James writes, “Elijah was a man just like us.” To even the most casual observer, Elijah is a man not like us at all.
Elijah is epic. He is a hero’s hero. Elijah is the Jason Bourne of the Old Testament.
Like Bourne, he fights an evil government, and wreaks havoc on the economy. He goes on the lam under threat of death, barely surviving in a dirty ravine, fed by ravens, no water for his thirst. He flees to a foreign city to hide in plain sight in enemy territory where he lives with a poor, (beautiful, I imagine) single mother. He stretches their meager food supplies diminished by the famine he himself prayed to happen. When her son dies, Elijah revives him.
Elijah turns himself in and scorns the slander and accusation thrown in his face. He issues an impossible challenge. He mocks his sworn enemies with vulgarities in an epic battle for nothing less than full allegiance to the One True God. He is a righteous bad boy who calls down fire and rain. When Elijah prays, God listens. Women swoon and men admire him from afar.
How is it then that “Elijah was a man just like us?”
Perhaps, it was when he felt intense fear. He ached from fatigue. He ran for the hills of Horeb.
Did he begin his mission in his own strength, fueled with righteous indignation? I wonder. Baalism grew like spiritual kudzu threatening to extinguish Yahwism and choke God’s people out of existence. Did Elijah have any idea of the harsh pushback he would encounter? When Jezebel issues a death warrant against him, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” My mighty Jason Bourne ran from a girl and prayed to die. (I Kings 19:3, 4)
What does God do when our man runs for the hills? God makes him take a nap. An angel wakes Elijah and gives him food, water, and encouragement. “Get up and eat for the journey is too much for you.” (vs. 7) This is grace. Few of us call down fire and rain, but we all need God’s grace and affirmation in our journey. All of us suffer trouble, get sick, need to confess our sin, and receive forgiveness. If doing God’s will in power were only for the heroic, not even Elijah would measure up.
“Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray.”
“Is anyone sick? Let him call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil.”
“Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
All praise and honor to our God who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again, he prayed and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” James 5: 16-18
Ann Bayliss, Minister
The Church at 1548 Heights