Tag Archives: 1 Kings 19

Mountain Voices

Elijah, in a spiritual funk, ran away from Queen Jezebel to the mountain of God. Called Horeb by the northern tribes of Israel, it is the same mountain where Moses received the 10 commandments and saw the back side of God (Exodus 33). Moses had hid in a cleft in the rock when God passed by and scholars think it was this cleft or cave to which Elijah ran.  In this high place God was sure to meet him (I Kings 19).

Israel is a hilly country, with deep valley and high craggy peaks. The high places were often used for worship, whether for idols or for the Lord. Solomon’s Temple was built on Mt. Zion. Elijah confronted the priest of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Jesus preached his sermon on the mount (Matthew 5).  The most significant high place was a hill outside Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified.

Atop Hallett Peak in RMNP

Mountains have always been associated with holiness and transcendence. They reach towards the heavens and can give a person a unique perspective on the world. I have been drawn to mountain peaks since boyhood, looking up at either Mt. Angeles or Mt. Rainier. Last summer I climbed Hallett Peak in Colorado as a kind of spiritual exercise in prayer.

But as Elijah discovered, God is not restricted to mountain peaks. Though Elijah experienced a dramatic sequence of wind, earthquake and fire, God was not in the dramatic. It was in the sheer silence that followed where Elijah heard God speak. This silence can be found anywhere, in the deepest valley as well as the loftiest peak. We seek a holy space where the ears of our souls yearn for simple assuring voice of God. And “voice” may not be the right word, more like presence, peace, hope, like a mother’s calm shush that ease’s a baby cries. As a child of God, I still yearn for that quiet, assuring voice of God’s grace.

God’s “voice” gives us the assurance to carry on the journey. Elijah did not stay on the mountain, but turned around and went back to face Queen Jezebel. More on that tomorrow.

Lord Jesus, quiet my noisy life that I may hear your loving voice.

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Heavenly Reststop

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.

Elijah in the Desert by Michael D. O'Brien

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.

Perhaps that is the intent for us as the reader. To stop and rest in this story for a moment. Are you able at this moment to simply rest in God’s grace and love?

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.