The Works of

Rev. Prof. Dr. F.N. Lee

16 April

The revival of Elijah, when he wished he were dead!

First Kings 19:4-11

‘(Elijah)…went a day’s journey into the wilderness…. He requested…that he might die, and said: “It is enough! Now, O Lord, take away my life!”… As he lay and slept…, an angel touched him and said to him: “Arise and eat!”… And he ate and drank, and laid himself down again…. The angel of the Lord came again…and said: “Arise and eat!”… And he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food 40 days and 40 nights to…the Mount of God…. He came…to a cave, and lodged there…. The Word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And he said…”I, even I alone am left; and they are seeking my life, to take it away!” But He said: “Go forth, and stand upon the Mount before the Lord!”‘ First Kings 19:4-11.

God through Elijah had destroyed the false-prophets of Baal (First Kings 18). Queen Jezebel then threatened Elijah with death, and he fled dejectedly into the wilderness (First Kings 19:1-4).

Elijah was weary of life, and wished to die in the Lord. He said: ‘Lord, I have worked and endured enough, and deserve no longer a life than my fathers.’ This shows Elijah was already of a great age. So, disturbed, he now just lay down and fell asleep under a tree.

But God then sent His angel to wake him up and feed him. Even when he had eaten and drank and laid himself down again, the angel woke him up again — and told him to get up and eat again, because otherwise his unexpected journey to Mount Sinai would be too much for him.

Elijah, in the support imparted by the angel, saw an indication he was to follow in the footsteps of God’s divine grace still further into the desert — and end up by making a unexpected pilgrimage to Horeb or Sinai. Such was the Mount of God where the Lord had confirmed the covenant already made with the Patriarchs, to their descendants — and adopted the tribes of Israel as His people.

It was about 200 miles away. In the strength of the food provided by the angel, Elijah was to perform the journey to Horeb for 40 days and 40 nights. So that just as Moses had formerly wandered with all Israel for 40 years, Elijah too might know that the Lord was still the same God Who had nourished His whole nation in the desert with manna from Heaven for 40 years.

When Elijah arrived at Horeb, he went into the cave obviously connected with the former appearance of God to Moses in Exodus 33:12-23. Elijah said: “I have zealously striven for Jehovah. But the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant and killed Your Prophets with the sword…. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life!” The Lord replied by the manifestation of His control over nature, and then by telling Elijah to go back where he came from. For there were still 7000 in Israel who had not bowed to Baal!

As Calvin observed in his Tracts and Treatises III:369, when God “describes His pure worshippers, the mark by which He distinguishes them, is this — ‘I have preserved to Myself 7000 men!’…. Those also whose knees have never been bent to Baal!’ (First Kings 19:18).” Thus God revived the old Elijah, when he wished he were dead!