"The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you."
Read 1 Kings 19:3-8
Elijah was a great prophet, but he also had his faults. One of these, it is suggested could be that of pride. He perhaps thought a little too highly of his own importance and was basking in the glory of that spectacular miracle on Mount Carmel when he challenged the worshippers of Baal to bring down fire on a sacrificial offering. When nothing happened, he built his own bonfire and poured gallons of water on it before asking God to bring down fire, which God did so spectacularly. There followed a messy slaughter of the prophets of Baal.
Elijah may have expected that because of what had been accomplished at Mount Carmel, everything would change, and pagan worship would come to an end in Israel—all through his influence! Now the wayward king Ahab may not have been happy at what had happened, but his wife was Jezebel, and you didn’t mess with Jezebel – she sent a message to Elijah which basically said, ‘You’d better watch your back, because by this time tomorrow you’re a dead man, my friend!’
That’s why Elijah is running for his life in the reading!
Now he tells his servant to go, he just wants to be alone, and that meant the wilderness, because the tentacles of Jezebel reached a long way. Elijah is despondent, vulnerable. This man who had been such a mighty prophet is now a scared and fearful man, brought low and to the feet of God in prayer. God hears Elijah, and pours out not only compassion and love, but provides the sustenance for his onward journey to Mount Horeb where he experiences God’s presence famously not in an earthquake or wind, but as a gentle whisper.
Maybe Elijah took his eyes off God for a while as he basked a little in the glory of the spectacular miracles that happened around him. We can all be guilty of taking our eyes of God, I guess, as we plod on with the task of everyday life.
But to do that for too long can have consequences, perhaps not as serious as those that Elijah faced, but like the footballer who takes his eye of the ball and misses a goal, we need to stay focussed on God in our journey of faith.