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The Cost of Prophet Elijah’s Oversight

Updated on February 11, 2020
OGUNDARE OLUSEGUN profile image

Studying the bible is always good. For years, I have been studying the bible and I found it wonderful

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Some of us who have repeatedly read through the bible (before the advent of concordance, Google search engines and all that, or simply say those of us who have read ordinary bibles without references) often times wonder why what happened to prophet Elijah had to happen to him despite the power of God upon his life when we got to his section.

Because we do not want to go into errors and fallacies like some people have, we would overlook that aspect and say God acts in a way he pleases, God has designed what happened to Prophet Elijah to happen to him to show that we all are limited and it is God alone who is all in all.

In as much as the above is totally true, yet I will want us to see some things in the documentations of what happened during his days which I considered an oversight, which may have caused what happened to him to happen.

This is essentially based on the account of first Kings 18:19, however, other biblical references would be included for clarifications where necessary.

Prophet Elijah’s Ministry

Everyone who has at a time or another read of the story of Prophet Elijah would recall that he was not tutored by the priests neither the prophets of his days, for assuming he was brought up by them he perhaps wouldn’t have been able to do what he did, because some of his mentors who were loyalists of the king and the queen would compel him to do somethings contrary to how he was instructed by God. But, because no one can have a say on how he came about his power and grace none could really compel him to do some things which was not from the mouth of God.

The prophet was considered an anti-priests and prophets of his days, yet he wasn’t moved by that he kept following the injunctions of the Lord that he was receiving.

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There Would be Initial Sparks

I believe that when he was in the wilderness undergoing trainings by the Lord there would have been some initial sparks of the power of the Lord demonstrated among the people when he came into the town.

Something like this happened to Jesus Christ when he was young, twelve years old when he went with his parents to Jerusalem (for the) feast of the passover (Luk 2:41-42). While at the feast he started interacting with the leaderships of their religion and was talking with them, asking them questions and answering their questions.

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. (Luk 2:46-47)

The people who saw him do this were all marveled. This marveling would have sent signals to them that they need to put the child under close observations.

Another spark was noticed when he went to wedding at Cana of Galilee, his mother confronted him of what was on going at the venue, what would bring disgrace to the couple and their families what would make the wedding end on a negative note. Jesus however, replied his mother that his time was not then.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. (Joh 2:4)

Despite answering his mother like this, we know that he really did what his mother expected him to do at the venue. Such usually happen to people before their full manifestations, they would demonstrate some sparks of the spirit that would baffle people and send signals to people who are spiritually oriented that the person should be kept under close observation or monitoring.

I believe something like this would have been noticed in the life of Prophet Elijah too at some points before he eventually came to limelight.

After the Initial Sparks

When those sparks were occurring and some people have been paying attention to him, yet nothing substantial could be pointed to in his life as he would retire quietly into the wilderness again.

However, at the right time when the Lord could not withstand what was happening among his people, he sent his servant out with a specific mission, and message, negative message of judgment.

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. (1 Ki 17:1)

The message was a clear cut one, God was angry with his people for how they have forsaken him and have followed other gods that he has warned them against following. After delivering the message to King Ahab, in the presence of his cabinet members, he retired again into the wilderness after which he left for the place of the widow that God has prepared for him.

His Re-Emergence

His appearance before the king and his cabinet was a national phenomenon, this time it was not for some selected groups of people neither for a person but for the entire nation, which perhaps the news was well broadcasted by the journalists of their days.

This incident when it was getting out of hand because months have passed with neither dew nor rain, the people have been suffering, irrigations to water the farm wasn’t functioning as it ought to again. The cabinet met again and resolved that Prophet Elijah should be looked for wherever he might have fled to for asylum.

And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?

And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, behold, Elijah is here.

"And he said, what have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?

As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. (1 Ki 18:7-10)

But all the places they went to, they never found him there because he was hiding under the shadow of the almighty. (Psa. 91)

When someone is hiding under the shadow of the almighty, even if he is before his enemies, the enemies would not see him because he would have been covered, protected, hidden by Angels of God.

This was what happened to prophet Elijah, they thought he has fled the country but unknown to them that he was living among them. They would have harassed his parents and some other close associates to take him to the wilderness where he used to resort to, and would have laid siege of the place perpetually, but all to no avail.

