Why Did Elijah Run?

Sometimes it is so wonderful just to go back and contemplate the basic doctrines in a new context. No one ever explained to me why Elijah had to run. This week God brought up the big theme and blessed me in my effort to work through it. Hopefully, if you have the time and patience to read it all, you will be blessed to.

As I was working through this blog, the song by Concrete Blond called Joey really spoke to me about being in the position of being condemned. Hear the pathos in it as it applies to Elijah.

Anybody who accuses another person in Jesus of being guilty of evil is qualified for being labeled “The Accuser of the Brethren”. It is a huge problem in American Christianity today because we have gotten into mess trying to gain God’s approval. Have you ever struggled with intense feelings of shame or guilt, that feeling that says, “You’re so bad, no one, especially God, can really love you?” Well if you do, you are hearing the voice of the Accuser. Fear not, brethren, for we have a weapon against such lies.

One of God’s most powerful prophets, Elijah, was a mighty warrior for God. He called down fire from heaven, performed many miracles, and put to death 450 prophets. Now when the Queen heard this, she was full of terrible rage. Here is what she said in 1 Kings 19:1-2.

“Now Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." (NASU)

Now Elijah is a fierce warrior, and performed great and mighty miracles, and walked in amazing faith in Jehovah. So why did he run? The short answer is that Elijah, like the prophets of Baal, deserved to die according to the testimony of the Law. Elijah did not have the kind of righteousness that could produce salvation. He was guilty of sin. Jezebel knew it, Satan knew it, and Elijah knew it. So he ran out into the middle of the desert and cried out for God to just kill him. The Bible gives this account:

“And he [Elijah]was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 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 my life, for I am not better than my fathers." 1 Kings 19:3-4

He was an honest man. He knew that his ability to please God fell short of God’s righteous requirements. He knew what James knew, that “… whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10 There it is. Elijah was not perfect, and under the authority of the Law, Jezebel could demand his death. As the Queen, she had the power to carry it out.

Satan says the same thing to us today. “You’re messed up. You blew it. You should die. You’re not good enough for God, or those good people who can obey properly.” The sad thing is we believe those messages, and go around with a cloud over our heads thinking we are no good, and others are better than ourselves. Whenever we think these things, we are hearing the voice of the Accuser. Remember that. We are not actually hearing God.

But God heard Elijah, and saw in him an honest heart, and provided a way for him to find victory over the Accuser, Jezebel. Here is how he did it.

First, he withdrew to a place of safety and found God’s presence. Just being in God’s actual presence is a miracle, and life changing, but he needed more than that. So he had a conversation with the Lord, and showed God his dilemma. And God listened. Do you know that God loves to listen to you, and be there for you in the drama of life? So speak.

We all need a place to voice our case before the Lord, and tell him of the great trials we are enduring. This is the cry of the heart, to find life in all the chaos. This is how we develop intimacy with Him.

Then God responded and showed Elijah that He was not alone, in fact there were 7000 just like him. He was not alone! There were many just like Him that God was watching very closely. Right now, God is watching everybody and everything very closely, and has answers ready for those who come.

Next it was God’s turn to talk. God showed Him the future. God showed Elijah that He had a plan to overcome the voice of Jezebel, and ultimately the voice of the Accuser. Have you ever been told the future by God? It is really amazing when it happens. You gain an understanding that God is in fact God, and things are under control. This is what Elijah needed. God fortified Elijah with His presence and His word. So Elijah got up and returned to Israel and obeyed God’s plan. The Bible tells the story in 1 Kings 21:17-23.

“Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: "Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth's vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, `This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?' Then say to him, `This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood-yes, yours!'"

Ahab said to Elijah, "So you have found me, my enemy!"

"I have found you," he answered, "because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD. `I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel-slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.'

"And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: `Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.'

Then it happened just as Elijah said. But in the process, Elijah was taken away. God had to kill Elijah, because of His actually guilt. The story was not over, for in Elijah’s battle with Jezebel, the root issue of man’s inability to satisfy God’s righteous requirements was exposed. Elijah was the best of the best, and even he could not do what it took to avoid condemnation.

What next? All the chosen people of Israel were held in a waiting place, not in heaven, called Abraham’s Bosom. They had to wait for Jesus, and Jesus tells us about it Luke 16:22. "Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.” Well Elijah was in there, waiting for God to solve the big problem.

After Elijah died, many years later, God made Israel a promise: that Elijah would return. After Elijah left, people began to realize that they had the same problem Elijah had, and they needed a savior. Everyone began to realize that they just didn’t have what it took to establish God’s approval of righteous over their lives, and escape judgment. Everybody knew a terrible day of God’s judgment was coming, so God gave them hope by telling them that He would send Elijah back. Malachi the prophet wrote these words.

