07/22/13 by Sojotales
This morning I read a blog post by secretangelps911 entitled Fear no more part 3 of fear Isaiah 41:10 NKJV which started me thinking about fear, depression and feeling alone. One of the Bible stories that I find most inspirational in dealing with my own depression is the story of Elijah being fed by an angel. The events that led up to that moment are pretty amazing. God had just used Elijah to confront Ahab, the ruler who along with his wife Jezebel had been systematically killing off all of the prophets of God in Israel that they could find. When Elijah met up with Ahab he told Ahab to gather together all of Israel, the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who ate at Jezebel’s table and meet him at Mt Carmel. Let’s think this through for a moment, Elijah meets with a guy, who’s been trying to kill him, who was probably surrounded by a large entourage and his personal guards. Elijah not only has the fortitude to stand up to this guy but he essentially orders Ahab to gather a huge crowd of people together in one spot.
That doesn’t sound like someone who is fearful, or like someone who is feeling depressed.
God uses Elijah at this point of the story to not just challenge the priests of Baal, but to prove to all of Israel that God was and is the true God. In the story Elijah sets up a test between God and Baal. He allows the priests of Baal to select between two bulls to be sacrificed and tells them not to light a fire under the sacrifice; but demands that they call on Baal to light it. He then takes 12 stones (one for each of the tribes of Israel) and rebuilds the altar to God using those stones and digs a trench around it.
Let’s stop for a moment to get this picture in our heads. Just how big were these stones anyway? Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t give us an answer to this question in these verses. The stones had to be pretty big though if they were supposed to hold not only a whole bull, but the wood that was to be used to sacrifice the aforementioned bull. Let’s consider the altar that was used for the tabernacle when Israel was wandering. This altar (which was a small portable altar) was 7.5 feet on all four sides and was 4 feet high. If Elijah built a stone altar using those same dimensions, with only 12 stones, then each of those stones would have weighed over 450 pounds! So let’s say that Elijah didn’t build an altar quite that large. Let’s presume that the altar that he built was 5 feet per side and 2 feet high. Each of those 12 stones would have weighed over 250 pounds apiece. Moving that much weight around would have been physically exhausting, but that didn’t slow him down. He placed the wood for the fire on the altar, slaughtered the bull (an animal that would have weighed between 600 & 1,200 pounds), and lay those pieces on top of the wood.
Elijah then commanded the Israelites to dump water over the bull & wood three separate times. They dumped so much water over this sacrifice that the trench around the altar filled with water. Then he began to pray and God answered his prayer with fire in a most dramatic fashion. Not only were the bull and wood burned up, but so were the rocks, the water, and the ground they were placed upon (as a side note, Limestone breaks down at over 1,600 Fahrenheit Now that’s a hot fire!) He orders the Israelites to capture all of the prophets of Baal, takes them down to the river and kills them all. After he’s done all of this physically and emotionally exhausting work he outruns King Ahab’s chariot on the way back to Jezreel (approximately 17 -25 miles.)
In Jezreel Ahab tells Jezebel about what Elijah did on Mt Carmel and she sends Elijah a letter telling him that she would have him killed in a day. After everything that he’s done… Now, he’s afraid? (1 Kings 19:3) He took off running for his life to Beersheeba in Judah (approximately 90 miles,) left his servant and went another day’s journey into the wilderness. When he got to a point where he felt that he couldn’t go on any more he sat down and prayed. But interestingly enough he didn’t thank God for the wonders that God had done through him. Instead, he must have been severely depressed because he seemed to be giving up saying, “I have had enough, Lord. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:4 KJV) Then he fell asleep.
Ask yourself, “When did Elijah become afraid?” He became afraid after he’d exhausted himself doing the great works of God. Then he allowed that fear to control him while he ran away. Finally, when he couldn’t go any more—when he was at his lowest—he prayed and fell asleep. Now, stay with me here. This is the good part; the part that I find most amazing in this whole story.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. (1 Kings 19:5-9 KJV)
As soon as Elijah prayed and rested an angel of the Lord came to feed him and gave him water. This is important! The angel didn’t come a little bit later, or a couple of months later, or the following year. The angel came all at once! After Elijah rested again the angel came to care for him a second time saying, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” Once he was strengthened Elijah once again set off down the road. This time for a much longer trip to Mount Horeb a journey that took him 40 days and forty nights where he eventually heard God’s still, small voice and learned that he’d never been alone for God told him that there were seven thousand Israelites who had not worshiped Baal.
Too often we as Christians only see the fear, or depression that we’ve allowed Satan to gain over us. We feel that we are alone and that no one else out there knows what we are going through. We wait until we are tired and exhausted—feeling emotionally worn out—before we eventually turn to God. When Elijah prayed and rested God sent an angel to him. Just as he will for us.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Psalm 91:11 KJV