MAN IS TO REST - P4
“So He said, ‘Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking 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” (1 Kings 19:11).
Elijah felt powerless and defeated by Jezebel and what she represented—the god Baal that had seduced and conquered the hearts of “everyone” in Israel. Elijah had been called to stand against this evil.
It seems Elijah had taken God’s call entirely upon himself—was he the “last man standing”? Some Believers have felt similarly at times as many around us no longer serve the God of God’s Word. We’ve asked God, “Where are your people? Am I the last one?”
Perhaps for Elijah, that meant taking upon himself a burden he could not carry—fighting FOR God. That seems to be his attitude as he fled for his life and collapsed in the wilderness, decrying his failure to save Israel for God. But Israel wasn’t Elijah’s to save.
Elijah thought he was the last one serving God in the entire world. And now he was defeated—and in that defeat was the idea of the defeat of God. Had Baal won?
In the strength of God’s physical refreshment, Elijah travelled to “the mountain of God,” where God had delivered His Word to Moses, and here, He was going to show Elijah something—something we need to remember today: God is sovereign and in control. God is never defeated. We do not fight for God—God fights His own battles—He does not need us to work for Him, as if He is powerless without our help. Nowhere is that more true than in the person of Jesus Christ—God does the work of salvation, His Spirit wins the battles for us. The good works He has for us to do are empowered by His Spirit for the will of God—not because God needs us to do something, but because He wants us to imitate Him, just as a parent does not need their toddler to do anything, but wants them to learn to do what is good and right.
Here, on the mountain of God, Elijah was restored spiritually to the proper perspective that God is in control and he “rested” in the work of God: “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Dt. 8:3)—even if man should faint or sleep or fail, God does not—nor does His untiring and unswerving Word. Even if man should fail, God is never defeated.
No one knows the mind of God but God Himself. Elijah learned that God had reserved 7,000 people in Israel who had never worshiped Baal—people Elijah didn’t know existed—and it was time for Elijah to let them step up in God’s plan. We are not God’s counselor or His champion—we serve in the role He has designated for us. And we cannot save ourselves, much less someone else or the world.
We serve the Almighty God, and yet, He knows our nature—our physical and spiritual weaknesses. This infinitely powerful God came down and related to Elijah, spiritually nourishing him with the very awesome presence of God, reminding him that God’s strength is all-sufficient, and reminding us that not only is God more powerful than the immovable strength of mountains, but we belong to this all-powerful God and have access to the very throne of God. His very Spirit dwells in us and intercedes for us “with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26b).
God gave Elijah perspective and we need that perspective in our lives. May we take courage in God’s understanding of Elijah’s physical, emotional, and spiritual condition in our own struggles that have us collapsing in the metaphorically wilderness, running for our lives and wishing death as a release because we are at the end of our strength and abilities. God is our sufficiency. Even so, Amen.