Ahab tells Jezebel the results of the showdown between her prophets and Elijah. And she is NOT happy with the result.
I wanted to title this blog Sore Losers & Sour Grapes because Jezebel isn’t the only one who has a problem with the final outcome. Elijah is ready to give up and die, right after his mountain top experience. NOT what he expected after such a display of God’s power. (I chose the shorter version because of web address restrictions.)
Let’s go ahead and jump into our story and see where the Spirit takes us today.
♥ ♦ ♥
Jezebel has been waiting all day for news of the confrontation at Mt. Carmel. She refused to accompany Ahab lest her presence be taken as doubt on her part as to whose god would prevail. The waiting would have undone a lesser woman but Jezebel has all the confidence in the world regarding the outcome; until dinner time. Ahab should have returned by now. The prophets of Baal and Ashrah were regular attendees at her table. ALL were absent.
As the dinner hour crept on Jezebel began to worry. “What could be detaining them? Surely they have dispatched that troublesome Elijah by now.” When the first fat drops of rain began to fall her worries slipped away. “Ah! Sweet refreshing rain. My prophets must have finally finished with their castings.”
The rain grows stronger and the winds pick up. Within minutes there is a torrential downpour. “The land certainly needs it but isn’t this going a bit too far?” thinks Jezebel. No matter, she is certain her prophets know what they are doing. She finishes her solitary meal then sits back to watch the rain.
Elijah reached Jezreel on foot from Mt. Carmel shortly after dispatching his servant to tell Ahab to head home. Elijah is overjoyed to be able to rest from his running from Ahab. He has been in hiding for more than three years. Granted, it wasn’t all bad, but it’s nice to not be hunted. He rests securely this night in Jezreel.
Ahab made it to Jezreel a little while after Elijah did. He is relieved to finally have rain again but he is dreading facing Jezebel with the news of Mt. Carmel. He has already decided not to try and hide anything from her. He arrives at the palace to see Jezebel sitting on the porch watching the rain. She looks content. But he knows that ‘look’ is not going to last much longer. Ahab steps out of his chariot into the pouring rain. He quickly mounts the stairs and makes his way over to where Jezebel sits.
Jezebel rises and moves to kiss his outstretched hand as is their customary greeting for one another. “Welcome home my lord” croons Jezebel.
“It is good to be home. There is much to tell you of this day.”
“The ‘rain’ says it for you. My prophets defeated Elijah and he is no more.”
“Actually that isn’t what happened. The rain is not from your prophets or Baal but from the God Elijah serves.”
“What do you mean? Tell me what happened!”
Ahab proceeds to tell Jezebel of the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. He describes the contest. “Each god was to be given an offering that they would consume with fire to prove their power. The prophets were not allowed to put fire to the offering. It had to come from the gods.”
“I would have loved to see the look on Elijah’s face when Baal answered that challenge!”
“I would have loved it too, but that look never came because Baal never answered. Not a word, not a sound and certainly not fire.”
Jezebel is reeling from this. “What happened? Could they not cast their spells? Did Elijah put a cures on them?”
“No. He let them do whatever they could to get Baal’s attention. They did everything short of a human sacrifice to get him to respond. Yet he remained silent.”
“But the rain came. Surely he sent the rain.”
“It came in answer to Elijah’s prayer. When he laid his sacrifice he made it even harder than the test for Baal. He even poured 12 jars of water on top of it. And it was completely consumed by fire from Heaven. There wasn’t even a drop of water left on the ground.”
Jezebel is silent contemplating this visual. “And what of my prophets?” she finally askes.
“They are no more my love.”
“Exactly what do you mean by that” asks Jezebel with fire in her eyes.
“After the God of Elijah answered by fire the people ALL fell on their faces. Then Elijah had the people seize your prophets and hold them fast. He then led the way to the Kishon brook where he slaughtered each and every one of them. Their bodies were tossed into a heap beside the brook.”
Jezebel’s anger is clear to see as her face has taken on the color of the deepest scarlet. “And you left them there for the birds to feast on?!”
“I could do nothing else while the people looked on and Elijah’s God had proven Himself the clear victor.”
Her eyes narrow as she asks, “Then how did the rain come about?”
“Elijah commanded that I go and eat. He prayed to his God while I ate with my officers. His servant sent to summon me the mount my chariot and return home before I was trapped by the rain.”
“AND YOU ATE! You ATE while my priests lay dead beside the brook. What of Elijah? Where is he now?”
“He has returned to Jezreel. He ran before me and arrived at the gate before my own chariot did. He has most certainly gone to his home in the city.”
“You did nothing to stop him?! This will not stand” spits Jezebel from between her clenched teeth.
She storms from the porch and calls for her servant. The servant, hearing his mistress’ tone came with urgency.
“Take a message to Elijah. He will most likely be staying in his home. Say to him, ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow” (verse 2b).
“And if he should ask who ‘Them’ is my lady?”
“He wouldn’t dare. He will know EXACTLY who I am referring to.”