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." Mal 4:5-6

In order for that to happen, a resurrection would have to occur. Everyone believed Elijah was going to come back at Passover, so they set a place for him at the table for hundreds of years.

Then Elijah did come back. His name was not Elijah, it was John the Baptist. Everybody was looking for Elijah, or the Messiah. Look at this miracle as the Pharisees questioned John in John 1:19-25.

Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, "I am not the Christ."

They asked him, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?"

He said, "I am not."

"Are you the Prophet?"

He answered, "No."

Finally they said, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, `Make straight the way for the Lord.'"

Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?"

Everybody was trying to figure this out! It was a great mystery. Only Jesus knew that John was Elijah, and He told His disciples so. Look at what He says about this mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven.

I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 11:15)

For Jesus was about to give everyone a precious and mighty gift: His guiltless blood. Jesus was the resurrection! Only Jesus lived a blameless life, not violating the law a single time. When the devil put Him on the Cross, and killed Him, there was no fault found in Jesus.

The first thing Jesus did was go to Abraham’s bosom and go get Elijah, Moses, Abraham, David, and the rest of the elect and bring them into to Heaven. Jesus smeared them with His blood.

Here then is the great and mighty weapon we have today: The Blood of Jesus. It is our way, our door, our entrance into the Kingdom of God. By it we have gained righteousness. By it we become and acceptable dwelling place for Holy Spirit. By it we earn God’s approval. By it we escape damnation.

At the end of the day, like Elijah discovered at the resurrection of Jesus, now we can say, “I plead the blood of Jesus. I am righteous, O devil, O voice of the accuser, vindicated by the blood of Jesus.”

So today, if you suffer messages of condemnation, get out your sword in the Spirit, and plead the blood of Jesus over your life, and defeat your accuser.


eduarte said…
This was a very helpful and intersting post. There is so much mystery when it comes to Elijah but I agree he was one of God's top guys. I would put him up there with Abraham and Moses for old testement heros. Thanks for sharing. ;)
Anonymous said…
Hey Will. Thanks for the video of the fam and storm. I can almost feel and taste that hot Texas day. Great to see the kids, Heidi and you. But haven't seen much of the dog lately. Love you. Dad3 ps Gotta run (like Elijah)
Anonymous said…
Elijah's sin is quite clearly adultery. He confronts many boldly in the name of God, yet ironically runs from the woman Jezebel. This is subliminally a story of "forbidden temptation". Elijah does not believe he can over come the temptation, so to obey the will of God, he removes her from his presence to over come.

Jesus walks on the waters, but Elijah parts the waters. Symbolically these parables display the nature of the over comer. Jesus lives flawlessly and is the true over comer, but Elijah removes the waters (temptations) from his path so that he may over come.

Quote from Revelation 2:20 shows the true nature of Jezebel's temptations:

"Nowwithstanding I have a few things against them because they suffer that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not."

Elijah's affliction was between his submission to God and Jezebel.

It may not jump out as the truth in the scriptures, but if you read between the lines it is quite clear.

There is also an implication that Elijah and Saint John are the same in Matthew. I find huge irony in Revelation 17 considering the fact I've discovered Elijah's affliction.

Rev 17:7 - But the angel said to me, “Why did you marvel?

Even Saint John marveled... how ironic is that?
Willydee said…
I disagree with you on this point, on at least three counts. First as you so eloquently put it, it may not jump out as the truth in the scriptures. This is true, because it is not there. God has no problem getting down and dirty in the narratives of the Bible. Consider David and Bathsheba, Tamar and her brother, Amnon. Why the need to read between the lines if what is there is actually there? God would have told us plainly if that was the case.

Next there is a demonstration of power; both in the fire falling from heaven and the arrival of rain. This is a huge place of intimacy between Elijah and God. After that, I can guarantee you that there was not a passage of time between 1 Kings 18 and 19. Jezebel was very connect to her prophets. How long do you think it took Ahab to tell her what happened? During that time, do you think Elijah ran to the local cave and mustered up a conjugal visit?

No, he just had a great victory of kingdom authority and power. I tell you, there is something more telling, a deep discouragement that comes from isolation upon hiding out on a dried up Cherith Stream for a few years. Here is what Elijah said to the Lord:

Ch. 18 “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.

Ch. 19 And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

Elijah felt utterly alone. Beyond that, he had no ability to lay claim to the blood of Jesus Christ as a basis for his holiness.

So I believe that when Jezebel threatened Him, she did so on the basis of her political authority, and spiritual authority. It just doesn't fit that he had been over come by temptation of lust.
Anonymous said…
This makes absolutely no sense. Far too many assumptions. There are "subliminal" messages here. No evidence is there to support Elijah was lusting for Jezebel.

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