Elijah and Elisha Message #8 “The Mantel” Ed Miller January 18, 2023

Listen to the audio above while following along in the transcript below (also available for download in Word document from www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)

I’d like to share a verse before we go to prayer, reminding my heart and yours that we’ve come to see the Lord Jesus and there’s only one way to behold the Lord, and that is if the Holy Spirit unveils Him through the word to our hearts.  That’s what we’re seeking.  I want share Psalm 3, since we’re studying the flight and the restoration of Elijah, Psalm 3 was when David was fleeing.  He was fleeing from his son, Absalom, and in verse 3 he says, “You, oh Lord, are a shield about me.”  Remember the Angel of the Lord encamped around Elijah.  “My glory and the One who lifts my head.”  When I first read that I thought, well, his head of discouragement, except he wasn’t discouraged.  So, the Lord is the One who lifts my head, we all know who our head is.  It’s the Lord Jesus, and He’s the One who lifts our head, He lifts up the Lord Jesus.  If you have a head bowed in discouragement, I promise you, if the Lord is lifted up, the One who lifts up your head, then your head will be lifted up.  With that in mind, let’s commit our time to the Lord.

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Thank You for the record we’re studying, and we ask You, Lord, to take us beyond the sacred page and help us behold the Lord Jesus in all His glory.  We thank You, Lord, that we can trust You to unveil Jesus to our heart, and then grace us to appropriate Him as You reveal Him to us.  We commit this session unto You in the matchless name of Jesus.  Amen.

I want to review just enough to bring us where we were when we left off in our last meditation.  As you know, our entire series, this little series of God’s servants, Elijah and Elisha, is really a study of God’s heart, because He has a heart that longs to restore, longs to redeem, longs to recover, longs to revive, and we’ve been studying God’s heart, but He uses people like Elijah and Elisha in order to encourage God’s people, and to bring them back.  God’s people, Israel, had gone far, far, far away from the Lord, under King Ahab and his wife Jezebel.  They had actually kicked God out of the land, and not only that, but under Jezebel they began to kill His servants, His prophets.  It’s the first time in the Bible you have a religious persecution like that. And then they turned wholesale to idolatry, to Baal worship and to Asherah, and so on. 

Though Israel turned their backs on the Lord and turned to false gods which were no gods, yet God still considered them His people.  1 Kings 17:1, “Now Elijah, the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord the God of Israel lives,” He’s still the God of Israel.  Even though they disowned Him, He had not disowned them.  God longed for them to be revived, and that’s why He sent Elijah and Elisha to minister to them and restore them.  As you know, and as I know, God will draw them back, but God will not drag them back.  He’ll not force a will or twist your arm.  He might engineer things and make you will, but He’s not going to force your will.  Israel gave him a great big “no”.

Then we looked at God’s heart again.  He tried to restore Israel, and they said “no”.  Then I showed you how He reached out and tried to restore Ahab, the king, in many ways.  He sent to them prophets, He sent a man of God, He sent a son of a prophet, He sent many influences, like Jehoshaphat and Obadiah, He sent Elijah back tot them.  Many times, He tried to reach him, but like Israel, Ahab gave the Lord a great big “no”.

That brings us to where we left off.  God has a heart of restoration.  He wants to restore His people.  He wants to restore a wicked king, Ahab, and now He needs to restore His child, His servant Elijah.  That’s where we are in our discussion.  Elijah now, for different reasons than Israel and Ahab, had taken his eyes off the Lord and gone into a deep depression.  Let me retrace those steps, and that will bring us right up to where we want to be.

1 Kings 17:1, “As the Lord God of Israel lives before whom I stand.”  That was his standing, before the Lord God of Israel, the living Lord.  That was his standing.  He was in the presence of the Lord, but then something happened, and we read in 1 Kings 19:11, “And so He said, ‘Go forth, stand on the mountain before the Lord.’”  When the story begins, he was before the Lord, and now God is inviting him again to come and stand before the Lord.  That implies that something happened in between that he got out of the presence of the Lord.

