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"What Are You Doing Here Eliyahu?"

An Invitation to Be Honest with G-d and Ourselves
Richard L. Higginson
(Messianic Teacher, Beit Avanim Chaiot)
July 26, 1996

Warning: The truths contained in the following 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.

Table of Contents:
The Challenge
The Triumph
The Result
The Other Shoe Drops
What are you doing here, Eliyahu?
The Assurance

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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)
(See note 2)

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.

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The Challenge

bible iconThen it happened, when Achav saw Eliyahu, that Achav said to him, "Is that you, O trouble of Israel?" And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of HaShem, and you have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Izevel's table." So Achav sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Eliyahu came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If HaShem is G-d, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him." But the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:17-21)

While Achav is ready to blame Eliyahu for the drought, it is worth noting that he does not take action against the prophet, and even accedes to his request. Once the people have gathered on Mount Carmel, Eliyahu gets right to the point: "Make up your mind; serve HaShem, or serve Baal. You cannot do both."

But the people are not ready to make any commitment either way. They are hesitant about taking a stand. Surely they are aware by this point that the prophet is the one who declared the drought before it started, and that the prophets of Baal, god of rain and thunder, have done nothing to relieve it. Yet, they still hesitate. As stated before, HaShem has ordained that it is time for a decision, and so He moves Eliyahu to put forth the challenge to the prophets of Baal and to the people.

bible iconThen Eliyahu said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of HaShem; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of HaShem; and the G-d who answers by fire, He is G-d." So all the people answered and said, "It is well spoken." (1 Kings 18:22-24)

To the people, this would have appeared to be an unfair contest. After all, HaShem had only one prophet against Baal's four hundred and fifty, not counting the additional four hundred that served Asherah. By their belief system, this should have well established Baal's strength, since Asherah was Baal's consort according to most sources. Confidently the prophets of Baal agreed, sure that this upstart Hebrew prophet would soon be humiliated.

bible iconNow Eliyahu said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it." So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying "O Baal, hear us!" But there was no voice; no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they had made. And so it was, at noon, that Eliyahu mocked them and said, "Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened." So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And it was so, when midday was past, that they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. (1 Kings 18:25-29)

The confidence which the prophets of Baal must have at first felt in this test evaporated rather quickly, it would seem. When at noon they have still had no answer from their god, they are even ready for Eliyahu's suggestion. But Eliyahu's mocking is not just intended to add insult to injury. He is making an indictment against the nature of Baal and against all the false gods of the region.

When Eliyahu suggests that perhaps Baal is busy, the word in the original language literally means, "withdrawn to a private place." One interpretation of this is that it was a polite way of saying that Baal was off relieving himself. At first, this might appear that Eliyahu had degenerated into crude insults, and that this interpretation must not be correct. But when it is examined in the context of the other things Eliyahu says about Baal, this appears to be exactly what he was saying.

All the possibilities Eliyahu offers for Baal's lack of response have one thing in common: They are all human conditions. When compared to what HaShem has revealed about Himself, this becomes readily obvious:

   Baal is meditating.

bible iconMany, O HaShem my G-d, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts which are towards us cannot be recounted to You in order; If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. (Psalm 40:5)

   Baal is "busy," or has "withdrawn to a private place."

bible iconIf I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer to G-d thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. (Psalm 50:12-15)
(Note: While this passage does not directly address the concept of a normal digestive process on the part of HaShem, it does imply the absence of a need for food, and clearly states that He will answer the calls of His people.)

   Baal is on a journey.

bible iconBehold, HaShem's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. (Isaiah 59:1)
bible iconWhere can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your Presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:7-10)

   Baal is sleeping, and must be awakened.

bible iconHe will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:3,4)

When Eliyahu's taunts are examined this way, his meaning becomes far more clear. Baal is a false god, created in the image of man and with the limitations and failings of a man. This trait is true of a great many of the false gods throughout history, and is part of HaSatan's attempts to convince us to deify ourselves. After all, if our god is a glorified man, then we also might someday achieve deification.

