Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"I have had enough, Lord... take my life!"

Sandwiched between two oft-quoted stories from the life of Elijah - the showdown at Mount Carmel and visitation of God on Mount Horeb (as a "still, small voice") - is this interesting interlude in the desert. It came up at church this Sunday, not once but twice: at Sunday school and in the sermon. I'm still thinking about it. I'll try to write up and post some what I heard and my own thoughts as well.

If you're in the mood to comment, though, tell me what you see...
  1. What was going on within Elijah at this point?
  2. Can we relate?
  3. How did God respond to him?
  4. What does this reflect about what God is like?
Has anyone ever read a good book about the life of Elijah, besides the Bible I mean? Any suggestions? Looks like Chuck Swindoll has written a volume. I'd love to hear what Eugene Peterson has to say.
1 Kings 19:1-9

1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them."

3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day's journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. "I have had enough, LORD," he said. "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." 5 Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat." 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. 7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you."

8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.


paul merrill said...

I love how God includes the human-ness of his people. I have certainly reached low points - and it is great to know that I'm in good company.

Fiona L Cooper said...

Well, I just happen to be reading "The Jesus Way" by Eugene Peterson and he has the following to say:

"But Elijah needs more than a safe place. He needs to recover his prophetic soul. Mount Carmel had knocked the prophetic wind out of him - the spectacular Yahweh victory had turned out to be no victory at all. After the fire descended from heaven and the drought-ending rain poured from the skies, Elijah, champion of Yahweh, had run all the way from Carmel to the royal palace in Jezreel, triumphantly leading Ahab's chariot, preparing the way for the restoration of Yahwism. Did he expect to be welcomed with shouts of acclamation, palm branches and confetti? Would Jezebel be converted to Yahweh? As it turned out, the Mount Carmel evidence didn't faze Jezebel. Instead of a hero's welcome, Elijeah faced assassination. Not what he expected.

"But as so often happens on the way of the Lord, he gets something both other and better than he expected. A few miles from Beersheba, out into the wilderness in the vast emptiness of desert, Elijah sits under a large bush fragrant with white flowers, a broom tree, and gives up his reasonable prophetic expectations and his huge prophetic disappointment. He buries them under the broom tree. Now he, too, is ready to die. He offers his readiness to Yahweh and goes to sleep.

"But he doesn't die - probably to his disappointment. Yahweh's angel wakes him, feeds him, and sends him on a pilgrimage that restores his prophetic vocation. The angel sends him to Moses country, the same Moses that he will later join in conversation with Jesus in the Transfiguration. The angel sends him to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God. There are forty days and nights of slow pilgrimage to Horeb, there are prayers in the cave on Horeb, there is the "still small voice" by means of which Yahweh gives him his prophetic life back - a resurrection from that broom tree cemetery."

(p 113)