When I say out of the presence, he lost the sense of his standing.  Its’ not possible to lose the fact of God’s presence, but we can lose the sense of God’s presence, and that’s exactly what he lost.  To use our own New Testament terminology, he got out of fellowship, and took his eyes off Jesus, and looked away from the Lord, and got distracted.  The record shows that when he took his eyes off the Lord, he slipped into a very serious depression.  When you take your eyes off the Lord, that’s a serious matter, and you never know where that’s going to end up.  He was in despair.  Actually, he came to the place when he got so discouraged, that he wanted to die.  1 Kings 19:4, “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.  He said, ‘It’s enough now, oh Lord, take my life, for I’m not better than my fathers.’”

What happened to bring Elijah to such a low spot in his life that he actually wanted to end it all?  He wasn’t considering suicide; He wanted God to take his life.  I suggested that the start of his discouragement began on Mt. Carmel, and I believe that’s where it all started.  Elijah did not understand spiritual warfare.  Because he had such great victory before this, he thought he had the Lord’s authority to win every battle.  His courage to stand before Ahab at the beginning and announce a terrible famine, he was able to do that, trusting in the Lord.  He experienced the Lord’s provision at the Brook Cherith, and he experienced the Lord’s provision at the widow’s house at Zarephath, and he received powerful answers to his prayer.  He saw God raise the dead when he prayed.  He saw God send rain and break the great famine when he prayed.  So, based on all of that, he thought that there would be victory on Mt. Carmel, and when he saw fire coming down consuming the sacrifice at the evening sacrifice, and when he saw 450 false prophets being executed, all of those to him were evidences of God’s favor, everything is going right, El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough.  It gave Elijah a false sense of personal authority.  He thought the battle was His, not God’s.  He claimed over and over again, 1 Kings 18:22, “Elijah said, ‘I alone am left a prophet of the Lord.  Baal’s prophets are 450 men.’” 

Then he dared to mock the enemy.  According to the balance of scripture, you ought to be pretty careful before you mock the enemy.  It’s just another indication that he didn’t quite understand spiritual warfare.  He certainly thought there would be a revival after verse 39, “When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The LORD, He is God.  The LORD, He is God.’”  And that word you notice is call caps, “Jehovah, He is God.  Jehovah, He is God.” And then in verse 40, “Elijah said, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal.  Do not let one of them escape.’ So, they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon, and slew them there.  He thought he won on Mt. Carmel, and he thought the nation would turn back to the Lord, and that there would be a great revival.  But he was in for a tremendous shock and a terrible disappointment.  That sense of false security can lead a person into discouragement. 

You add to that chapter 19:2&3, “Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me and even more if I do not make your life as a life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.’  He was afraid.  He rose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba which belongs to Judah, and he left his servant there.”  Now, not only did he not see victory on Mt. Carmel, but now there’s opposition and persecution, and Jezebel has put a price on his head and determined that he would be dead by the next day.  So, he began to look at those circumstances, and they were scary, on the level of earth, and he got frustrated and he began to run, and he ran for his life. 

Many people won’t agree 100% with me that his initial beginning of his problem started on Mt. Carmel.  I think it did, but even if you don’t agree, clearly, he took his eyes off the Lord when Jezebel gave that word, and he ran for his life.  There’s no doubt Elijah was in a bad place and needed to be recovered, and that’s where the Lord shows His great heart and mercy.  Elijah is in a deep depression, a prophet of the Lord.  What a contrast, a prophet in the Lord in deep despair and doesn’t want to live anymore.  He yelled out to the Lord, “It’s enough!”  Of course, God knows when it’s enough.  We can tell the Lord, “It’s enough,” but when you think you know the right way, you’re right.

When we left off last week, I presented the revelation of the Lord Jesus as the Angel of the Lord.  He appeared as the Angel of the Lord when Elijah was under the juniper tree, the One in the early records revealed Himself as the Author of faith, now needs to show Himself as the Finisher of faith.  Elijah’s courage, strength, energy, patience, is going to all fail, but his faith is not going to fail, because he has Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of faith.