But the One True G-d made man in His image, not vice versa. We are limited by our fallen state and the physical universe in which we abide, but He is not so limited. Unlike most of the false gods throughout history, HaShem has no faults, no limitations, and no vices. He is, was, and always will be, omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (all places at once), and omniscient (all knowing). We can present Him with no problem beyond His capability, for no such problem exists. He doesn't end up distant because He has gone on a journey, for He is always with us. And we do not need to yell at Him to get His attention for our problem, for He already knows our need. True, we still need to ask Him for His help, and according to His will, we may have to wait for it while we endure some trial for His purpose, but He is never ignorant of us. He will never say "Oh, I wish you had only told Me, then I could have done something about it if I'd only known!" (He might say "My child, you only needed to ask, but you didn't." But that's another discussion.)

Eliyahu is taunting the prophets of Baal not to irritate them so much, as to be sure that the people of Israel are fully aware of the difference between Baal and HaShem. It is not the mean spirited teasing of one who is trying to anger, but rather the facetious words intended to reveal the reality of a situation.

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The Triumph

bible iconThen Eliyahu said to all the people, "Come near to me." So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of HaShem that was broken down. And Eliyahu took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Yaakov, to whom the word of HaShem had come, saying, "Israel shall be your name." Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of HaShem; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, "Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood." Then he said "Do it a second time," and they did it a second time; and he said "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water. And it came to pass, at the time of the evening sacrifice, that Eliyahu HaNavi came near and said, "HaShem G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are G-d in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O HaShem, hear me, that this people may know that You are HaShem G-d, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again." Then the fire of HaShem fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "HaShem, He is G-d! HaShem, He is G-d!" (1 Kings 18:30-39)

Suddenly, the people's hesitation has vanished. Now they are more than happy to make a commitment to HaShem. The amorphous concepts of what a god is and isn't have suddenly been set upon by reality before their very eyes, and their only response must be to hit their faces and declare that HaShem is G-d. This is an indication of what will happen eventually for those of our present day who hedge about on the person of G-d. They, too, will someday come face to face with His reality, and their only choice will be to hit their face and declare that HaShem is G-d. (Some just before they enter a dark eternity...)

Another important point to see in this episode is that Eliyahu speaks to HaShem more for the benefit of the people than for either his or HaShem's benefit. While it is his prayer that invites the answer from HaShem, it should be obvious that what Eliyahu says is already known by the Holy One. Eliyahu could have simply prayed "Light it, O G-d." and it would have been so. But by this point you can be reasonably sure that everyone was listening closely to the prophet's words. By wetting the sacrifice and the wood thoroughly, Eliyahu had, by appearance's sake, set himself up for failure. By comparison also, the people might have expected as desperate of pleas as the prophets of Baal had ended up crying. But Eliyahu's volume and words are not to try and get through to HaShem, but to make sure that all heard that this would, indeed, be a sign of who really was G-d in Israel, and who was really His prophet.

The practical aspect of this to remember is that it matters not how loud, or how sincere, or how desperate your prayers are if they are not directed to the One Who can really hear them, and conversely, it matters not how quiet or clumsy your prayers are if they are indeed directed to the Holy One of Israel, who neither slumbers nor sleeps, and has promised to hear when we pray.

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The Result

bible iconAnd Eliyahu said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!" So they seized them; and Eliyahu brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there. Then Eliyahu said to Achav, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain." So Achav went up to eat and drink. And Eliyahu went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again." Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Achav, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.'" Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Achav rode away and went to Jezreel. Then the Hand of HaShem came upon Eliyahu; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Achav to the entrance of Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:40-46)

It will be important to remember what was said in verse 40, later in this study. The people, now convinced of the power and reality of HaShem, respond to Eliyahu's call and seize the prophets of Baal, and take them down to the Brook Kishon where they are executed. (We do not know what happens to the prophets of Asherah, but it would not be surprising to learn that they beat a hasty retreat while they could. Or, they also might have been lumped into the same group and met the same fate as the prophets of Baal.) This is a pretty solid response on the part of the people, and it bears noting.

