Jul. 4. Elijah Struggles; Elisha Joins Him; Jehoshaphat Becomes King of Judah

I Kin. 19:1-21; 22:41-44; II Chron. 17:1-19

Elijah’s thrill of victory over the god, Baal was short-lived. Upon learning that Baal’s prophets had been slain by him, Jezebel sent word to him that within twenty-four hours he would also be dead. The prophet then fled to Beersheba in Judah. In a state of depression, he went a day’s journey farther and sat under a broom tree. There, he prayed that the Lord would take his life and place another person in his place as prophet.

Even God’s people sometimes become discouraged for various reasons. All may seem hopeless, but we should remember that we are not really alone. God still has work for us to do. An angel appeared to Elijah with food and water and he ate and drank. That happened a second time and he was able to press on for another forty days and nights to Mount Horeb without further nourishment. Upon Elijah’s report that Israel had forsaken God and that all of His prophets in Israel except himself had been killed, God stated that there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. They probably had to worship in secret to protect their lives.

God outlined the work that was to be accomplished by Elijah. He was to anoint Hazael as king of Syria; Jehu to be king of Israel and Elisha to succeed him as God’s prophet. Those successions were not to be immediate. However, Elisha did join him at that time to help in his work.

A psalmist once said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Jehoshaphat continued in the leadership of his father, Asa as he followed the Lord’s ways as king of Judah. He became king at thirty-five years of age in the fourth year of Ahab’s reign in Israel. The new king walked with God as David had done before him. He refused to follow the false gods that were around him. “Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand…”

In addition to having God present, a nation’s strength is fortified by its ability to defend itself against its enemies. As Israel had previously been a bitter enemy of Judah, Jehoshaphat fortified his cities with troops. With God on his side and the cities fortified, the kingdoms around were afraid to make war against Judah. Instead, some of his neighbors presented him with tribute and other gifts.

One cannot be obedient if he does not know what to obey. Jehoshaphat sent Levites and priests with his leaders to teach the people in the cities of Judah. With the citizens being taught God’s ways and the cities being well fortified, Jehoshaphat reigned as a rich and powerful king.