I’m not going to restate all of those revelations on how tender the Lord Jesus as the Angel of the Lord was to him under the juniper tree.  This morning we want to continue looking, and the revelation is the same.  It’s still the Angel of the Lord.  He ran from Jezreel with Him to Beersheba, from Beersheba to the juniper tree, and now the Angel of the Lord will run to Mt. Horeb right with Elijah.  Elijah is taking his eyes off the Lord, and I’m not arguing about why.  It’ doesn’t matter why.  It could have been his sense of failure, or the fear of man, or forgetting all the Lord’s benefits which he had already experienced, it could have been gazing at impossible circumstances and not finding a way around those circumstances.  The point is that he took his eyes off Jesus, off the Lord, and he needs to be recovered.  God wants to use him, but not in a discouraged state.  He wants to use him as a victorious servant of the Lord.

The question today is, “How does God finally recover somebody who is at the depths of discouragement?”  That’s where I am and would like to go today.  His problem was that he took his eyes off the Lord.  So, the solution is to put his eyes back on the Lord.  That’s the solution, but how will that take place?  That’s what we want to see.  Let me put the issue we’re going to look at in the language of the New Covenant, in other words, in fully developed truth.  He needs to look to Christ.  We can say that, but exactly what does that mean to look to Christ?  It’s what the New Testament develops, and we call the Exchanged Life.  I borrowed that title from Hudson Taylor.  He used the term “exchanged life”, and that was very precious to me.  Elijah needs to die to Elijah.  Elijah needs to be made alive to God.  That will happen on Mt. Horeb.  That’s what we want to look at.  How does God bring Elijah to come to the end of Elijah and to embrace the life of the Lord, the exchange, His life for mine.  Elijah is going to look again to Jesus, and Elijah is going to first die to Elijah.

Now, in picture form, what takes place on Horeb is simply, in doctrinal form, the exchanged life.  So, we’ll see that it’s a dramatic story.  We’ll see the story, but then we’ll look at the reality, because that’s what is important.  That’s where I’m headed in this lesson.  He’s in terrible despair, he’s at the bottom and he can’t be more discouraged, and now the Lord is going to bring him out of his despair into the blessed light of union with Christ.

Before we look at the precious discovery that Elijah makes of that exchanged life, and how God brings us to that high place, I want to give a few things from the record, just a few general facts that prepare us to look at this wonderful truth.  The first fact is the distance that it will take Elijah to get to Horeb.  That becomes important, and I’ll show you why.  In the Old Testament when Israel was being delivered from Egypt, we read in Deuteronomy 1:2, “It eleven days journey from Horeb by the way of Mt. Seir to Kadish-Barnea.”  In other words, from the same mountain to get to the Promised Land it was an eleven day journey.  That’s how long it was in a straight line.  From Jezreel we know that he ran all the way to Beersheba, and we know from chapter 19 verses 3&4, he was afraid and arose, ran for his life, came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, left his servant there and he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under the juniper tree.  In other words, we know it was about not 200 miles from where he was to get to Horeb. 

The question is, was Horeb his destination when he started running?  We know it was his destiny, because he ended up there, but we don’t know if it was his destination.  The question is, did he run on purpose to Mt. Horeb?  When he ran from Jezebel, was he thinking, “I think I’ll go to Mt. Horeb.”  Was that on his mind?  Some commentators believe that was on his mind right from the beginning.  The reason they give is because that’s where God met Moses, and perhaps, “He’ll reveal Himself to me the same way He revealed Himself to Moses.”  Is that what Elijah was thinking when he ran from Jezebel?  Was he even conscious that he was in such a terrible spiritual condition?  He started off standing in the presence of the Lord.  Something happened, and now he doesn’t have any peace.  He’s running and he’s fearful.  His peace is gone.  That should be an indication, by the way, when your peace is gone, you better check your heart.  Let the peace of God rule your heart.  He lost his peace, and did he know he was out of fellowship? 

I’m not sure he did.  If he was seeking the Lord, you wonder why he wouldn’t have acknowledged the Angel of the Lord.  Jesus Himself met him under the tree and he never even said a word to Him.  You would think he would have acknowledged Him.  If his destination was Horeb, why did he pray to die before he got halfway there?  You just wonder why?  I wonder if his destination was Horeb.  Maybe God is just telling a spiritual story.  If you take your eyes off Jesus, you might end up on the mountain of the law again.  There’s an argument to be made for that.  I’m not sure that’s what this is about. 

