Through the Bible Day by Day
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
EXALTATION AND DEPRESSION
When the priests had been executed, the quick ear of the prophet detected the hurrying rain-clouds. Note the contrast between Ahab and the prophet. The one ascended from the Kishon gorge to eat and drink in his pavilion until the darkened heavens made him drive-post-haste to Jezreel; the other went up to pray! which do we care for most-to eat and drink or to pray? God help us! The answer that our hearts utter is far from satisfactory. But what praying was this! So humble, so intense, so expectant. Six times the servant came down from the spur, saying, “There is nothing,” and a seventh time he was sent back to watch the Mediterranean sky-line-this time, not in vain!
But why that sudden change to despair? Was it the overstrain of that day on Carmel, which induced a terrible reaction? Was it that swift run from Carmel to Jezreel, in front of Ahab’s fiery steeds? Was it that threat of Jezebel? She, at least, was neither awed nor checkmated by the massacre of her favorite priests. Did he lose sight of God in that dark hour? Elijah was but mortal! His feet had almost gone; his steps had well-nigh slipped, Psa_73:2.
And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
LEARNING HOW GOD WORKS
God knew how to treat His servant, resting beneath the juniper tree. He steeped his nature in refreshing sleep, fed his exhausted energies, caused angel-hands to minister to him, and finally conducted him across the desert to that sacred mountain where Moses in the old time had stood in the divine audience-chamber. There the forces of nature spoke to Elijah’s varying moods. In the fire, the earthquake, and the tempest, he heard the voices of his own soul. They expressed what he would say, and relieved him in the expression. Then the accents of the “still small voice” fell upon his ear, calming, quieting, soothing. Best of all, the voice of God commissioned him once more with the words, “Go, return.” The vacated post was open still; the crown of the life-work could be worthily placed; the gate was open through which he might serve the land he loved.
Often we lie down on the desert-sands, and think that death is near. But it is not so. God does not judge us by our moods. He knows the faithful heart that is true to Him, and he wants to bestow the crown of life. Not the winding-sheet of the desert-sands, but the chariot of fire to the Home-Land was to be the portion of God’s faithful prophet.
And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
APPOINTING JEHOVAH’S INSTRUMENTS
Elijah was never reinstated in quite the position that he had occupied before his fatal flight. True, he was bidden to return, and work was given him to do. But that work consisted in anointing three men who were to share the ministry which he might have fulfilled, if only he had been true to his opportunities and faithful to his God. God’s work must go forward, if not by us, then by others brought in to fill our place.
Hazael, king of Syria; Jehu, the rude captain; and Elisha, the young farmer. Each was as different as possible from the others; yet each had his special sphere in dealing with the idolatries and impurities that were destroying the chosen race. God’s nets are not all constructed with the same size of meshes. Men may escape some of the bigger ones, who will be caught by the smaller ones. But God so orders the lives of men that once at least each encounters a mesh that cannot be evaded. What a comfort it is to think that God is at work in the world, and that, while statistics tell a sad tale, there may still be seven thousand secret disciples for every Elijah!