Journal Notes: 11 Feb 2019; 0400
Elijah called the people together and asked for the prophets of Baal to call on their god to manifest himself to show that he was alive, able, and willing to respond to their needs. this allowed all to witness the complete failure of Baal. After the failure of Baal and his prophets, Elijah called on the Lord God and He responded, burning the sacrifice and drying up the water. This was a powerful demonstration of God’s power and Elijah’s relationship to Him. It would seem reasonable to expect all observers and knowledgeable people to recognize the power manifested and submit to it. One would expect Elijah to be elated, walking on cloud nine!
Yet when his work was conveyed to the king’s wicked wife, Jezebel, she promised to continue her opposition and resistence to him (1 Kings 19:2-3). With his experience and recent victory over Baal’s four hundred prophets, we would expect him to face up to the threat, pointing to the fact that God had manifested Himself in such a powerful way that it would be foolish and fatal to oppose Him in the manner she was threatening. However, we are surprised again! He runs for his life!
Elijah Runs For His Life (19:3-4)
The text says, “and he was afraid.” There is a slight problem here. The consonants for the Hebrew word “afraid” and those of the imperfect of “saw” are the same. Thus, the KJV and the ASV have, “and he saw.” The difference in the translation is in the vowel pointing. But nearly all other versions, NASB, RSV, NIV, Amplified, etc., have “and he was afraid.”
If “saw” is the correct translation it still does not remove the element of his fear that led to his flight out of the area. Though it would highlight several ideas: (a) our expectations, (b) our focus, (c) our strategies, and (d) the consequences, it would show how our focus (how we see a situation) can empower and encourage us, or neutralize and turn us into whimpering complainers or discouraged discontents.
His Action Of Requesting To Die (I had felt an extreme spirit of despondency over me last night)
It is hard to understand that Elijah at this time would run away from such a one as Jezebel and sit down under a tree requesting “for himself that he might die. . . ” (19:4).
I have been praying for a divine providence to see and talk to Mack for over a year now. I wanted reconciliation and our relationship redeemed. Last week, I saw signs of a changed of heart. Tides are slowly turning. My prayers have been answered.
Yesterday evening, I thought I saw Mack but wasn’t sure if it is. I tried hard to try to recall all Mack’s facial features but I can’t put together the picture. That person was on a date. Eating a double double in Daly City. I didn’t want to intrude. I went home feeling despondent not knowing if that person was Mack.
Perhaps the first lesson I can learn from Elijah’s response concerns is our expectations and their impact on us. As already mentioned, he was expecting something different–something more positive. He was looking for a real turnaround in the spiritual conditions of the kingdom and his expectations may have moved into the realm of a sense of demandingness.
Life is full of disappointments and if we are not extremely careful, those expectations will derail us as they become demands of our heart. It is not wrong for us to hope for the best and to look to the Lord for that. First Corinthians 13:7 says “love . . . believes all things, hopes all things.” The same is true for faith according to Heb. 11:1. But 1 Corinthians 13:7 also says, “love bears all things, . . . endures all things.” Please note, believing and hoping is sandwiched between bearing and enduring.
God holds us responsible for trusting in Him, for obedience, for love, for endurance, and for faithfulness to do what He has called us to do. He does not hold us responsible for the results. The results are in His hands, not ours. We can’t change people, and we often can’t change our circumstances, only God can. Further, our expectations can easily slip into a sense of a demandingness–demanding that things work out the way we think they should. When that happens we are usurping God’s sovereignty and acting as though we the creature were the all wise Creator. When we focus on our expectations and make the results we want the source of our happiness, security, or significance, we end up in the Elijah syndrome–fearful, ready to run away, and engulfed in feelings of failure and depression or fear and frustration.
I failed to see what God was doing in Mack’s life. A miracle. From a seed, I saw stalk rising from the ground.
Elijah had failed to see God in what had happened as well as he was but God’s instrument. Like so many today he was completely absorbed by our expectations and as a result misrepresented the truth of what had actually happened. Elijah didn’t see the work of God and the revelation of the event.
