On the Road to Beersheba (part 2)
On the Road with Elijah
On The Road With Elijah To Beersheba
(part 2)
1 Kings 19:4-8
 
It is reported that during the siege of Ladysmith, a civilian was arrested, tried by court-martial and sentenced to a year's imprisonment for being a "discourager." The man would go along the picket lines, saying disheartening words to the men on duty. He struck no blows for the enemy. He was not disloyal to the country. But he was a discourager. It was a critical time. The fortunes of the town and its brave garrisons were trembling in the balance. Instead of heartening the men on whom the defense depended and making them braver and stronger, he put faintness into their hearts and made them less courageous. The court-martial adjudged it a crime to speak disheartening words at such a time.
 
The believer has a "discourager." Satan works ceaselessly to discourage those who are in God's work. He has successfully hindered many by discouragement. Even the greatest of God's servants have not escaped the attacks of the "discourager." For example, Elijah!
 
In our last study we traveled with him to Beersheba. In this study we continue our travels by going with him into the wilderness of Beersheba. In Genesis 21:14 we see Hagar and her child as they "wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba." Geographically, Beersheba marked the southern limit of Judah and was the extreme border of the cultivated land. Known as the "gateway to the desert," beyond was a desolate desert area.
It is in this wilderness that we find Elijah ultimately making his way after he fled from Jezebel.
 
As we left Elijah in our last study we found him running for his life. He made his way to Beersheba and the Bible says he "left his servant there" (19:3). Tradition says his servant was the son of the widow he had met at Zarephath. One can only assume he had been with Elijah with he left Zarephath to journey to Carmel and had been at his side when he confronted Ahab, and was with him on Carmel when the fire fell. As he fled for Beersheba, his servant accompanied him, but once they arrived at Beersheba, Elijah refused to let him go with him into the wilderness of Beersheba.
 
We have seen Elijah at his highest, but as we see him going into the wilderness we see him at his lowest. He is a deeply discouraged man. We read, "But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers" (19:4).
 
In the wilderness he "sat down under a juniper tree." The juniper was a shrub found in the deserts of Southern Palestine and southward to Egypt. Sometimes referred to as a Broom Tree, its shade was scanty, but in the absence of other shrubs or trees, it was frequently used by desert travelers as a refuge from the sun's scorching rays.
 
 
 
 
 
Under what little shade the juniper provided, Elijah "requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough now, O LORD, take away my life." Warren Wiersbe said, "As Elijah sat under its shade, he did a wise thing—he prayed, but he didn't pray a very wise prayer."(1) Apparently Elijah feels like he has done all he can and there is no further reason for him to live. John Wesley interprets Elijah's prayer: "I have lived long enough for thy service, and am not like to do thee any more service; neither my words nor works are like to do any good upon these unstable and incorrigible people."
 
I have often thought if Elijah really wanted to die why run? Jezebel would have seen that his wish was fulfilled. No, what we have is the prayer of a man who was deeply discouraged. When we are discouraged we tend to see things in a negative light. When discouraged we often react in foolish ways. Some have been so discouraged they ended their own life. Elijah did not take steps to end his life, but he prayed that God would take his life.
 
Since Elijah sat down under the juniper tree, the juniper tree has been a symbol of the discouraged soul. Who among us has not found themselves under the juniper tree? I must admit that I have often found myself in same place. However, when we find ourselves under the juniper tree we will also find what Elijah found. What did Elijah find?
 
First, Elijah found:
 
1. The Presence Of The Lord
 
9:5
 
Elijah was physically exhausted from his long trip from Carmel to Beersheba (over 100 miles). In the wilderness he sat down under a juniper and went to sleep. While he was sleeping he had a visitor; a heavenly and angelic visitor.
 
verse 7
 
The "angel of the LORD" is sometimes referred to as the angel of the Theophany. The word "Theophany" speaks of a physical manifestation of God in the Old Testament. The angelic visitor of Elijah was God Himself!
 
If there was a moment when he needed God to show up, it was while he was under the juniper. In Elijah's lowest hour, he was not abandoned by God. The promise of God is, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5). Elijah may have forgotten God in his actions, but God did not forget him. He made a personal visit to his discouraged servant.
 
Charles Gabriel said in his great hymn:
Just when I need Him most,
Just when I need Him most,
Jesus is near to comfort and cheer,
Just when I need Him most.
 
An old mariners' chart of the east coast of North America and adjacent waters, drawn by an unknown cartographer in 1525, and now in the British Museum, has some interesting and fearful directions on it. The mapmaker wrote across great areas of then unexplored land and sea the following inscriptions: "Here be giants," "Here be fiery scorpions," "Here be dragons."
 
At some time in its career the chart fell into the hands of the scientist, Sir John Franklin. He scratched out the fearful old marking and wrote across the map, "Here is God."
 
In our lowest moments and darkest hours our Lord will be with us. We may find ourselves under the juniper tree, but we will not be alone. We all will be able to say, "Here is God." He will be there. He will be there when we need Him the most.
 
God not only made a personal visit to Elijah once, but also a second time.
 
19:7
 
He was not only there when Elijah needed him, but also as long as he needed Him. He will be there every moment in our time of need. He will be there every time we are in need. 
 
We read of how the "angel touched him" (19:5). On the second visit the Lord again "touched him" (19:7).
 
