1 Kings 19-20
(God Speaks in a Whisper)
April 13th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

King Ahab told his wife Jezebel everything that Elijah had done and how he had put all the prophets of Baal to death. She sent a message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me dead if by this time tomorrow I don't do the same thing to you that you did to the prophets.” Elijah was afraid, and fled for his life; he took his servant and went to Beersheba in Judah.

- Kings 19:1-3 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

In chapter 19 we learn that the prophet Elijah fled for his life after the evil Queen Jezebel of Israel had threatened to kill him. Her reasoning was that he had embarrassed the prophets of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel in a duel of faith on Mt. Carmel. We read in chapter 18 yesterday that Elijah had taunted these false prophets as their gods failed to light a sacrificial fire, but the real God sent fire from heaven to incinerate a soaking wet sacrifice. Elijah ran into the wilderness and became depressed over the gravity of his situation. He had gone from the high point of success at Mt. Carmel to a feeling that he was the only one left who believes in the LORD. He wanted to lie down and die, but the LORD brought him food for strength and sent him on a 40-day walking journey to Mt. Horeb, where the LORD had spoken to Moses. The LORD sent wind and fire to the place where Elijah was seeking refuge, and then spoke in a whisper to him.

    Then he was told, "Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by."

    A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.

    When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, "So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?" Elijah said it again, "I've been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies, because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed your places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I'm the only one left, and now they're trying to kill me."

    -1 Kings 19:11-14 (MSG)

The God-of-the-Angel-Armies told Elijah to anoint two kings (one for the northern kingdom, known as Israel, and one for the southern kingdom, known as Judah). He also told Elijah to anoint another prophet (Elisha). Elijah's next recorded encounter was with the future prophet, Elisha, who had been plowing his field. Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha as a symbolic gesture to indicate that Elisha would be his servant. Elisha did not hesitate to answer the call. Elijah did not anoint the new kings, but his successor, Elisha, would do it, as recorded in 2 Kings.

In chapter 20, Ben-Hadad, the king of the neighboring nation of Aram, attacked Samaria, which was the residence of Ahab, the king of Israel. The LORD gave Ahab the victory in two battles, but punished him for showing mercy to Ben-Hadad – which was a tragic surprise for Ahab, who thought he had done the right thing by showing mercy.

    The prophet (not Elijah) went on and waited for the king on the road, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes. As the king was passing, he called out to the king and said: “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and suddenly someone turned and brought me a man and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, you shall have to pay for his life with your life or pay out a talent of silver.’ But while your servant was occupied here and there, the man disappeared.” The king of Israel said to him, “That is your sentence. You have decided it yourself.”

    He quickly removed the bandage from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. He said to him: “The LORD says, Because you have set free the man I put under the ban, your life shall pay for his life, your people for his people.”

    - 1 Kings 20:38-42 (NAB)

The truth was that it was the LORD who had given Ahab the victory (despite his evil ways) and the LORD wanted Ben-Hadad destroyed, just like he destroyed Jericho and other towns in the days of Joshua. The purpose of the planned destruction was to stop the spreading influence of evil, but Ahab was not in tune with the LORD’s will.

Reflection and Application

Sometimes we are at our weakest point after a big victory. For example, the leaders of our modern churches might feel this way on the morning after Easter. There is a lot of preparation, a big performance, and then the return to normalcy. One article published in the Christian Post called this the Post Easter Blues.

This article records some of the observations of Dr. James Emery White, professor of Theology and Culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. For example, this article noted that White blogged about "the disappointment that small churches and church planters (those who begin new churches) might have if they had hoped to see larger crowds on Easter. He writes,'You are grateful to God, but now that Easter is over, there's a bit of a letdown. You wanted so much more. It was, in the end, a typical Easter Sunday.' " The article quotes other pastors who conclude that Satan is at work at these times, fanning the flames of our despair (1).

Elijah had a similar experience: He had participated in a successful showdown of the false prophets and their false gods, but subsequently fell into depression. He thought he was all alone in faith, but had forgotten about the prophets that had been hidden away, and was not aware of thousands of other people who had remained loyal to God. He was discouraged and ready to quit his job. Maybe some of you can relate to that when you had such high hopes and things suddenly fall apart.

Elijah was also ready to quit life, perhaps egged on by Satan, who may have reminded him of the apparent futility of his role. But the LORD had more plans for Elijah. Instead of letting Elijah walk away, the LORD gave him a new assignment, which re-energized the man. Sometimes each of us needs a break from our hectic schedule, but sometimes we just need a new assignment, something to take our minds off of our disappointment. It may be difficult for us to discern which course is best, but God knew what was best for Elijah and he knows what is best for us. If we seek him in prayer with our disappointments then we can ask for peace of mind and some clarity on the next best path for us. It’s never too late for an assignment from God. Remember that Abraham received his calling when he was 75 years old (Genesis 12:1-9).

God intervenes in our lives in different ways. Sometimes it’s very dramatic, like the fire from heaven on Mt.Carmel. Sometimes it’s a gentle whisper, like on Mt. Horeb. Sometimes he intervenes through another person, as in the case of Elijah calling out to his protégé Elisha. The detail about Elisha driving twelve teams of oxen is a subtle detail that indicates he was relatively wealthy. But notice how quickly he accepted the call from the LORD and burned up his oxen in a celebratory feast, thereby demonstrating how he had firmly cut himself off from his old life. He also had a new assignment. When the LORD calls us, we must be prepared to leave something from our old life behind.

"Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds," performed by Steven Curtis Chapman

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is one of the most dramatic weather storms that you have seen?
    2. What are the all ways in which you believe God might intervene in our lives during the 21st Century?
    3. What are some of the ways that you have observed God intervening in your life?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know you have a multitude of ways in which you might intervene in our lives. Thank you for your enduring love. Help us to recognize you when you call us.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People suffering from depression


    (1) Fighting the Easter Monday Blues," www.christianpost.com, 4/10/12

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 1 Kings 21-22 (Thou Shall Not Covet)

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