What Are You Doing Here Eliyahu?
An Invitation to Be Honest with G-d and Ourselves
Richard L. Higginson
(Messianic Teacher)
July 26, 1996

Israel, circa 900 B.C.E.
The Challenge
The Triumph
The Result
The Other Shoe Drops
What are you doing here, Eliyahu?
The Assurance

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Warning: The truths contained in this teaching are not for the faint of heart, or the lukewarm! You can be sure that haSatan (the adversary) will do all he can to keep you from understanding and applying the concepts and truths contained herein, but it is our prayer that every one who receives these notes will carefully consider and apply the contents to their lives.


In the book of First Kings, we find the account of an encounter between Eliyahu HaNavi (Elijah the Prophet) and HaShem (meaning, "The {Holy} Name"), the Holy One of Israel. Twice in this encounter, HaShem asks the Prophet "What are you doing here, Eliyahu?" While this passage is known, far more, for its portrayal of the nature of G-d, this question is worth examining. As the Holy One asked Eliyahu twice, this question must be the crux of the encounter, so we also must ask "What are you doing here, Eliyahu?"

Before we can seriously seek an answer to this question, we must look at the circumstances that brought Eliyahu to the mountain where this question was asked.

Israel, circa 900 B.C.E. (See note 1)
bible iconIn the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Achav ben Amri (Ahab son of Omri) became king over Israel; and Achav ben Amri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Now Achav ben Amri did evil in the sight of HaShem more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Yarav'am ben N'vat (Jeroboam Son of Nebat), that he took as wife Izevel bat Etbaal (Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal), king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. (1 Kings 16:29-31)

Achav ben Amri is king in Israel, and he has taken for his wife Izevel, the daughter of Ethbaal, King of Sidon. His father-in-law, whose name means "with Baal", should be enough alone to indicate that trouble is coming. Whether Achav himself was completely devoted to idea of worshiping Baal before this marriage is not indicated, but from what we learn of Izevel through the remainder of 1 Kings, she is devoted to the worship of Baal, and was probably the driving force behind Achav's worship. Scripture does, however, hold that Izevel is behind much of the evil Achav commits.

bible iconBut there was no one like Achav who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of HaShem, because Izevel his wife stirred him up. (1 Kings 21:25)

Izevel figures heavily into this account, for while Achav allows himself to be swayed by her, he still will earn some positive words from HaShem for himself, while Izevel lives out her life with no good thing reported about her. While even the strongest critics of Hitler (May his name be blotted out!) must concede that he did some positive things, Izevel cannot even claim that for herself. She is, by all accounts, the quintessential villain. Even the wicked Haman (May his name be blotted out!) did less against the people of Israel than Izevel, for her evil was a poison within the midst of the nation, while Haman's was a plot that was thwarted by the grace of HaShem.

Because Achav and Izevel have instituted greater worship of Baal in the land, including having built a temple for Baal, and have built Asherim, HaShem sends Eliyahu to Achav with a message of judgement:

bible iconAnd Eliyahu haTishbi (Elijah the Tishbite), of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Achav, "As HaShem, G-d of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1)

This judgement was not random. Baal was, in the religion of the Canaanites, the god who controlled rain and thunder. Just as the plagues against Egypt were tailored to expressly reveal the sovereignty of HaShem over the things regarded as deities by the Egyptians, so also this drought was ordained to demonstrate that only HaShem controlled the rain. Within the culture of the land, it was not unusual for each people group to have their own personal god who was considered to be master over that particular region, and each god could become stronger depending on various circumstances. (An example of this mentality is found in 1 Kings 20:23) By these standards, then, Baal should have been well able to control the region, being as his prophets and followers outnumbered those who followed HaShem. But as the people would soon be shown, such was not the case.

After this pronouncement of judgement against Israel for her idolatry, HaShem sends Eliyahu off to hide by the Brook Cherith, where the Holy One sends ravens to provide food for him. When the brook dries up from the imposed drought, HaShem then sends Eliyahu to the home of a poverty stricken widow in Zarephath, where He again performs miraculous provision for both Eliyahu and for the widow and her son. When the widow's son falls sick and dies, HaShem resurrects the boy through Eliyahu, confirming both His power and the calling He has placed upon Eliyahu.

In the third year, however, it is time for a decision. HaShem sends Eliyahu back to Israel to see Achav. En route, he encounters Obad'yah (Obadiah), a servant of Achav who feared HaShem. In this passage, we learn of Izevel's massacre of the prophets of HaShem and of the hiding of one hundred prophets in two caves by Obadyah. Eliyahu sends Obadyah back to Achav with the message of a meeting that has been appointed between them. (Interestingly enough, Achav has been searching for Eliyahu, while Eliyahu has been hiding in the land of Sidon, ruled by Ethbaal, Izevel's father.) This briefly summarizes the story thus far through 1 Kings 18:16.

1 B.C.E. — "Before the Common Era" — To avoid honoring Y'Shua (the Hebrew way to say Jesus) as Messiah, modern rabbinic Jews replace B.C. (for "Before Christ,") with B.C.E.
2 All Scripture references are from the New King James version, unless otherwise specified.

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