- FEELING INDISPENSABLE
We must not be ignorant of the devices of the devil (II Cor. 2:11). The devil is wily, and often his devices, though wee explained in the Scriptures, catch even the prophet's off guard. In I Kings 19, we find an example of Satan's strategy. Elijah had just seen a great victory by God. Now Elijah meets great defeat. The devil seems aware of the fact, that VICTORY MAKES US VERY VULNERABLE. Elijah was exceptionally vulnerable here.
God could have left out the story about Elijah's failure. Yet, as someone once said: "When God paints a man, he paints him wart and all..." God shows that even the prophets can fail. David, the great King of Israel failed. John the Baptist momentarily doubted. There is not one perfect, except Jesus. So God shows here one of Elijah's failures.
In I King's 18, we saw Elijah's strength. Now in I Kings 19, we see Elijah's weakness.
Ahab went home to his wife Jezebel. He told all that had happened on Mt. Carmel. Angry Jezebel sends a threat to Elijah. She tells him that he will be dead within 24 hours. Tired from his ordeal, Elijah hears the threat. We are never so weak, as after a tiring victory. Our emotions relax, and we look around at life differently. Startled by such a threat, Elijah flees for his life. Elijah had gotten his eyes off of God, and ont the circumstances about him.
When Peter had begun to walk on the water, with his eyes fixed on Jesus, he could not sink. (Matthew 14:22-23) When Peter put his eyes onto the waves and the storm, he could not walk. We need to keep looking at our Lord...and not the circumstances.
Elijah fled 120 miles, fearful, scared, and terrified. Having just seen God send fire and devour the sacrifice, stones, water, and all...yet, he now fears God will allow a woman to murder him. We all see the humor of Elijah's defeat. However, in our own lives do we see the humor in our own doubts, fear, and lack of faith?
In prison, ready to soon have his head removed...Paul wrote:
"REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAY, AND AGAIN, I SAY, REJOICE."
Can we ever learn, as Paul to rejoice, even when under threat of death? Elisha learned the lesson. In II kings 6:15-17, Elisha was surrounded by the enemy. His servant came fearful. Elisha said: "FEAR NOT: FOR THEY THAT BE WITH US ARE MORE THAN THEY THAT BE WITH THEM."
Then Elisha prayed for his servant's eyes to be opened, and the servant saw the hosts of horses and chariots of fire were around Elisha to protect him. the enemy was smitten with blindness. God could have, and would have, similarly protected Elijah. Elijah has still not been killed, and his murder is about 7 years from now, at the earliest. God had no plans to let Elijah be killed before it was His plan. Why are we, as Elijah, so fearful of what the devil wants to do to us? Don't we realize, that when we are in God's will, the devil cannot hurt us?
During the flight of Elijah from Jezebel's wrath, he neglected his physical and emotional needs. He had already been weary, but now he became overly weary, and hungry. Many a man of God omits smoking, and drinking of alcohol. Yet, why do so many of God's people forget to rest properly. Many a man of God, through building projects, and other great works for God... overwork, and are soon so weak that they see things out of perspective...and the devil easily defeats them. Many a pastor in today's times, has faced defeat either during or immediately after a great building program. Right after the greatest sermon of his life, is when many a pastor has terribly failed God.
God has abundant mercy, and sends an angel to minister to Elijah. Elijah is fed and told to rest. Then the angel tells Elijah: "...THE JOURNEY IS TOO GREAT FOR THEE." (vs. 7)
Which journey was too great for Elijah? Not his journey to the brook to wait daily for ravens to come and feed him. No, and it was not the run to the city, in which he outran the king's chariot. And it was not the journey up the mountain, to challenge 850 false prophets. The journey that was too much for Elijah, was the one he made OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD. When he came back into the will of God, he could do so much more.
I Kings 19:8
"AND HE AROSE, AND DID EAT AND DRINK, AND WENT IN THE STRENGTH OF THAT MEAT FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS UNTO HOREB, THE MOUNT OF GOD."
Imagine, Elijah was able to go forty days and nights, in the strength of the meal given him by the angel. Why? He was now again in the will of God. When we get out of God's will, we are easily weary. When God's people get out of God's will, they are usually found to be overcome. Yet, when we are in the will of God, the travel can be long, and wearisome... but the travel is easy for the person in God's will.
What had caused Elijah to get out of God's will? It was not just the wearisome events on Mt. Carmel. It was not the threat of Jezebel. No ! It was something more. Look at his conversation with God.
I Kings 19:9-10
"...I HAVE BEEN VERY JEALOUS FOR THE LORD GOD OF HOSTS, FOR THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL HAVE FORSAKEN THY COVENANT, THROWN DOWN THINE ALTARS, AND SLAIN THY PROPHETS WITH THE SWORD, AND I, EVEN I ONLY, AM LEFT..."
Elijah had begun to feel indispensable to God. How often God's people are tempted to feel that way. If the devil can't get us to feel worthless, he works on getting us to feel that without us, God wouldn't have anyone. God got along without you and I for millennia and God can get along without us now.
In churches today, pastors, teachers, board members, etc. need to watch the tendency to feel indispensable. In the building project, surely, the work of some was vital, and the load the pastor carries is so important... the people who exhort and persuade some to stay in the church are very important. Yet, when we begin to feel that our work is the work that God would be in desperate straights without, we are near to defeat.
It is vitally important for us to remember that God has many other saints, and He will achieve everything He has promised, with or without us. He is the power, and we are the tools. Yet, without us, He chooses a different tool.
God dealt gently with Elijah, when Elijah had come to feel indispensable. Elijah had much yet to do for God, and now that he has seen through his failure, doubt, and message from God that he was only one cog, in the machine, he can get started doing the rest of his ministry for God.
We need also to examine our work. Have we grown weary, and begun to look at our own work for God, as being the greatest sacrifice anyone could make? You are not indispensable. Only God is indispensable. When Elijah tried a trip without God, it was too much for him. If life is too much for you right now, perhaps you had better check to see if you're traveling with God.