Elijah, alone and stressed
‘Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”’ Romans 11:2-4
When we find ourselves isolated either through personal choice or through the current covid restrictions, we can feel discontent, unease and even depression with our situation. Our faith can be built on an expectation that unless we are in fellowship with other believers, we are not in the place we should be. Many of us have been part of some kind of church fellowship in the past, and are therefore familiar with regular meeting structures, ministry and teaching. This has established expectations in our minds that this is the ‘norm’.
It is important that as believers we should always be ‘in the right place, at the right time’, and it is a good practise to pray for this on a regular basis. When we find ourselves separate from larger fellowship groups, perhaps meeting together in small group situations, or sometimes with just one or two others, it is not something to feel uncomfortable about.
Elijah experienced the same isolation in his complaint to YHVH in 1 Kings 19: 9-18, cited in Romans above. As far as he knew he was totally alone in Israel, standing against the spirit of Ahab and Jezebel, doing his best to be obedient to the Almighty yet not receiving any encouragement from human companionship or support.
The wonderful thing about this story is that Elijah was in the right place at the right time. He was obedient to YHVH’s instructions and defeated and exposed 450 prophets of Baal and 400 of Jezebel’s own prophets of the groves on Mount Carmel. Yet a short while later he became insecure and found himself running for his life in fear and depression.
When Elijah arrived at Horeb, YHVH said to him ‘What are you doing here Elijah?’ Clearly he was now in the wrong place. Not even Elijah got it right all the time. Yet the Almighty Himself brought Elijah comfort and support by revealing Himself in a far more intimate way, through a ‘still, small voice’ that Elijah recognised immediately, bringing great words of encouragement: “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal”.
In a country as small as Israel it would have been so simple for the Father to cause His faithful followers to know each other. Trade routes and travel were common lifestyle practises and we know from Elijah’s own life that he travelled great distances on foot, yet the Father chose not to surround him with support and encouragement in the form of others who were taking their stand against idolatry.
The Bible says that there were 7000 faithful non-conformist individuals in other locations in that small country, who were similarly practising obedience to YHVH, fulfilling their commission, standing against the spirit of Ahab and Jezebel. They had not ‘bowed their knee to Baal,’ yet we hear nothing of their strength of character and determination to take their stand for what they believed. We don’t even know if they knew of each other’s existence.
It is encouraging to realise that they didn’t need to know each other. They were all in the right place at the right time, and the Almighty knew every individual.
The next time you feel isolated and discouraged, concluding that there is something wrong, remember Elijah, but also remember the other 7000 faithful people in his day who were making a stand against idolatry, paganism and governmental control in the form of a tyrannical king Ahab with his queen Jezebel. Thank the Father for the privilege of the relationship you share with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, knowing that He is watching out for you and that all is well.