Saturday, January 14, 2012

So...Yea or Nay?

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I mentioned a couple of days ago that, as I listened to the panel discussion at church about fasting, I heard something I hadn't heard before.

Now, back in 2009 (wow, I didn't realize it'd been 3 years!), I wrote a little study on Fasting when we did that year's fast (see sidebar).  The first study I did looked at the two men in the Bible who were recorded as having done 40-day fasts( Fasting in Faith).  So far as I knew, those were the ONLY two men who were recorded as doing it.

So imagine my surprise to hear one of our panelists state there were THREE men who were recorded as doing 40 day fasts...Moses, Jesus and Elijah.

Elijah!  I didn't know Elijah had done a 40 day fast!  How did I miss that?

So I pulled out some Bibles and went looking.

To my relief (because I didn't want to make such a boo-boo!) I found that the scripture does not specifically say that Elijah fasted for 40 days.

It can, however, be one way to interpret the verses.  That interpretation had just never really occurred to me.

Anyway, here's the passage, from the New International Version:

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.  When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day's journey into the desert.  He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die.  "I have had enough, LORD, " he said.  "Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors."  Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once, an angel touched him and said, "Get up and eat."  He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water.  He ate and drank and then lay down again.

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 19:3-8

It is the phrase 'Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights.' that is the key.  Other translations render this as:

[He] went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights - King James

[He} went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights - Amplified AND NASB

And, just for grins

Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and forty nights - Message

Now that it has been pointed out to me, I can see why folks make the assumption that Elijah ate nothing after that miraculous meal.

But I never read it that way.

See, prior to that meal, Elijah had already traveled a days journey into the wilderness alone.
Before that, he had traveled with urgency all the way from Jezreel to Beersheba...a little over a hundred miles.
Immediately before that, he'd run from Mount Carmel to Jezreel, outrunning Ahab on his chariot (although it's possible that Ahab's chariot got bogged in the mud and was delayed).
Immediately before that, instead of eating, he had prayed earnestly for the rain to return.
Immediately before that, he'd spent a day on Mount Carmel confronting the priests of Baal; then he'd built an altar, butchered an entire bull, and dug a trench around the altar that he'd built.  Now, he may or may not have eaten anything during that would have been in character for him to make a point to eat at least a little while the priests of Baal were whipping themselves into a pointless frenzy, but he may have fasted that day as well in preparation for the prayers he made later.

Anyway, my point is that by the time Elijah was sitting under that broom tree, he was completely and utterly spent.  I never even considered that the strength that he received from the food the angel gave him was sufficient to get him 40 days down the road without another bite; I always read that that it gave him enough energy to get up and get replenished what he'd depleted and gave him enough strength to go on.

Now, if he DID go 40 days on the strength of that one meal, I'd say that was some pretty potent bread and water the angel gave him. He was obviously supernaturally enabled to do it...which makes his fast of the same sort as the fast that Moses did.  It's an interesting point that his journey took him to the same mountain that Moses was on when he did his supernatural 40 day fasts.

So...any thoughts?  Did Elijah have a miraculous energy boost?  Or did he get enough to get up and get on down the road and eat what he found along the way?

No comments:

Post a Comment