What are you doing here?
1 Kings 19:9
By Dean Krueger
What a scene it must have been! One man, Elijah, standing face to face with 450 prophets of the false god Baal and another 400 prophets of the false goddess Asherah, not to mention the wicked King Ahab. They were furious with Elijah for daring to speak against Israel’s king and queen over state sponsored idolatry and its practices which included drunken orgies and human sacrifices. The people of Israel looked on - wondering who to believe. What to believe. And so, the contest began. The prophets of Baal called on him to send fire to ignite the altars for the burnt offerings. Elijah watched and taunted, telling them to shout louder. “Maybe Baal is asleep or too busy to hear?” Of course, nothing happened. Then it was Elijah’s turn and he prayed. “Let it be known that you are God in Israel … and that you are turning their hearts back again.” (1 Kings 18:36-37) The fire rained down and consumed the offerings. The people rose up and killed the false prophets.
So, what did Elijah do after this awesome demonstration of God’s power? He ran away, fearing for his life, because the king and queen were angry enough to kill him. He ran away and hid in a cave. He ran and cried out, “I am alone and want to give up and die.”
Before we get too critical of Elijah, perhaps we can relate. How often have we experienced God’s power or presence in our life or in history? Yet shortly afterwards, we are fearful. We run away and hide in our figurative cave. Maybe to some place of perceived safety or self-pity. Our cave. So does God get angry with Elijah? No. God calls to him. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” I imagine God thinking “You big chicken. I just clobbered this evil in front of you and you go running away to hide”. Then He sighs and gently asks the question.
God thinks Elijah needs another demonstration so He sends Elijah to the mountains and says to get ready because the Lord will pass by. Okay, let’s try this again, Elijah. You may know the next scene. Elijah shelters (in place) and the wind howls and the earth shakes and the fire roars. But God wasn’t there to intimidate Elijah. No, instead He calls Elijah in a gentle whisper for a second time. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Now go back to work and do my will.
Maybe the events of our lives and our church aren’t as dramatic as Elijah’s’. (Until recently anyway) but the message is relevant. We see trouble and even evil. We experience God’s power and deliverance. We have short memories and become fearful. We hide in the cave.
God seeks us again and whispers “What are you doing here, (insert name), in your little cave? You know My power. You have seen it time and again. Go do my work even in the face of hostility, trouble, and outright evil. Child, trust me and I will deliver. I will deliver according to My purpose.”
Prayer: Father, Too often I have been fearful of the evil that roars around me. Too often I have been fearful of people hostile to your will. Too often I have felt that I was alone in facing the challenges of life. Speak to me in the whisper of your Spirit, in the Word and in the quiet of prayer. Give me comfort and courage to do your will in times of turmoil and in times of joy. Help me understand that your purpose is accomplished at the cross and empty tomb. The victory is assured. Amen.