It is 120 miles, in a straight line, from Mt. Carmel to Beersheba. One would presume that Elijah did not travel along the main roads while Jezebel and Ahab were looking for him after the debacle at Mt. Carmel, so it must have been an arduous trip, emphasized by the fact that when he finally got to rest, he had a hard time waking up. He was starving, but too tired to eat. It took an angel of the Lord to rouse him so as to preserve his life.
But Elijah wasn’t done running. In the next forty days, he traveled another two hundred miles to Mt. Sinai (Horeb).
It’s interesting that all the time he is running, God doesn’t speak to him, but just takes care of him.
It is at Sinai that the “still small voice” (NIV – “whisper”) of the Lord came to him.
Many Christian people talk about listening to the “still small voice” within them, directing their lives, but I doubt their understanding of this story is anywhere close to its reality. They mean that God is speaking to them independently, giving them guidance – often an excuse for doing what they feel they must. Instead, the “still small voice” of 1 Kings 19 is first calming. An anxious heart doesn’t need a lot of noise. Second, it is corrective. “What are you doing here” is not asking for information or justification. It is a rebuke. I never find those folks who claim to hear a “still small voice within them” (which is decidedly NOT where Elijah hears it) refer to it as a rebuke. Third, it was directive in a way that will not be convenient nor safe. Back through dangerous territory, Elijah is to travel four hundred miles to the desert of Damascus, and his purpose is to anoint two executioners and his successor. In other words, God is sending him into harm’s way to his ultimate death.
I’m not opposed to listening to the whisper of God. I just think we should realize that God’s whisper more often contains not words of approval, but words of rebuke and commission. That it is a whisper is probably why that voice is so seldom heard.