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Running From God

Key References: 1 Kings 19:1-18; Prophets and Kings, chaps. 12, 13, pp. 155-176; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 5, pp. 38-43; Our Beliefs nos. 7, 3, 11

Power Text

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ ” (Hebrews 13:5).

Power Point

God is always with us, even in discouraging times.

Have you ever stood next to a busy highway or a building site where there were lots of noisy machines? How easy was it to talk to someone? Did you need to shout or whisper? Elijah discovered God’s power in both the powerful, loud events and the still, quiet whisper.

After more than three years of drought, it rained. Queen Jezebel wasn’t impressed. Elijah had killed all 450 of the prophets of Baal and started a spiritual renewal in Israel. The people had returned to Jehovah God. Jezebel refused to believe in Elijah’s God. She boldly declared that Elijah must die.

A messenger sent from Jezebel walked quickly, bringing news to the prophet. The servant said, “I have come from Queen Jezebel. She sends this message to you: ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them’” (1 Kings 19:2).

Elijah had faced hundreds of people on Mount Carmel, all of whom blamed him for the misery caused by the drought and famine. He had faced the prophets of Baal. Elijah had stood against the power of evil and drawn the people back to God. Yet when Elijah got this message from Jezebel, he forgot how God had taken care of him during the drought. He forgot about ravens bringing him food. He forgot about flour and oil lasting for three years. He forgot about the fire that fell from heaven revealing God’s power. Elijah seemed to forget about the power of God. Jezebel threatened him, and Elijah ran for his life. But God did not forget His servant.

Finally Elijah fell asleep on the hard ground. He wanted to die. A soft hand touched his shoulder. Elijah jumped awake, thinking one of Jezebel’s servants had found him. But a kind face looked at him. God had sent an angel to His frightened servant. “Get up and eat,” the angel said, pointing to a loaf of bread and a jar of water. Elijah ate the food and fell asleep again. A second time the angel woke Elijah and told him to eat. Then Elijah traveled 40 days and more than 100 miles. Finally, at Mount Horeb in southern Palestine, Elijah stopped.

Weary and discouraged, Elijah hid in a cave. God came to the entrance of the cave and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God had sent him to Ahab with His message. God had fed him through ravens at the brook Kerith. God had preserved his life with the widow’s food at Zarephath. God had sent him to stand alone before the priests of Baal. God had given him the strength to run in front of Ahab’s chariot. God had started a reformation in Israel through this man. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” echoed the words of the Lord in the prophet’s heart. Elijah answered, “The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” God said to Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by” (1 Kings 19:10, 11). Suddenly a powerful wind tore the mountains and scattered the rocks, but God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake shook the ground, but God was not in the earthquake. Next a fire swept across the mountain, but God was not in the fire. Last came a gentle whisper. Elijah recognized that God was present there. Covering his face with his cloak, the prophet hurried out of the cave. Suddenly he realized that God doesn’t always reveal Himself in a powerful way. Sometimes He shows Himself in small, quiet ways. Elijah needed only to trust God to take care of him.

Elijah heard God asking again: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” The prophet replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

But Elijah was not the only one who had remained faithful to God. The Lord told him that there were 7,000 other followers of Jehovah who did not worship Baal. God spoke to him, saying: “Go back the way you came” (verses 13-15).

Though Elijah ran away, being overcome by the fear of death, God did not reject His faithful servant. The prophet still had a work to accomplish. Strengthened with power from God, Elijah once again accepted the call to restore the worship of the true God in Israel.