Elijah, from where he was, was only under a week away from Horeb in a straight line.  One commentator I read said, “Not more than four days.”  Let’s just say it was a week.  Notice what the Angel of the Lord said to him under the juniper tree, 1 Kings 19:8, “He arose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.”  Why did it take him forty days when he’s only four or five days, a week on the outside, away?  He could have gone a straight line and he would have been there immediately.  Why did it take him forty days?  He seems to be wandering around in the wilderness.  He seems to be wandering around with no direction, and no goal.  I don’t think he’s heading for Horeb or he would have been there.  He’s just wandering around in the wilderness.  Poor soul, so discouraged, so depressed, and now he’s just running in circles in a desert land. 

For those of you who have been there, the reality is a lot more painful than the picture.  It’s an amazing thing.  When he finally got to Horeb, what did he do?  Verse 9 chapter 19, “He came to a cave and lodged there.”  A lot of commentators see a wonderful parallel between Elijah and Moses.  He fasted for forty days, well, Moses fasted for forty days.  He went to Mt. Horeb, well, Moses went to Mt. Horeb.  He went in a cave, well Moses also went into the cleft of the rock.  Some people think it’s exactly the same cleft that Elijah is in.  There’s no way to prove that.  1 Kings 19:11, “He said, ‘Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’”  Well, that’s what He told Moses to do.  Exodus 33:22, “It will come about while My glory is passing by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock, and cover you with My hand until I pass by.”  And we read of Elijah that the Lord was passing by.  So, they say that Moses and Elijah are very much the same thing.  But I just want to remind you and my own heart that Moses is not Elijah, and Elijah is not Moses.  I tend to think that when he lodged in the cave, it’s more like Judges.  Judges 6:2, “The power of Midian prevailed against Israel.  Because of Midian, the sons of Israel made for themselves dens which were in the mountains and the caves and the stronghold.”  In Gideon’s day it was fear that drove them into the rocks and the mountain and into the cave. 

God didn’t immediately speak to Elijah.  The Bible says that he went into the cave and lodged there.  I don’t know what lodged registers in your mind, but to me it’s like he set up camp.  He lodged there; he stayed there.  He was hiding there.  I think when God did speak, I think it shocked him.  I don’t think he was expecting that.  I want you to focus on these three pictures.  I hope it’s not you.  Think of the most discouraged person you can think of.  Look at the pictures that God paints.  This discouraged person is under a juniper tree, sad and wanting to die.  This discouraged person is wandering aimlessly in the wilderness.  This discouraged person is living in the darkness, in the cave in the cold like an animal lives.  I don’t think Elijah planned to go to Horeb.  I don’t think God is illustrating you can go back to the law.  I think it’s deeper than that.  I think God drew him to Sinai, and brough him to Sinai.  That’s where, by grace, God is going to teach him the wonders of the exchanged life.  So, it’s a wonderful miracle of mercy here.  God brought him there, that He could reveal Himself to Elijah.  Elijah needed to understand the essence of spiritual warfare.  He needed to know that it’s not him, that it’s the Lord.  The battle is not his.

 I’m going to show you, now, how God drew his discouraged child out of the darkness of the cave and into the light of the presence of the Lord.  I say that because this is not just a Bible study; this is exactly how God deals with His discouraged children today, and He can draw the worst case out of the cave to live in the glorious life of the presence of the Lord.  Any child of God who has crashed under the weight of his own helplessness and failure can identify with these three things: all alone under the juniper tree, exhausted, discouraged, fainting and wanting to die.  Every Christian who has been crushed under the weight of his own helplessness and failure can experience this wandering around the wilderness, with no direction, no purpose, no goal, and you’re being kept alive by the mercy and grace of God, a miracle to keep you alive.  Everyone who has crashed under the weight of his own failure and helplessness has also experienced cave living, “I want to be alone.  I don’t want to be with people.  I want to go in the dark.  I don’t want the light.  I want to get away.  I’m afraid and am trembling in the cave.”  A painful existence and seemingly hopeless, is there any way our God can draw somebody out of that cave, out of that situation?  Well, that’s what we’re going to look at.

