Jezebel’s reaction to the slaughter of the prophets of Baal showed she had a personal vendetta against Elijah. After Ahab told her that Elijah “had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, If I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time” (1 Kings 19:1-2).
It is possible that just as Elijah was God’s representative to the nation of Israel, Jezebel was Satan’s direct representative to God’s people. Her presence in Israel was an insult to God because she openly recruited Baal worshippers and encouraged disobedience to God. The name Ba’al means master or to be master, but the primary meaning of this Hebrew word is “possessor” (1167). I think it is likely that Jezebel was demon possessed and may even have been indwelt or possessed by the spirit of antichrist.
Regardless of Jezebel’s spiritual state, her death threat struck fear into Elijah’s heart. It says in 1 Kings 19:3 that when Elijah understood what Jezebel intended to do, “he arose, and went for his life.” Most likely Elijah was given a mental picture of the tortuous death Jezebel would inflict on him and he decided to get out of town as soon as possible. It says in 1 Kings 19:4 that he “went a days journey into the wilderness” to ensure no one could find him.
Elijah’s fear drove him straight into the hands of God. His journey into the wilderness ended at Horeb the mount of God where Elijah lodged in a cave waiting for instructions from the LORD. When the LORD finally came to him, he asked, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9). The question implied that Elijah had abandoned his post, running from Jezebel was obviously not a part of God’s plan for his representative.
In order to strengthen Elijah’s resolve, God paid him a personal visit:
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 to him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11-13)
When Elijah heard the voice of God, he should have realized that the LORD was everywhere and he knew everything, so he didn’t need an explanation from Elijah as to what was going on. The question was meant to provoke a confession. The LORD wanted Elijah to admit that he was afraid and had run away because he didn’t believe the LORD could protect him from Jezebel.
Elijah’s doubt is understandable. If you can imagine yourself having to go toe to toe with Satan, you can appreciate how Elijah must have felt about having a run in with Jezebel. The mighty prophet of God was only human and his fear a natural reaction to satanic forces directed at him because he took a stand for God. Elijah thought he was alone, but a still small voice reminded him that God had sovereign power over the people and nations and could destroy them in an instant if he chose to (1 Kings 19:17).