jan21 2023

He Was Afraid

1 Kings 19:3 (ESV) -- Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

Often times in Scripture we see men and women do incredible feats that require courage only to see them fail shortly after. Peter walks on water before sinking. David kills Goliath, but then fails with Bathsheba. We see it repeatedly. Why does this happen? Because we are all imperfect people who get it right one moment and fail the next. 

Our passage today highlights another example of that. We read in 1 Kings 19:3, “Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.”

The story of Elijah is one of the most powerful throughout the Old Testament. He is a prophet of God amidst a wicked generation. Israel’s king is evil. The nation worships an idol in following Baal. Elijah is one of a few that have remained true to the LORD. Elijah is facing off against 450 prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel in 1 Kings 18. He calls down fire from Heaven and it consumes the altar. The prophets of Baal flee and Elijah slays them. It is an amazing triumph before the king and the people of Israel. Yet when Elijah hears that the king’s wife, Jezebel, wants to kill him, it’s a different response. 

Elijah is afraid for his life. He runs to protect himself and hides in a place called Beersheba. The mighty prophet of God confident on the mountain is now in fear for his life. On the surface, it makes no sense. Why would he run? How could he forget the power of God just displayed before him? But we are just like him. God has done incredible things for us. He has provided for us in times of need and crisis, yet we run in fear when the very next opportunity for trust arrives. 

Elijah loses sight of God’s faithfulness to him. He lets the threats of Jezebel have more sway in mind than the power of God. He’s taken his eyes off the truth. Any of us can fall into this trap. We need to stay humble in our victories and direct our eyes to God in our fears. It doesn’t matter how strong your faith is. Anyone is susceptible to running in fear in the face of threatening circumstances. Let Elijah’s story both warn you and encourage you to consistently keep your eyes on the God who sends fire from Heaven.

Reflection & Journal:
- Why is Elijah’s failure so surprising in 1 Kings 19?
- What reasons would you give for Elijah’s failure?
- How can you best keep from forgetting God’s power and presence in your life? 

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