Elijah was a great prophet. If you’ve in church for any length of time, you have likely heard the story of how he challenged the prophets of Ba’al to a sacrifice duel to see whose God would answer by fire and of course, the true God of Israel did. That was a great moment of triumph for Elijah and for God. But bookending it are two rather interesting stories, ones that are just as impressive as that victory on Mount Carmel, which is recorded in 1 Kings 18.
In the following chapter, Jezebel, the queen and a Ba’al worshipper, issues a death warrant for the prophet. Elijah fears and flees to the desert, leaving even his trusted servant behind. There he mourns his situation. He “prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.'” Then he falls asleep, only to be woken up some time later by an angel who had baked fresh hot bread and collected fresh cool water for him. Elijah eats and goes back to sleep, gets reawoken, eats again, and at the angel’s behest travels 40 days further into the desert to Mount Horeb where God meets with him and asks him what on earth he is doing. Elijah responds with of list of all the things “they” did and this phrase:
“I am the only one left.”
Have you ever felt this way?
Now let’s take a quick backstep to chapter 17. Elijah declares an upcoming drought for the land because of it’s idolatry. God tells him to hide in a certain place where He has instructed the local ravens to bring Elijah food every day and where there is also a brook he may drink from. This goes on until the brook dries. When it does, God instructs his servant to go to a nearby town and get food from a widow. This widow and her son are on the brink of starvation with only one serving of flour and oil left, but she is obedient and the flour and oil keep reappearing in her jars until the drought is over. Sometime after this, the victory on Carmel came and following that and the slaughter of the priests of Ba’al by the Israelites, the drought ended when Elijah prayed for rain.
“I am the only one left.”
Now did I miss something? When there is a drought, does God leave Elijah to suffer along with the rest of the people, or does He send him birds to bring him meat and bread every day? When the brook dries up, does He not send Elijah to a widow whose food supplies multiply like the fish and loaves in the Gospels? When God defeats the priests of Ba’al, does Elijah have to chase down all the 450 prophets of the false god, or do the gathered assembly help out with that? And when Jezebel issues her death warrant on God’s prophet, does He not send an angel to feed Elijah twice and send him on a journey to meet with the Lord personally?
Even after all these amazing, miraculous experiences, Elijah– the great prophet, one of two who appeared at the transfiguration of Jesus, one of two men who never died– feels depressed, suicidal, and abandoned. “I am the only one left.”
You know sometimes God has to shout when we don’t hear His whisper, but at other times, I think He has to whisper when we don’t hear Him shout.
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces 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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. –1 Kings 19:11-12
Even after all of this, Elijah went back to the cave mouth and said the same thing as before. “I am the only one left.” So God assigned Him to go and anoint two kings who would be faithful to erase all the false prophets and to anoint his successor as prophet, a man named Elisha who would be with Elijah til the day he was taken up in the chariot of fire, who refused to leave his master, even when Elijah urged him to.
Here’s the final point: All of us have moments when we feel like the only one left, like the last of a dying breed and all the world is against us to kill us too. But we are not. God’s resources have no depth. He used animals, a widow, idolaters, an angel, and a farmer to show Elijah that he would never be alone. And I’m not sure if Elijah got it or not.
The question is, what has God used to show you that He will never leave you nor forsake you? And more importantly, have you recognized them? Do you get it?
You + God will always equal a majority.