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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

Feeling like a Failure (1 Kings 19)

Have you ever felt like you failed God; like you tried but it just wasn't good enough?

This passage of Scripture has always puzzled me.

Elijah asked King Ahab to gather all of Israel at Mount Carmel along with the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah.

He proposed two altars each with a sacrificed bull but no fire under them. Whichever god burned up the sacrifice was the one true God. They all agreed. So the prophets of Baal prepared their sacrifice and asked Baal to bring fire to burn it up. They asked and they asked but nothing happened no matter how hard they tried to get Baal's attention.

Then Elijah even had water poured over the altar to the Lord three times so the sacrifice and the altar was completely soaked. Elijah prayed for God to burn up the sacrifice and instantly God sent fire down, burned up the sacrifice, and all of the water.

So, everyone agreed that the Lord God of Israel was the one true God, not Baal or Asherah. But Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, refused to believe and instead wanted to kill Elijah for defeating and killing all of her false prophets.

But Elijah’s response to Jezebel is surprising to me:

1 King 19:1-4 When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done .. So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you ..” Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. .. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die.

Why after the unbelievable miracle God did through Elijah and seeing all Israel turn back to God, is Elijah afraid of Jezebel and discouraged that she doesn’t believe when everyone else did?

Why does this one person not acknowledging God make Elijah feel like a failure rather than celebrate the great victory? Scripture doesn’t give us the answer.

It could be Elijah expected even Jezebel to believe and felt that he failed because she chose not to.

It could be that Elijah’s physical fatigue after the great mission God had sent him on just wore him down and made him feel like he couldn’t go on.

Or it could be that Elijah didn’t understand that God gives each of us the freedom to choose. God makes it absolutely clear who He is. But He still gives everyone the choice to reject Him or repent of their sins and believe in Him alone.

Jezebel chose to hang on tight to her sin rather than repent of it and trust in the Savior.

We each are given that same choice. The evidence is undeniable. On this day, 1,990 years ago, God came in human flesh as Jesus and willingly became our sacrifice on a cross. Those who choose to accept Jesus' sacrifice in their place, repent of their sins, and trust in Him, are forgiven of their sins: past, present, and future.

Like Elijah, God calls us to tell others who the one true God is. But many, like Jezebel, will choose not to believe and will suffer the consequences for all eternity.

Lord, please guide me in when to respect the choice of those who refuse You, when to pray and move on, and when to stay and celebrate with those who choose Your free gift of salvation. Thank You Lord, for forgiving me and dying in my place, this day, 1,990 years ago. HE IS RISEN!!!

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