Elijah should have been celebrating. Elijah should have been singing with joy. Elijah should have been strutting his stuff, shot full of confidence.
For God had answered his prayers, sent fire from heaven, burned up the bull at the top of Mount Carmel and beaten the prophets of Baal!
But instead, Elijah was frightened and frustrated and fleeing for his life. For Queen Jezebel had made a vow to find him and put him to death.
Elijah ran and ran. And when he could run no more, he collapsed in a weary heap beneath the shade of a broom tree and cried out to God.
“I’ve had enough, Lord. Kill me now!”
And then, as people often do when they are desperate and depressed and can see no way out, he found escape in sleep.
And that’s when an angel visited him. And it was no ordinary angel.
This was a Mary Berry angel. A Paul Hollywood angel. Or perhaps the latest winner of GBBO: the Great Broom-tree Bake Off. For this angel had come to bake a cake!
“Wakey, wakey,” said the angel to Elijah when the baking and the cake was done.
And when he awoke, Elijah ate the cake and drank a jar of water, then went straight back to sleep.
The angel waited till Elijah was well and truly rested. Then he tapped him awake again. And Elijah drank more water and finished his cake.
And what a cake it must have been! For with the energy it gave him, Elijah was able to travel for 40 days and 40 nights until he came to Mount Horeb.
This was the mountain where Moses had met God in a burning bush. So it made sense that Elijah would meet God there as well. Elijah waited in a cave. And finally God spoke.
“Why are you here?” he asked the prophet.
“Because even though I have faithfully passed on your words,” Elijah explained, “the people have still abandoned you to follow other gods. They have torn down your altars. They have killed your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they want to kill me, too!”
“Come and stand on the mountain,” God replied. “Come and meet me there.”
So Elijah stood on the mountain.
Up rose a mighty wind; a wind so strong that it tore the rocks from the mountain and sent them crashing to the ground. But as Elijah watched the rocks break into pieces, he knew that God was not in that wind.
An earthquake followed, shaking the ground where the prophet stood and nearly knocking him off his feet. But, no, God was not in the earthquake, either.
Next came fire, bigger and brighter than any burning bush. But Elijah was not Moses, and God was not in that fire.
Finally, Elijah heard a still, small voice. Barely a whisper, it was. But God was there. And this was what he whispered in Elijah’s ear:
“Go and anoint a new king. His name is Jehu. He will take Ahab’s place. And as for Jezebel’s threats, you needn’t worry, for he will bring an end to her.
“Go and find your replacement. His name is Elisha, and he will be my prophet when you are gone.
“And finally, go and see that there are 7,000 in Israel just like you: 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal!”
And so, no longer desperate and depressed, no longer frightened and frustrated, Elijah took the word he had heard and went from that place to be God’s prophet once again.