• Elijah has just defeated the prophets of Baal in a God-off.
  • Then he raced on foot back to the capital of Samaria in the first rainstorm they’ve had in three years, running even faster than Ahab was able to travel in his chariot.
    • Maybe because of the mud, maybe because of supernatural strength. Or maybe because Ahab wasn’t in any hurry to get home… because he know who was waiting for him


1 When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal.


Jezebel = Satan + Miss Piggy


2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there.


Show map.

Explain leaving servant = quitting. Abandoning his ministry as well as the ppl of God


4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.


What we have here is a classic case of burnout. Spiritual depression.

Q: What are some factors that you think might have contributed to Elijah’s spiritual depression?

  • Unrealistic expectations
    • For the nation – that they would change overnight and maybe even have a welcome parade waiting for him
    • For himself – that he would be the one to succeed where all of his ancestors failed
    • For serving God – That it would suddenly be easy
      • Easy to fall for this lie, especially coming off of great spiritual victory
    • Isolation
    • Exhaustion


Unrealistic expectations

  • When it comes to being idealistic about God that’s one thing. But when it comes to being idealistic about people that’s another thing.
  • Others
    • We underestimate how bad things really are, how deep our sins run
  • Self
    • Q: What might be some symptoms of a messiah complex?
      • Looks like he was comparing himself to others. Maybe replaying the Carmel tape.
      • Everything depends on me. E.g. Atlas with world on shoulders
      • Forgetting or ignoring the others who are there (prophets in caves, 7000 others)
      • Exaggerating your problems (If Jezebel was trying so hard to kill him why did she send a messenger? She should have sent a guy with a gun)
      • Attempt to control. No category for just doing your part. You must bend others to your will
      • Lack of prayer
      • Crushed by the burden of carrying everything and everyone
      • It will boomerang back at you
    • Serving God
      • Success is dangerous and can inflate expectations
      • Coming off a spiritual high
      • Great retreat weekend
      • If I can just make it to _________
        • Sometime vacations are really bad times for me because I let my guard down


  • Q: What are some of the beliefs underlying this desire to get away from everyone?
    • I’m the only one (when others could probably relate)
    • Pride – lick my wounds
    • Independence – I don’t need anyone
  • Sometimes we feel we need to get away from everything and everyone. But you can’t get alone. Satan will be there waiting for you.
  • Note: it’s possible to be alone without physically withdrawing. You can be in the same room with someone but relationally and emotionally you are all the way down past Beersheba!



  • Neglecting things like eating, exercise, sleep, vacation.
  • Sometimes when it’s late at night and I’m worn out I think crazy thoughts and feel crazy things. Then when I wake up in the morning I’m like, “What was I thinking?”
  • We need to be willing to forgo food or sleep, etc at times. But that should be the exception. For some of us it feels noble and sacrificial to adopt an unsustainable lifestyle. But it’s not noble. It’s stupid.
    • Adequate sleep is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.

Let’s examine what God does with Elijah in this situation. It’s not what we would expect: “Get up! You sissy! Your ministry is up north! You make me sick!”

5b But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!

6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

7 Then the angel of the LORD came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

  1. Lets him rest
  • Cool to see this response from God.
    • “Get up and eat,” not “Let’s get out the Bible, Elijah.”
    • Need to empathize, especially when people have been shattered. Can’t just lead with the truth
  • Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a legitimate need for rest and an escape to laziness…
  • Q: What is the difference between rest and laziness?


Rest Laziness
Low frequency. Taking a break is the exception. Is known as a reliable, hard worker. High frequency. Taking a break is the norm. Is known as unreliable and lazy.
Eagerly wants to return to the task. Leads to a desire for more productivity. Eagerly awaits the next break from the task. Leads to a desire to escape more and more.
Willing to be accountable with time Ashamed of how time is spent and tries to hide
Goal is effectiveness and productivity. Helps you deal with the problem. Goal is to avoid responsibility. Keeps you from dealing with the problem


8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

But the LORD said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

  1. Lets him vent
  • What do you notice about Elijah’s response?
  • After taking care of his physical needs God now tends to Elijah’s emotional needs
  • Note: It’s ok to tell God how you’re really feeling
  • It’s cool how God asks questions instead of declaring.


11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.

13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Q: What do you think God is doing here?

  1. Renews his perspective
  • The root of all burnout is when a person tries to play God. Elijah needed a fresh vision of God’s power. God says, “You think your problems are bad but I am in control here.”
  • One major way for us would be through God’s word and prayer


14 He replied again, “I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

15 Then the LORD told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. 16 Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshi* to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet.

17 Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha!

18 Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!”


  1. Puts him back to work
  • The theophany alone doesn’t solve his problem. It’s not until he is given a mission and obeys that he seems to regain his sanity.
    • God said to Elijah – in spite of the depression, the burnout, your tantrum, your failure… I’ve got a job for you. I want to restore you and use you.
    • And God brought some of you here tonight to say to you: “In spite of your depression; in spite of your burnout; in spite of your tantrum; in spite of your failure… I want to restore you and use you.” [this could be powerful]
    • It’s only through serving others through the power of God that you will get your joy back (or get your joy for the first time ever).


Elijah had no idea what God was doing

  • He expected a massive revival which would leave the people forever faithful to God
    • In reality there would be no such revival of the people of Israel. In fact, by the end of the next century there would be no Israel, as the peoples’ perpetual compromise caused them to finally forfeit the protection of God. They never even had one king who departed from the sins of Jeroboam.
  • God was doing something different:
    • Preserving a remnant until the coming of Christ
    • Teaching his people to be rigorously faithful to Him and His Word
      • The post-exilic community had a new commitment to the word of God and virtually eliminated idol worship in the land.
    • God launched a school of prophets through Elijah and Elisha –teaching and preaching the word and ministering to the needs of the people.
    • Elijah became a type of those who would turn large apostate groups back to God.
      • John the Baptist ministered in the “spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17)
      • Before the second coming of Christ Elijah will actually return to preach to the people once again. (Mal 4:5-6; Rev 11:10, 18)


Beware spiritual depression

Restoration is always possible

Why not respond to God’s initiation?