THE DOWNFALL AND 
RESTORATION OF ELIJAH

Lesson Eight

1 Kings 19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, "So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them (the false prophets) by tomorrow about this time."

Her anger , her rage must have been great and the messenger must have been very convincing.

1 Kings 19:3 "And when he (Elijah) saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there."

Moving from the last verse of chapter 18 to verse three of chapter 19, you canít help but wonder what happened? Elijah stands against hundreds and out runs horses for twenty miles, in perfect calm, because Godís hand is on him. Now he gets a threatening message from the Queen and runs for his life. In one version it says, when he saw, he was afraid. When he started looking at the Queen and her rage, he stopped looking at the Word of God. His mind became overwhelmed with the Queenís rage and power. And his heart filled with fear. If your mind is filled with God, your heart will be filled with peace. Isaiah 12:2 "Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid." Isaiah 26:3 "For you will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on you, because of trust in you."

Up until now, Elijah had been sustained by keeping his eyes on God, now he saw only a furious woman. Poor Elijah, took his eyes off of the light for a moment and fell into a pit. Anyone besides me ever been there? Arenít you glad that the Holy Spirit recorded both the good and the bad about Elijah and a host of others? If only the best had been recorded, we would surely despair. But because we are told both sides of the story, we are encouraged. We think, Praise God! there is hope for me.

There are many warnings in the Bible concerning the disastrous results of walking by sight. To name a few:

Lot lifted up his eyes and beheld (saw) all the plain of Jordan, which led to his downfall in Sodom. 

Ten of the twelve men sent to spy out the land of Canaan said, "we saw the giants, and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight."

Peter saw the wind and the waves and he was afraid and started to sink.

By contrast, we have Moses who by faith gave up Egypt (which he could see) not fearing the King and his wrath, he endured as SEEING HIM WHO IS INVISIBLE. Hebrews 11:27

Elijah got His eyes off of the promises and on to the circumstances and he ran for his life. Which did not help his situation one bit. It was sort of like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. At that time, the kingdom of Judah was ruled by Jehoshaphat, who was married to the daughter of Ahab. This woman was in many ways worse than her mother. Elijah was flesh and blood and subject to error. Things were going so well and wham, he came up against a very angry, very powerful and evil woman. He was taken by surprise and he acted in haste. No mention of prayer and waiting for Godís direction is found here. Isaiah 28:16 tells us that those who believe shall not make haste. ALWAYS REMEMBER: Decisions made when you are fearful will usually be bad ones.

We need to know that fear for our lives, is not of God. One of the reasons Jesus came into the world was to deliver us from the bondage of the fear of death. Hebrews 2:15

Elijah was under attack, he had made Satan mad, because he had been operating in faith. Faith in action always make you stand out in the crowd. Those who stand out become the special objects of the devilís malice. Iíve heard people say that those who are preaching the message of faith are looking for an easy life. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you operate in faith, the enemy will be on your case, A LOT.

But, PRAISE GOD! He has given us the whole armor of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

1 Kings 19:4 "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, "It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!"

Elijah leaves his servant in Judah and continues on out into the wilderness. I imagine he walked along thinking about what had happened and feeling like a total flop. There were all those people yelling, "the Lord, He is God." The nation was at a point of restoration and I blew it. I ran. Great things could have happened if I hadnít run. I imagine that Iím the laughing stock of the whole nation. They are probably thinking yeah, he thought he was such hot stuff. But look at him now. What a joke. He tried that faith stuff, I knew it wouldnít last. Lord, Iím so embarrassed, I wish I could die. Iím not any better than the rest of them. I quit, I got my eyes off of you and on to the circumstance. I quit walking by faith and started walking by sight, and I failed.

It doesnít say so, but I have a feeling there was some repentance in his thoughts. Isaiah 55 tells us to forsake our unrighteous thoughts and return to the Lord and He will have mercy, and pity and will abundantly pardon us. Just look what happened to Elijah in the very next verse. An Angel came and ministered to him. We expect Godís judgment when we fall, but if we repent, we receive His mercy. GOD IS IN THE BUSINESS OF RESTORATION.

1 Kings 19:5-6 Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." "Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again."

Elijah, was tired and depressed, he had discovered there are no permanent victories. In ancient Greece, they had a lot of races. The winner, in addition to other prizes, was always given a wreath of Laurel leaves. When a winning athlete no longer participated in the races it was said of him that he was living or resting on his laurels. We can not rest on our laurels in our Christian lives. We must have today's manna, a present tense victory.

We have already mentioned that when you are afraid you do not make wise decisions. The way to be released from the grip of fear is spelled out in the bible. It says, I sought the Lord, and He delivered me from all my fears. We need to recognize that God did not give us a spirit of fear.  2 Timothy 1:7

 Decisions that are made in fear, do not seem to have any reason or logical thinking behind them. As is written in the story of Elijah, he ran for his life, and then said I want to die. We need also to note that even in deep depression, Elijah made no attempt to lay violent hands on himself. The New Testament tells us to lay hands suddenly on no man, and that includes ourselves, murder is wrong.

Elijah was not the only one who ever felt the way he did. At one time Moses felt that life was far to burdensome and petitioned God to either lighten his load or kill him. Jonah prayed, take my life from me for it is better for me to die, than to live. Job and Jeremiah went even further and said they wished they had never been born. David said, ĎOh! if I just had wings like a dove, then I would fly away and be at rest.í And some of us have had the same feelings.

