Sinai. It was an extremely low point in Elijah’s life!
- He had just defeated Queen Jezebel’s hundreds of false prophets on Mount Carmel! I Kings 18:19 Elijah commanded King Ahab “…to gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, [and] the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah….” But thereafter in the Biblical record, it seems like only the 450 prophets of Baal showed up! But still…
✡ ...it was a mighty victory for the true LORD God Jehovah! ✡ But it must have taken a lot of physical/mental/ emotional energy out of Elijah in the process. ✡ The confrontation on Mount Carmel ended with... ➔ ...proof that Jehovah was the real God as opposed to the false gods worshiped by the Israelites. ➔ ...a revival of sorts (because it didn’t last) of the attending Israelites who, upon witnessing fire come down from hea- ven shouted, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!” (I Kings 18:38). ➔ ...all 450 false prophets of Baal being put to death!
- I Kings 19:1 through 3:
And [King] Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, [Elijah]...arose and ran for his life....
- I Kings 19:4 – Alone and running from Jezebel’s threat, the prophet collapsed under a broom tree…“And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’ ”
- I Kings 19:5 through 7 – He slept from exhaustion! And as he slept, God twice sent an angel to him, providing Elijah with sustaining bread and water!
- I Kings 19:8 – “So he arose, ate and drank, and he went in the strength of that food forty days…and nights as far as…the mountain of God.”
You would think that Elijah would have been encouraged and thankful after this miraculous provision……..but he was not! For we find him in a cave on Mount Sinai (called Horeb in the text), still very discouraged! This is where our featured Scripture comes in, I Kings 19:9 and 10:
And there he went into a cave, and spent the night there in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
After God showed the prophet His power three times by sending “…a great and strong wind… [that] tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces…[then] an earthquake…and…a fire….” (I Kings 19:11 and 12). But, it says, “…the LORD was not in…” these mighty acts!
Where was God? In verse 12 it says, God came with “…a still small voice….” Sometimes God speaks quietly! We have to learn to be attuned to His still small voice! (see Isaiah 30:21).
What did God say in that still small voice? “And suddenly a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ ” (I Kings 19:13). Exactly the same question a second time! And so, in verse 14, Elijah gave exactly the same answer:
“I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your cove- nant, torn down Your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
Somehow this second confession of the prophet does not sound as convincing! I think God just wanted Elijah to hear himself say it again – because it turns out, it was a rather foolish answer! For the LORD gave replied:
- I Kings 19:15 – “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria.”
- I Kings 19:16 – “Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel.”
- I Kings 19:16 – “And Elisha the son of Shaphat…you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”
I Kings 19:18 – “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
To get the full story of Elijah, the prophet of God, and his ministry, you would have to read I Kings chapters 17 through 19, chapter 21, and II Kings chapters 1 and 2. Also, it would be good to read Luke chapter 9.
What has all this to do with Elijah’s thankfulness?
- The LORD greatly used this man – and he could be thankful for this! Yes, he had trials and down times, but he is considered, after Moses, to be the greatest prophet in the Old Testament!
- Highlighted in this Gem (in I Kings chapter 18) Elijah should have been thankful that…
✡ ...he turned the hearts of so many Israelites (at least temporarily) back to the LORD! ✡ ...he rid Israel of hundreds of false prophets of Baal!
- In I Kings chapter 19, during his flight from Queen Jezebel, he could thank God for the provision of food (twice given by an angel) as he slept in the desert! By the way, this was only the second time God gave His special heavenly bread, the first being the miraculous food of manna given to the Israelites during the 40 years of wandering in the desert.
- Elijah could also be grateful for his continuing ministry…
✡ ...that the LORD outlined for him in I Kings 19:15 and 16 (listed above). ✡ ...as further recorded in I Kings chapters 17 through 19, 21, and II Kings 1 and 2.
- He could thank God for such a willing and able disciple in Elisha!
✡ Elisha had asked in II Kings 2:9 for “...a double portion of your spirit...upon me.” ✡ Recorded from II Kings 2 through chapter 13 are the miracles this mighty prophet performed! There are twice the miracles recorded than what Elijah performed! But Elisha did ask for “...a double portion of [Elijah’s] spirit...”!
It is not easy being called to serve the LORD God!
- There are many mountaintop experiences for which to be thankful!
- And there are valleys (some very deep) through which we must pass!
✡ But remember Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” ➔ Death is only a shadow to the believer! ➔ God is with us even then.......especially then! ✡ It is in the valleys where we learn the most important lessons of life!
But if Romans 8:28 is true (and it is) then we can thank God for everything!
✞ Romans 8:28 and 29: ...we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestin- ated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. ✞ God is doing a work in His children, making us more and more into the image of Jesus! ✞ Then we can fulfill... ➔ ...Ephesians 5:20 – “...giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ➔ ...I Thessalonians 5:18 – “...in every- thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Focusing on Elijah, we must not see only the down times! For I’m sure he had much for which to thank his LORD……..and so should we!
This Thanksgiving, let us focus on giving thanks to God…
For the mountaintops, for the valleys!
For all the things He allows to touch our lives!