His New Message

The new message he has for the people was knowing whom the real God was out of Baal and other gods they were following and Yahweh the Lord who took them to the promised land.

Now therefore send, and gather to me 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. (1 Ki 18:19)

Everyone who hears the message says that is fair enough, they need to prove who the real God is of a truth. Thus, the prophets were gathered at mount Carmel for the trial.

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The Classes of the Prophets

We shall see from the message that he said that the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred,. They were different classes of prophets here and should be seen in that light.

However, some of us when reading this verse takes the two prophets to mean the same thing, but they are not. The prophets of Baal were different from the prophets of the groves. The groves are said to mean Asherah. Thus, the prophets of groves stated and demanded for here were the prophets of Asherah.

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What is Asherah?

The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible says, “A-sheʹrah (å-shëʹå), plural form. The masculine form is A-sheʹrim while its feminine form is A-sheʹroth. It is the Hebrew form of the name of an Amorite or Canaanite goddess ʹAshirtu (ʹAshratu), who is mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna tablets. She appears in the Ras Shamra literature as Lady ʹAsherat (ʹAthirat) and is known also as Lady of Gods and Mistress of Gods, being the mother of 70 ëlïm (gods). Her most peculiar designation is ʹAsherat, Lady of the Sea. In Saudi Arabia, ʹAthirat was a solar divinity.

Some biblical translations following the LXX and vulgate, wrongly renders the word “grove”. When not the name if a deity, Asherah refers to a wooden pole of mast that stood at Canaanite places of worship (Ex. 34:13); originally it was, perhaps, the trunk of a tree with the branches chopped off, and was regarded as the wooden symbol of the goddess Asherah, who, like Ashtoreth, was a goddess of fertility (Ex:34:13). It was erected beside the altar of Baal (Judg 6:25, 28). For the use of the word as the name of a goddess see Judges 3:7; 1 Kings 18:19; 2 Kings 21:7. The prophets of Asherah in Ahab’s time were, with those eating at his table (1 Kings 16:33; 1 Kings 18:40). Women wove hangings for an Asherah in the temple (2 Kings 23:7) and Josiah, as part of his religious reformation, brought out the idolatrous symbol and burned it at the brook of Kidron.”

e-Sword in her commentary says, “Castel defines Asherah to be Simulacrum ligneum Astarte dicatum; "A wooden image dedicated to Astarte."”

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The Incident on Mount Carmel

The Prophets of Baal (and perhaps the Prophets of Asherah), the people of Israel, King Ahab and his cabinet members and Prophet Elijah were gathered on Mount Carmel according to the prophet’s message.

When they were there, prophet Elijah poses the test to them of what they should do, and they started trying but they failed.

After failing to bring fire on their sacrifices, Prophet Elijah after repairing the altar of the Lord called on Yahweh and he sent fire to his sacrifice to consume it.

When the people gathered saw what happened they all worshiped the Lord and prophet Elijah asks them to gather the prophets together ensuring that they do not escape.

And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

And Elijah said unto them, take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. (1 Ki 18:39-40)

From what happened here and Prophet Elijah’s instructions some deductions could be made.

(i) Prophets of Baal Were the ones Arrested

We shall notice from the instruction prophet Elijah gave here that he said they should gather the prophets of Baal and they should not allow them to escape. This therefore implies that he did not make mention of the prophets of Asherah whom he has asked to be gathered together with the prophets of Baal for the tests initially.

(ii) Prophets of Asherah were not there

Prophet Elijah may have mentioned prophets of Baal alone because prophets of Asherah were not present at the venue of the test.

(iii) They May Have Escaped

If they were also present at the venue along with the prophets of Baal, they may have escaped when they heard what happened, and the need to him to emphasize that the people should not allow them to escape,

(iv) They Were not Actively Involved in the Test

If they were there, it may mean that those prophets of Asherah were not actively involved in the tests and this thus made Prophet Elijah to overlook them and concentrated on prophets of Baal.

(v) The Prophets of Asherah may be with Queen Jezebel in the Palace

Since those prophets were those eating at the table of the Queen and the King in the palace, they may have been assigned another assignment by the queen which makes them stay away from the incident that happened on mount Carmel.