The servant bowed deeply and rushed off to deliver Jezebel’s message. It mattered not that the rain was falling in sheets or that it was already past time to retire for the night.
Upon reaching the house where Elijah usually stayed while he was in Jezreel the servant began to beat upon the door. It didn’t take long before a lamp was lit and someone came to answer the door. As soon as it opened the messenger started speaking. “I must see Elijah immediately.”
“He is tired from today’s journey and has already retired to his bed.”
“Then wake him. Queen Jezebel has an urgent message for him that will not keep ‘til morning.”
The doorkeeper nodded his understanding and went to summon Elijah. He didn’t even take the time to invite the messenger in to wait.
Elijah appeared at the door a short time later. His hair showed signs of disarray from where it rested on his bed. “What is it that couldn’t wait until morning?”
“Queen Jezebel sends you a message. ‘So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.’”
Elijah’s eyes widen in surprise and fear. He would have expected that the power the Lord showed this day would have put her to rights also. The whole of the congregation bowed to the Lord, yet Jezebel stands in rebellion and vowing revenge.
“Is there a reply you wish to send” asks the messenger.
“No reply” says Elijah and then he shuts the door in the face of the messenger. Elijah returns to his room and quickly readies for departure. He came with only the clothing he was wearing, which was drying by the fire. He would have to retrieve it and leave immediately. Jezebel would no doubt be looking to lay hold of him in the morning.
The messenger quickly made his way back to the palace. He goes straight to Jezebel to deliver the news that her message had been delivered.
“It is done as you instructed mistress.”
“And did Elijah send a reply?”
“He did not.”
“You are dismissed. Send in my captain as you leave.”
The messenger bowed deeply, left the room and summoned Jezebel’s guard captain as he made his way to his own quarters. He was soaking wet and all he wanted was to dry off and climb into his own bed.
Jezebel’s captain hurried to stand before her. “You called my queen.”
“Yes. I want you to post a guard on the home where Elijah stays. First thing in the morning, bring him to me.”
“As you wish mistress.”
Within an hour a guard stands watch outside the home where Elijah stays while in Jezreel but Elijah is no longer within its walls. He left moments after the messenger departed. He is making his way back to Mt. Carmel where his servant is staying.
Elijah is grateful that the rain has lessened as he travels but he wishes he still had the speed with which he made his way to Jezreel. He also wishes that he had told his servant to follow him to Jezreel but he didn’t expect this turn of events. He needs to retrieve his servant lest Jezebel try and use his life as hostage for Elijah’s.
It is in the deepest hours of darkness when Elijah arrives at the house where his servant sleeps. He doesn’t relish the idea of waking everyone in the house but he can’t wait until morning. As soon as Jezebel notices his absence she is sure to search for him. They need to be well on their way before this happens.
Elijah knocks soundly on the door and waits for it to open. He has a short wait as the doorkeeper was resting on his stool by the door. The doorkeeper recognizes Elijah immediately and opens wider for him to enter.
“What is it my lord” asks the doorkeeper with alarm in his voice. He is not used to welcoming guests at this hour and certainly not one as important as Elijah.
“I must collect my servant and be on our way at once. Please summon him for me.”
“Certainly my lord. May I also ask the kitchen to prepare you a meal?”
“Yes, but ensure that it is one that can be taken with us as we have no time to rest and eat. We must be off immediately.”
“I will see to it at once.”
The doorkeeper rushes off to give orders to the night kitchen staff to prepare a meal for Elijah and his servant to take with them and to awaken Elijah’s servant from his sleep. Elijah waits patiently by the door in his absence.
Elijah’s servant and the kitchen servant arrive at the same time. Elijah takes the bundle from her hands as his servant addresses him. “What is it my master that has brought you so urgently to the door?”
Before answering Elijah turns and leads his servant from the house. He does not want those of the house to know of the danger to him either to help or to hinder Jezebel’s plans. As they near the gates of the city Elijah answers his servant. “Jezebel seeks my life. She has vowed to kill me by nightfall tomorrow. We must be off and out of her reach before she knows of my absence.”
Elijah and his servant travel through the night and well into midday before stopping for a rest. They ate sparingly as they walked. They kept far away from the highways lest someone report seeing them as they traveled.
Jezebel is ready and waiting for Elijah to be brought to her for his sentence as soon as she has finished her meal. She enters and sits beside Ahab in his throne room. Ahab summons her captain and tells him to bring the prisoner with him.
Fear has been gnawing on the captain from the moment his men reported Elijah’s absence to him. He went to the home to be certain the occupants had not been hiding Elijah but he was nowhere to be found, either in the home or in the streets of the city. Jezebel’s anger and revenge are legendary among the servants. He has little hope for his own life as he enters the throne room without Elijah in tow.
Jezebel eyes immediately notice Elijah’s absence and she bolts to her feet. “Where is he!”
“We searched diligently my queen but Elijah was nowhere to be found. He is not within the city.”
“You fool! You let him escape. You and your guards should have had him under watch through the night. There should be no way he could have escaped if you had done your job.”
