On the Run – 1 Kings 19

1 (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 the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life… 1 Kings 19:1-3 NKJV

As the Lord’s final act in His showdown with Baal, the god that had turned the hearts of the Northern Kingdom of Israel away, He condemned Baal’s 450 prophets to death.  Queen Jezebel, Baal’s chief proponent and the benefactor of Baal’s prophets, then vowed revenge against Elijah, God’s instrument of judgement. 

Queen Jezebel sent Elijah a message that his death would come within the next 24 hours.  And, as she had already made good killing all the other prophets of the Lord that she could find, Elijah was filled with terror.  He fled south to Judah, and was on the run.

Before he had received Jezebel’s message of doom, Elijah participated in one more triumph – ending the three-and-a-half-year drought.  Having won the demonstration against Baal and shown His utter superiority to His people, God no longer needed to use the oppressive drought to get their attention.  He had used the prayers of Elijah to start the drought, and now had Elijah pray to bring an end to it.

Six times Elijah bowed and prayed at Mount Carmel, the site of God’s triumph over Baal.  Six times he sent his servant to look out over the Mediterranean Sea to see if any rain was coming, but there was nothing there.

When we do not get an answer to our prayers, we often get confused and upset, and sometimes just stop praying.  But God wants us to keep at it, even when we don’t initially see results.

Elijah kept praying.  On his seventh attempt, his servant observed an exceedingly small cloud rising up out of the sea.  Elijah knew that this would be the answer to his prayers to end the drought and began to act accordingly.  He warned King Ahab that he was about to get soaked.  Soon the sky filled with storm clouds and the heavy rains began.

Prayer is our best weapon when struggling against any foe in our lives, be it internal or external.  Though prayer may not bring immediate relief or results, God’s drought-ending rain will eventually come, and He will bring an end to our trial.

 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds… 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 NKJV

Despite his many recent victories as God’s point-person, Elijah was exhausted by the time he received Jezebel’s threat.  He had been riding along with the energy of the Lord holding him up, but her message hit just when he was running on empty.  It was all too much for him, and, despite just experiencing the power of God as few others ever had, he panicked and fled south.

Few of us are at our best when we are weakened by fatigue or hunger.  When we are in this state, it is recommended to take corrective action before going any further.  There is an acronym for this condition – HALTHungry-Angry-Lonely-Tired.  When feeling these, we are likely to make poor choices, or to do or say something that we will regret later. So, first things first, it is time to address this need.  When our strength returns, with God’s help, we can better address any problem or question at hand.

Reflection

Can you relate to difficulties brought on by the feelings summarized in the expression HALT?  Do you run into problems when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?  Perhaps you are feeling the effects now. If so, this becomes the recommended first order of business.

Once we feel restored, prayer is our best weapon against any problems that come up against us.  For reasons of His knowing, God often waits before answering, but He wants us to stay faithful and to continue praying.  Even Elijah had to pray seven times for rain to return, seven being the number of God, the number of completion or fulfillment. But our answers will come, sometimes after we have forgotten our own prayers.

Lord, teach us to pray with a sincere and faithful heart.  Help us to keep our prayers coming even when it seems that You are not listening – we know in faith that You always hear us and love us, and that, in Your perfect timing, our complete deliverance, resolution and fulfillment will come.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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