What Does It Mean that Elijah Ran for His Life from Jezebel?

TODAY’S READING: 1 KINGS 19-20

“Then he was afraid, and he arose, and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.” – 1 Kings 19:3

Ahab had told Jezebel that Elijah had killed the 450 prophets of Baal. So, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah saying that she would make his life as the life of the 450 prophets of Baal. In other words, she would kill him.

It’s then that we get this strange sentence in 1 Kings 19:3.

Elijah is a type of Jesus. Do we see Jesus fleeing in fear from his enemies? Does Jesus run for his life? Or is something else going on here?

I WILL TAKE YOUR LIFE BY THIS TIME TOMORROW

In yesterday’s post, Who Is the Troubler (Entangler) of Israel?, I wrote about the challenge presented by Elijah to the 450 prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. This challenge is symbolic of the crucifixion of Jesus.

So, in 1 Kings 19:2, Jezebel sent word to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”

Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, which means “with Baal.” The name Jezebel has a number of possible meanings, one of which is “exalted by Baal.” Therefore, we can see that Jezebel is with and exalted by the god of this world.

Since we just saw Elijah foreshadow the crucifixion of Christ, Jezebel’s statement could be read as Satan’s vow to take Jesus’ life while he was in the grave. For, Jezebel said she kill Elijah by this time tomorrow.

Of course, Jezebel did not do this. And, Satan was not able to take Jesus’ life while he was in the grave. Peter preached in Acts 2:24, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.”

The grave could not hold Jesus. And, this is the context for the unusual sentence we read about Elijah in 1 Kings 19:3.

HE WAS SEEN

In 1 Kings 19:3, most translations say that Elijah “was afraid.” But, this is the Hebrew word ra’ah, which means to see, to understand, to reveal, to look at, to examine, to inspect. More than 75 percent of the time it is translated see, saw, seen, or look.

We’ve seen that Elijah picture Christ’s crucifixion in 1 Kings 18. And, in 1 Kings 19:2, Elijah pictured the grave’s, death’s, inability to hold him down.

So, the very next things that happened was Jesus was seen. In John 20:11-18, Jesus first is seen by Mary. Then, Jesus is seen by the other disciples. In John 20:27, Thomas was invited to inspect Jesus to make sure he indeed had nail holes in his hand and a hole pierced in his side.

HE AROSE

In 1 Kings 19:3, the next things that happened was that Elijah arose.

Once Jesus was seen by the disciples for 40 days, he arose, not from the grace, but to his Father. Jesus ascended to his throne in heaven.

After he spoke his last words to the disciples, Acts 2:9 says, “And when he had said these things, as they were look on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” The word lifted also means raises. Jesus arose out of their sight.

HE WENT TO HIS LIFE

Having arisen, 1 Kings 19:3 says that Elijah, “ran for his life.” But, that’s not exactly what the Hebrew words say.

The word for ran is halak, which means to go, walk; to behave ; to vanish, die, pass away; to bring, take. The idea here is that Jesus went.

The Hebrew word translated for is most commonly translated to or towards. It has the idea of directional movement.

So, Jesus was going toward his life, his Father. In John 16:5, Jesus said, “But now I am going to him who sent me.” After he died and was resurrected, Jesus was going to his Father, who sent him, his life.

HE LEFT HIS SERVANT AT BEERSHEBA

In Elijah, we see that Jesus was seen, he arose, and he went to his Father, his life. Then, 1 Kings 19:3 says Elijah “came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.”

What was Beersheba famous for?

A well.

The name Beersheba means the well of the oath or the well of seven. The angel of the Lord met Hagar at a well. Abraham’s servant met Isaac’s bride at a well. On and on, future wives at met wells. Jesus even met the woman from Sychar at a well.

In Genesis 24, Abraham’s unnamed servant, a picture of the Holy Spirit, went to find a bride for Isaac. So, here we see Elijah leaving his unnamed servant at the well of Beersheba, a picture of Jesus leaving the Holy Spirit for us so that we could be found as Christ’s bride.

On John 16:7, Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is to your advantage that I go away, for I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

So, in just a couple of sentences from 1 Kings 19, we see a wonderful witness to Jesus.

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