Let me begin with the question the Lord asked Elijah.  1 Kings 19:9&10, “He came there to a cave, and lodged there, and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’  And he said, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts, for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, killed Your prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.’”  After that, look at verse 9, “He came to a cave and lodged there, and behold, the word of the Lord came to him.  He said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”  That implies, because he lodged in the cave, that God didn’t speak to him right away.  We don’t know how long he stayed in the cave.  Was it a day, was it several days, a week, was it a couple of weeks?  We don’t know how long he stayed there or how he survived.  The last word that Elijah had heard from the Lord was when he was under the juniper tree in verse 7, “Arise and eat because the journey is too great for you.”  The Lord was talking about the journey away from Him, the journey into discouragement and despair, the journey that would take you into a cave to lodge there and not want to come out ever again.  I think that’s where Elijah was.

He heard the voice and this time he knew exactly who was speaking.  The first time, when he was under the tree, he didn’t recognize when He said, “The journey is too great for you.”  That was Jesus, but he didn’t recognize that.  It reminds me of Mary Magdalene on resurrection morning.  There’s the Lord Jesus standing right in front of her speaking to her, but she’s so discouraged, and her eyes are filled with tears, she didn’t know who it was.  She thought it was the gardener.  She thought it was somebody else.  So, Elijah is in that situation.  But this time he knows exactly who it is.  There’s no doubt, because in verse 10 he says, “They’ve torn down Your altars.”  He’s talking to the Lord.  He knows exactly who he’s talking to, now.  But I want you to notice that even though he’s been invited out of the cave to stand in the presence of the Lord, up until this point he has not obeyed; he’s still in the cave.  He’s talking to the Lord from inside the cave.  We need to understand that because he’s still Elijah and he’s still discouraged, and he’s not yet been delivered from cave life.

The question is in two parts, where are you and what are you doing?  The Lord has a sovereign right to know at all times where are you and what are you doing.  The Lord has a sovereign right at all times to say to me, “Ed Miller, where are you, and what are you doing?”  He has that right.  It seems to me that it’s a heat-searching question.  I’m putting these words in his mouth but let me suggest that this is the idea.  The Lord says, in effect, “I commanded you to stand before Ahab and announce a great famine, and you did it.  You obeyed Me.  I commanded you to hide by the Brook Cherith, and I’d provide for you, and you obeyed, and you did it, and even when the brook dried up, you still obeyed me.  I told you to go up into enemy territory and to go up to Sidon in the location of Jezebel, and you obeyed Me and you went to the widow’s house.  I gave you orders to go to Mt. Carmel, and I spelled out what you were to do, to prove to them that I’m the One true living and only God, and you did it.  You obeyed Me.  I gave you supernatural power to run, outrun horses and go all the way to Jezreel, and you did it.  You obeyed Me, but what are you doing here, Elijah?  Did I say anything about coming to Mt. Horeb?  Did I give you a command?  Was there a word from heaven?  Did you hear Me tell you to go where you are going?  In fact, on Mt. Carmel I told you everything, but I don’t remember Me telling you to kill 450 prophets.  You did that.” 

Like many of our military men who have had terrible experiences, and even after the event, could that have been true of Elijah after killing 450 prophets?  Did that add to his discouragement? Anyway, He said, “Where are you, and what are you doing here?  I want to restore you.”  Again, the words are not there, but I think God was suggesting, “Did you think I couldn’t protect you from Jezebel, after all the miracles I had done?  Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare,” and indeed it does!  Elijah has fled, now, from the fear of man.  Truly, the journey was too much.

Listen to Elijah’s answer to the Lord, “What are you doing here?  Why are you here and what are you doing?”  He answers from within the cave, and it’s a defensive answer.  He tries to justify himself before the Lord.  His answer is very Elijah centered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord.”  Then he suggests, “I’ve been fighting Your cause.  This is not my cause.  This is Your cause, and they’ve forsaken Your covenant, and they’ve torn down Your altars, and they’ve killed Your prophets, and not only am I zealous for You and fighting for Your cause, but now they’re rejecting me.  I alone am left, and they seek my life.”

