Jezebel had married Ahab, who was the king of Israel. She was from Sidon and had brought with her the practice of worshipping Baal and other false gods. With Ahab, she had led the people of Israel into greater wickedness. She had sought out the prophets of the Lord, and killed many of them. Elijah had been in hiding and had been preserved by the Lord, until he was commanded to go to Ahab. The prophet challenged the wicked priests of Baal, and proved Baal to be a false god. Elijah had the wicked priests and prophets destroyed. This chapter continues the account with the following:
1 And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
3 And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
Ahab returned to Jezebel and told her what had happened, including that Elijah had killed her prophets. Jezebel swore to kill Elijah, so he left and went into Judah, leaving his servant in Israel.
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
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.
Elijah traveled for a day and sat under a tree in the desert wilderness. Elijah felt that he couldn’t do anymore to help the people. It seems like he felt as though he had failed and was the only righteous man living, and he was ready to die. An angel came to him as he slept, and touched him, telling him to wake and eat. When Elijah awoke, he saw a cake and water next to him, which he ate and drank. He went back to sleep, and the angel came again and told him the same thing, because he would need strength for his journey. He woke and ate and drank, and this food gave him strength for a long time, during which he fasted, as he traveled to Horeb. Horeb was the mount where the Lord had spoken to Moses a long time before Elijah lived.
9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
10 And he said, 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; and they seek my life, to take it away.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because 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; and they seek my life, to take it away.
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
Elijah arrived at a cave and stayed there, when the Lord spoke to him. The Lord asked him what he was doing there. Elijah said that he was upset with the wickedness of the people of Israel, and since they wanted to kill him, he had come to this place to hide. Then, Elijah was commanded to stand on the mount, before the Lord. As the Lord passed Elijah, there was a strong wind that split the mountain and rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then, Elijah felt an earthquake, but the Lord was not there. After that, there was fire, but the Lord was not present in the fire. Finally, there was a still, small voice, and when Elijah heard it, he went to the cave entrance and heard the voice of the Lord. The voice of the Lord, the voice of the Spirit, is a still, small voice. This is how we can all expect the Lord to speak to our hearts and minds. Because it is this way, we have to separate ourselves from the world, just as Elijah did, and push away the distractions, so that we may be able to hear Him speak.
The Lord asked what Elijah was doing there. Elijah again repeated why he was there, that he had done much for the Lord because the people had lost their way, killing the prophets and leaving only him remaining. The Lord told him to return to Damascus and anoint Hazael to rule over Syria and Jehu to rule over Israel. Then, he was to anoint Elisha as the prophet to follow after him. The Lord revealed to Elijah, that anyone that escaped death from Hazael, was to be killed by Jehu, and anyone that escaped death from Jehu, would be killed by Elisha. He told him that there were 7,000 people in Israel, which did not worship Baal. With this, the Lord helped Elijah to know that he was not alone.
19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
Elijah left and found Elisha working in the fields. When Elijah passed him, he threw his mantel on him as a sign that he was to go with him, I believe. The mantle of Elijah was a symbol of authority. Elisha left the field and asked to say goodbye to his parents before following Elijah. Elijah told him to go back. Elisha went, fed the people his oxen, and then left and followed Elijah.
Elisha is an example of a righteous man, who had the courage and faith to leave his family and work, to follow the prophet of the Lord. Today, very few are asked to leave everything they have, as Elisha was in that day, but we are all invited to leave behind the things of the world that have no lasting value, to follow those things that the prophet teaches and exhorts us to do. For most of us, this will take just as much courage and faith, if not a great deal more. I can imagine that for many of us, it would be easier to follow if we had the prophet come to us personally and extend a call to action, but most of us are required to believe and follow in faith without the prophet being in our presence. The blessings will be great for those who choose to follow the prophet, as Elisha chose to follow Elijah.
The Lord did not leave Elijah in his times of trial and depression. He gave him physical blessings to help him have strength to physically continue in the work. Moreover, he blessed him spiritually, with the spirit and with direction in his calling, which would help him to continue in his service to the Lord. He received these blessings, because he had a desire to do what was right, and to help others to know God. When we want to be righteous and bring others to Christ, we will have the help of the Lord as well. The spirit will be there, as a still, small voice, to bless and guide us. I know these things to be true, because I have felt the blessing of strength beyond my own, both physically and spiritually, when I have had moments where I have felt defeated and down in what I believe to be righteous endeavors of my own. God loves us and will not leave us comfortless.