There are times when the high tops of the Cairngorms are obscured by clouds, but on occasions some other lower feature is highlighted by a break in the clouds as in the photograph above. Equally, there are times when God will highlight some of his attributes which we would consider lesser ones.
In 1 Kings 19 verse 7 it states that “the angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him [Elijah].” Now the phrase the “angel of the Lord” occurs many times in the Old Testament and can be used on occasions to refer to the pre-incarnate Christ. But I have never heard anybody cite this occasion as being one of them. After all the angel is performing a relatively menial task of cooking a couple of meals for Elijah whose courage had failed him. The angel makes no great prophetic utterance and in fact on the first occasion the angel wakes up Elijah the words “of the Lord” are omitted. But a year or so ago I heard a preacher quote verse 7 and the thought dropped into my mind that the phrase ‘angel of the Lord’ could mean the pre-incarnate Christ. I began to react against this being applied in this instance because God would not come down to earth to serve a failure like Elijah. But then I was reminded of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. Immediately I was also reminded of John chapter 21 and the miraculous catch of fish, with Jesus cooking a meal the the disciples including Peter who had betrayed Him. Suddenly the idea of Jesus cooking the meal for Elijah did not seem to far-fetched after all.
Of course, we assume it was just an ordinary angel and we equally assume that God must have been angry with Elijah for doing a runner. Elijah was probably angry with himself for his failure, but just because we might be mad about our failures it does not necessarily mean that God was angry with Elijah or us. I mean that Jesus had every right to be angry with Peter for denying him three times and most of us would have found it difficult not to be in the flesh. Of course God knew that Jezebel would react in the way she did threatening Elijah with his life, even if it was the last thing that Elijah was. God knew how disappointed Elijah would be so why would He be angry with him? So maybe it was a way of showing Elijah how sympathetic God was to Elijah’s dejection. Even if Elijah was so deep in his “pity party” that he did not notice that the angel who served him was God Himself. Elijah may have assumed that the angel who fed him was the lowest of the low.
What we forget is that God loves the “servant heart” and wants to see it in us, but because of our sinful nature we want to be in control, and are therefore blind to the possibility that God Himself would humble Himself to serve Elijah. We would see the washing of the disciples feet as as one off, as again we would see Jesus suffering on the cross as the “suffering servant” of Isaiah 53 as a one-off. But Jesus’ whole life on the earth was one of humility. Think, why Jesus’ severest criticisms were targeted against those who thought themselves self-important and want to lord it over others? Does it not show something of God’s nature and how He expects His servants to behave?
Apologies for a period of writers’ block and overcoming inertia.
David Rose, 2021.