From Carmel to a Cave, part 2
Elijah had experienced a miraculous victory on Mt. Carmel in his contest against the prophets of Baal. God had demonstrated undeniably who was the true and living God. Elijah had prayed and the rains had returned; the drought was over. Elijah had even out-run Ahab’s chariot from Mt. Carmel back to Jezreel. So everything was going well for Elijah.
But everything turned sour for him as soon as Jezebel heard what Elijah had done. As soon as she heard what had happened to her prophets, she sent Elijah a message saying that he’d be dead the next day.
Elijah’s response to Jezebel’s letter reveals him to be an ordinary person in many ways. When Jezebel threatens him, he crumbles, he folds, he runs away and quits.
James tells us that Elijah was a man of like passions as we are. He had the same kind of strengths and weaknesses as we all do. The Bible shows its characters in all their triumphs and tragedies, their good and bad, their successes and failures. Even the heroes of the faith have their weaknesses. Even faithful servants of the Lord occasionally give in to fear.
How did it happen? Last time we saw several elements of Elijah’s discouragement. Instead of standing strongly against Jezebel’s threats, he gave in to fear. He indulged his feelings of self-pity. He focused on his own inadequacies and on how others had failed. He was not eating properly or getting enough rest. He neglected prayer and the Word of God. He sought to avoid his problems by running away from them.
No wonder the prophet was depressed. Anyone who does such things can expect to fall into depression and disappointment. It happened to one of the greatest prophets of God, and it could happen to you or me.
Elijah was imperfect, and so are we. We need to learn from his mistakes and not repeat them ourselves.
Of course, that’s not the end of the story. God was not finished with Elijah, even though Elijah was ready to quit. God provides a solution to Elijah’s discouragement. He lifts him out of his depression and sets him back to work. And today we’ll see how God did that.