And in the same mode of demonstration of power, now that the prophets of Baal are dead, Eliyahu prays and brings about the rain, thus fulfilling his words to Achav back in chapter 17, verse 1. Before he prays for the rain, he declares to Achav that rain is coming soon, so that Achav is left with no doubt as to who has done this.

Much speculation has been made as to the significance of Eliyahu having to pray seven times for the rain, indicated by the sending of his servant to look eight times before seeing the cloud. This alone could be the subject of an in depth study, with no real definitive answer, since we are not told. This study will not delve into the possible meanings and symbolisms behind HaShem's apparent delay in answering. It does bear mentioning, though, that Eliyahu does not seem to suffer any crisis of faith when the response does not occur immediately. He continues to pray, and is not surprised when the answer comes. This should be an example of how we also should approach prayer. Our faith should not be hinged upon seeing immediate answers, and when He does answer, we should not find ourselves surprised that He would do so. We might be amazed at the manner in which He responds, but we should never be surprised that He does indeed respond. (To be surprised that He responds is to reveal that there was a doubt that He would, and we should never doubt His love for us.)

Not only does HaShem send rain, but a heavy rain at that, again, in accordance with the words spoken to Achav by Eliyahu. And in the midst of it, HaShem enables Eliyahu to outrun Achav's chariot all the way back to Jezreel, a distance of between 20 and 25 miles. (Had it been timed, it would likely have been a marathon record that would still stand to this day!) All in all, it has been an extremely positive day for Eliyahu, spiritually.

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The Other Shoe Drops

bible iconAnd Achav told Izevel all that Eliyahu had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Izevel sent a messenger to Eliyahu, 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 by tomorrow about this time." And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. 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, HaShem, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!" (1 Kings 19:1-4)

In the fashion repeated so many times, including at the Mount of Transfiguration, after such a spiritual high comes an incredible low. (Of course, it may be that the low is really not all that low, but rather that it seems so much lower after having been to such incredible heights.) But instead of a demon waiting for Eliyahu in the valley, it is rather Izevel. She, for one, is not impressed by what HaShem has done this day, and is actually quite angry about what has happened to her friends, the prophets of Baal. (Remember, these are the ones whom Eliyahu referred to as regularly eating at Izevel's table. Quite likely, these prophets were essentially Izevel's inner circle of advisors and consultants, and it would be reasonable to assume that she relied heavily upon their words.)

It is also not unusual to find Eliyahu's response confusing. When reading the story thus far, one would think that he would figuratively laugh off Izevel's threat. Yet, he fears for his life and flees the region. Going a day's journey into the wilderness, he sits down beneath a tree and effectively prays for a merciful death at the hand of HaShem rather than the violent death planned for him by Izevel.

But before we settle into judging Eliyahu's apparent lack of faith, it might bear examining how we might respond in a similar situation. Suppose, for the sake of comparison, that any one of us became the crucial witness in a trial against an organized crime boss. And suppose that, knowing that as Believers in Messiah we are obligated to do the right thing, we proceed with our testimony and are instrumental in seeing this criminal sentenced to a life in prison. Then suppose that after he has gone off to prison, we receive a message in the mail from him that simply states "You're dead." Would our faith in the Holy One be so strong that we would simply laugh off the threat and go on with our daily life? Or would fear begin to rule in our minds and start to deter us from rational thinking? Obviously, we cannot know for certain what we would do unless such a thing actually happens, but imagining such a scenario can open our eyes to how we might feel.

