I know the plans I have for you
‘The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. (1 Kings 19:15 NIV)
It is a great comfort to know that God is in complete control even when we are not! The latter part of 1 Kings 19 shows us that God had a purpose and a plan in everything that had happened, and that He was working His purposes out using Elijah to do so. Perhaps Elijah had other ideas, perhaps he thought that after the triumph on Mount Carmel that there would be a national repentance and revival. Maybe he hoped that from king Ahab down the people of Israel would forsake the worship of the idol Baal and come back to the God of Israel once again. This did not happen however in the way that Elijah had hoped, Jezebel had pulled the rug from under his feet, and he had ended up running for his life. His complaint to God from the darkness of his cave (verse 10) shows that he feels that his hopes and plans have been shattered, the people have rejected God and His covenant, they had killed all of God’s prophets, and his life was also in mortal danger. Elijah had no plan B, but neither did God! God’s plan all along was to do what He was about to reveal to Elijah. The problem was Elijah didn’t at the time know God’s plan for him.
How often do we too struggle and find ourselves at a loss about what is happening in our lives and in our world, and are left wondering where is God in all this. We have to understand that God has a perfect plan and purpose, but as He says through Isaiah :
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
God’s ways are indeed higher than ours , and Elijah is about to find that out for himself. God’s plans are more radical than Elijah can ever have imagined . What He reveals to Elijah has nothing to say about Ahab or his household. His evil ways had sealed his doom as we will see later in these notes. Another man would take his place. God is revealing that a thorough cleansing will take place, with a ‘regime change’ in Israel and in neighbouring Aram ( Syria) ( in verses 15-16) , and what is more a successor is to take his place called Elisha ( verse 16).
How comforting it was for Elijah to know that the work would go on, as God does nothing in an abortive or incomplete way. Elisha would complete the work that Elijah had started . And what is more Elijah was not alone, God had reserves which Elijah was unaware of “ Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18 NIV). It is comforting to know that God has His people in place -as he had Obadiah in the palace of Ahab , God will not leave Himself without a witness to His name.
However for Elijah it meant that before anything else there was something he had to do . He had to retrace his steps ! ( verse 15) ‘ Go back the way you came..’ The first thing Elijah was to do was to retrace his steps to the place where he had started out to the far north and even further , to anoint a king over the Syrians. The point as I see it is that there are times when God makes us go back the way we came, to retrace our steps over past failures, defeats and regrets, so as to know victory in His way and not in our own strength. It is good to know that even in our own sinfulness and regret that God has a purpose and plan in everything. Would that we could trust Him with His plans for us !
God gave Jeremiah the prophet a word for those who were to end up as exiles in Babylon that He would bless them and take care of them. How comforting these words have been to millions since then who have seen that the God of Elijah, the God of Jeremiah is the one who still says in His word
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart “.Jeremiah 29:11