From Jezreel to Horeb
slaying of the prophets of Baal, the way was opened for carrying forward a
mighty spiritual reformation among the ten tribes of the northern kingdom.
Elijah had set before the people their apostasy; he had called upon them
to humble their hearts and turn to the Lord. The judgments of Heaven had
been executed; the people had confessed their sins, and had acknowledged
the God of their fathers as the living God; and now the curse of Heaven
was to be withdrawn, and the temporal blessings of life renewed. The land
was to be refreshed with rain. "Get thee up, eat and drink,"
Elijah said to Ahab; "for there is a sound of abundance of
rain." Then the prophet went to the top of the mount to pray.
It was not
because of any outward evidence that the showers were about to fall, that
Elijah could so confidently bid Ahab prepare for rain. The prophet saw no
clouds in the heavens; he heard no thunder. He simply spoke the
word that the
Spirit of the Lord had moved him to speak in response to his own strong
faith. Throughout the day he had unflinchingly performed the will of God
and had revealed his implicit confidence in the prophecies of God's word;
and now, having done all that was in his power to do, he knew that Heaven
would freely bestow the blessings foretold. The same God who had sent the
drought had promised an abundance of rain as the reward of rightdoing; and
now Elijah waited for the promised outpouring. In an attitude of humility,
"his face between his knees," he interceded with God in behalf
of penitent Israel.
again Elijah sent his servant to a point overlooking the Mediterranean, to
learn whether there were any visible token that God had heard his prayer.
Each time the servant returned with the word, "There is
nothing." The prophet did not become impatient or lose faith, but
continued his earnest pleading. Six times the servant returned with the
word that there was no sign of rain in the brassy heavens. Undaunted,
Elijah sent him forth once more; and this time the servant returned with
the word, "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea like a
enough. Elijah did not wait for the heavens to gather blackness. In that
small cloud he beheld by faith an abundance of rain; and he acted in
harmony with his faith, sending his servant quickly to Ahab with the
message, "Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop
because Elijah was a man of large faith that God could use him in this
grave crisis in the history of Israel.
As he prayed,
his faith reached out and grasped the promises of Heaven, and he
persevered in prayer until his petitions were answered. He did not wait
for the full evidence that God had heard him, but was willing to venture
all on the slightest token of divine favor. And yet what he was enabled to
do under God, all may do in their sphere of activity in God's service; for
of the prophet from the mountains of Gilead it is written: "Elias was
a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it
might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years
and six months." James 5:17.
Faith such as
this is needed in the world today--faith that will lay hold on the
promises of God's word and refuse to let go until Heaven hears. Faith such
as this connects us closely with Heaven, and brings us strength for coping
with the powers of darkness. Through faith God's children have
"subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped
the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of
the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight,
turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Hebrews 11:33, 34. And
through faith we today are to reach the heights of God's purpose for us.
"If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that
believeth." Mark 9:23.
Faith is an
essential element of prevailing prayer. "He that cometh to God must
believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek
Him." "If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us:
and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know
that we have
the petitions that we desired of Him." Hebrews 11:6, 1 John 5:14, 15.
With the persevering faith of Jacob, with the unyielding persistence of
Elijah, we may present our petitions to the Father, claiming all that He
has promised. The honor of His throne is staked for the fulfillment of His
The shades of
night were gathering about Mount Carmel as Ahab prepared for the descent.
"It came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with
clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to
Jezreel." As he journeyed toward the royal city through the darkness
and the blinding rain, Ahab was unable to see his way before him. Elijah,
who, as the prophet of God, had that day humiliated Ahab before his
subjects and slain his idolatrous priests, still acknowledged him as
Israel's king; and now, as an act of homage, and strengthened by the power
of God, he ran before the royal chariot, guiding the king to the entrance
of the city.
gracious act of God's messenger shown to a wicked king is a lesson for all
who claim to be servants of God, but who are exalted in their own
estimation. There are those who feel above performing duties that to them
appear menial. They hesitate to perform even needful service, fearing that
they will be found doing the work of a servant. These have much to learn
from the example of Elijah. By his word the treasures of heaven had been
for three years withheld from the earth; he had been signally honored of
God as, in answer to his prayer on Carmel, fire had flashed from heaven
and consumed the sacrifice; his
executed the judgment of God in slaying the idolatrous prophets; his
petition for rain had been granted. And yet, after the signal triumphs
with which God had been pleased to honor his public ministry, he was
willing to perform the service of a menial.
At the gate
of Jezreel, Elijah and Ahab separated. The prophet, choosing to remain
outside the walls, wrapped himself in his mantle, and lay down upon the
bare earth to sleep. The king, passing within, soon reached the shelter of
his palace and there related to his wife the wonderful events of the day
and the marvelous revelation of divine power that had proved to Israel
that Jehovah is the true God and Elijah His chosen messenger. As Ahab told
the queen of the slaying of the idolatrous prophets, Jezebel, hardened and
impenitent, became infuriated. She refused to recognize in the events on
Carmel the overruling providence of God, and, still defiant, she boldly
declared that Elijah should die.
That night a
messenger aroused the weary prophet and delivered to him the word of
Jezebel: "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy
life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time."