Likewise, Eliyahu is faced with a serious threat from one who is well known for her ability to see such promises to fruition. We have only to refer back to Eliyahu's meeting with Obad'yah to be reminded that, had not Obad'yah feared HaShem and hid 100 prophets away, Izevel would have slaughtered 100 more prophets of HaShem than she did. While we do not know for certain how many she did take, it is assumed that it was no small number, and from what we read of Izevel, was completely remorseless. When she threatens Eliyahu, it is not an idle threat at all. Izevel would have gladly cut down Eliyahu in a heartbeat had she gained the opportunity. His fear, then, while debatable spiritually, was well founded in the human sense. Fear, in this sense, is nothing more than the built in drive to survive that the Holy One instilled in each of us. The fact that Eliyahu did not bring it immediately into subjection to his faith in the Holy One can be criticized, but his fear is nonetheless understandable. This, then, becomes the hinge point that brings us to our question.

As Eliyahu lays beneath the broom tree waiting to die, he falls asleep. He is awakened by an angel, who instructs him to eat and drink food that was provided for him. He sleeps again afterwards, and again is awakened by the angel and provided nourishment, with the admonition that he has a long journey ahead of him. This food must have been very special from HaShem, because these two meals are sufficient to keep Eliyahu going for the forty day journey he takes to reach Mount Horeb, called the Mount of G-d.

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What are you doing here, Eliyahu?

bible iconAnd there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of HaShem came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Eliyahu?" So he said, "I have been very zealous for HaShem G-d 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." Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before HaShem." And behold, HaShem passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks into pieces before HaShem, but HaShem was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but HaShem was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but HaShem was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (Literally in the Hebrew, a soft, gentle rustling) So it was, when Eliyahu heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Eliyahu?" (1 Kings 19:9-13)

As stated in the introduction, HaShem makes a point of asking this question twice of Eliyahu. Once before a demonstration of His power, and once after. Eliyahu's answer to the Holy One remains the same in both cases, but it is not Eliyahu's spoken answer that will reveal the key. It is what can be surmised of his actions and the response of the Holy One that grant real insight into this inquiry.

HaSatan is having a field day with Eliyahu at this point, and it shows in the response he gives to HaShem. His words do not match the data collected in the past three chapters of Scripture, and it is a common consensus among many scholars that Eliyahu is suffering from self pity. While self pity seems to be the result, it appears actually that Eliyahu is suffering from an attack of the enemy against his mind. HaSatan has taken advantage of the fear generated by Izevel's threats to twist Eliyahu's thoughts against the truth. One can almost hear the enemy telling the prophet that he is, indeed, the only one left (despite having been told by Obad'yah of the other hundred, minimum), that all the children of Israel are against him (despite the revival and victory just forty some odd days earlier on Carmel), and that it would be better if he would just give up. It is not lies that Eliyahu responds to the Holy One with, but rather the narrow vision he is being offered by the enemy at this point.

In response to the first time Eliyahu answers Him, HaShem instructs the prophet to go out and stand on the mountain. In a demonstration reminiscent of a number of manifestations of the Shechinah (the visible manifestation of The Divine Presence), natural forces are unleashed in supernatural ways. This is the portion of this passage that catches the attention of most readers. It is a graphic picture of the power of the Holy One being unleashed, while maintaining the separation between Him and the demonstration of His power. The fact that Eliyahu remains apparently unmoved by this demonstration until he hears the "soft, gentle rustling," (or voice) is also well analyzed and interpreted by many scholars. It is a contrast that bears examination and yields lessons for the faithful.

When we examine the Scriptures leading up to this question, and the circumstances involved, it seems the best way Eliyahu could have answered would have been to simply say, "Daddy, I'm scared." Like a child waking up from a nightmare, though he knows intellectually it's not real, the fear remains and he goes into his parents' room seeking reassurance. The child longs to be held by Daddy and told that it's all right, and that there's nothing to be scared of. It is a comfort to know that Daddy is there.

Eliyahu has gone to Mount Horeb to be held by our Abba. And he is not turned away.

