“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Is this what Elijah is called to be doing – squatting in a cave in the wilderness? Apparently not and God used this question to bring him out of his misery and into God’s ministry. The same question can apply to us today. Are we hiding, fearful of something or someone who seems too powerful? Read on and see what God has for you.
Elijah was commissioned with a task too big for him to accomplish in his own strength. The LORD called him to confront the worship of Baal in Israel and declare the LORD God as the only true God. The leaders and kings worshiped Baal; the people worshiped Baal; Jezebel worshiped Baal. Only a handful of people remained loyal to God. Elijah was to warn and preach to the disloyal and destroy Baal worship. This was his task in the midst of Ahab and Jezebel expending great energy and military force in seeking to destroy him. They were following all leads in every corner of the country to hunt down Elijah. He was Public Enemy Number One at this point.
Then, Elijah boldly reveals himself to Ahab and challenges his false worship. Ahab doesn’t instantly arrest or kill him but accepts his challenge. 1 Kings 18-19 details this account where 450 prophets of Baal call on their god to send fire to consume their sacrifice, yet he never answers. Then Elijah calls on the true God to send fire to consume his sacrifice which has been doused with water so much that a trench dug around the altar is full of water, the wood and the bull are soaked and there is no natural way any of it can burn. But, God is the God of the impossible! He sends fire that consumes the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and all the water. It was such a decisive show of power the Israelites fell to their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God!” repeatedly. Baal’s prophets were rounded up and executed as the law (Deut. 13:1-5) demanded and Elijah’s commissioned task was well under way with this great victory. God proved He was with him, giving him what he needed, accomplishing the task for him.
But then Jezebel hears of her prophets being killed and says in 24 hours she will do the same to Elijah. So, he forgets God. (Wait. What? He just saw God act miraculously and a whole nation repent. He forgot? Yes. He was just like us. Ouch.) He remembers only the current situation, his fear and has a human perspective on the situation. But, God is faithful to him. He comes to Elijah and asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” as he cowers in a cave hundreds of miles away from Jezebel and his mission.
Elijah doesn’t actually answer the question. He’s scared and he’s hiding. That’s what he’s doing, but he says instead, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:10, 14
God knows this but He also knows Elijah can’t spend his life hiding in fear, so He helps him overcome it by asking the question, “What are you doing here?” and giving him a task to fulfill. He makes Elijah think about the situation and realize when God is for us, who can be against us? Yes, Jezebel was “against” him, but her power, albeit mighty, was no match for God’s. Wasn’t that just demonstrated with the sacrifice? But, how easily we and Elijah forget.
All that history lesson was detailed to get to this point: Is God asking you, “What are you doing here?” Are you in a place that is sad instead of joyful? Depressed instead of thriving? Lonely instead of remembering the LORD is your Father? Relishing your hurt so others can extend sympathy? Not forgiving because you’ve been wronged so horribly? Simply afraid? What are you doing there, friend? God never intends for us to be in those places. He has a better plan for us! A much better plan.
Wherever we are, literally hiding in a cave or in our suburb, or figuratively crouching in a dark place, God is there with us. We need to discover what we’re doing in this gloomy place. Why aren’t we joyfully living for the LORD? Is something holding us back from serving God as we should be? What is it? And then a huge question: is God able to handle it? Is He bigger and stronger than this thing? Is He more powerful than that person, fear, or situation? Am I submitting my gloom to God? Do I trust Him to work this out for my good? Do I believe He is doing the absolutely best thing for me right now? Does this situation command His attention? Is He really concerned for me?
Of course He is concerned for you. He demonstrated His awesome, terrible concern for you at the cross where His Son took all your sin upon Himself and transferred His perfect record to you. That is not done in a vacuum, friends. Great passion motivated this act – passionate love for you, individually. You have been given the Holy Spirit to live in you and direct you and convict you and guide you through this situation. You have power through Christ to overcome this place you’ve been staying that is not where God would have you be.
Some repentance may be necessary if we have traded a trust in God’s big plan for looking simply at our circumstances. Repentance involves turning away from our sin, not just acknowledging it’s there. So some turning is necessary. Turn to God. Trust Him with this. Recognize where you’ve been living wrongly and trust Him to help you change. He will do it!
“What are you doing here?” is a great question for us all to ponder when life seems a bit overwhelming. Understanding our situation is a first step to changing it. Trusting our faithful God will take care of the rest.
Have a lovely day, my friend.