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What Are You Doing Here
by Ray Haynes
We all want to be brave, but when we face trials that sap our strength, steal our hope, or change our perspective, it can be hard to stand and fight another day. Elijah was one of the greatest men of faith to ever live, yet on the very day he triumphed over and killed 850 of Jezebel’s servants, and prayed down rain after years of famine and drought, he faced a serious faith crisis when Jezebel threatened to kill him.
“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life…a day’s journey into the wilderness…I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” 1 Kings 19
Elijah had just put on an unforgettable display of the power and glory of God, but suddenly he felt so vulnerable he preferred death. Jezebel was a ruthless and evil queen, and obviously it’s one thing to receive threats, and it’s another thing to hear, “I know where you are right now, and I’m going to kill you.” The joy of victory, and the courage that Elijah had shown earlier was now nowhere in sight. He ran away, and kept running for six weeks until he was hundreds of miles away from Jezebel, but the distance didn’t make him feel safe, all he felt was fear and self-pity.
“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
When we are afraid, we usually misunderstand what God is saying, because His perspective is so much bigger. Elijah saw all the destructive force that God was displaying, but never asked if God was doing it to combat his fear. God smashed a mountain to pieces to boldly proclaim to the fearful Elijah, “Could Jezebel do that? I’m able to destroy Jezebel whenever I want”. Then, with an earthquake and fire, God reminded Elijah that the earth belonged to the Lord, not to Jezebel. But none of that caught Elijah’s attention, it was a whispered question that God repeated, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
With a gentle heart, God sent Elijah right back to where he had escaped from. All the remedies had been there waiting all the time, but he was out of place for the move of God.
“The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha…to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” 1 Kings 19
God reminded Elijah that, despite appearances, he was not alone, and in fact, his retirement was already arranged. Not only was Elijah not in any eminent danger from Jezebel, God still had three years of work prepared for him before Jezebel’s judgement came due. And it’s here we see the big picture of God’s plan, not just for the present, but for eternity as well. Jehu was a king, so he alone had the authority to kill a queen. Elijah was a shadow or type of John the Baptist, and as such he was beginning what only Jesus could finish. John the Baptist could reveal sin to the sinner, but only Jesus could bring death to sin.
Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?” He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot.” 2 Kings 9
Notice the different reaction Jezebel had to Jehu. She threatened Elijah, but put on makeup to meet Jehu. Elijah she hated; but Jehu she feared. God has a method and a process, and each of us have a specific role to play. It’s a mistake to assume that you are God’s only answer, let alone the best answer to the problem.
As the Bride of Christ, we would do well to remember that there is a little bit of Jezebel in every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve. We have all been given the opportunity to be queen, and we have all rebelled and manipulated the situation to gain our own will and way. God’s mercy and grace meet us in our low estate to give us the chance to repent or pay the consequences.
In Revelation 2, Jesus says of the Spirit of Jezebel, “I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering…” Sometimes we are in the hands of time while God uses the struggles to drive the ungodly nature of rebellion out of our souls. And sometimes we are in the hands of the circumstances, like the desert journey, to train us how to overcome. But all the time, we are in the hands of God, and He has the battle and the victory. Time and prayer, when accompanied by faith and endurance, have an amazing power when unleashed on the enemy.