When we proudly protect our own turf, when we get our eyes on people and what they have done or said, we fail to see God at work. When our eyes are on people, whether in admiration of a person’s life, we miss the truth. Indeed, we distort the truth, we blow it all out of shape, or hide it completely. We become blind to the work of God. All we see are the conditions. When this happens, we are unable to respond with the right kind of action–with ministry, endurance, and faith.
Becoming personality-oriented nearly always leads to another consequence. In place of bold faith and love, we cause pain and misery for all concerned (cf. Heb. 12:1-15). When people focus on people, one of two things happen: (a) either they brag about the person they admire, which may bring temptation to that person and encourage others to glory in man, or (b) they attack and criticize bringing persecution and heartache. When God is not the focus, we lose.
Even with such behavior, the Lord did not let Elijah have his request to die. He sent an angel who “touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.” He was strengthened and traveled for forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God (19:8). Thank you Jenna and Raj for your words of affirmation and being there for me.
Some principles we can glean from this negative focus and Elijah’s response:
(1) Like Elijah, all of us fail at times to live up to what we should do based on our knowledge and experience. Quite often, the unreasoned behavior occurs shortly after a victory! Man is more vulnerable right after a battle, even one which he has won! He is exhausted, with his guard down!
(2) We should never walk by sight–as things appear to us. We are to walk by faith in the sovereign control and providence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:7; Ps. 103:19; 115:3). Does this mean we are to be ignorant of the problems or ignore them so that we stick our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich–if they really do that? I think not! Only a weak faith seeks to ignore the problems (cf. Num. 13:1-2; Rom. 4:19).
Rather, it means we are to stay focused on the Lord and seek to look beyond the problems through the eyes of faith. By faith we are to see the very real, though invisible realities about God’s person and the faithfulness of His promises and principles for life as revealed in Scripture (Ps. 19:7-9; 93:5; Rom. 4:17-21). In Romans 4:16, Abraham is called the father of faith. With Abraham as our father of faith, we can glean four things about the kind of faith God wants us to have:
He was Confident in God’s Person (verses 17, 21), “even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist,” “. . . He was able also to perform.” Faith knows God is the One who brings dead things to life and calls into being even the things which are not. The focus here is on God’s person. This is what my life journal is about.
* He was Cognizant of the Problem (vs. 19), “And without becoming weak in faith, he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead . . .” In other words, he did not act as though there was no problem. He faced it, but saw beyond it to the Lord.
* He was Conversant with and Convinced of God’s Promises (verses 17, 18, and 21). In other words, he both knew and claimed the promises of God. He stood on the faithfulness of God to keep His promises.
* He was Constant against All Odds (verses 18a and 20), “in hope against hope he believed,” and “he did not waver in unbelief.” Regardless of the difficulty, he endured and believed God was in charge and would be faithful to what He had promised, even if it meant resurrection (Heb. 11:17-19).
(3) Therefore, by faith, we are to continue to do the things God has called us to do like pray, speak hope into life, etc. God forbid, however, that we should run ahead of the Lord with our escape and defense strategies through which we seek to change, manipulate or control the situation.
(4) Whenever we walk by sight, we forfeit a great deal of God’s blessing and provision. This does not mean He forsakes us. God did not forsake Elijah. Indeed, He sought him out and ministered to him. During our times of unbelief, however, we forfeit God’s best. Note the following examples: (a) Lot chose according to sight, not faith, and ended up losing everything (Gen. 13:1-13). (b) At Kadesh Barnea, the people walked by sight and forfeited the privilege of entering the land. For forty years they wandered in the wilderness (Num. 13:33 and Heb. 3:18-4:2).
5) Finally, it is helpful to remember we cannot truly remain occupied with the Lord and our problems at the same time. Obviously we will be aware of them, but our focus needs to be on the Savior. “Looking unto Jesus . . .” in Hebrews 12:2
The temptation to give up remains, but there is no justification for dropping out, till God calls us home! We need, therefore, to allow the double challenge to sink in: Just what are we doing where we are? It does not matter how much we have done; rather, it’s what are we doing now.