Pardon the multiple long Scripture references; they all tie together.
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”
- 1 Kings 18:38-41
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
- 1 Kings 19:11-18
So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”
- Hosea 1:3-5
“The smoky tones of Peggy Lee’s voice occasionally blow across my mind. ‘Is that all … is that all there is …?’ With no bitterness intended, I ask that haunting question in the backwash of certain situations.
“How much like the tide we are! When our spirits are high, we are flooded with optimism, hope, and expectation. But when low, our jagged barnacles of disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment are exposed. We usually hide such melancholy from others beneath a thick coat of public image shined to a high gloss finish with the wax of superficiality and embellished with a religious cliché or two. But all the while, at low tide within, we struggle to maintain an even keel as the rough winds jerk our sails.
“Like the pull of the sea, some of our low tides are almost predictable. There are, for example, peculiar low tides that often follow a great victory.
”Is that all … is that all there is to victory?
“Elijah asked that. … Vulnerable and frightened, he suffered the low tide that often follows victory, perhaps the cruelest dart in the devil’s quiver. …
“When it seems like that’s all there is, remember all you have in Him.”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Point
Before we discuss this interesting story and Swindoll’s take on it in the quote, let’s listen to Peggy Lee.
Did she ever say “That is all there is!”? No! For it is not all there is. She just never acknowledges in the song, what is beyond what she sees. She always says “IF.” It is a cynical view, that we all may fall prey to, but with God whispering in our ear, we always have hope of something beyond ‘if that’s all there is…’
Elijah, in his post-victory depression, states that he, Elijah, is all that is left in Israel who has not bought into the false god, Baal. He had just proven that Baal was a false god. He had taunted the 450 Baal prophets who could not get a spark to consume their sacrifice. “Maybe, Baal is asleep, and you should shout louder. Ha. Ha. Ha.” But then he douses his altar with water, three times, in the middle of a drought. Then God brings down fire from Heaven and consumes everything.
That was Elijah’s victory, along with the coming of the rain. Okay, God’s victory, but we are discussing Elijah’s post-victory pity party. Would it be unkind to tell Elijah that he should not have post-victory depression, because it was God’s victory, not his? Or would that make the depression worse? Getting back to the story…
Then Jezebel sends a message to say that Elijah will be killed by the next day and Elijah runs and hides. Somehow, Elijah forgot that God had just brought down fire to consume the sacrifice. God had ended the drought by bringing rain. Could that God have not easily defeated Jezebel?
But no, Elijah has lost the fight – in his heart. God first corrects Elijah. He is not alone. There are 7,000 who have not worshipped Baal. There is Elisha who is prepared to take over Elijah’s work. And there is Hazael, king of Aram, who is ready to defeat Ahab. If Hazael does not put them to the sword, Elisha will kill, and then Jehu will finish them off in the Valley of Jezreel. Then, soon after he does as God had commanded, he walks to the far side of the Jordan and ascends into Heaven, guarded by a chariot of fire – not riding in one.
So, when Hosea, roughly 200 years later, names his first-born son Jezreel, Israel would have memories of that great defeat. Jehu, about 100 years after God spoke to Elijah and 100 years before Hosea’s son was born, became king of Israel by exterminating the last vestiges of the family of Ahab. Yet, Jehu wasn’t much better. He was just God’s instrument at the time.
But let’s take note. In Elijah’s depression, he exaggerated his condition. He was not alone, fighting the good fight. He was having a crisis of faith, forgetting that God was stronger than Jezebel, and stumbling, losing that fight due to a pity party.
Does that sound familiar? How many times have I felt sorry for myself? How many times have I felt like the only one fighting for the right side? And how many times has God been there to remind me that He is still in charge and nothing has changed? I know how many times. Every time that I awoke from my pity party and was willing to listen to His calm whisper.
“Is that all there is? If that’s all there is, my friend, then let’s keep dancing…”
- Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Is That All There Is?
But that’s not all there is. God is the victor. He won the victory on Mount Carmel. The kingly line of Ahab ended at the hands of Jehu. And even a remnant from Israel is promised to return and reunite with Judah someday, under a single leader (Hosea 1:11). Maybe during the millennium reign?
And before we get there, God is waiting. Once we’ve finished with our pity party, He might just ask, “Are you done? Have faith. I’ve got this.”
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.