There are many prophets in the Bible, and if you ask around who’s the greatest prophet, there will surely be some who will answer Elijah. Most of the prophets from the Bible did not have good lives. They suffer and suffer and suffer in various ways, for the Lord. Yet even among all these stories Elijah stood out the most. Lets not even talk about the great things he had done for God – but just the fact that he was one of only two people stated in the Bible who didn’t die makes him a very unique character. Elijah was also the direct teacher of another well-known great prophet, Elisha; Elijah had already prophesied a Great Drought, revived the son of a widow, had a confrontation with the 450 prophets of Baal, called for fire from the heavens, killed Baal’s prophets by the sword, and brought about a heavy rain, ending the drought. The first two verses of 1 Kings 19 are essentially a death threat by Jezebel and that was the last straw. Something in Elijah snapped and he ran away in fear. In today’s terms we would probably call it a burnout – a major burnout bordering on depression. It was bad enough for him to want to die.
If Elijah prayed for God to take his life, and God listened to his prayer and took his life, would it be considered a suicide or what? Have you ever heard of people who prayed to God, “God, please kill me” ? If a person truly wanted to die – not that I’m advocating it – he’ll likely go ahead and take his own life already. Why pray for God to take your life when you can do it yourself? What kind of psychology is it for a person to pray for God to take his life? Is that really a sign of a person who truly wants to die?
In his misery and fear, in his discouraged and disillusioned state – or as we say today, burnout and depressed; the one he turned to was not the kings or other prophets on earth, but God. In essence, by telling God that he wanted to die, the hidden message was really, God, I can’t take this anymore, please do something to alleviate my sufferings!
But our God is not like that. Our God knows us best. After all, he created us. He knows our true feelings and desires, our deepest needs underneath all the superficial appearances that we keep up – even if our bodies put up an act to fool others, even if our hearts deceive ourselves in a moment of weakness, God can see through all that and understand what we truly need.
Elijah fell alsleep, and all at once an angel touched him and told him to get up and eat. An angel was sent – not to kill him, but to feed him and to restore his energy. Feeding him was a physical replenishment. He would soon have his spiritual replenishment. God personally promised him protection of several layers. On top of that, it was at this point that God told him to anoint Elisha to succeed him as prophet. For the rest of Elijah’s time on earth, Elisha acted as his attendant and disciple, learning from him and at the same time, sharing perhaps a little of his load. God knew what Elijah needed. God gave him what he needed. You can count all of Elijah’s deeds and acts – but perhaps the greatest of all would be his mentoring of Elisha. Elijah never died. Eventually, a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and brought Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind.
You can ask GOD for many things, but he truly knows what you need.