Get Up and Eat
“The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.'” | 1 Kings 19:7
In this moment in Elijah’s life, he was coming off of the coattails of what looks from the outside like amazing success. In 1 Kings 18 he faced off with the prophets of Baal in a competition to see whose God could send fire from heaven and burn up a sacrifice. To sum this story up, after days of dancing, self-harm, and intense pleading, the prophets of Baal had gotten nowhere. Elijah had so much water poured over the alter he’d built that there was a moat around it, and after praying once, God sent fire down that “burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38). Elijah proceeded to slay the prophets of Baal, and then prayed for rain and ended a famine and drought that had been plaguing the land.
If I were Elijah, I’d be feeling pretty invincible. But it doesn’t look like he was feeling invincible, because in 1 Kings 19:3, after Queen Jezebel threatened him, the Bible says “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”
Ouch. Things had been going so well, too. For the first time in a long time, there was hope in Israel. Elijah had asked God to display his power so Israel would know who the true God was, and God won that contest easily. Despite that, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.”
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. Maybe not exactly. I haven’t had a queen threaten to kill me, and I haven’t called on God to prove his power to the world through a seemingly-impossible-to-burn burnt offering, but I have seen how God has worked in my own life and still been afraid and felt like giving up. Elijah was in such a dark place that he begged God to take his life while sitting in the desert under a broom tree (1 Kings 19:4). He was giving up and giving in to hopelessness.
“All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.” | 1 Kings 19:5-8
When we feel hopeless, one of the best things we can do is to get up and eat. By taking care of our bodies, we make it possible for us to keep going. Elijah was so strengthened by the food that he was able to travel forty days and forty nights. I don’t know about you, but I want what he’s having. At the same time, however, God didn’t ask him to move until the journey wasn’t going to be too much for him. When we feel hopeless like Elijah did, we can still trust that God is going to make sure our needs are met. We can take hope in Isaiah 41:10:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
This material was modified from a staff chapel led by Jerry Jones.