This chapter presents one of the challenges those in ministry face; depression especially those who have a prophetic call on their lives. As with Elijah, it seems to surface AFTER a significant spiritual encounter with the works of darkness.
Ahab returned and shared with his diabolical wife, Jezebel, “all that Elijah had done”; including executing the prophets of Baal. It doesn’t appear as though the report is given to incite; rather to share what had happened. Upon hearing the report, Jezebel determines to kill the man of God before sunset. After having taken care of the four hundred and fifty false prophets, this one woman seems to prompt Elijah to run for his life.
Elijah had an unrealistic expectation of what would happen across the nation as a result of the encounter just completed; people returning to the Lord in mass, which didn’t happen.
The prophet’s depression is observed when he sits down under the “broom tree” and prayed “that he might die”. That’s one prayer request he was grateful later that wasn’t answered by the Lord at that time. You may like me in having prayed a similar kind of prayer as well.
While in this state, “an angel touched him”, fed and gave him drink; and went back to sleep for a while. The angel came again a second time with more food and drink that was to sustain him for the next forty days of fasting. Note, he fasted as he traveled to Mt. Horeb and settled in a cave. It was in that cave, where he spent the night that the word of the Lord came “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
It’s interesting that he responds with the obvious, which the Lord already knows, expressing his self-pity and illusion of being the only one resisting the works of darkness. The Lord asked him to stand at the entrance to the cave, apparently to “hear from the Lord”; could the prophet discern the Lord’s voice in the midst of all that was taking place and about to take place?
The Lord passed by in a strong wind, an earthquake and fire; all expressions and ways in which the Lord had come in to speak in the past, yet there was no voice. Finally it was in a “still small voice” the Lord spoke His voice asking a second time “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Ironically, Elijah responds as he had earlier; permitting his depression to give rise with self-pity to a new level.
With the “still small voice” directions are given to the depressed prophet; return through “the Wilderness of Damascus” and anoint Hazael as king over Syria, Jehu as king over Israel and Elisha as the prophet to replace him. Each of these would be involved in fulfilling the total devastation of the house of Ahab. The Lord also informed Elijah there were “seven thousand in Israel that hadn’t bowed to Baal” and those who had not expressed public commitment to the idol.
Kissing of hand of an idol or touching their mouth with the hand and putting it on their mouth; were public manners of declaring allegiance to the idol.
We read of Elisha’s anointing as he was “plowing” with twelve yoke of oxen. Elisha must have been a man of great means, to have that many yoke of oxen to work with. Even though a man of means, he was a man of work. There are a number of testimonies of people who God called into ministry that were already working. God isn’t concerned with our social status as much as He is our work ethic. Could that be why so many were and are used of the Lord that are engaged in doing something already?
After letting his family know he was leaving with Elijah, Elisha returns; kills a couple of oxen, has a dinner for the family, friends and co-laborers of the farm and then goes with Elijah; receiving the prophet’s mantle.
Those of you who have a prophetic call on your life, guard against unrealistic expectations, keep your attention focused on the Lord; being obedient to what He asks you to do and be.
If you’re doing work in ministry, regardless of how small or insignificant it may seem; don’t be surprised if and when the Lord places His call on your life for the next level of ministry. You’ve been found faithful!