On Sunday Resurrection Lutheran will engage the story of Elijah the prophet. Elijah lived about seventy-five years after the death of King Solomon or about 850 BC. He spoke against King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and their re-introduction of Baal worship and human sacrifice (I Kings 16:34). Elijah’s story is a roller coaster of spiritual and emotional energy. I Kings 18 contains the story of Elijah’s victory over the Baal priests, calling down the fire of God on his sacrifice. I posted on it last June after re-telling the story at Vacation Bible Adventure.
After securing this victory, one would think Elijah would be filled with supreme confidence. Instead he sank into depression when he learned that Queen Jezebel wanted him dead. He could face the 450 prophets of Baal, but not an angry queen. The instinct to escape took hold, and he ran away to the edge of the map and beyond. Beersheba is the southern edge of civilization and Elijah pushed beyond it into the wilderness. There he collapsed under a broom tree and prayed for death. Like the prophet Jonah after Nineveh’s repentance, Elijah asked the Lord to take his life. He had hit bottom, emotionally and spiritually. Exhausted he fell asleep.
At this low point, God intervened.
Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. (I Kings 19:5-8)
What a comforting moment, with the angel’s touch, the warm cakes, and the jar of water. And then the cycle is repeated: rest, touch, cakes, water. It was if Elijah needed to slow down, to stop and rest.
You have made us for yourself, oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until we rest in you. Augustine.
Lord Jesus, teach me to rest in you.