Elijah was despondent. This immediately after the victory over four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel (see 1 Kings 18:20-46). One would think that he would have been on a spiritual high. However, terrified by the threats of Jebezel to take his life within twenty-four hours (1 Kings 19:2), instead of looking to God he thinks of himself only. According to the narrative, “And Elijah was afraid and arose and ran for his life, and he came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there. But he himself traveled a day’s journey into the wilderness, and he came and sat down under a juniper tree and asked [God] that he might die. He said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.'” (1 Kings 19:3-4, AMP)
After a series of divine encounters during which he was physically and nutritionally refreshed, Elijah “traveled forty days and nights to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God” where he settled in a cave (vv. 8-9a). The narrative continues, “The word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very zealous (impassioned) for the Lord God of hosts (armies) [proclaiming what is rightfully and uniquely His]; for the sons of Israel have abandoned (broken) Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, only I, am left; and they seek to take away my life'” (vv. 9b-10). It is clear that Elijah was not being subtle with the focus on himself and his efforts. He was in the midst of a pity party and he was going to make the most of it! It did not matter that as God’s prophet he was in a place where he served no useful purpose. The question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” is loaded with significance. As Bible Commentator John Gills points out, “This is not a proper place for a prophet to be in, in a wilderness, in a mountain, in a cave in it: what work could he do for God? or what service to his people?”
For all intents and purposes, Elijah was accusing God of leaving him by himself. Yet, God had good news for him. After challenging him a second time with the same question and receiving the same answer from Elijah, in the midst of instructing him the LORD told him, “I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (v. 18, KJV). In other words, “Elijah, you are not alone and have never been alone. There are seven thousand in Israel who are just like you.”
Do you feel like Elijah sometimes? Zealous and jealous for the LORD God of hosts yet feeling like you are the only one in your church or sphere of influence who cares about standing up for Him? When we focus on ourselves, it is easy to feel that way for the mind that is focused on self cannot focus on God at the same time. However, in the midst of challenging situations, even life-threatening ones, it is important to remember that though we may not see them or even be aware of them, there are others who are standing firm for God regardless of the cost. Having a pity party is not the answer. When we turn our eyes to the King of kings, we are reminded that there are more who are with us than we realize. I find that very encouraging. How about you?