“I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts.” 1 Kings 19:10
These are the words of the victorious Elijah to the heavenly inquiry into his flight to Horeb, the mount of God. It is easy for us, just giving the passage a cursory reading, to fault the prophet. We read the narrative with the advantage of retrospect. We know how the story ends. But we also read it with the disadvantage of our comfortable mode of living. It is easy to be an armchair critic of what appears to be an inglorious flight from the threatening Jezebel and a descent into self-pity.
But we have faced nothing like he did. And we miss the precious nugget of inspiration when we casually skim over the account.
His was the courage of lions, the strength of oxen, and the faith that shuts up the rain and calls down fire from heaven. In the shadow of his victory at Carmel, he flees the threat of the wicked queen, but this was no cowardly man. He must retreat to the solitude of Horeb to think, to seek, to know of a surety his standing in the divine plan. He was, he supposed, the last of the true prophets. He would rather die, as had Moses, at the hand of the God who sent him than by the devices of a heathen woman.
He must plead his case and state his cause. And when the divine voice comes to him asking, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” there is a ready answer.
“I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts.” Such a testimony! This is why he had boldly stood in defense of that holy Name. This is why he defied the edicts of the house of Ahab, and rendered its religion priestless. This is why he had preached before the hardened and stiffnecked people of a fallen kingdom, risking life and limb every day in pursuit of their restoration as the people of the Lord. Because, in the end, that Name must be defended. The divine cause in the earth must not be swallowed up in apostasy and backsliding. God must have a people.
I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts. Oh, for such vehement desire in the cause of God! Do you have such a testimony? What battles have you fought, not in merely working out your own salvation, but solely in defense of the truth in the face of the enemy’s onslaught? What have you done to redeem the holy Name of God in the eyes of the people?
Who will overcome sin, not merely out of the fear of hell, but for the sake of the love they bear for the honor and majesty of the Lord of hosts?
Who can say, with Elijah, that they have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts? Can you?
If we had but the zeal and jealousy that the prophet had, we might find, as he did, appointment and empowerment to yet do greater exploits for His glory. And when our time on this earth is over, we will blaze our way upward, just like he, in the waiting chariot. For the jealous do not fall in a downward trajectory and fizzle out like some ordinary shooting star. Ah, no! They ascend on pinions of fire in their meteoric rise to shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.