The word "touched" literally means to lay the hand upon. God did not come to condemn Elijah for his actions, but came in mercy and compassion. How tenderly He laid his hand on his discouraged servant.
 
How many times have we deserved God's abandonment, but experienced God's arrival. When we should have experienced God's hand of chastening, we found God's hand of compassion upon us. "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not" (Lam. 3:22).
 
When we find ourselves under the juniper, like Elijah, there will be God's presence. He will not abandon us in our hour of need, but will be there for us. How timely and tender will be His touch. As one has written, "Are we not reminded here of that other angel of His presence, the Holy Spirit, whose gentle touch awakens many of God's downcast ones, and whose tender voice bids them arise and eat of Him who is the Living Bread."
 
Elijah also found:
 
2.  The Provision Of The Lord
 
On each occasion that the LORD came to Elijah, He said to him, "Arise and eat" (19:5, 7). Elijah was both tired and hungry.
 
19:6
 
The LORD provided for his physical, emotional, and even spiritual needs. Not only did the LORD Himself visit Elijah, He also provided the cake that he would eat, the fire on which it had been baked, and the cruise water that he would drink. This was a supernatural provision for Elijah. In the past, God had provided for Elijah through the ravens and the widow at Zarephath. On this occasion, God prepared and provided for Elijah personally.
 
Over and over again God had shown Elijah that He was able to meet his needs. God has promised to meet the needs of His people and the record of Elijah is a testimony that God can and will meet our needs. The testimony of David was, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psa. 37:25). Paul declared, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19).
 
There are many in this room who could testify to the Lord’s faithfulness. 
 
He will provide. God will meet your needs. You are His child, and just as He provided for Elijah, He will provide for you. He is able to meet your needs! If He can control the ravens, have a widow waiting, and send down fire from heaven, He is more than able to your needs. And, He is not only able; He will meet your needs.
 
In verse 8 we have an amazing statement.
 
Verse 8
 
From Beersheba to Horeb was a journey of approximately 180 miles. The strength that Elijah received from the meal God provided was sufficient for "forty days and forty nights."  This was no ordinary meal and Elijah had more than ordinary strength. It was God's meal he ate and it was God's strength he experienced.
 
There are times when "the journey is too great" (cp. 19:7) for us. However, God's supply is more than sufficient giving us the strength to do what we in ourselves could never do. When we are under the juniper, He knows what we need and He will meet our need.
 
 
 
 
God's supply will always be sufficient. When Paul declared in Philippians 4:19 that God would supply our need, the source of supply was "according to His riches in glory." The riches of man, vast in many accounts, are still limited. Yet, there is no limitation to God's riches. There is no need we have that will reduce "His riches in glory."
 
Last of all, notice that Elijah found:
 
3. The Plan Of The Lord
 
Perhaps no words were anymore encouraging to Elijah than when God spoke of "the journey" (19:7). Why were these words so encouraging? That meant God wasn’t through with him.  There was still work to be done. 
 
Notice back in verse 3 we read that when Elijah arrived at Beersheba "he left his servant there." Did Elijah feel like his ministry was over and he would no longer need a servant?
 
Then in verse 4 he said, "It is enough." Was he saying that it was too much for him and that he could no longer be what he should be and do what he should do?
 
Also in verse 4 he said, "I am not better than my fathers." Was he overcome with guilt and felt he was worthless and useless? All would seem to suggest that Elijah felt he was a failure and that his ministry was over.
 
However, when God spoke to him about "the journey," it was music to his ears. God was saying that he was not through with Elijah.
His ministry was not over. Yes, he had failed God, but God had not forsaken him. God had further plans for Elijah.
 
I believe it was Adrian Rogers who I heard say that failure need not be final and it need not be fatal. I am sure Peter was glad that God does not cast us to the side when we fail. We all fail the Lord, some worse than others, but God does not throw us away as if we were a useless vessel. First, He is a merciful God. Secondly, He is a forgiving God. Thirdly, He is a God who restores the broken.
 
C.S. Lewis said, "No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time." It is not just that we pick ourselves up after a fall. He picks us up and bless His name He does!
 
God was not through with Elijah. He had future plans for Elijah. There was more He wanted to do in him and through him. God had a master plan for Elijah and He was going to bring to completion that plan in his life.
 
Maybe you feel like God will never use you again. Maybe you are haunted by past failure. Bow before God and confess where you have failed and once again give him your life. God will forgive and restore.
 
A lady once showed Ruskin a costly handkerchief on which a blot of ink had been dropped. The handkerchief, she complained, was ruined; nothing was left but to throw it away. Ruskin said nothing, but took the handkerchief away with him. Shortly afterwards the lady received it back, but so changed that she could hardly believe that it was the original.
 
Using the blot as the basis, he had worked round it a beautiful and artistic design, changing what was valueless and ruined into a thing of beauty and of joy.
 
God can turn your failure into something that will bring glory to His name. Has He not used the failure of Elijah to encourage our hearts? Has not Peter's restoration been used of God through the ages to remind us that failure need not be final and it need not be fatal. There is a work God wants to do in all our lives. He has a plan and purpose for our lives in the days to come, even when the past is blotted and stained by failure.
 
 "Elijah, eat and drink. I have further and future plans for you." Does not God say the same to us?
 
 
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