Under the Juniper TreeBro. David Chancellor
4/22/2007 11:00 AM
1 Kings 19:1-18
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods to do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a curse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu son of Nimshi shall thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
A juniper tree is a shrubby pine tree. It’s like a bush – a low place. Elijah, here, is a real picture of discouragement. He had just been to the peak; God had proved himself mighty; and now he was at the low place. When you reach the pinnacle, you can be assured of a valley ahead. Life will have both peaks and valleys.
Discouragement is not really rational. It is not a tool of God for correction. It is something the devil would like to work on you. It is not part of what you want in correction. The devil would discourage you to keep you from doing what God would have you to do. When you get discouraged, you’ll easily fit under a juniper tree. Eating angel food will help you to make the journey, but it, alone, won’t solve the problem. What you receive from preaching won’t solve your discouragement. It takes something more to lift you up and get you back on your feet.
God asked Elijah, "What are you doing here? Why are you discouraged?" God didn’t quit. He didn’t use all of his resources to answer the previous prayer. There’s nothing we will confront that will be beyond God. God put us here for a reason; we didn’t show up by accident. As long as we stay in God’s plan, he is in control, and we don’t need to be discouraged. When we keeping subjection to God, he is still able to bring us through. When discouragement comes, spend time with God. Observe him and what he can do. We can see God in things around us, but the benefit is found in a one-on-one relationship with God.
If you would rise above discouragement, come into the presence of God and look on him. Consider all that he can do. He is able. Let him speak to you once again. He’ll remind you of your calling and commission. You have something to do; all is not lost. God can give you what you need to get his work done.
God will show you the real picture. It wasn’t as bleak as the devil made it look. There are others there. We’re not as alone as we feel. He sees what we can’t see and knows what we can’t know. To overcome discouragement, go to God. In his presence, your courage can be revived.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God;" As long as we have maintained our relationship with God, he can say this to us. The devil would have you cross a bunch of non-existent bridges when you’re discouraged. We need to see and be reassured that God is holding us by the hand. Hard places will come, but we can go through them with God. He can give us exactly what we need to go through.
But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
God has called us and we are his. Whatever we go through, he’ll be there. God will do things for us. Our confidence can be in him. As long as we stay in the center of his will, we have no reason to be discouraged or cast down.
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
You’re more valuable than the sparrows, and none of them fall without God noticing. God knows how much hair you have. God won’t forget you in your hour of need. God values his people. God speaks to us in private and in the hard places. He gives us something to share with others. We don’t have to be discouraged when others come against us. Follow God’s will in his strength and courage. God can help us to stand in the face of life’s troubles. Resist the devil and he will have to flee. The devil has his Jezebel’s. He’ll send someone to try to discourage you. Don’t throw away your confidence. Go to God for strength and help to overcome.