After God visits Elijah in a gentle whisper, He repeats His question. “What are you doing here?” And Elijah word for word, repeats his answer. They’re both standing down. My brother insists that God’s gentle whisper is like an angry parent in church. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” in an all-caps angry kind of whisper. I’ve always read it with compassion. We might both be right.
Regardless, Elijah stands firm in his response and God begins the answer to his prayer and complaint in 5 unique ways.
God answers with His presence. He gently whispers to Elijah, affirming that He is still present, He is still listening, He is contrary to the Baals in every possible way. He is not preoccupied, too busy, too involved with others. No, He’s present and available.
God enacts a change of political power. God tells Elijah to anoint two new kings, one over Aram and one over Israel. This is an interesting twist. King Hazael later in his history fought ruthlessly with the King of Israel. Through this act, God is putting in place the punishment of Israel. [Story in 2 Kings] Hazael is promised the throne but it’s not enough for him, he suffocates his master to ensure a speedy takeover. And It’s downhill from there. This period in Israel’s history is sordid and unsavory.
God promises a successor for Elijah, which means, as Elijah is begging God to let him be done with his work, God is laying the groundwork to relieve him of his duties. He recognizes Elijah’s limits and offers him promise of relief. He tells Elijah to appoint Elisha as the prophet who will take his place.
God promises other faithful followers.
1 Kings 19:17-18: ”It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
God IS going to put things to rights. But it’s not going to be pretty. Yet the passage ends with some hopefulness. There ARE those who have like Elijah, remained faithful to the Lord. They have not turned their hearts to another. They have walked with God, and God vows to protect them.
Elijah does as God asks. He finds Elisha and appoints him as his successor. And Elisha follows the call of God on his life. He has one request. He wants to kiss his parents. Elisha has probably heard about Elijah’s life. In the midst of a whole country turned to false gods it’s bound to get out when someone defies the king and chooses to walk with God. Elisha very well may have been aware of the epic showdown on Mount Carmel with the Baals and the altar God burned up along with the slaying of the prophets of Baal. He most likely knows that in the following of Elijah he will face the very same tumult as Elijah has undergone. He wants to break bread with his family one more time.
Elijah graciously agrees. And Elisha makes good on his promise. He worships with his people by offering a sacrifice of an oxen, he cooks for them, and feeds them. And this is where God answers Elijah’s prayer in the final way.
Elisha ministers to Elijah. God gives Elijah a friend. Not just a successor, not merely the just punishment of his tormentors, but a friend. Someone to minister to Elijah’s soul, as he has worn himself out ministering to others. We cannot underestimate the power of friendship.
Who has God brought into your life as a trusted confidant and friend in your spiritual journey?
In what other ways are you seeing God interceding in your life to answer prayers for God’s presence?
Take a few minutes to thank God for the friend you mentioned above. Now take a second to reach out to them: A letter, email, phone call, text. Let them know how they are an asset to your life, and proof of God’s presence.