¹ And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
² 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 tomorrow about this time.
³ And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
⁴ 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.
⁵ And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
⁶ And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
⁷ 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.
⁸ And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
In our Scripture lesson, the great prophet Elijah has become burned out and reclusive. Although his ministry is marked with incredible successes, the pursuit of the prophet by King Ahab and Jezebel has left the man of God isolated and feeling as if he is a failure. It is easy to become burned out in ministry. You pour out continually until you feel as if there is nothing left to pour out. If you have never been devoted to ministry you will never know what it is like to deplete yourself to the degree that you feel like you have nothing else to give.
Elijah has just come off a great victory on Mt. Carmel where he withstood 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the groves. Didn’t he make that look easy?! He called fire down from heaven that consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the water, and even licked up the dust. Wow!
We left 2019 and moved into 2020 with fresh fire and fresh vision. Then COVID came. With it, isolation, sequestration, and a restructuring of priorities. As we look at this text, we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and what He would have us refocus on in 2021. We must refocus our vision for 2021.
Jezebel has sent messengers to him that she is going to kill him. People sometimes ask, if he could withstand 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the groves, why did he flee from Jezebel? He fled because he was burned out and depleted. Look at the text, he is so depleted he asks God to kill him and put him out of his misery. With all you have been through this year, you probably feel exhausted. You’ve reached the end of your efforts. You’re ready to throw in the towel. Like the prophet, you just want to run away into the wilderness. But run as far as you want to, but you will never run far enough that you will escape the destiny and purpose God has for your life!
Let’s look at the 3 R’s that Elijah experienced to allow him to become refocused:
The next thing Elijah does is he finds a place to rest. He gets away from everybody and finds a secluded spot out in the wilderness and rests. If you are on the verge of giving up, then take some time and get away and rest. Turn off the cell phone, turn off the computer, and get away from the demands and noise, and just rest. Jesus would sometimes get away from the demands of His ministry and go out in a desert place and rest His weary body and mind. If you don’t rest, you will become out of balance and you will be burned out. Use this time of sequestration and quarantine to get away from the rat race and rest your mind and your body. Whether you realize it or not, the Church has been placed under a Juniper tree for a reason. This is our Juniper tree season. When we come back from the wilderness, we will be ready to move to the next level of activity for the kingdom.
He sleeps. Then he is awakened by an angel who has prepared him a meal. He eats and drinks and lays back down and sleeps some more. His body and mind are being renewed.
Use this present time of isolation to sleep and get alone with the Lord and allow Him to feed you. Do not allow others to place undue demands on your time. Learn to say “No.” The world will not collapse. Stop apologizing for not being everything to everybody.
While he lays and sleeps, the angel wakes him up once again. This time the angel has prepared a second meal. He touches him the second time. The first touch gave him back the strength he had lost during ministry. The second touch gave him strength for future ministry. There is a second touch and a second meal that will reinvigorate you for the mission that God has called you too in 2021.
The first meal helped him recover from the previous day’s journey and his past ministry exploits. But the second meal gave him such strength that he went 40 days on that one meal; which led him to the very mountain of God!
Later in 1 Kings 19 God reminded Elijah that he was not alone in his plight. There were 7,000 other faithful souls who had not succumbed to idolatry; and God also reminded Elijah of the unfulfilled purpose He had for his life. Simply put, he was not alone and he was not a failure. Elijah had unfinished business that would finally bring closure to what had initially seemed as failure. There were new kings to anoint and a successor to be chosen—Elisha. One of the kings Elijah was to anoint, Jehu, would finally close the book on Jezebel—permanently.
Let me remind you that in the midst of the COVID pandemic, the Lord can use this Juniper tree season to allow you to be refreshed, renewed, and refocus. I assure you that as we move into 2021, the best is not behind us, but ahead of us.
To establish the people of Central Appalachia in the principles of the Kingdom of God, and thereby releasing them to rise above all cultural, historical, economic, and generational limitations so they may live abundantly within their privileges and covenant as sons and daughters of God.