Archives: 1 Kings 19:4-8

A Message From An Angel: “Get Up and Eat.”

I love this passage from 1 Kings because it has to be the most endearingly prosaic theophany in the Bible.

Many times in scripture, people’s encounters with God or God’s messengers are grand and stirring.

There are flashing lights, wheels in the sky, chariots of fire, angels walking around inside fiery furnaces, or a multitude of the heavenly host in the skies proclaiming the glory of God.

Not for Elijah.

His angel functions something like a cross between a rude alarm clock and a nagging parent.

No “Greetings, highly favored one,” like Mary got, or, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts,” like Isaiah heard.

Elijah’s angel says, “Get up and eat.”

That’s the entirety of the message.

Elijah, worn out, downtrodden, and ready to give up, lies down to die. To be fair, he is being slightly melodramatic.

But the angel of the Lord is having none of it. “Suddenly an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’”

Part of why I love this text is that neither Elijah nor we want God to communicate with us like this. We want the lights and the fireworks, or at least something poetic and beautiful.

Give us a gorgeous sunset and the words of the 23rd psalm at least.

Give us an overwhelming sense of eternal love and “Behold, I am with you to the end of the age.”

“Get up and eat?”

That’s hardly reassuring, or even encouraging. It’s so…normal. So basic.

God might as well remind us to quit losing our car keys and take out the trash while God’s at it.

It reminds me of a parishioner who once told me she wished God would quit hinting that she mop her floors more often. Continue reading

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