Now therefore send, and gather to me 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. (1 Ki 18:19)

I said this because it was reported that Queen Jezebel was not at the venue and that was why her husband King Ahab when he returned to the palace briefed her of the incident that happened on the mount. You don’t brief someone of what he was a part of, you deliberate with someone of what has happened which she was also a part of.

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. (1 Ki 19:1)

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Queen Jezebel may Have been Stimulated by prophets of Asherah

After her husband told her what happened on mount Carmel, instead of the queen to be afraid of the incident, she was not afraid but in the stead the bible says he sent someone to prophet Elijah that she will kill him as he had killed those prophets of Baal.

Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. (1 Ki 19:2)

Everyone who is acquainted with the bible knows that Jezebel was spiritually powerful woman, but I want to believe that what she did, sending someone to Prophet Elijah would not have been done assuming someone has not stirred her heart up to do that.

No matter how powerful one is, when something like that happens, one would be terrified, but when one sees people who ginger the person up, the person would go even beyond what those people have expected or suggested.

Since those people can also prophesy in the name of their gods, they would have been prophesying and thence stimulate the queen that she must arrest the man so that they will kill him.

Whom She Sent

I am thinking that the messenger sent by jezebel to Prophet Elijah may have been one of those prophets of Asherah too.

Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, so let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. (1 Ki 19:2)

People have just seen what the prophet did, there would be fear in the hearts of some messengers to accost the prophet, but those prophets of Asherah because of what they were enjoying may not be afraid of him. And on another note because they weren’t there when the incident and the killings happened had nothing to fear by going to Prophet Elijah to deliver the Queen’s message to him.

People have Abandoned Him

After the incident, Prophet Elijah may be thinking that people of Israel would move closer to him, but he was shocked to discover that they did not. There may be few people who would want to associate themselves with him at the inception but after hearing that Jezebel has sent message to him that she would kill him, the few people who thought they can associate themselves with the Prophet eventually left him. He was man alone in the struggle.

He may have been deserted because people were afraid of being excommunicated from the temple. This was akin to what happened to the man born blind in the bible that Jesus opened his eyes. He was sent out of the temple.

They answered and said unto him, thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? (Joh 9:34-35)

The Jews fear something like this happening to them.

His Thought was Changed

By what he did on mount Carmel, he may have been thinking that his hand has attained it, but he was grossly mistaken because the people let him know by deserting him that his hand has not attained what he was looking for.

Since this time, he started believing that he was the only one left worshiping Yahweh, because he couldn’t fathom why the people could not stand by what they believed, what they saw just few hours back to be true.

What he has experience before, he started seeing them as suffering: Since he couldn’t fathom what happened, the behavior of the people towards what happened, he started having the feeling that all he has passed through in the wilderness were suffering, and that was why he said “enough”.

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. (1 Ki 19:4)

When one thinks that something is too much and you feel you can no longer bear those things again, you feel those things are negative, the things that you have been seeing in the positive lights before, that is when you say “enough”.

He feels all he was doing and perhaps have done were for nothing, not appreciated, he feels cheated, that was why he said “enough”. What he enjoys doing before he no longer enjoys doing them again, and thinks it is better he leaves the world.

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Depression sets in

Depression is defined as feeling of despondency and dejection. It is said to be a major depressive disorder and it is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how one thinks, feels and how one acts. Fortunately, it is treatable. It causes feelings of sadness and or loss of interest in activities one once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home. (From American Psychiatric Association)

He fled for His Life

He fled for his life because of the message of the Queen. A onetime bold man’s heart becomes watered and he couldn’t withstand the woman again. The prophets of Asherah has given the woman the teeth to bite the prophet.

We can see the effect of his oversight on him,

they are negative effects on the prophet. We shall see that the time he was taken away from the earth was not the time he should be taken off the earth for he was yet to complete the task, but when the complain was much that he wanted to leave, God decides to grant that and told him to anoint his successor because the task must be completed, all those prophets need to be erased from the country with his religion established. This was done by those people after he was long gone.

© 2020 OLUSEGUN

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    • OGUNDARE OLUSEGUN profile imageAUTHOR

      OLUSEGUN 

      14 months ago from NIGERIA

      You are welcome ma. Nice having a wondrous Deaconess on this Hubs channel.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile image

      Cheryl E Preston 

      14 months ago from Roanoke

      This is the best explanation I have heard on Elijah. Thank you.

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