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“That We Might Have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)

First Kings, Chapter Nineteen

“Please God, let me die.”

Have you ever uttered or thought the words in our title?

As we travel through this vale of tears there are, no doubt, times when we wish the Lord would call us home to Him. Sometimes these words, however, are spoken because we lack the courage to face what is ahead or are feeling sorry for ourselves because of the troubles God has allowed in our lives.

In our study today we will see how God’s own Old Testament prophet Elijah spoke these words. How did God answer Elijah’s plea? May God’s answer to Elijah provide us with strength and hope in these last days!

Elijah had just defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). God had finally sent rain to end the drought in the land of Israel. One would think that Elijah’s trust in God would have been renewed, and that he would have been eager to continue the Lord’s work. However, when Elijah received word that Jezebel, the queen, wanted to take his life, he fled to the wilderness. He even commanded his servant to stay away from him. Alone, he sat under a tree and prayed to die. The devil loves it when God’s people feel utter despair as Elijah did. Elijah felt he was the only follower of the true God and that his life’s work had been pointless. Why should he go on living?

Elijah removed himself from companions who could have provided him comfort by reminding him of God’s promises. We too may feel tempted in times of despair to cut ourselves off from those who can provide comfort from God’s Word.

Our pastors and Christian friends are gifts from God to help us carry our burdens. Make use of the fellowship the Spirit creates and provides for you.

Reason For Living

God did not leave Elijah in his sorrow but provided him comfort and a purpose to go on living. First, He sent the angel of the Lord to nourish Elijah’s physical body. The food Elijah ate sustained his body for forty days. Elijah then journeyed to Mount Horeb and slept in a cave. Here the Lord spoke to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah recited the reasons for his running away. The Lord now demonstrated that Elijah’s work had not been in vain and that it was not yet finished.

Elijah had seen God’s power over nature in the past. When approaching Elijah this time, however, God chose to come in a still, small voice rather than in an earthquake, in a great wind, or in a fire. No doubt God was reminding Elijah of the awesome power of His Word.

A prophet is called upon to be faithful in proclaiming God’s Word. It is through the power of the Word that people are brought to faith. When we get discouraged in our testimony of Christ, we should remember the still, small voice of God when He came to Elijah.

The Lord had a threefold assignment for Elijah. He was to anoint Jehu king over Israel, Hazael king over Syria, and Elisha as his own successor. The Lord also made known to Elijah that there were 7,000 people in Israel who had remained faithful to Him. Elijah–strengthened and renewed by God–wasted no time in carrying out his assignment.

Elijah did have a reason for living. God still had important work for him to do. And his previous efforts were not in vain, for there were still many in Israel who worshipped the true God.

And so it is with us! God has work for us to do. When we are despairing and our problems have us turned inward, may God cause us to hear the still, small voice of His Word. And may He cause us to see the work He still has in mind for us.

Lord, it belongs not to my care
Whether I die or live;
To love and serve Thee is my share,
And this Thy grace must give. Amen
(TLH 527:1)

–Professor Joseph Lau