Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 19

Elijah leaves Israel to go to Horeb

1 Kings 19:3

In its original Hebrew language, the Bible does not say that Elijah was afraid. Rather, it says that ‘he saw’. That seems right, because a prophet was formerly called a seer (1 Samuel 9:9). A prophet is someone who declares God’s messages; a seer is someone who sees.

We ask what Elijah saw. He ‘saw’, or understood, the reality of the situation. He recognised the power of Jezebel, the cruel and wicked queen, and that Israel’s people would obey her. He realised that the people had not really turned back to God. They had made a bold statement of belief in God (18:39) – but they were not really trusting God with their lives (see James 2:18-19). So, as they returned to their daily lives, they would also turn away from the true God (compare Mark 4:16-17).

Also, Elijah remembered how he had stood alone for God at Carmel (18:20-22). Nobody had supported him there; and it seemed to him that nothing had really changed. If in all of Israel, only Elijah remained loyal to God, then Israel could never be God’s holy people. They had seen the power of God, but they had not truly turned to God. So, it seemed impossible that Elijah could ever turn their hearts to God (see Malachi 4:5-6).

Elijah saw that he must pray. Long before in Israel’s history, Moses had been in a similar situation (Exodus 32:30-32). That created a deep desire in Elijah’s heart to pray on the mountain called Horeb, where Moses had prayed. There, God gave his laws to establish his relationship with Israel’s people (Deuteronomy 4:10). Elijah needed to know whether that relationship still existed (Romans 11:2-4).

Next part: Elijah prays to die (1 Kings 19:4)


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