At this point in Elijah’s life I don’t see any comprehension of what Samuel had to learn, 1 Samuel 8:7, “They’ve not rejected you; they’ve rejected Me from being King over you.”  Elijah is not there, yet.  Elijah says, “I am zealous, I’m working hard.  I’m fighting for You, and they’re rejecting me.”  That’s the answer he gave.  I’m going to jump ahead a moment on purpose.  I’ll come back, but I’m going to jump ahead because God asks the same question, very same words, a second time.  The first time was before the still, small voice.  The second time was after the still, small voice.  Before the still, small voice I told you his answer, “I’m zealous.  I’m fighting for Your cause, and they’re rejecting me.”  After the still, small voice, he answers again.  Notice verse 13, “Elijah heard it and wrapped his face in the mantel, and went out and stood at the entrance to the cave and behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  This is after the still, small voice.

Wouldn’t you expect, if I’m correct, that he is going to experience the exchanged life in whatever is pictured by that still, small voice, that his answer would be different after that experience?  1 Kings 19:14, “He said, ‘I’ve been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts, the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, and torn down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I alone am left.  They seek my life to take it away.”  He gives the exact same answer, almost as if there has not been a change, like he’s still Elijah.  He talks about his zeal, talks about God’s cause, he talks about him being rejected.

I think I exist to disagree with the commentaries.  The commentaries try to explain it by saying that there was a difference in the tone of voice.  Well, how in the world am I supposed to see a tone of voice when I read the Bible?  They gave that suggestion, and they gave some good illustrations.  For example, Satan got thrown out of heaven because he said, “I want to be like the most high.”  Well, any humble Christian can pray, “I want to be like the most high; I want to be like Jesus.”  But there’s a different tone and a different direction.  Those who rejected Christ said, “His blood be on us and our children,” and you know the tone of voice that they used.  Well, that’s my prayer for my family, His blood be on us and our children.  I want that.  It’s a different tone of voice.  The humble Christian can use those same words and mean the exact opposite of that.  Zacharias, the father of John the Baptizer, asked a question, because his wife was old and was going to have a baby, “How can this be?”  And he got blasted for unbelief.  Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus, asked the angel, because she was a virgin, “How can this be?”  Same words, but a different tone of voice.  I guess that’s possible.  You’re right at the beginning of the Bible and God comes and says, “Adam, where are you?”  What was His tone of voice?  I don’t think Adam was lost and God was saying, “Where are you?  I don’t know where you are.”  I don’t know if His tone of voice was, “Where are you?  Look at the mess you got yourself into!”  I don’t think He’s playing a game, “Where arrreee you?”  But you can just take the same expressions and mean something else.  But I think it’s a little deeper than that.

My understanding is in terms of the New Testament.  He gave the same answer because he’s still Elijah.  He doesn’t change.  Some Christians have the hardest time believing that they are not going to improve, no matter how long they know the Lord.  You cannot improve; that which is flesh is flesh, and it will always be flesh, and that’s why it needs to be an exchange, not an improvement.  You’ve got to die.  You aren’t going to get better.  You aren’t a better Christian this week than last week, this year than last year, and you won’t be better next year than this year.  You’re you and you will always be you, and I’ll always be me, therefore, I bow out and I invite the life of the Holy Spirit, the life of God Himself, to live in my place.  I think Elijah said the same thing because he’s still Elijah, but you can do what you want with that.

Let me read the text, verses 11-13, “He said, ‘Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord, and behold, the Lord was passing by.’”  Don’t forget, he’s still in the cave.  God said to stand on the mountain before the Lord, and he’s not there, yet.  “And a great and strong wind was rending the mountain, breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire, the sound of a gentle blowing, and when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”  That’s what brought him out.  “And behold, a voice came to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”   In verse 11 God has invited Elijah to come out, but he didn’t obey until verse 13, when he came out and stood in the entrance of the cave.

