If you really want to feel sorry for yourself, and really want to tell God what an utter failure you are…go find a really nice Juniper tree and sit under it. I am actually there right now…at least in my mind. And frankly it feels….empty.
Well I was just following the lead of Elijah. God’s man…who God put in the crucible of God’s world…doing God’s work. The only man left who hadn’t fallen. The only one who was carrying the torch. The man who stood against 450 prophets of Baal, and called down one of the greatest “on demand” miracles recorded in the Bible. The man in the face of adversity…standing strong. Until some woman named Jezebel told him that he was a “dead man.” And Elijah said, “anybody seen a good juniper tree?”
Listen to Elijah “before” Jezebel….
1 Kings 18:22 – Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. (NASB)
And then after Jezebel…
1 Kings 19:2-4 – 2Then 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.” 3And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 4But 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.” (NASB)
And then God sends an angel to minister to Elijah, and then tells him to get going. Elijah goes for 40 days and 40 nights until he arrives at Mt. Horeb. For those of you who don’t know…in Exodus 3 or “the Mountain of God.” You see there was another popular guy hung around Mount Horeb….the shepherd Moses. Wait Dan…you mean the leader of Israel….nope…the shepherd. The guy who had fallen from the palace of the Pharaoh and was now living in the desert with smelly sheep. So I guess that is where the failures go to hang out….not so much.
But you see that is a place where God shows up. That is where Moses first met God and the burning bush. In this case, God has a chat with Elijah…
1 Kings 19:9-10 – 9Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORDcame to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”10He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (NASB)
Elijah was again pleading his case…Lord don’t you get it? It is only me…I ALONE AM DOING YOUR WORK!! God said…go out of the cave and stand there…and lets chat….
1 Kings 19:11-14 – 11So 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 LORDwas not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORDwas not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”14Then he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (NASB)
Elijah was saying….okay God, let’s go over this one more time… I ALONE AM DOING YOUR WORK!!…and I am trying really hard…but is is just me….and God said…
1 Kings 19:15-18 – 15The LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; 16and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17“It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. 18“Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (NASB)
Ahem….Elijah. I have this under control…just like everything else. You get back in there. I have some guys who will clean up anybody there who is against Me. Because I have this under control. And oh by the way Elijah…there is 7000 people who haven’t bowed down to Baal. It is not you….
You see, Elijah…and me for that matter on a much smaller scale have a wrong relationship with God when we are telling HIM how much we are doing for Him…and how hard it is…and how unfairly we are being treated. And God’s response is normally something like….I’m not impressed. But thanks for leaving Me out of this and trying to take full credit for the things that I am doing….
So be encouraged. You are never alone. Not only is God right there with you….He has prepared folks to come by and build you back up if you let them. Sorry for the long blog today…but there is a lot of time to think under the Juniper tree. And oh by the way…if you do ever want to plan a pity party for yourself….don’t bother…because nobody will show up. And frankly it is easier to complain about God when you are alone…because you don’t look so foolish.
Grace and Peace, Dan