Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Elijah and the Broom Tree

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, June 18, 2013:  I Kings 19:1-21

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.  But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”  I Kings 19:1-4 (NKJV)

Chapter 18 of I Kings tells the story of one of the most dramatic victories in biblical history.  It was "The Showdown at Mount Carmel" -- Elijah versus 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah (I Kings 18:19).  The test was set up to determine WHO WAS THE REAL GOD.  Both sides would successively call upon their God and the one that answered by fire was the REAL ONE. 

Baal and Asherah (the false gods of Israel) were impotent.  Nothing happened at the prayers and gyrations of the pagan prophets.  But when one man -- Elijah -- prayed a simple prayer to the true God of Israel, "then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench!"  (I Kings 18:39)

This was a POWER ENCOUNTER of the first order, and victory was complete.  Surely this was the high point of the ministry of Elijah the prophet.  It is therefore amazing to read the events that follow closely after this triumph.

The King of Israel was named Ahab.  He had married a pagan wife named Jezebel.  She is one of the most evil and intimidating figures in the Bible.  She had protected, nurtured, and provided for the idolatrous pagan prophets that Elijah had just defeated.  Her anger burst forth in murderous intent against Elijah. 

The mighty man of God ran for his life!  He plunged from the pinnacle of success into suicidal depression.  He ran for day out into the desert and found himself exhausted under a broom tree.  There he prayed another simple prayer, “It is enough!  Now, Lord, take my life…” (I Kings 19:4).  Elijah prayed for his own death.

Life can be that way.  We ride a rollercoaster of success and despair.  Close on the heels of our best days can come the dark night of hopelessly bad days.  One minute we are riding high and skies are clear.  The next thing we know storms clouds have gathered. 

There is a major battle over your mind.  There is a battle over your outlook.  Right in the midst of a good season of life, the devil can send a threatening rumor or an intimidating lie.  He seeks to steal, kill, and destroy, while God offers life and that in ABUNDANCE.  (John 10:10)

It is instructive to read what God told Elijah to do as he sat there in “the dark night of his soul.”  An angel appeared and told him to “Arise and eat.”  That’s the first thing we need to do:


 When things look hopeless, our tendency is to go into isolation and stop eating and drinking.  If you fail to take in spiritual nourishment, you will never recover.  Get back into the Word of God.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Begin again to worship and to pray.

2.      GET REST.

Physical pain and lack of rest go hand-in-hand with depression.  There is an important reason why God commands his people to take a Sabbath – learn how to rest and get refreshed.


The angel told Elijah that there was a new destination for him – Mount Horeb.  God wanted to re-ignite Elijah’s life and ministry.  There was an appointment with God at the mouth of a cave (I Kings 19:11).  Elijah would again hear the clear voice of God!  God always has a plan.  We need to be ready to follow Him again.

God used Elijah mightily.  And He desires to show Himself mighty in your behalf, too.  As we fight and win battles in behalf of the Lord, there can be an internal battle in our minds that id devastating.  Therefore, Paul’s words are important for us:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Ephesians 6:10-13 (NKJV)

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