I want to focus, and God give me grace and help, on what exactly it was that drew this discouraged saint out of that dark, cold, damp, lonely cave.  He ends up in the presence of the Lord.  We gives a fast answer and we say, “Well, it was the still, small voice.”  That’s true, but what is the still, small voice?  One translation says, “The sound of a gentle blowing.”  Another says, “A gentle breeze, a zephyr.”  The Darby translation and the American Standard of 1901 and the KJV says, “It’s a voice,” and in the actual original it is a voice, like a breeze, soft.  The idea comes from two words, one just means still, and one means small.  Elijah took his eyes off the Lord, and he lost his peace.  He took his eyes off the Lord and he went into turmoil.  He’s filled with anxiety and filled with fear.  He’s nervous about the future.  He doesn’t know what’s going to happen.  He’s troubled, and he’s in terrible turmoil.  He did not have rest at all.  I don’t know what he did in that cave, but he wasn’t having a good rest.  God revealed Himself in such a way, call it what you want, the still small voice, after the wind and after the quake and after the fire, God spoke peace.  He hadn’t had peace for a long time.  When God spoke peace, he remembered that’s what it was like, “Oh, I’m back,” and he walks out of the cave into the presence of the Lord.  Let the peace of the Lord rule your heart.  It was that overwhelming peace. 

Clearly, there is a contrast between a great, strong wind rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks, a tornado, and there’s a difference between that and a earthquake, the whole ground shaking, and there’s a difference with a volcano and fire and lightening coming out of the sky, and peace.  That’s what took place.  He spoke peace.  There is an expression that’s repeated three times over, in verse 11, “The Lord was not in the wind,” verse 12, “The Lord was not in the earthquake,” “The Lord was not in the fire,” implied that the Lord was in the peace, the still, small voice.

To get to the heart of this great exchange, I want to call attention to verse 13, chapter 19, “Elijah heard it, and he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.”  When he was drawn out by peace, by the still, small, voice, he wrapped his face in his mantle.  I want to take an aside and focus on that mantle, because that mantel tells a spiritual story.  There’s spiritual significance in Elijah’s mantel.  So, I’m going to leave the story for a moment, and I’ll be right back, but I want to focus on this word mantel. 

The word mantel is used thirteen times in the Old Testament, but there are two different Hebrew words.  Most of the time when it talks mantel, it might be translated mantel but it’s a covering, it’s a robe, it’s a cloak, it’s the upper part of an outer garment.  It’s a mantel.  But there’s a special word for mantel that is only used for Elijah’s mantel.  In the whole Bible you’ll never see this word again.  Only Elijah’s mantel, and God calls attention five times to that one word, and every time it’s Elijah’s mantel.  I was a little surprised to read the actual Hebrew meaning of that word.  It means a wide garment of glory, a garment of splendor.  I don’t know what to do with that because when I think of Elijah, I don’t think of him wearing a garment of glory.  He’s a rough guy.  I thought it would be burlap, or something. 

Let me show you the five times the word mantel is mentioned, and then draw the principle.  Right here in chapter 19:13 where he buries his face in his mantel is the first mention.  Then, the next mention is in 19:19 when He anoints Elisha, a prophet in his place, “He departed from there and found Elisha, son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with the twelve pairs of oxen before him, he with the twelve, and Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantel on him.”  That’s how he anointed Elisha; he just threw his mantel on him.  The third mention is quite a few years later, six or seven years later, 2 Kings 2:8, “Elijah took his mantel, folded it together and struck the waters,” this is the Jordan River, “and they were divided here and there.  The two of them crossed over on dry ground.”  So, he used his mantel, and it had power, and it split the river.  The fourth mention is when Elijah was caught up to heaven, 2 Kings 2:13, “He took up the mantel that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan.”  As Elijah was ascending, the mantel was floating down.  We’ll come back to that in a moment.  The last time is 2 Kings 2:14, “He took the mantel of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters, and said, ‘Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah,’ and when he, also, had struck the waters, they were divided here and there, and Elisha crossed over.” 

Let’s go back.  What is pictured by Elijah’s mantel?  When I see Elijah ascending to heaven and then that mantel coming down and then Elisha picking it up and saying, “Where is the God of Elijah,” and then finding power to open the Jordan and make a path, I can’t help but think of the promise of our Lord and our Lord Jesus descends to heaven, and He says, “When I go, I’m going to send the Holy Spirit, and when He comes upon you, you are going to receive power and authority,” and so on.  I believe, and I think I’m correct, when I said, “God drew him out of the cave by speaking peace to His heart and bringing him back into fellowship, and when he buried his face in that mantel, he was burying himself in that which pictured the life of God.  That’s the exchanged life.  What a picture of a Godly saint, now encouraged in the Lord with his face buried in that which pictures the life of God. 

