1 Kings 19:4-10 (NKJV)
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So, he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So, he arose, and ate and drank; and he went inthe strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So, he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”
Elijah had worked hard, preaching to the Nation, calling them back to serving the true and Living God. He built the altar, he then called down fire from Heaven until the sacrifice, and all the water in the trench was consumed. Elijah then executed the four hundred and fifty priests of Baal; I am sure that grisly task was exhausting work. He then prayed earnestly (exerting much effort) for it to rain. As the clouds gathered and the storm was brewing, Elijah girded up his garments and ran ahead of the King’s chariot a distance of 17 miles. Then…and there is always a “then,” Jezebel threatens to have him killed.
Whenever someone chooses to do a great work; or when they take on a “God-sized” task, or they run with a vision to make a difference in the world, then you will find someone who wants to stop them. These enemies of the purposes of God will seek your demise; they will try to get the visionary out of the way. If they can’t kill the prophetic voice, they will at the least seek to intimidate them, threaten them and if they can, silence their voice.
In this case, it seemed that Jezebel was able to catch Elijah at a vulnerable moment. Here is some advice, when you have had some success you have to be doubly careful; you are most likely at your most vulnerable point for a collapse, especially if you are tired and feel depleted. Like Jackson Browne sang, “Running on empty!” Elijah had just killed over four hundred and fifty priests of Baal, he should have been pumped, but in reality, he was facing “burn-out!” Let me define burn-out for you: When you give out more than you take in you will face burn-out! Eventually, regardless of how strong you are, you will become weak and vulnerable to an attack against your ministry, life, and well-being. If you don’t get to a place to fill up; get refreshed; take a break; you may find what you can typically handle will overwhelm you, and even allow your emotions or soul to gain the ascendancy over your spirit-man.
Elijah was so exhausted and afraid that he ran into the desert and curled up under a tree and wanted to die. (Though not at the hands of Jezebel; “Now, LORD, take my life!!!”) That’s so unlike Elijah!
Rest a while!
And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.
Jesus wanted the disciples to have some much-needed R&R, except the crowds, followed them and arrived hungry for what Jesus could give them, but also hungry for some food. Peter probably thought they were going to get around a pool with some loungers and sip Pinna Coladas (virgin of course!); the one’s with pink umbrellas and pineapple pieces. His mental picture of “rest a while” was quickly shattered by reality. “Master! This isn’t what I had in mind when you said take a break. This looks like work!” B.T.W ministry is spelled WORK!
There are times when you just can’t get into a hot tub and allow the soothing water jets to ease your tension and wash away your exhaustion. There are times when you can’t go on vacation or even get a few hours break. But don’t despair you can still get refreshed and tanked up…even when there are no palm trees and hammocks. Jesus once got tired and took a break at a well. His rest was short-lived as he ended up ministering to a woman at the well and later to the crowds that she brought from the village. Though Jesus was weary and hungry but after speaking life into the people, He was refreshed. He declined the food offered by the disciples with these words (from the Unpublished Leon’s Expanded Version), “What really satisfies and feeds me even more than rest or food, is doing the will of my Father!”
Here I am telling you to get some rest, and then I turn it around and say you have to WORK! I am not trying to confuse you but merely saying there is something more potent than a rest…
What is that? You may ask –
You should learn how to live from your inner man, the real you, or from the heart. You have incredible inner strength in the Spirit, and that’s why Paul could say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
John on the Island of Patmos also accessed a strength, way beyond his discomfort and harsh living conditions. “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day!” He went beyond the limits of his environment and natural energy. He entered into the realm of the Spirit. There the Lord touched him.
When you are exhausted you need to access the touch of God!
In Elijah’s case, the Angel of the Lord came and touched him, and gave him a heavenly meal. The Lord also came and touched John. Now, if the Lord doesn’t come to you, then you can go to Him. Remember, you have uninterrupted 24/7 access to the Throne of God where you can receive help, strength, wisdom, and ability. God gives us a Holy invitation, “Call to me, and I will answer you!” (Jeremiah 33:3) If He comes to you then you will be touched and revived. If you go to Him, you will also be touched and revived.
Elijah prayed to die, and God answered this request with a big fat “NO!” In fact, Elijah did not die, but he was eventually taken to heaven in the fiery chariot. When God touched Elijah, he was revived and strengthened. He was given a new lease on ministry and he went on to raise up other prophets including Elisha, who would take over from him.
- You should take time to rest, but if that doesn’t work out, you can rest in the Lord.
- If you wait upon the Lord, He will renew your strength.
- If you feel weak, begin to confess that you are strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
- Build yourself up in your most Holy faith; pray in the Spirit.
- Be joyful in the Lord, not in your circumstance but in Him who is greater than what’s going on around your life. The joy of the Lord will strengthen you.
The God who touched Elijah will touch you!
Dr. Leon van Rooyen