Elijah’s actions here are especially pointed when we realize what His name means: “Eli” means “My God” and “jah” means “Yahweh.” Yahweh is Lord, God is Yahweh! It seems that he’s forgotten what his own names points to. While in this cave, God comes to Elijah, first in a whirlwind, second in a booming earthquake, and third in a blazing fire. All the while, Elijah’s still inside the cave wanting to die. Finally a whisper calls him out of the cave, and in 19:13 God says, “What are you doing here?” Elijah answers in 19:14 with the same answer He gave in 19:10. To which God responds with a final “aron” to run. “Head north, go to Syria and anoint Hazael as king, then go to Jehu, and anoint him king of Israel.”
Then comes a hard word to hear at the end of 19:16, “…anoint Elisha to be prophet in your place.” Can you imagine what that would’ve felt like to hear from God? “Elijah, I’m taking you out, you’re done. Go and prepare your replacement. He will complete my work, He will do what you didn’t.” You or I cannot possibly imagine how hard those words were for a man who had lived for the glory of God his whole life. Now, I’m the kind of person that really thinks about words. Everything I say, and everything that is said to me I analyze, and analyze, and analyze, probably to a fault. I think the reason I do this is because a reality exists in words that is more the mere words. Life and death are in the power of the tongue, James 3 says. I love it when someone says something lovely to me, and I feel life entering into my soul! It is captivating to me. But as great as that is, it is just as massive when someone says something awful to me, and I feel death enter…it pierces. Elijah just got a piercing word. Elijah ought to know that even in this pain of passing on the paton, God is working in Elijah a hard providence to bring about a glorious result. God loves him too much to let him remain in his despair. Elijah’s ministry is over.
There is no evidence that he goes to anoint these two kings, and when he passes on the paton to Elisha he seems quite unaffected and dead. Then God takes him away in a chariot of fire. Elijah’s ministry didn’t end well. One of the footnotes in the ESV Study Bible says this, “The closing verses of chapter 19 do not mention that Elijah ever met (or tried to meet) Hazael to anoint him as King. 2 Kings 9 tells us that it was Elisha, not Elijah that anointed Jehu. Even Elijah’s response to God’s command about Elisha seems less the wholehearted. There is no mention of his “anointing” of Elisha as his successor, he merely enlists him as his assistant.” As you get to the end of chapter 19, its almost obvious that Elijah is happy to be gone. If it were up to me, I’d want to stay in chapter 18, FOREVER, and never have to go through chapter 19.
But as we’ll see, God may ordain a chapter 19 to come into your life, for His glorious purposes.