We live in the shadow of Mt. Carmel, the scene of Elijah’s epic confrontation with the prophets of Baal. That seems pretty relevant today, in light of the battle for true worship in an increasingly secular nation. Seeing the mountain every day of our lives, the story of Elijah feels close and current.
In Elijah’s story I see a striking parallel to our situation as Yeshua’s followers within Israel. After his incredible victory over the prophets of Baal, Elijah flees from Jezebel and locks himself inside a cave in the wilderness of Horev. I can well identify with his state of mind. This led me to ponder the question “what brought Elijah out of the cave?” More importantly, when so much poverty, sickness, family conflict and culture clash crowds in upon us, what will bring us out of our caves to live out our destiny as Yeshua’s disciples in Israel?
BREAKTHROUGH FROM HEAVEN
Elijah experienced an incredible victory in 1Kings 18. Fire fell from heaven consuming a water-drenched sacrifice. This reintroduced the supernatural workings of God on the heels of the drought brought on by Ahab and Jezebel. Our parallel is that Yeshua saved us and brought us back to our covenant land. By the grace of God we have broken through the barrier of two millennia separating the Jews of the exile from their ancient homeland, and the barrier separating Yeshua from His physical relatives, the children of Israel. What a pair of victories! These two together constitute a “fire from heaven” breakthrough of earth-shaking proportions and prepare the way for the Lord’s return.
WE’VE ANGERED THE ENEMY
But both Elijah’s victory and ours have angered the enemy. Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah. Despite his dramatic breakthrough, Elijah still needed to overcome her. We have the same challenge. God has answered our cries and brought us back to the Promised Land. Possessing that land and dealing with the wicked powers aroused by our return? That’s another issue.
What’s Jezebel’s technique? Usurpation, intimidation, accusation, insecurity. It’s the same with us. The enemy hates that we’re here as Messianic Jews, because it’s his death knell. Jews are back in the land and returning to Yeshua! Not a good sign for Satan. So, the Enemy is pouring out his brew of discouragement and intimidation. God brought us here to take back territory too long in the wrong hands. We shouldn’t be surprised that our presence provokes a ferocious conflict.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
The prophet did the one thing that made sense to him in his tired, mentally embattled state; he high tailed it out of town. He was freaked out: “Kill me, Lord. I want to die. I’m no better than my fathers.” (1Kings 19:4 paraphrase) As immigrants we wonder how we’ll ever fully function as normal adults in our new land. “Our fathers had it better in the Diaspora. Take us back to Egypt [New York, Moscow, Chicago, Odessa].” Often we are tempted to run and hide; anything but face the brutal reality of the struggle for the soul of this nation. Yet God is ever ready to strengthen us.
When Elijah lay down to sleep, an angel provided fresh baked goods and water. After more rest, he told the drained out prophet to get up and eat “because the journey is too great for you.” Man, can I ever agree with that statement. Most of us Jewish believers in Israel would say a hearty “Amen!” to the angel’s assessment. But that’s good, because it means that God knows full well that our journey is too great. This is the concern of a God who is aware of our condition. He is ready to give us heaven’s rest and refreshing in our need.
Refreshed and strengthened our hero travels for 40 days and nights all the way to Mt. Horev, site of Moses’ encounter with the Living God. There Elijah hides out in a cave. What is the cave about? For us, the cave represents frustration, anger, inferiority, outsider label, lost career track, and the inabilities that we struggle with as immigrants.
In the midst of this depression (yes, Elijah suffered from it) the Lord spoke to him inside the cave,
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, ELIJAH?” (1 Kings 19:9)
God’s prophet replies “I’ve been zealous for you, Lord. Our people are covenant-breakers and now they’re trying to kill me. I’m all alone and about to die.” At this point, the Lord told him “Go out and stand before me.” A parade of daunting natural phenomena ensues, but the Lord is “not in them.” As Elijah stood at the entrance to the cave he heard a still small voice repeating the same exact question. “What are you doing here?” Again, the man with passions and vulnerabilities like ours (James 5:17) gives God the same answer. Do I hear the trace of a whining tone in his voice? Ah, yes, he is so much like me.
TWO REASONS TO COME OUT OF THE CAVE
Here is the turning point. Please listen carefully. The Lord gave him two key reasons to come out of the cave. The first was “Go, return on your way.” (I Kings 19:15) Go back to the calling I gave you. Why did you first yield your life to me and begin to serve in bold devotion? Return to that foundational inspiration. Why did God bring us to Israel? Was it merely to survive, or was this part of His larger plan to make Yeshua known to His lost but still chosen people? Go back to the mandate that validates and energizes your existence. You were brought to the kingdom for such a time as this.
Secondly, the Lord told him to anoint two men as kings and one as a prophet. I want to focus on the anointing of Elisha, the prophet chosen to take Elijah’s place. Whether we know it or not, this is why we came to the land, to launch the next generation into their destiny. God brought him out of the cave to fulfill his role as equipper/launcher of the prophet who was to have a “double portion” of Elijah’s anointing. This is what I want for my four natural Israeli children and for all of my spiritual children in the land. My life calling will be gloriously fulfilled if I can pass the baton to them and see them finish the race their parents awkwardly began. I am certain that, having grown up here with the language/culture/Messianic faith, they will be the generation of workers and leaders in the final harvest.
This does not in any way marginalize us as mothers and fathers in the faith. Rather, it accentuates our value as mentors. In the Torah priests were required to shift their focus at age 50 (Num 8:25-26). There’s something healthy in that. Elisha wound up doing twice the miracles of Elijah. He really did get a double portion. To see my kids and their Israeli believing friends move in that kind of anointing – I’d come out of the cave any day!
WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?
Are you in a cave? Come to the entrance of the cave and listen for the wind, earthquake and fire. Then, hear the still small voice saying: “Go, return to your way.” Go back to the excitement and idealism that launched you on this path with Yeshua. Go back to your original calling. “Go, anoint Elisha as prophet in your place.” Find and father the young person who is appointed to receive your mantle. Obeying these two instructions will bring us out of the cave and put us back in action.
Why was Elijah chosen? To restore the nation to God. Why are we in Israel? Same purpose. To live in Israel without a sense of calling is brutal. But to live in Israel with a sure knowledge of that calling is the highest assignment on earth.