Last week, I shared with you a testimony about God’s supernatural provision for my family and me. If you haven’t read it, I would encourage you to go to last week’s blog and read it before you read any further in this blog. I shared that testimony because it relates to Elijah’s mountaintop experience with God. Sometimes, in order to have a mountaintop experience, we have to have supernatural provision from the Lord in order to get us there.
Since we have now examined Elijah’s mountaintop experience on Mount Carmel, let’s take a look at his encounter on Mount Horeb. At this point, Elijah just finished praying for rain, and the downpour had come. The Lord supernaturally enabled Elijah to outrun King Ahab’s chariot back to Jezreel! Now, that’s amazing!
But once Elijah arrived, bad news was waiting. Ahab’s wife Jezebel sent word to Elijah that, because of what he did to the prophets of Baal, she would have him killed by the next day. Elijah had a maximum of 24 hours left to live! Now, you would think that Elijah, being the great man of faith that he was, would have prayed again to the Lord and confidently rested in Him for his salvation. But that was not the case. Elijah ran, and he ran hard!
Then, when he couldn’t run anymore, he prayed that he would die—and then he proceeded to fall asleep! Think of it. Elijah was running for his life, yet praying he would die. His actions were contradicting his prayers. Thankfully, God did not answer Elijah’s prayer favorably this time. Instead, God answered by sending an angel to tell him, “Arise and eat” (1 Kings 19:5). Twice, this happened, and both times Elijah obeyed, got up, and ate. Let’s just read what happened in 1 Kings 19:7-8:
And the angel of the LORD came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God.
This is where God’s supernatural provision comes into the picture, and this is also where Mount Horeb comes into the picture. Sometimes, in order to have a mountaintop experience, we have to have supernatural provision from the Lord in order to get us there. As strong and bold as Elijah was upon Mount Carmel, this time he was at a whole different point. He was at a point of physical weakness, in which he required God’s supernatural strength to be at work in his life. The only way he got to the mountain of God was by the power of God at work in him. Similarly, in the story from last week’s blog, the only way I received the provision to attend Grace University was by the powerful hand of God at work on my behalf. I was weak, but He is so strong!
God asked Elijah why he was there at the mountain of God, and Elijah responded by saying, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life” (1 Kings 19:10).
God didn’t even respond to Elijah’s statement. Instead, he told him to stand on the mountain while He passed by. Like the time when Moses was at Mount Horeb, there was a great wind, an earthquake, and fire. But interestingly enough, the Lord was not in the wind, earthquake, or fire. Instead, He followed those with a still, small voice. That is where the Lord was.
So often, when we’re in trouble, we expect God to show up in all of His power and might right then and there. But often, what we really need in such times of trouble is the peace of God which far surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). God spoke to Elijah out of the peace of His still, small voice. And what happened next? Elijah proceeded to reiterate that he had been very zealous for the Lord, but that he was the only one left and that his life was sought after.
Again, the Lord did not seem to respond to this information, but instead, He responded with a specific assignment for Elijah to do. Do you remember the three characteristics of mountaintop experiences? We talked about them many blogs ago, so here is a refresher course. Mountaintop experiences are (1) times of training and equipping, (2) times in which we often do not want to leave, and (3) times that are followed by an assignment.
We see these characteristics present in this story just like they were in the transfiguration and in Moses’ mountaintop encounters. Elijah had all but lost hope, faith, and energy. He was physically, spiritually, and emotionally drained. But God supernaturally provided strength for him through the food that he ate so that he would make the journey all the way to the Mountain of God. I believe the Lord knew that Elijah needed this encounter in order to be trained, equipped, and refreshed for what was to come next.
The second characteristic of not wanting to leave is not stated explicitly in this passage, but I believe it was implicitly there. We know that Elijah was running for his life. I’m sure he felt much safer in the presence of the Lord on the Mountain of God. Why would he want to leave that place of safety and go back to Israel, or even back to the wilderness, where he potentially could be found and killed? Mountaintop experiences are safe havens in God’s presence, but as I have stated in previous blogs, we are not supposed to stay there forever. However, just because we descend from the mountain, it does not mean that we have to leave God’s presence. In fact, God has a habit of following His people down that mountain and going with them throughout their next assignments.
That brings me to the third characteristic. After the mountaintop experience, there always comes an assignment or a mission for God’s people to complete. In Elijah’s case, the assignment was as follows:
Then the LORD said to him: “Go, return on your way to the Wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria. Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:15-18).
This may seem confusing at first, but when we realize the significance of what the Lord was telling Elijah to do, it will become astounding! The Lord was showing Elijah that he was not alone. Elijah kept lamenting to the Lord about being the only one left, but the Lord showed Elijah a team of three people to anoint who would be on his side! And if that’s not enough, the Lord showed Elijah that there were yet seven thousand in Israel who were still on the Lord’s side! This goes to show that, while Elijah felt very much alone, he would no longer have to be alone. He had an assignment to fulfill, but he had a team to help him every step of the way. God even promised protection for Elijah, saying that essentially, any attacks would have to pass through Hazael, then Jehu, and then Elisha.
Wow! God is amazing! He provided supernaturally for Elijah and gave him an assignment that would get him out of his dire predicament. I am sure that Elijah arose from this mountaintop experience equipped, encouraged, and ready to continue in the assignment that the Lord had set before him! And guess what? God wants to do the same for you and me today!
Have you ever felt alone? That’s probably a silly question, for most of us have, at one time or another, felt alone. It’s especially lonely to follow the Lord’s calling when those around us seem to be following the ways of the world. Today, if you feel alone in your pursuit of God, rest assured that there are others just like you. You are not alone. God is with you, and He will send others to strengthen and support you at just the right time. All you have to do is rest in Him and trust in His timing. Be strengthened in the Lord and encouraged this day!