1 Kings 19:10

By Ian Potts

"And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts:" 1 Kings 19:10


When God sends forth a man with His word He gives him those spiritual qualities he needs in order to preach that word fully, fearlessly and faithfully. God never sends a man to speak in His name, to proclaim the Gospel of God’s free grace in saving sinners, without first performing a work of grace in that man’s life.

The prophet Elijah, of whom we read in 1 and 2 Kings, exhibited a number of spiritual qualities which were common to all the prophets whom God sent forth in His name. Such qualities marked him out as a man of God, as one who sought to give up his own will and desire in order to submit to the will of God and serve Him faithfully, obediently and unselfishly in order that all glory might be to God and His Name alone.

Let us take a brief look at just some of these qualities which God exhibited in His servant Elijah - qualities which serve as an example to, and which should be looked for in all those who proclaim God’s word as His ambassadors in the Gospel, qualities which point not only to the work of God’s grace in salvation but also to the person and character of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners.


A man of God…

Firstly Elijah was a man of God. God called him, God saved him, God sent him. God shined His light into Elijah’s heart (2 Corinthians 4:6), revealing Himself to Elijah through the truth of His Gospel. Elijah was born again from above - God made him what he was. All that was good in Elijah was of God, a mighty work of God’s grace. Elijah was God’s messenger sent with God’s message to God’s people. None can proclaim God’s word except God send them. Elijah was such a man, sent of God, a man of God. As with the Son of God who was sent forth from the Father, as the Anointed who went “forth for the salvation of” His “people” (Habakkuk 3:13) so all those whom God would have proclaim that very message of salvation are sent forth by His Heavenly Command, by His Divine Decree – they are men of God sent with a heavenly message from God, a message of salvation by free grace alone.


Seeking the glory of God…

Secondly as a man of God Elijah sought God’s things, and God’s glory, not his own - he was “very jealous for the LORD God of hosts”. Elijah was unselfish. He thought not about his own things but the things of God and the good of others. We see this in various accounts regarding Elijah in the scriptures…

And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan . And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan . ” 1 Kings 17:2-5

And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath.” 1 Kings 17:8-10

“And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria .” 1 Kings 18:1-2

Elijah did what God commanded, though it meant great personal sacrifice and suffering. He was prepared to give up many things, to live roughly, even to dwell by a brook and be fed by ravens. Elijah dwelt where the Lord commanded him. He did what the Lord told him. Elijah thought not about himself but about God and His will and His glory. What an example of Christ we see here, that One who suffered the loss of all things, who did all for the glory of God His Father.


Obedient by faith to the voice of God…

Thirdly Elijah was a man of faith, a man who heard by faith and was obedient by faith. He listened for the voice of God. When God commanded him to do something he did it. We saw this in the passages already quoted (1 Kings 17:2-5, 1 Kings 17:8-10 and 1 Kings 18:1-2) and we can see it in the following…

And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria : And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel : and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel , all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. ” 1 Kings 19:15-19

But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed. ” 2 Kings 1:3-4

Yes, Elijah was a man who did as the Lord commanded him. He didn’t argue, he didn’t grumble, he didn’t contend, he simply heard the word of the Lord and by faith he followed it. How we see here a picture of Christ, the Saviour, that Man of faith - the One who did all that His Father commanded, the One who daily communed and walked with His God, who said “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42), the Just One who lived by faith (Romans 1:17).


Showing forth the love of God and His salvation…

Fourthly, Elijah was compassionate – he showed forth the love of God to others. As a man of faith his faith worked by love (Galatians 5:6). It was demonstrated by his love for his brethren.

In 1 Kings 17 we see the compassion of Elijah towards the widow whose son had just died. Elijah sought the Lord to bring the son back to life again, and the Lord heard his cry.

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?

And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth. ” 1 Kings 17:17-23

In 1 Kings 18:7-16 we also read of how Elijah assured Obadiah that he would come to see Ahab, so alleviating the fears of Obadiah that his master might kill him if Elijah didn’t meet his master.

And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?

And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.

And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.

And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.

And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. ” 1 Kings 18:7-16

In 2 Kings 2:9-13 Elijah showed love to Elisha in offering him what he asked for. And Elijah was faithful to his promise, despite the greatness of Elisha’s request.