I do want to point out that we have a decided edge over those who lived in old testament times. In the old testament the Holy Spirit only came on certain people, for special works. Under grace we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who guides, directs, teaches and comforts. Our part is to listen and respond to Him.

How does God respond to Elijahís fear and depression his slipping back to walking by sight instead of by faith? Does God think, how about, some sand fleas and ants, or maybe a drenching rain to add to Elijah's discomfort? Sometimes we act as though that's the way we think God is going to respond. BUT!! Praise the Lord, His ways are higher than our ways. His mercy endures forever, Hallelujah!!

Elijah didnít realize it then, but he was still the beloved of God. For the word says that God gives his beloved sleep. Ps.127:2 Did you know that sleep is a gift of God? If you don't believe that, just ask anyone who has spent days and nights with out sleep. Sleep is as necessary for our well being as food and drink. Day by day, God gives us food and drink and night by night He gives us sleep. Elijah lays down under the tree and instead of being to depressed, or to tired to sleep, he goes right to sleep.

God's mercy and compassion do not fail. He abides faithful and He sends the angels to minister to those who are the heirs of salvation. Hebrews 1:4 Do you believe in angels? If you don't you should. It was an angel that delivered Lot from Sodom. It was an angel that shut the lions mouth. It was an angel that visited Peter in prison. It was an angel who told Paul that none would perish in the shipwreck.

Do you believe God loves you? Do you believe it all the time? Oh! It's easy to believe we are loved when we've been doing well. But how about when we blow it. We have a tendency to believe that Godís love is based on behavior, but it isnít. He loved us enough to let His Son die for us, when we werenít even willing to share the time of day with Him. It was a different kind of love, that He loved us with then. It was the kind of love that said He didnít want us to perish. Now He loves us because we have loved Jesus and have believed that He came from the Father. John 16:27

If we are born again; we are born into the family of God, we are His child . From here on it doesn't depend on what you do, or don't do. But listen, that doesn't give us a license to sin. We can be out of fellowship with our father.

Just as children and parents can be out of fellowship when a child does wrong. Being out of fellowship does not mean that we are no longer children, it just means we are out of fellowship. To restore good relations we need to repent and say please forgive me. He still loves us even when we do wrong but the blessing of peace and contentment will not be there until fellowship is restored.

1 Kings 19:7-9 "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 meat forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

The angel of the Lord came a second time, God is long suffering, and patient He said rise and eat for the journey is to great for you. He knew where Elijah was going. We may think we are fooling God, but we are not. He knows our innermost secrets and motives, what we are planning to do, when we are planning to do it, and what our motives for doing it are.

So Elijah arose and ate and drank and he went on the strength of that food for 40 days ó a miracle, the food we eat usually only takes us down the road for four or five hours . He went to the mountain of God where Moses saw the burning bush. High up on the mountain was a place called Sinai where the law was given and Moses communed with God for 40 days and nights. Perhaps Elijah longed to sense again the presence of God and went to the place that he had heard of God visiting. Perhaps he also felt this was a place that Jezebel and her cohorts would not be drawn to.

But when he got there nothing had changed, we canít run away from our problems, they go with us, he was still depressed. An indication of his great depression is given us by the fact that he lodged in a cave, for the usual request of the Israelite was that he be delivered into a large place. Ever notice that when you have troubles, you feel boxed in with no way to move? In Psalms we may read that David sought the Lord and He delivered him from all his troubles into a large place. Always remember, since God is not a respecter of persons, what He did for David, He will do for you.

The Lord did not say, Elijah you are the pits. I just canít put up with you any longer. Iíve had it Elijah ó ZAP.  Instead The Lord said, starting in verse 7, Ďó arise and eat,í first of all Elijah you must get up. 2 Tim.1:6-7 tells us to stir up the gift of God which is within us.

Then in verse 11, he is told to go stand before the Lord ó to talk with Himó get his mind renewed by the word of the Lord.

In verse 15, he was told to go set about a new work ó so he was given a goal.

In verse 16, a companion (Elisha) was given to him. He was told to get up, look up. 

What do we learn from Elijahís experience? The thing that stands out the most to me is how great victory can give a tremendous high. Enough so that a person can out run the horses of the King. For those who speak and teach Godís word, there is no greater high than to see understanding light up the faces of the people being spoken to. But on the way home from the meeting, doubts of our effectiveness start to set in. By morning, the high has evaporated and depression starts to nudge itís way in. Many preachers have suffered from this problem. So how do we avoid this problem? We need to surround ourselves with people who speak the word, think the word and do the word. People who will tell us to quit taking credit for the Holy Spiritís work.

The Father actively pursues us when we miss it, even to the point of sending the living word to us. Remember how Jesus came and cooked for the disciples? They were fishing, when Jesus said come and dine and there was bread and fish. He did that for men who had deserted Him and run away. His mercy and compassion does not fail.

What do we learn from Elijahís experience? We learn that God understands us very well and makes every effort to restore us. We learn more of His mercy and love, that He will also say to us come and dine, for there is bread and fish waiting to feed us.

Acts 20:32 "And now, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."