It would seem
that after showing courage so undaunted, after triumphing so completely
over king and priests and people, Elijah could never afterward have given
way to despondency nor been awed into timidity. But he who had been
blessed with so many evidences of God's loving care was not above the
frailties of mankind, and in this dark hour his faith and courage forsook
him. Bewildered, he
his slumber. The rain was pouring from the heavens, and darkness was on
every side. Forgetting that three years before, God had directed his
course to a place of refuge from the hatred of Jezebel and the search of
Ahab, the prophet now fled for his life. Reaching Beersheba, he "left
his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the
not have fled from his post of duty. He should have met the threat of
Jezebel with an appeal for protection to the One who had commissioned him
to vindicate the honor of Jehovah. He should have told the messenger that
the God in whom he trusted would protect him against the hatred of the
queen. Only a few hours had passed since he had witnessed a wonderful
manifestation of divine power, and this should have given him assurance
that he would not now be forsaken. Had he remained where he was, had he
made God his refuge and strength, standing steadfast for the truth, he
would have been shielded from harm. The Lord would have given him another
signal victory by sending His judgments on Jezebel; and the impression
made on the king and the people would have wrought a great reformation.
expected much from the miracle wrought on Carmel. He had hoped that after
this display of God's power, Jezebel would no longer have influence over
the mind of Ahab, and that there would be a speedy reform throughout
Israel. All day on Carmel's height he had toiled without food. Yet when he
guided the chariot of Ahab to the gate of Jezreel, his courage was strong,
despite the physical strain under which he had labored.
reaction such as frequently follows high faith and glorious success was
pressing upon Elijah. He feared that the reformation begun on Carmel might
not be lasting; and depression seized him. He had been exalted to Pisgah's
top; now he was in the valley. While under the inspiration of the
Almighty, he had stood the severest trial of faith; but in this time of
discouragement, with Jezebel's threat
his ears, and Satan still apparently prevailing through the plotting of
this wicked woman, he lost his hold on God. He had been exalted above
measure, and the reaction was tremendous. Forgetting God, Elijah fled on
and on, until he found himself in a dreary waste, alone. Utterly wearied,
he sat down to rest under a juniper tree. And sitting there, he requested
for himself that he might die. "It is enough; now, O Lord," he
said, "take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers."
A fugitive, far from the dwelling places of men, his spirits crushed by
bitter disappointment, he desired never again to look upon the face of
man. At last, utterly exhausted, he fell asleep.
experience of all there come times of keen disappointment and utter
discouragement--days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe
that God is still the kind benefactor of His earthborn children; days when
troubles harass the soul, till death seems preferable to life. It is then
that many lose their hold on God and are brought into the slavery of
doubt, the bondage of unbelief. Could we at such times discern with
spiritual insight the meaning of God's providences we should see angels
seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a
foundation more firm than the everlasting hills, and new faith, new life,
would spring into being.
Job, in the day of his affliction and darkness, declared:
day perish wherein I was born."
my grief were throughly weighed,
calamity laid in the balances together!"
I might have my request;
And that God
would grant me the thing that I long for!
Even that it
would please God to destroy me;
That He would
let loose His hand, and cut me off!
Then should I
yet have comfort."
not refrain my mouth;
I will speak
in the anguish of my spirit;
complain in the bitterness of my soul."
chooseth . . . death rather than my life.
I loathe it;
I would not
Let me alone;
For my days
Job 3:3; 6:2,
8-10; 7:11, 15, 16.
weary of life, Job was not allowed to die. To him were pointed out the
possibilities of the future, and there was given him the message of hope:
shalt be steadfast, and shalt not fear:
shalt forget thy misery,
it as waters that pass away:
And thine age
shall be clearer than the noonday;
shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning.
shalt be secure,
is hope. . . .
shall make thee afraid;
shall make suit unto thee.
But the eyes
of the wicked shall fail,
shall not escape,
hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost."
depths of discouragement and despondency Job rose to the heights of
implicit trust in the mercy and the saving power of God. Triumphantly he
He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: . . .
He also shall
be my salvation."
that my Redeemer liveth,
And that He
shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
after my skin worms destroy this body,
Yet in my
flesh shall I see God:
Whom I shall
see for myself,
And mine eyes
shall behold, and not another."
Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind" (Job 38:1), and revealed to
His servant the might of His power. When Job caught a glimpse of his
Creator, he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes. Then the Lord
was able to bless him abundantly and to make his last years the best of
courage are essential to perfect service for God. These are the fruit of
faith. Despondency is sinful and unreasonable. God is able and willing
"more abundantly" (Hebrews 6:17) to bestow upon His servants the
strength they need for test and trial. The plans of the enemies of His
work may seem to be well laid and firmly established, but God can
overthrow the strongest of these. And this He does in His own time and
way, when He sees that the faith of His servants has been sufficiently
disheartened there is a sure remedy--faith, prayer, work. Faith and
activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by
day. Are you tempted to give way to feelings of anxious foreboding or
utter despondency? In the darkest days, when appearances seem most
forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your need.
He has all
power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. Fear not that He will
fail of fulfilling His promise. He is eternal truth. Never will He change
the covenant He has made with those who love Him. And He will bestow upon
His faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands.
The apostle Paul has testified: "He said unto me, My grace is
sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. . . .
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities,
in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then
am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10.
forsake Elijah in his hour of trial? Oh, no! He loved His servant no less
when Elijah felt himself forsaken of God and man than when, in answer to
his prayer, fire flashed from heaven and illuminated the mountaintop. And
now, as Elijah slept, a soft touch and a pleasant voice awoke him. He
started up in terror, as if to flee, fearing that the enemy had discovered
him. But the pitying face bending over him was not the face of an enemy,
but of a friend. God had sent an angel from heaven with food for His
servant. "Arise and eat," the angel said. "And he looked,
and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at
had partaken of the refreshment prepared for him, he slept again. A second
time the angel came. Touching the exhausted man, he said with pitying
tenderness, "Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for
thee." "And he arose, and did eat and drink;" and in the
strength of that food he was able to journey "forty days and forty
nights unto Horeb the mount of God," where he found refuge in a cave.