After Elijah had bumped off the prophets of Baal (see last blog and 1 Kings 18:40), Jezebel, who seemed to be the one who really wore the trousers in her marriage with Ahab, ordered a hit on Elijah. Her trash talking message to Elijah was basically, “May I die, if I don’t kill you” (1 Kings 19:2) (Her wish is partially fulfilled.)
At this point in time, you’d expect a tough guy like Elijah to just brush her threat off. He’s been threatened before, prophets have been getting killed already, he just had this dramatic victory over the prophets of Baal. As a bonus, his first venture into the realm of trash talking was an overwhelming success.
So, how does the mighty prophet of YHWH respond to Jezebel’s hit order on his life? He fled in fear (2 Kings 19:3). What? Not only that, but he’s going to fulfill the commission for her. He asks YHWH to kill him (or I guess we’d have to say that he asks YHWH to be the hitman; 2 Kings 19:4). (Where else do we find a suicical prophet in the OT? Answer in the next blog.) Instead of answering Elijah’s prayer in the affirmative (sometimes it’s good that God doesn’t say “Yes”–tell that to your kids), YHWH sends an angel who feeds him a couple times, so he can run forty days and nights (a high carb meal-spaghetti probably) south to Mount Horeb (=Sinai).
When YHWH finally speaks to him Elijah complains, then repeats his complaint verbatim (1 Kings 19:10, 14). YHWH ignores what Elijah says, but then he says something shocking. It’s time to find your replacement, go anoint Elisha (1 Kings 19:16). Not exactly the message you’d expect a sensitive God like YHWH to say–“You’re suicidal, but that’s OK, we can find a replacement.”
So, why do you think YHWH says this to Elijah?