Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a prophetic funk

Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.
1 Kings 19:18

Elijah was in a ministry funk. He had the prophet's blues. Jezebel had issued a death warrant for him (1 Kings 19:2). The response of Elijah was to run away into the wilderness. There, in the thin shade of a broom tree, he despaired of his own life (1 Kings 19:4). He did not want to be killed by Jezebel, but he didn't want to live in his current situation either. This was a fitful, irrational depression impossible to explain from the power of Elijah's past.

God ministered to Elijah. Angels came to him and fed him twice under that tree. Elijah slept there and had nothing to fear. He was literally under God's care and protection. Then God sent him on a journey to Horeb. There, in the wild of the mountain, God gave an intimate confirmation of His call upon the prophet. First, a fierce, rock-rending gale force wind, then an earthquake, and finally a fire came through Elijah's cave on that mountain. And God was in none of the dramatic demonstrations. But the low whisper of God's voice was so intense that it compelled Elijah to cover his face with his cloak and come to the mouth of the cave and talk with his God (1 Kings 19:9-13).

In conversation with God, Elijah states twice that he believes he alone is left as servant of the Lord in Israel (1 Kings 19:10, 14). But God sets Elijah to work with a new understanding. He is far from alone. God has seven thousand people in Israel who have not given in to idolatry. Elijah might have felt alone, but he was not alone. And no more would he be a solo prophet. he would anoint Elisha to be a prophet with him and beyond him. By so doing, God corrected the depressed, selfish thinking of Elijah, giving him new ministry, and re-energizing him for the work to which God called him.

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