THE JOURNEY IS TOO GREAT
By Given O. Blakely
“And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee” (I Kings 19:7).
Elijah had just been used by God to accomplish one of the greatest exploits in all of history. He had commanded wicked Ahab to gather to him “all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table.” That was a total of 850 false prophets. When everyone was gathered, Elijah challenged the wavering people. “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” The people were as silent as the proverbial tomb!
The mighty prophet, strong in the Lord, proceeded to set a challenge before the 450 prophets of Baal. He asked that two bulls be brought, one for him, and one for Baal’s prophets. The false prophets were to choose one of the bulls, cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood. No fire was to be placed under it. He would take the other bull, doing the same thing. Then each would call upon their god to consume the sacrifice with fire. The god who responded would be recognized as THE God. Everyone agreed.
You remember the occasion. Baal’s prophets prepared their bull and cried out to their god from morning until noon. When there was no answer, they “danced around on the altar they had made” (NIV). When they were chided and mocked by Elijah, they cut themselves, crying more loudly. After midday had passed, the false prophets prophesied until the evening. The air was thick with silence. Their god did not answer them.
At that point Elijah took over. He built an altar with twelve stones, making a large trench around it large enough to hold thirteen quarts of seed. He then had twelve barrels of water poured on the sacrifice. At the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah prayed. God answered by sending a fire that consumed the burnt sacrifice, all of the wood, the stones making up the altar, the dust around it, and all of the water that was in the trench. Elijah then brought the prophets of Baal down to the brook Kishon, and executed them there.
Immediately following that event, Elijah declared an abundance of rain was going to bring an abrupt end to a famine that had lasted for three and a half years (Lk 4:25; James 5:17). Following this, Ahab told his wife, Jezebel of the exploits of Elijah. Being exceedingly wicked, she sent a message to Elijah declaring she would kill him like he killed the prophets of Baal, and do so “by tomorrow about this time.” It was at that point that Elijah fled to Beersheba for his life, finally sitting under a juniper tree and asking God to take his life. Fatigued with all that had happened, he then fell sleep (1 Kgs 18 and 19).
The prophet was awakened by an angel who touched him and said “Get up and eat.” NIV He did so, then fell sleep again. The angel again awakened him, declaring the words of our text. “Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” The angelic meal was so nourishing that Elijah “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God” (19:8).
There is much to be learned from this remarkable sequence of events. Those who live by faith also face extreme challenges that require the expenditure of their spiritual resources. Yet, even after victories have been won, that is not the end of the matter. They must still make it to “the mount of God” – the place where there are no battles. That journey requires a lifetime, and cannot be negotiated only on the benefits realized in great victories. Some people try and run the race to glory with the nourishment of victory – but that is not sufficient to carry you through. You need the sustenance that comes from eating food for the soul. After Elijah had called down fire from heaven, he had to eat! Even after Elijah slew the prophets of Baal, he had to eat! He could not journey to Horeb on his triumph over the prophets of Baal. He needed the staples of food and water, and it was supplied to him by an angel from heaven. Once he had eaten that food, he made the long and difficult journey to the appointed place in great strength.
As a child of God, you have also been supplied bread and water: “the bread of life” and “the water of life” (John 6:35; Rev 21:6). They come to you through your fellowship with Christ and your ingestion of the Word of God, by which you live (Matt 4:4). But they must be consumed. The bread must be eaten, and the water must be imbibed. Without them, the journey to heaven is “too great for thee.” It simply is too long and too arduous to make it without proper nourishment.
Many a poor soul is trying to get to heaven without eating and drinking – without being nourished in the inner man. They do not ingest the Word of God, and they do not drink from the fountain of the water of life. Their lives are filled with too much of this world, and too little of the “powers of the world to come.” Members of a church or not, such souls will faint by the way, unable to complete the race. Every child of God must immediately get to the business of eating the bread of life and drinking the water of life!
PRAYER POINT: Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for the sustaining and renewing nourishment that is realized in Your Son.