When HaShem asks Eliyahu the question, it should be remembered also that the question is not asked for the benefit of enlightening the Holy One. He already knows why Eliyahu is there. Instead, it is the Holy One's way of getting Eliyahu to look at the answer for himself. It is like the Daddy asking the scared child in the night "What is there to be scared of?" Not only does the Daddy already know the answer, but deep down so does the child. The question is not asked harshly, but gently and lovingly to lead to the correct response. In his heart, though his words fail to convey it, Eliyahu knows that all he complains about to HaShem is not as bad as he would express it. It would not be a surprise to learn that the tone of his response changed from the first time to the second, and the second time carried far less conviction behind it. In the Presence of our Abba, it is quite likely that his doubts are melting away even as he repeats them.

While it might be easy to criticize Eliyahu for his running to Mount Horeb, we should actually take it as an example of our own response to fear. While we do not need to run to a particular mountain, we can retreat to His Presence by prayer and cry out "Abba, I'm scared." The admission is not sin, nor is the fear. It is natural, and as our Father, He wants us to bring it to Him. It only becomes sin when we refuse to bring it to Him and submit it to His assurance.

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The Assurance

bible iconThen HaShem 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 Yehu 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, Yehu will kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Yehu, 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)

One problem with written accounts is that they fail to convey the inflection and intonation that much of the meaning and intent of a statement carries. If these instructions from HaShem are read one way, they come across as somewhat harsh and unfeeling. Eliyahu is here for reassurance, and instead gets orders. But if they are read differently, then they convey that Eliyahu has received exactly what he came for. By giving gentle instructions, HaShem implies that Eliyahu is going to go out and accomplish these things. Izevel cannot stop him when the Holy One is sending him out. Once again, it is like the Daddy telling the child to return to bed, and in the morning they'll do such and such. By making plans for the morning, it creates a realization that the morning is going to come, and thereby another type of comfort. HaShem ordains that Eliyahu must go and anoint a list of people, and since He sees all things through to the end, then it must be that these things will be done.

By instructing Eliyahu to anoint Elisha as his replacement, He also gives him the assurance that a prophet will remain in the land even after his work is finished. He will know his successor, and will have the confidence that comes from having the time to examine this man's spirit before he leaves.

And in His final statement of reassurance, HaShem reveals to Eliyahu that He has more than just the hundred preserved by Obad'yah in the two caves. He has reserved for Himself seven thousand who have not bowed to nor kissed Baal. These are not ones who have renewed themselves to Him after chasing after idols, but are ones who never strayed from Him to other gods at all. This in itself carries an implication: "If I can preserve these seven thousand, then I can preserve you as well."

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It would have been interesting to have met Eliyahu on his way from Mount Horeb and ask him, "Where have you been, Eliyahu?" It is likely his reply would have been, "I was afraid, so I ran to HaShem, on His Holy Mountain. But I am not afraid anymore." It would also be enlightening if the Holy One were to ask us, when we enter His presence, "What are you doing here, child?"

What are we doing here? Do we honestly answer His question with the real feelings in our heart, or do we echo the lies the enemy has fed us? Or do we respond with what we think He wants to hear?

   What are you doing here, my child?
Abba, I'm afraid.
   What are you doing here, my child?
Abba, I just wanted to sit here at Your feet, and be with You a while.
   What are you doing here, my child?
Abba, I'm hungry, and I've come here to be fed.
   What are you doing here, my child?
Abba, hold me. Please. I need Your touch.
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Achav ben Amri
Ahab son of Omri
Eliyahu HaNavi
Elijah the Prophet
Eliyahu haTishbi
Elijah the Tishbite
Hebrew, meaning "The {Holy} Name," a means of referring to the Holy One, without using any of the holy names attributed to Him, especially "The Name" by which He is called throughout the Hebrew Bible
Izevel bat Etbaal
Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal
Yarav'am ben N'vat
Jeroboam Son of Nebat
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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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