Elijah had just won a showdown with the prophets of Baal. 450 prophets of Baal gathered on top of mount Carmel to challenge Elijah’s God to a public display of power. Whoever won the contest was the true God. The prophets cried from morning till evening cutting themselves with knives, spilling their blood on the altar, invoking baal to show up with fire to consume the sacrifice. But Baal did not show up. The sacrificed bull remained bleeding on the altar, covered with flies and the blood of the false prophets of baal.
Elijah built an altar with twelve stones, placed the wood upon it in order, cut the sacrifice on it, dug a hole around the altar and filled it with water, then he prayed and asked God to consume the sacrifice with fire from heaven, and God did.
Elijah ordered all the prophets of baal to be slain. Not one of them escaped.
Jezebel heard about the slaughter of the prophets of baal and she went completely crazy. She threatened Elijah and the prophet ran for his life. Interesting how he just finished confronting and destroying 450 false prophets of baal but couldn’t stand against one woman. Jezebel’s reputation for extraordinary wickedness preceded her. Elijah knew that if he didn’t heed her threat he was as good as dead. So he fled.
1 Kings 19:1-3
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he 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 to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
Elijah ran to Beersheba where he had an angelic encounter. He ate supernatural food provided by the angel and he went on the strength of that food for forty days until he arrived at Horeb, the mount of God. Then things began to unravel for him.
1 Kings 19:10
And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts:for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
Elijah told God that the children of Israel had forsaken His covenant, destroyed sacred altars, murdered all the prophets and he was the only one left and they also wanted to murder him. He repeated this twice to God in the same chapter.
But it wasn’t true. He was living inside a bubble of self deception and pride.
That was the Elijah complex.
Elijah said that everybody in Israel had broken God’s covenant. That wasn’t true.
He said that all God’s altars had been broken down. That wasn’t true.
He said that all God’s prophets had been murdered by Jezebel. That wasn’t true. If he had paid attention to the king’s Eunuch who spoke to him in 1Kings 17, he would have realised that there were other prophets in the land, hidden in caves and at various secret locations from the terror of Jezebel.
He also said that he was the only one left in the land who loved God, who sought after God, who understood His ways, who kept his covenant, who served him and they were after his life. That wasn’t true.
The truth starred Elijah in the face but he preferred his own version of reality. He saw himself as a martyr, the only one who was serving God genuinely, therefore he was being persecuted and haunted down like an animal for his faith. However Elijah was wrong. Not everyone in Israel had broken God’s covenant. Not everyone had broken down His altars. There were thousands of altars still standing as a witness for the true and living God all across the land but Elijah couldn’t see them because of his myopic and egoistic thinking. There were thousands who served God but Elijah didn’t realise. He thought he was the only one left.
God rebuked him for his faulty thinking.
1 Kings 19:15-18
And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus:and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel:and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay:and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
God ignored his martyr complex and gave him an assignment to anoint two kings, one in Syria and one in Israel. He then told him that his ministry had come to an end by instructing him to anoint Elisha as prophet in his place. This was to let him know that there were other people in the land who also followed God, who served God faithfully, who could be used of God, people who were more capable than him to fulfil God’s will in the land.
We should learn to be humble.
The fact that God used you or your ministry to bring about a revival in your nation does not make you or your ministry any special. It doesn’t make you or your congregation better than the little church next door. Some preachers come on the pulpit and utter some nonsense about how specially chosen and exceptional they are because they have a big church, thousands of members, imposing buildings and material things. They boast about their achievements and attribute them to God distinguishing them because of something special they possess. That is complete nonsense and self deception.
When you think you are the only one sincerely serving and in daily pursuit of God in the land, you have a problem. When you think your own interpretation of scripture is better than that of all the pastors in the land, you have a big problem. When you think you are the only person who walks in holiness and all other Christians have compromised their calling and are in reality sinners camouflaging as believers, you have a big problem. Your problem is self delusion rooted in pride.
God told Elijah that there were 7,000 other saints in the land who had never bowed to baal nor kissed that evil deity in worship. God totally dismantled Elijah’s narrative by exposing its root which was arrogance. Whenever you are tempted to think that your own brand of Christianity is the true one and the other 2.5billion believers spread across the planet are lost, you are deluded, walking in self deception and you should cry out to God for forgiveness before it is too late.
Those who suffer from the Elijah complex either ostracise themselves from the body of Christ or maintain a very small circle of friends believing that all other believers are on the path to perdition. They are not open or receptive to believers who don’t fellowship in their circles or who don’t ‘look like them.’ They are therefore limited in their Christian experience.
Recently a pastor told me that he follows three well known pastors in the country very closely. He said he didn’t listen to any criticism about these men or their ministries. He was ready to cut off from anyone who criticised these ministries for whatever reason. I told him that we should be careful how we followed men because we all are human. Placing these men on such a pedestal was making gods out of mere flesh and it is idolatry. I explained to him that there were 7,000 other saints and ministers in the land whom he had not seen or heard of, but these men and women had something of spiritual value to add to his life therefore he should be open and receptive to the people God sends to his life.
Your ministry or church is not the best in the land,
your pastor is not the wisest, the most powerful or the most spiritual in the land; there are many other ministers of the gospel who have deeper understanding of God and the kingdom.
Your interpretation of scripture is not the best.
You are not the best ever at whatever you do. You should learn to be humble no matter how much God has helped you to accomplish in your business, job or in ministry. Always remember that there are 7,000 others who are as good as and even better than you. It is by His grace that you do what you do, not because you are better than anybody else.