In 1 Kings 18, there is an interesting account of when the prophet Elijah challenged the 400 prophets of the false god Baal to prove that Baal was real. Elijah easily won that challenge when God brought down fire to consume the altar on which Elijah had poured several gallons of water, whereas the prophets of Baal could get their god to do nothing. But in spite of this overwhelming victory, in 1 Kings 19 we find Elijah fleeing in fear and wanting just to die. It is oddly comforting to know that even a prophet so close to God as Elijah was became discouraged at times.
In the midst of his fear and discouragement, Elijah fell asleep under a tree. But an angel of the Lord came and woke him, telling him to eat and drink. After he ate and drank, Elijah fell back asleep. Then I love this next passage:
The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 1 Kings 19:7-8.
I read this the other night, then continued on in my reading so as to not get too behind in my reading schedule. But I was drawn back to these two verses. I pondered what the angel said to Elijah, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” Although without this heavenly food the journey ahead of him would be too much for Elijah, after eating what the angel of the Lord provided Elijah had enough strength for the journey.
When tempted by the devil in the wilderness, Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4. Just like Elijah, Jesus found strength for His 40 day and 40 night journey through the wilderness from heavenly food.
We each have a journey before us. On our own, the journey is too much for us. The worries and fears of this world and the challenges of the journey can overwhelm us. Some choose to simply sleep through the journey, never reaching their destination, because they have no strength to go on.
But God has provided food for us to eat to strengthen us for the journey ahead. He has provided His Word to feed us and guide us. He Has given us the Bread of Life, our dear Savior Jesus, to strengthen us and be with us on our journey.
But the heavenly food that God offers will not strengthen us unless we partake of it. If Elijah had left the food the angel provided sitting on the ground, he would not have been able to make the journey to Horeb. A sandwich on the plate does not provide fuel for the body unless we eat it and it is digested in our stomach. The Word in our Bible does not provide fuel for the soul unless we read it and digest it in our heart and mind. The Bread of Life, Jesus himself, does not provide saving food for our soul unless we accept His gift of salvation into our hearts.
Are you, like Elijah, weary and beaten down by the journey you have traveled so far? Do you find the prospect of going on almost impossible to bear? Have you, in spite of some victories, been struggling and relying on your own strength to get by? If so, there is hope. The Lord has given you the food you need for your tired and weary soul. You’re going to need it, because without Christ and the Word of God, the journey ahead is too much for you.