SITTING UNDER THE JUNIPER TREE
1 Kings 19:4-8
4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. 6 And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
7 And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. 8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
Sitting under the broom tree
Elijah was one of the greatest men of God and prophets of the Old Testament. Elijah was fearless at times. Elijah was fearful at times. Elijah was a man. Elijah was a man of God. Elijah was a man like the rest of us. “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17).
After one of his greatest breakthroughs and victories, the man of God found himself full of fear. He was no longer running sacred, but running scared. Elijah went into hiding. He went into the wilderness a day’s journey. When he couldn’t go on any further he sat down under a juniper tree and called it quits.
The juniper tree is significant here. It was also known as “the broom tree”. The broom tree was known for its qualities of shade, fragrant and lasting embers, and beautiful white blooms. In short, it was a tree of rest, renewal and hope! We all need the Spirit of God to brush us and sweep us clean from time to time.
Even great men of God get discouraged. Elijah did. Jeremiah did. John the Baptist did. Even Jesus, in His humanity, groaned, sighed, wept and also prayed “not my will, but your will be done.” Great men of God are still men. At times, even they are not immune from depression, fear and anxiety. We are all human. We are all subject to like passions as these. Our answers are not to be found in the secular world’s ways, but in the presence and Word of our great God!
Sitting under the juniper tree, the man of God had had enough. “I’m done God!” Perhaps it sounded like this…
• “I’m done God!”
• “Are you done with me here?”
• “Do I still have it?”
• “Why am I not more effective?”
• “I thought I would be further down the road than this by now!”
• “This was not supposed to happen to me!”
• “Does anyone know what I’m going through?”
• “Does anyone really care?”
Wilderness thinking can do strange things to any of us. Wilderness thinking can cause us to feel like those the lamenting and weeping prophet Jeremiah spoke of concerning experiencing “a spoiler at noonday” and “her sun is gone down while it was yet day” (Jeremiah 15:8-9). In other words, sometimes discouragement makes us feel like we’ve been broken, hindered, destroyed or crushed in our prime.
As Elijah sat under the juniper tree discouraged, depressed and depleted, he fell asleep. An angel of the Lord touched him and told him to arise and eat. He did this. He fell asleep again. The angel touched him a second time. The angel told the man of God to arise and eat again because the journey was going to be too great for him without it. Elijah ate again (or finished the meal). He then went on the strength of that touch and meal for forty days and nights!
A second touch from Heaven
Sometimes we all need a second touch from Heaven. Men of God surely do! We all need spiritual food. Men of God do as well. The journey is too great for any of us on our own. This is also true for the men and ladies of God in our lives. Leadership can be very lonely. Ministry can be very lonely.
It can be easy to hear and observe the powerful messages and demonstrations of apostolic ministry in our lives and churches from the man of God in our lives. However, never forget that sometimes, there is also powerful discouragement, tears, fears, bleeding and brokenness that we may never see or at least realize. Wilderness. Sitting under juniper trees. Fears. Loneliness. Exhaustion. Weary of the constant spirit of Jezebel of our age, some people and suchlike that hungers for power. Unfortunately, churches are not immune. It takes a God-called and God-sent man of God to keep this at bay, in check and in order as the Holy Spirit leads him.
Sometimes, the man of God needs alone time, rest, a good meal, a touch and word from Heaven. Sometimes he needs a second touch of the same. When it’s all said and done, God will take care of him and he will keep on going.
Some biblical & practical ways you can help your pastor
How can we help? Here are a few helpful and biblical ways you can help your man of God…
• Pray for him & his family daily.
• Ensure he is taken care of with love, care, kindness, support & finances.
• Remember he is human & bleeds like the rest of us.
• Remember that he has life needs & family needs like the rest of us.
• Pray for him that the wilderness & juniper tree times are minimal.
• Resist the spirit of Jezebel (controlling the ministry/ controlling the church) in yourself or church.
• Facilitate the touch of God and the Word of God to have free course in your church.
• Don’t tie the man of God’s hands, muzzle the ox of God that treads out the corn or desire to control him.
• Ensure he takes time for rest, nurture, nutrition, family time & avoids burnout.
• Serve under and alongside of your man of God. The journey alone is too great. Teamwork makes the dream work. No pastor & wife can build a church & sustain revival & growth alone.
• Be faithful with your attendance.
• Be faithful with your giving of time, talent, tithes, offerings & missions.
• Remember your pastor and his family during special times, holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.
• Remember that you have a direct hand in the pastoral health of your man of God and his family.
• Ensure that your pastor and family stay within the frequent touch, Word & nurture of God both spiritually & physically.
• Ensure & send them on trips, vacations & to attend ministry conferences where they can be refreshed with heavenly touches, words & food for their souls.
• Adopt the attitude of blessing your pastor whenever God blesses you.
• Do not have or set unrealistic expectations of or for them in your hearts or minds.
• Ensure from time to time your let your pastor and family know of your love, appreciation & prayers.
Ministry in the modern world is tough and getting tougher. The pressures are high. The constant demands are deep. The burden is heavy. If you have a genuine shepherd leading you then never treat him like a hireling or a temporary babysitter of the flock. If you’ve ever wondered what your pastor’s role or job description in your life is, simple read the pastoral epistles of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. This will give you a clearer understanding of your pastor’s role in your life and in your local church.
Stay close to the man of God in your life. He’s not perfect. He’s human. However, God’s hand is on him. God will continue to lead him, guide him and speak to him. His anointing will flow down to you and over you and your family. Stay connected to your man of God. Under his pastoral apostolic anointing and covering is protection, direction and sometimes correction. This is God’s plan.
The key to your future is within your relationship with God, your pastor and your church. Always protect these sacred relationships. You need them. Your children need them. Others need them. They will follow you when you stand before God for eternity.
Your pastor is a gift from God to you & the church
Your pastor, shepherd and bishop is a gift from God to you and your church family.
• Jeremiah 3:15
And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
• Jeremiah 23:4
And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.
• Ephesians 4:11
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
It’s of a certainty that it can be said of your pastor, shepherd and friend…
• Acts 20:34
Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered…
• Acts 20:18
And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,
• Philippians 1:3-10
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
• 1 Thessalonians 5:25
Brethren, pray for us.
Your responsibility in helping to care for your pastor
Consider these wonderful words and verses as you ponder your responsibility in caring for your pastor, shepherd and bishop.
• 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
• 1 Timothy 5:17-19
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
• Hebrews 13:7
Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
• Hebrews 13:17
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.