v 5. So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan.
If you know the story of Elijah’s life you will know the intense pressure under which he lived. King Ahab, and Jezebel his wife, had it in for him. (You can catch a glimpse of it in chapter 18 where we read ‘Obadiah was a devoted follower of the Lord. Once when Jezebel had tried to kill all the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had hidden 100 of them in two caves. He put fifty prophets in each cave and supplied them with food and water.’ Good on you Obadiah, you are one of the Old Testament’s unsung heroes!) Anyway, Elijah was on Jezebel’s hit list and God plan for him was a period of solitude in the wilderness, fed by ravens.
Not exactly a comfortable time of solitude you might think, but preferable to being hounded by a powerful queen determined to eliminate all God’s prophets! It provided Elijah with a period of safety and escape from life’s pressures. Elijah didn’t choose it, but he was obedient to God in seeking it.
This is a pathway that some follow when they plan a quiet retreat in response to the pressures of life. It is not a form of easy escapism, it is more a time to regroup and get life back in perspective. Whether long or short, a period of retreat like this equips a person to return to the daily battles of life with renewed hope. The next thing Elijah faced (chapter 18) was on Mount Carmel where he faced up to Ahab and Jezebel and trusted God for victory in the battle of the sacrifices.
Walking away from pressure to regain strength and hope is not the retreat of cowardice but is recognising one’s weakness and going on to learn from God in a time of solitude.