Grace and Blessings of the Rothem Tree
Elijah comes to a juniper tree or broom tree in the Bible. The Hebrew word is “rothem” tree. We learnt of Elijah’s great victory at Mount Carmel through the power and blessing of God over the 850 false prophets. However, things did not really change even after the great victory, rather Jezebel was even eviler and she threatened to kill him. Elijah was now on the run and he asks God in today’s passage, “God let me die, kill me right here, I cannot continue on anymore.” Are there times when you feel defeated like this?
By this time, you should understand at this stage of Elijah’s journey to transfiguration, this is the same journey we saints of the end times should also take towards our path of transfiguration and resurrection. Hence, it is not Jezebel but God who brought Elijah to this rothem tree. Elijah was transfigured up to heaven without seeing death and God knows Elijah needed that extra strength.
What did Elijah receive at the rothem tree?
1. Elijah’s prayer seeking to die
In today’s passage in 1 King 19:4, Elijah requested to die. This prayer expresses Elijah’s spiritual struggle and humility. He now realizes he is not so strong. He just sees himself as a weak person, running away from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:4). So he seeks God’s help, lifting up his life to God. Similar to Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:38). The struggle we are going through may be more difficult because we have not given up 100% of our life to God. Elijah and especially Jesus’ prayer on the cross and in the Garden of Gethsemane confesses “Father all are in Your hands.” May God give us the blessing and grace to be able to confess that before this year passes.
2. As a result, the blessings that God gave Elijah under this Rothem tree:
(i) The blessing of sleep
This is the spiritual rest and peace that God gave to Elijah, in the midst of his fugitive life. Jezebel had released all her army and forces to kill him. The rothem tree is not a big tree to hide behind, it is just a little bush! That is when God gave peace in his heart that he could find rest. In the Bible, there are other people of God who found sleep through God (Genesis 28:11-12, Psalm 127:2, Jeremiah 31:2, Acts 12:6). Those who trust in God are able to sleep. This is not just physical sleep but that Sabbath rest that God is giving. May God give you the blessing of the rest.
(ii) The blessing of God’s touch
According to 1 Kings 19:5, the angel’s touch on Elijah represented the divine touch of the Lord (Isaiah 6:6-7). When God’s divine touch is upon us, our sins are forgiven. In the Bible there are those who receive the favour of God, the visitation of God, it may not be a literal touch but God’s presence confirming that God is with them. God is confirming to Elijah that I am with you right now. In the Bible, the people of God needed this favour of God to go forth and do God’s work. May we also receive the divine touch of God in our lives that will take away our sins.
(iii) The blessing of God’s voice
God is speaking through His angel to Elijah (1 Kings 19:7, John 5:25). Elijah asked to die because it is pointless to live anymore. Then he heard the voice of God. May God speak to you through the Word of God. That is when we shall have new strength.
(iv) The blessing of the spiritual food
Elijah had to go forth. Although he did not want to go, God said he needed to go. But the strength doesn’t come from false hope, the strength comes from understanding that the grace will be greater. That is given through these blessings of God’s touch and God’s voice, and God providing us food. God gives him bread cake baked on hot stones and water. Again this pair of two items symbolize the Word and the Holy Spirit. Everywhere we go, we need to seek for God’s providence of bread and water, the Word and Holy Spirit (Hebrews 5:11-14, John 21:9). After eating this, Elijah travelled 40 days and 40 nights all the way to Mount Horeb. In application to us, this is referring to the spiritual food God will give to us. 40 days and 40 nights represent the time period of training and hardships and difficulties and growth.
That fuel is the spiritual power and strength that God will give you until you reach the place where God wants you to be. Elijah reached Mount Horeb, the mountain of revelation and calling. It represents Mount Zion of the end times. It is the place where people of God will stand together with the Lamb our Lord Jesus Christ. Elijah receives strength to begin the final stretch to transfiguration. He received the revelation of God there.
Elijah was able to finish his journey with the new strength that he received under this rothem tree. We need the blessing and grace of the rothem tree in order to go on and get out of the grasp of the devil in our lives. May we receive the blessing of rest, the blessing of God’s divine touch, the blessing of hearing God’s Word come alive in our life, and the blessing of God feeding us spiritually.