Painting "RESTING UNDER THE BROOM TREE" by T. Russo
RESTING UNDER THE BROOM TREE
In 1 Kings 19:3, we read about the prophet Elijah fleeing to the wilderness after receiving a threatening message from Jezebel--a Phoenician princess who became the wife of King Ahab of Israel. Jezebel was a worshiper of the pagan god Baal. (To read the prophecy concerning Jezebel, see 1 Kings 21:23, 24. The fulfillment of the prophecy is revealed in 2 Kings 9:30–37.)
Elijah had just experienced a significant victory after slaying 450 false prophets of Baal. Because of this conquest, it was expected that Jezebel would repent and release her power over Israel. Those expectations were quickly dispelled when the queen’s messenger was dispatched to tell the prophet that she would have him killed within one day. Scripture notes (1 Kings 19:3) that Elijah, believing that all was lost, “ran for his life.”
You might wonder why, after receiving multiple signs and answers to prayer, this great prophet of God would become discouraged—so much so that he felt the need to escape into the wilderness where he sat under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. Elijah viewed his situation as hopeless and even asked the LORD to "...take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”
And so, while Elijah found rest under the broom tree—beneath the quiet of God’s protective covering—he received a touch from an angel with instructions to arise and eat. After eating, he once again rested. Then the angel came back and touched him. "Arise and eat because the journey is too great for you." Elijah ate, and within the strength of that food, he was able to endure the forty-day desert crossing.
It wasn’t until he reached Horeb (Mt. Sinai--the mountain of God) and hid in a cave that he heard the word of the LORD, like a gentle whisper, asking, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Like the prophet, I’m sure there are times when God’s children have heard that same question. It could be a question that relates to a physical location where a believer shouldn’t be. Or perhaps a place in where the mind has wandered, doubting God and falling into confusion and, worse yet, disbelief.
In 1 Kings 19:11, we read of God’s instructions for Elijah to go and stand before Him on the mount. It was there that three natural events occurred when the Lord passed by: a strong wind, an earthquake, and a fire. And although scripture notes that God was not in these earthly phenomena, there was, once again, the "still small voice" that Elijah distinctly heard. And here, the message becomes understandable: God WILL accomplish His work in His time—not by power or might, but by His spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
From there, Elijah was told to go and anoint three men who would complete the work that he had begun: destroying the worshipers of Baal (1 Kings 19:15-18). Here is where he learned that God held a reserve in Israel of 7,000, “…who have neither bowed their knees to Baal nor kissed him.”
What happened to Elijah is similar to what we encounter when the battles of life bring us down. James 5:17 explains that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. No matter who we are or what our spiritual beliefs might be, there is the certainty that, without notice, suffering, and, yes, even evil acts, will occur. And when they do, they can hit hard enough to throw us off balance and also make us want to run away and hide.
The message is that it’s okay, at times, to be disappointed, discouraged, and even weary from the struggles of life. But it’s not okay to wallow in these things and remain in a hopeless condition. Like Elijah, we need to seek God’s haven of rest. And then, when the Divine touch comes, we need to rise and move on in His will knowing that because we love Him and are called according to His purpose, ALL things will work together for good (Romans 8:28).
Take courage and don’t despair. Just like Elijah, we’re never alone in the wilderness. No matter what the conditions of life are, God is always present. His loving hands of mercy hold us securely. He is our covering and protector. His heavenly angels surround us with Divine nudges that say, stay firm in the promises of God, eat daily from his Word (2 Timothy 3:16), and drink from His Fountain of Living Water (John 7: 37-39), for the journey ahead needs divine substance for strength and overcoming.
If you’re hiding away in fear under a “broom tree,” or you're in a cave of despair, He is calling you out into His "marvelous Light" (1 Peter 2:9). Be at peace and stand firm on the promise that Jesus Christ made to his children: “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
Father God, thank you for giving me the time to rest under Your protective covering while Your will is revealed. Thank you that Jesus is always near—even to the end of the age. May I, through Your grace, mercy, and love become a blessing to others, and may others become a blessing to me. I ask this in His love and in His name. Amen.
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