“What Doest Thou Here?”
Updated: Aug 25, 2022
After Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah promising his death. Shaken, the prophet amazingly walked 40 days and nights to Mt Horeb where he poured out his heart to God, thinking he was the only true believer left, and that his life was in jeopardy.
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.” -“1Kings 19:1
Elijah, Prophet of God- Elijah lived at a time of spiritual tyranny and terror. Ahab, the king of Israel, had forsaken the true God, yielding to his wicked wife, Jezebel, who not only had God's prophets murdered but had banished the worship of God and replaced it with Baal worship. His name means “Jehovah is God.” He was called Elijah the Tishbite, and lived in Gilead. There is no genealogy of Elijah to be found in the Bible. His only description is in 2 Kings 1:8: “A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.” He just showed up one day and bluntly told the King of Israel, Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (1 Kings 17:1)
After delivering his message to Ahab, God told Elijah to hide himself by a brook called Cherith where he could get water. God directed ravens to bring Elijah bread and meat every morning and evening until the stream dried up. After a time, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath where a widow would provide accommodations for him. According to God's revelation to Elijah, there was a miraculous unending supply of oil and meal for Elijah, the widow and her son. When her son became sick and died, Elijah again believed God and obeyed His revelation, and raised the boy from death.
After three years and six months, there had been no rain and there was a great famine. Elijah arranged a meeting with King Ahab, and had the king assemble 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah, all commissioned and supported by Jezebel. At this gathering, Elijah confronted Ahab and the people of Israel for abandoning God. He built an altar of stones, placed a sacrificial bull on the altar, and had four barrels of water emptied three times all over the sacrifice.
Elijah prayed, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”
(1 Kings 18:36, 37)
When the fire of God fell and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the water, all assembled fell on their faces, saying, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” Elijah then had every pagan prophet executed. Then Elijah announced to Ahab that it would rain. That evening, it poured.
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.”
- 1Kings 19:1 When Ahab told Jezebel, she sent a messenger to Elijah promising his death. This incident is the only time that Elijah seemed shaken. Amazingly, Elijah walked 40 days and nights to Mount Horeb. Elijah poured out his heart to God, thinking he was the only true believer left, and that his life was in jeopardy.
Elijah's retreat on Mount Horeb, though hidden from man, was known to God; and the weary and discouraged prophet was not left to struggle alone with the powers of darkness. At the entrance to the cave wherein he had taken refuge, God met with him, through a mighty angel with the inquiry, What doest thou here, Elijah? I sent you to the brook Cherith and afterward to the widow of Sarepta. I commissioned you to return to Israel and to stand before the idolatrous priests on Carmel, and I girded you with strength to guide the chariot of the king to the gate of Jezreel. But who sent you on this hasty flight into the wilderness? What errand have you here?
In bitterness of soul Elijah mourned out his complaint: "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
Calling upon the prophet to leave the cave, the angel bade him stand before the Lord on the mount, and listen to His word. "And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave." -1 Kings 19:11-13
Not in mighty manifestations of divine power, but by "a still small voice," did God choose to reveal Himself to His servant. Not by eloquence or logic are men's hearts reached, but by the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit, which operates quietly yet surely in transforming and developing character. It is the still, small voice of the Spirit of God that has power to change the heart.
"What doest thou here, Elijah?" the voice inquired; and again the prophet answered, "I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thine altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."
The Lord answered Elijah that the wrongdoers in Israel should not go unpunished. There was stern work to be done, that all might be given opportunity to take their position on the side of the true God. Elijah himself was to return to Israel, and share with others the burden of bringing about a reformation.
"Go," the Lord commanded Elijah, "return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: and Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay." - 2 Kings 19:15-17
Elijah had thought that he alone in Israel was a worshiper of the true God. But He who reads the hearts of all revealed to the prophet that there were many others who, through the long years of apostasy, had remained true to Him. "I have left Me," God said, "seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him."
From Elijah's experience there are many lessons to be drawn. The apostasy prevailing today is similar to that which overspread Israel in the prophet's day.
The exaltation of the human above the divine,
The praise of popular leaders,
The worship of mammon (wealth, riches, money, ambition)
We have reached a time when human reason is exalted above the teachings of the Bible. The law of God, the divine standard of righteousness, is declared to be of no effect. Yet this apostasy, widespread as it has come to be, is not universal. God has many who long to understand more fully in regard to Christ and the law. In such a time as this, every child of God should be actively engaged in helping others.
Much depends on the unceasing activity of those who are true and loyal, and for this reason Satan uses every possible effort to stop them. He causes some to lose sight of their high and holy mission, and to become satisfied with the pleasures of this life. He leads them to settle down at ease, or, for the sake of greater worldly advantages, to remove from places where they might be a power for good. To every child of God the question is addressed, "What doest thou here?"I commissioned you to go into all the world and preach the gospel, to prepare a people for the day of God. Why are you here? Who sent you?
Of families, as of individuals, the question is asked, "What doest thou here?" God calls for Christian families to go into the dark places of the earth and work wisely and perseveringly for those who are enshrouded in spiritual gloom. To answer this call requires self-sacrifice. For the sake of worldly advantage, for the sake of acquiring scientific knowledge, men are willing to venture into pestilential regions and to endure hardship and privation. Where are those who are willing to do as much for the sake of telling others of the Saviour? Let us cling to Jesus. Abiding in God's love, you may stand every test. Bring faith into your experience.
Elijah was courageous, committed totally to God, and not influenced by people with power. He knew he served the all-powerful God. Elijah's extraordinary faith and powerful prayer life distinguish him as a prophet among prophets, a man's man, and a champion who loved God more than his own life. Elijah knew the provision and the power of God, the life-giving mercy and the fiery wrath of God. He lived up to his name: The Lord is God.