Jezreel was a city that excelled in warfare because of its vast fleet of chariots. Chariots represent the strength of man and signify the power to speed ahead with great agility and power.
We have a “chariot lifestyle” today — one of comfort and ease where all our needs are provided. And if we want to do something, we just go ahead and do it.
The chariot lifestyle can have great appeal to Christians with its standards of success — material wealth, security, comfort. But the true servant of God does not seek these things primarily; instead, he seeks to obey his Master’s voice and pursue the concerns of His kingdom. This follower learns early in his faith walk that by pursuing the Lord first, “all these things (food, clothing, shelter) will be added to him” (Matthew 6:33).
Elijah knew better than to look to the world’s resources. Imagine the scene as he addressed King Ahab, perched high in his brilliant chariot, towering over the lowly prophet. Yes, Elijah spoke boldly to Ahab, “Prepare your chariot and go down” (1 Kings 18:44, ESV). But next we read, “The hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to . . . Jezreel” (verse 46). God’s man outran a chariot over a distance of many miles! How did Elijah accomplish this? The phrase “gathered up his garment” means that he prepared himself for the race.
When Peter says to “gird up the loins of your mind” in 1 Peter 1:13, he is saying that we need to prepare ourselves for the contest by reinforcing our belief and trust in the Lord. And the apostle Paul used running a race as a picture of our Christian life. In his final epistle, he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
We, too, can run with strength and win the prize if we properly prepare for the race.