And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel , and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan ;” 2 Kings 2:9-13

Elijah showed forth the love of God, which God had wrought in him, that love which leads to salvation - as vividly pictured by the way in which Elijah was taken up to heaven. And that love which leads to salvation is found only in Christ. It is that everlasting love which God set upon His own, which the Spirit sheds abroad in their hearts - that love which led the Saviour to give His life for His sheep, even to suffer death on the cross for them, that they "should not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.


Being faithful to God and others…

Fifthly, Elijah was faithful to his God and faithful to others. He was a man of his word, he kept his promise.

Elijah’s faithfulness to God can be seen from the repeated accounts of his obedience to God’s commands. He didn’t argue, he didn’t go back on his word – he did as he was told and he remained faithful in that obedience, despite much opposition. Why? Because as a man of faith he believed God, he trusted God, he lived by faith in God, and where true faith is present obedience always follows.

Likewise towards other men Elijah was faithful. He was faithful to his promise to Obadiah as we have seen in the account in 1 Kings 18:7-16. He didn’t let him down. And Elijah was faithful to Elisha in giving him his request, 2 Kings 2:9-12.

As with Elijah, so with Christ. When does Christ ever let His people down? When have His promises ever failed? Never! And they never will.



Sixthly, Elijah was a man of courage. Though at times, as with others, he showed the frailty and weakness of his own flesh, nevertheless the Lord was his strength in his weakness, and he demonstrated this with great boldness in both his words and in his actions. He feared not man, nor what man might do to him. He courageously proclaimed God’s word, whatever opposition it would bring.

In 1 Kings 18 we read of how Elijah went to Ahab despite the fact that Ahab opposed him and called him a “troubler in Israel ”. Ahab had the power to put Elijah to death but Elijah feared not Ahab because he knew that Ahab could do nothing to him except the Lord allowed it. Elijah feared God, not man.

Elijah’s courage is also seen in the account in 1 Kings 18 of the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, which revealed who the true God is. In this Elijah feared not the prophets of Baal, nor the people. He knew that the God of Israel was the one true God and he feared Him and Him alone. How God rewarded the faith of Elijah in a mighty demonstration of His power in which fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. In this we see the faith of Jesus Christ who as the perfect sacrifice courageously went to the cross in the place of His people to suffer under the outpouring of the fires of God’s wrath against their sin. How His faith too was rewarded in the blotting out of every transgression and the bringing in of everlasting righteousness and eternal life to all those who died and rose again in Christ their Saviour, ever to live with Him in endless glory!


And long-suffering

Finally, Elijah was long-suffering. He was patient. He didn’t give up easily. Despite the fact that all Israel had fallen into wickedness, that all Israel had turned from God, that they had worshipped idols and rejected Elijah’s message from God, nevertheless Elijah remained very jealous for the Lord God of Israel and continued to proclaim the truth amidst great opposition and despite seeing little ‘outward success’ in the way in which men might judge it. As the Lord Jesus suffered the reproach of all men, so the servant is not above his Master. Like the apostle Paul, Elijah was willing to suffer the loss of all things that “he might win Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Yes, he remained very jealous for the LORD God of hosts.

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1 Kings 19:10


In Summary

What pictures of Christ we see in Elijah, and what a testimony to the grace of God in salvation. Elijah was a man of God. He was a man sent by God with His word, and as such a man equipped by God with those qualities needed to stand fast in the truth and to proclaim it faithfully without hindrance by the fear of man. As a figure of Christ, sent as an example of Him who would follow, of Him of whom Elijah prophesied, the Just One, the Man of Sorrows, the Saviour of Sinners; yes as a picture of Him, Elijah was a man who sought God’s glory, a man of faith, obedient to the voice of God, a compassionate man, a faithful man, a courageous man and a long-suffering man.

Why? Was Elijah better than other men by nature? No, he was just as other men are – fallen in sin and rebellion against His Maker, as guilty as others of God’s wrath and anger against his sins. But God took Elijah and so did a work of grace in Him, by quickening him from death unto life, opening his eyes to the truth, granting him faith to believe it and revealing to that faith the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ who through His death for sinners redeemed them from their sins, that Elijah became altogether a different man to what he was by nature. He was a new creation, a new man of grace and as such God equipped him with those qualities needed to go forth with that message which God gave him, and to proclaim it to others. Yes, God by His grace made Elijah to be so, that all the glory and honour might be to God and His Name alone.

Oh! May God be pleased to raise up and send forth 'Elijahs' in our day, men taught of God, equipped of God, motivated by the fear of God and not man, men "very jealous for the LORD God of hosts", men sent to proclaim the everlasting Gospel of Grace with boldness and power, in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance, unto the glory of God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.