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The Bible by the Numbers > Day 28

Spiritual Spelunking (1 Kings 19)

The Bible tells us how the Prophet Elijah, who was fleeing for his life from the wicked Queen Jezebel, fled to Horeb, the Mount of God, where he hid for forty days and forty nights. Elijah was a typical man (James 5:17-18). He had just called the fire down on Mount Carmel, rid Israel of the false prophets of Baal and turned the people back to God. Still, in spite of such great exploits, this mighty prophet of God ran from a woman.


Like Elijah, we have all sat under the “juniper tree.” We’ve all engaged in that favorite indoor sport of self-pity. We’ve thrown ourselves a pity party and sang that popular party song, “Woe is me.” It makes no difference what God has just done, what great miracles He has wrought or that revival has just occurred. Some little something goes wrong and the next thing you know where under the “juniper tree” having a temporary fit of the blues.


The prayer Elijah prayed under the juniper tree may be the most unanswered prayer in the Bible. He prayed to die, but never did (2 Kings 2:1-11). Our prayers are totally ineffectual when prayed contrary to the plans and purposes of God. Juniper trees are not good places to sit; much less to kneel. 


After eating some angel food cake, Elijah went on the strength of it to Horeb. There, while hiding in a cave, the Word of the Lord came to him. It did not come in a mighty wind, earthquake or fire, but in “a still small voice.” Many are the men who miss God in there lives because they are always looking for Him in the spectacular rather than the ordinary, in extraordinary circumstances rather than slight nudges of the heart.


The message God had for His prophet must have come as quite a surprise. First, God chastened him for hiding out in a cave when there was so much to be done. Elijah needed to leave immediately and anoint Hazael king over Syria, Jehu king over Israel and Elisha as his replacement. This last assignment must have stung, especially in light of the fact that Elijah claimed to be the only servant of God left upon the earth. To his surprise, however, God still had 7,000 servants in Israel and a replacement for him already picked out.


None of us have time to waste under “juniper trees” or hiding in caves. There is too much to be done. Like the boy Jesus, we need to be busy about our Father’s business (Luke 2:49). We needn’t think that we are indispensable to God. The truth is; God is indispensable to us. If we insist upon staying in our cave, God has thousands of servants from whom to pick our replacement.

Don Walton