A very cowed, despondent, and troubled Elijah had fled from the wrath of Ahab’s wife Jezebel, who was crying out for his blood. Elijah had just achieved a mighty victory over Jezebel’s prophets of Baal, and the people of Israel were once again turning to the Lord instead of sitting on the fence. But this firebrand woman from the idolatrous land of Tyre threatened to wreak vengeance on him, so he fled. He sat beneath a juniper tree and bewailed his lot. We may find it strange that a man of such determination and strength of character for the Lord should within hours of victory just run away in abject terror. But Elijah knew that the people of Israel who were now coming down off the fence and resuming their worship of Jehovah were a most unstable crowd, who at any moment of being confronted by contrary word, might return to the land of indecision.
The Lord spoke to Elijah, asking him the reason for his flight. He answered, saying, “I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your Covenant, thrown down Your altars, and slain Your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only am left, and they seek my life to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:10)
Eventually the Lord gave him knowledge of the true facts. “I have left me 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed their knees to Baal, nor kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18)
Paul refers to this event in Elijah’s life in Romans 11. He then goes on to say, “Even so, at this present time there is also a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Verse 5)
We are therefore looking at the number 7,000 not just in its literal sense as it pertained to those in Elijah’s day, but also as a symbolic number for the elect throughout all ages from Adam onwards. Why 7,000? Because it represents all the faithful of the Lord throughout the 7,000 years of God’s “week”.