I believe Elijah was pictured by the wind, and by the quake, and by the fire.  That was his life, dramatic, sensational, natural, destructive.  That was his life before.  When it was all Elijah, “I want to see signs and I want to see wonders and I want to see miracles, I want to shake things up, I want to see fire come down from heaven, that was Elijah’s life.  God showed Elijah, “I’m not in those things.  You’re all excited about all the signs and wonders.  I’m not in the wind and I’m not in the shaking and I’m not in the fire; I’m in the still, small voice.  I’m in peace.  God was in that which was so silent and so unnoticed by sight and by men.  I think this is the lesson he failed to learn at Mt. Carmel.  We often quote Zachariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”

I want to share one more thing, and then we’ll close.  It’s a new day for Elijah.  As we continue to study now, you don’t see much of Elijah anymore.  I’ll tell you why.  He’s not there.  You see a lot of the Lord, and we’re going to see a lot of the Lord.  He’s humbly now buried his face in the life of God.  Part of Elijah’s discouragement was that his own efforts, his zeal, his cause, his feeling like they are rejecting him, 1 Kings 19:18, God now tells him for the first time, “I will lead seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, every mouth that has not kissed him.”  Now God begins to tell him what He’s doing behind the scenes in the still, small voice.

Elijah thought Mt. Carmel was a big failure.  He had no clue seven thousand people had turned to the Lord.  It was their cry, and that’s why God lifted the chastening in the first place; these people were crying out.  He doesn’t lift the chastening, unless somebody cries.  We’re going to go back to that seven thousand in another connection next week, Lord willing, but I just want you see that now he’s learning, “I’m using you in ways you didn’t even know about, and you’re running off in discouragement.  You don’t have a clue what I’m doing.”  We’ll pick this up next time.  Nothing can draw a discouraged Christian out of the cave of discouragement like God speaking peace to his heart and inviting him back into His presence.

I crashed in 1965 and it was a terrible crash.  I was married at the time, so it was also terrible for my wife, Lillian.  When I learned that it wasn’t me, and seven years I had gone out in the energy of my own strength, and I failed, I ended up exposed before twelve hundred students at Columbia Bible College.  I had to stand up and give confession in front of all those people.  It was a terrible time in my life.  What does it mean to bury your face in the life of God?  I’ll tell you what it meant for me.  I was wiped out and was so ashamed and so embarrassed.  I had to hide my face.  But where am I going to hide my face?  Everybody knew me, now, as the hypocrite and the liar I was.  Where am I going to hide my face?  It was suggested that the Lord would pick me up.  I remember burying my face, my only hope, in the life of God.  I had no other hope.  I had failed so miserably, and I had gone to the depths like that.  I believe in that day in 1965 when I buried my face in the life of God, I think this was always his deep desire.  I don’t think he knew it, but I think it was his deep desire.  The reason I say that is because he said, “Take my life.”  He knows he’s got to die, and yet he’s running for his life.  It looks like he wants to live, “Take my life.”  He’s running for his life.

It reminds me so much of Job when Job said, “I curse the day I was born.”  He wasn’t cursing the day he was born; he was crying out for a new birth.  He was saying, “I need more than this natural life.”  Elijah was saying, “I know I’ve got to die, but it’s so scary, and I don’t want to die.  I’m running for my life, but I have to die.”  And Christians go through this conflict, but nothing but the voice of God, nothing but the peace of the Lord can call you out into His presence and then smother you with the life of the Holy Spirit.  Oh, may God teach us how to come out of any cave of discouragement and bury ourselves in the life of the Lord.  Elijah learned this, and we’re going to study it.

Next week, Lord willing, I want to show you the recommission on Mt. Horeb.  We’re still on Mt. Horeb, and we’ll be there for one more week, and then after that I’m going to set this aside, and I want to give a whole lesson on spiritual warfare, because that’s what he needed to know.

Father, thank You so much for Your word.  Thank You for this graphic picture of how to come out of discouragement and how You draw us out.  You speak peace again to us and bring us into Your presence, and we’re never the same again.  Thank you for the Holy Spirit and we pray, Lord, that we end our lives by embracing Yours.  Work this in our hearts, we pray, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.