Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Elijah Meets God at Horeb - 1 Kings 19:1-18 - by Amy Gardine

Wrestling angels, talking donkeys, and witches… oh my! Yes, it is true that the summer Bible study passages could be likened to a journey into OZ at some points! But these scriptures are so much better, and this week’s account emphasizes why.

This week Elijah, fearing for his life, retreats to the wilderness – alone and willing to die. As he sits down under a solitary broom tree, we see that he is not only running from the threats of Jezebel, but also his own thoughts. He is filled with self-doubt! But Elijah has done something brilliant here. He has retreated! Whether this is instinctual or a back-up plan, Elijah has found a place of protection and in this place he receives mercy. As Elijah sleeps, God sends an angel to provide him with food and drink two times. Miraculously, this nourishment is enough to sustain him in his 40-day pursuit of God!

After Elijah arrives at Horeb, God puts on quite a show: mountain-breaking winds; shuddering earthquakes; and roaring fires descend on Horeb. These are acts that would surely awaken a soul! But the Lord did not appear in these acts. Instead, God came in the stillness, bringing answers, peace, and assurance. In the quiet moments with God, Elijah gained more than he could have believed possible.

How hard is it for us to find that retreat? That silence? With an overflowing calendar, three boys who could rival the cacophony on Horeb, and a to-do list that seems 40 days and 40 nights long, I sometimes feel I am overwhelmed, too. I just want to chuck-it out the window and ask God for a do-over. But this scripture is reassuring to me. Elijah did not have to look far. He simply sat down and rested. For me, this is why this week’s scripture is so much better than that Hollywood trip to OZ. I am NOT being called to run down some golden path. Instead, I am being called to stop long enough to re-discover mercy – for me and others. After that, I can feed on God’s word, full enough to make the journey and peaceful enough to listen for what lies ahead. In our journey to discover God’s call for Sunnyside, I believe the first step is actually not a step, but a seat. It is a call to find our “broom tree” where we can quiet our hearts and truly hear God’s plan.


  1. Amen, Amy! We often expect God in the mountain-breaking winds, earthquakes or fires but it only makes sense that we would better hear him through the peace and quiet of that "broom tree".

  2. Elijah has just experienced being used by God to perform a miracle, defeating all the prophets of Baal -the competion- via God's great work, the miracle of the consumption of the soaking wet offering.

    "if Jehovah be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him...
    "call ye on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Jehovah; and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God"
    "Elijah mocked them...!Cry aloud! for Baal is a god: either he is musing, or he is gone to the toilet, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awaked."
    "Hear me, O Jehovah, hear me, that this people may know that thou, Jehovah, art God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of Jehovah fell, and consumed the burnt-offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench"

    So after this what does he do????? When Jezebel threatens him, he runs away. And God comes to him
    "Why have you come here Elijah?"
    "I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away"
    But God says "seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him"

    So Elijah has the numbers a bit wrong. He may have been the only prophet, but there are 7000 in Israel whom GOD considers God's. So what to do with Elijah, someone who is a bit wrong headed? He gets a furlough to heaven, chariots of fire and all that. God replaces him.

    Perhaps the lesson here is to pray for small miracles. Do we have any Presbyterian examples of small miracles witnessing to the community and making a difference?

    Ask Fred Rogers. We'll that's a bit difficult nowadays, but you can listen to what he says every day. I was listening to his show at 6am this morning, it is what my heart believes is an obvious starting point, simple direct witness of who we are and how we live. It is not happening, but some effort may make a difference.


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