“We did watch my queen but he must have made off in the night before the guard was posted.”
“Excuses will do you no good. The only thing that will save your life is if you find him and bring him here to me before sundown. Now GO.”
Pleased to have at least a little reprieve Jezebel’s captain bows deeply and hurries from the throne room. He and his men set out in search of Elijah immediately. He has already determined in his heart that if they do not find Elijah in time to meet Jezebel’s deadline that they will keep on going. He knows he will suffer Elijah’s fate if he returns empty handed. He will let his men make their own choice when, and if, they face that choice.
Traveling as fast as possible, Elijah and his servant reach the border of Israel and Judah in three day’s time. Their pursuers have long since lost interest in them and have seen to their own lives. They cannot rest yet. Elijah wants to be deep in Judah’s territory before stopping. Jezebel would not dare send soldiers so deep into Judah.
It takes a week before Elijah and his servant reach Beersheba. Elijah feels it is safe for his servant to stay here. He will be safe among the people of Judah and they will provide for him in his absence for Elijah intends for this to be the last time he has need of his servant.
Weary from walking and weary in heart, Elijah finds a good place for himself and his servant for the night. Elijah’s servant sleeps soundly through the night. As tired as Elijah is, he is still unable to sleep. He rests quietly on his mat until the first rays of morning pierce the night. He rises from his mat, quietly slips on his sandals, and touches his servant on the shoulder to wake him.
Elijah’s servant opens his eyes to see his master fully dressed and looking ready to travel. “What is it my lord? Are we leaving already? Are Jezebel’s soldiers near?”
“No. We are safe. You are to stay here. I must go on a little farther. If I do not return you may find your safety with this family.”
“What do you mean my lord?”
“Just that my son. Remain here.”
Elijah turns and leaves his servant behind. He walks all day until he feels he can go no further. In the distance he spies a broom tree. It is the only shade he can see for some distance. He makes his way to the tree and plops down beneath it. He is bone tired. He feels he has nothing more to give. He addresses the Lord from a weary and worn soul.
“It is enough;…” he takes a deep breath before continuing. “…now, O Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (verse 4b).
Elijah lies down and curls himself into the shade of the tree. Here he falls asleep. After a while he feels someone shake his shoulder. He thought to ignore it at first but decided to open his eyes. As he opens his eyes the man standing before him speaks. “Arise and eat” (verse 5b). After speaking the man vanishes.
Elijah raises his head from the ground and notices a stone sitting near his head. On the stone is a cake freshly baked and a jar of water. He is thankful for this gift as he was hungry and thirsty. He quickly consumes this meal but it does nothing to satisfy the anguish and weariness of his soul. After eating he lies down again to sleep.
More time passes as Elijah sleeps, dreaming of permanent rest. Again his shoulder is shaken lightly. Again he opens his eyes to see a man standing before him. “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you” (verse7b). Again Elijah sees before him a freshly baked cake and a jar of water.
Elijah realized that these visitations are the Lord. His spirit bore witness the first time but he wasn’t truly listening. This second call means the Lord has something ahead for him. Elijah carefully consumes every morsel of the food laid before him then he rises from the ground.
All he has for direction is the pull of the Spirit. Elijah walks day and night for 40 days neither eating nor drinking. Seldom does he sleep. The Lord sustains him and directs him. He brings him to Mt. Horeb the mountain of God. The very mountain where the Lord handed down the Law to Moses and the children of Israel. Here the Spirit of the Lord stops pulling him.
(to be continued)
♥ ♦ ♥
Elijah expected everything to change after the Lord demonstrated His power. But Satan had a strong hold on the people. He wasn’t going down quietly. Have you ever noticed that he roars the loudest right after a ‘mountain top’ experience? One of his best weapons is to tell you that you imagined it all or that it doesn’t make any difference. I’ve felt those barbs myself. The one he gets me with is “It won’t last.” And he is correct, in a sense. That ‘feeling’ doesn’t last long but the lessons gained do. And I want MORE mountain top experiences with Him.
Life is filled with ups and downs. You can’t have mountains without valleys. But the same God who met you on the mountain walks beside you in the valleys! It just looks a little different and you might need to lean in a little closer to push through the brambles. But what joy there is when you make it to the other side of the valley and start climbing again. Even when I walk through the valley of death, I will fear NO evil, because HE walks beside me!
Father God, thank You for the mountains AND the valleys. I know I have felt like Elijah did more than once in my life. But You never let me go. YOU picked me back up and dusted me off and told me we still had miles to go. A lot of times that ‘picking me up’ was reminding me of the work I still had to do for my family. You used my children to motivate me to go on one more day. THANK YOU for opening my eyes to their needs. THANK YOU for pulling me from those dark valleys. I know now that I was NEVER alone, even for a moment. I knew it then but didn’t feel the truth of it all the time. THANK YOU for sustaining me until I could grasp that fact. Keep me always walking beside You, on the mountains, in the valleys, and every place in between.