Elijah’s long period of training is over, and now it is time to start moving toward the climatic event of this story!
1 Kings 18:3-5
And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
Let’s talk about King Ahab first. He had called Obadiah, the governor of his house, so that the two of them might search out water somewhere in the land. This episode reveals a lot about the character of King Ahab, and reveals some about Obadiah as well, which we will cover in just a bit.
What do we see about the character of King Ahab here? Think about it. The people of his land were starving and he is seeking water and grass for his animals! Why? Why was he willing to search the land to save the horses and mules but not the people? King Ahab was quite interested in preserving his position of power, and was concerned about fending off an invasion from outside, hence the concern for saving the horses and mules, those being essential for any army of the time.
So, who was Obadiah? Well, he was a man of substantial power in Ahab’s Kingdom. He was very likely responsible for the management of King Ahab’s household, his lands, and other assets. Undoubtedly he was very trusted by both King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Obadiah was also something else, Obidiah was a believer! We know this, because the writer tells us that Obidiah feared the LORD greatly.
That’s quite interesting if one thinks about it. We see also in our text that apparently Queen Jezebel had begun somewhat of a purge of the prophets of God, likely as retribution for Elijah’s proclamation concerning the upcoming drought. If Obadiah was a man of God, and Jezebel was out to clean out all of God’s men, would Obadiah not have fallen victim to the purge also? Hmm; that seems an interesting question doesn’t it? How could this have been?
The answer to that question is quite simple: Obadiah obviously never mentioned he was a believer in the one true God. Because of this, some writers have cast aspersions on the character of this man, being of the mind that by not openly proclaiming his belief in the God of Israel, that Obadiah had somehow been cowardly and failed as a believer. Simply put, I disagree.
God has a calling for each of us. Some are called to openly, boldly proclaim their faith to any one who will listen. Some are not. We are all simply called to do what we are called to do. Even today, in many work places, open proclamation of one’s faith can land one in hot water, perhaps even resulting in the loss of a job. Perhaps The Lord wants us to do that, perhaps He does not. I feel fairly certain that God’s plan is not for each of us to push our faith until we get fired. Maybe God’s plan for us in that environment is a different one. There is nothing we can read in this text to suggest that Obadiah’s mission was anything other than exactly what he accomplished, and that was the saving and sustenance of one hundred of God’s other prophets.
The important lesson is that, in order for a revival to take place in ourselves, our families, and our churches we have to answer. God calls, we answer. It’s very simple.
1 Kings 18:7-15
And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me. And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
Elijah may have had points during his time alone and his ministry with the widow when he though he was the only man of God remaining in the land. In fact, we will see later as Elijah slipped into despair and depression that he thought just that. We may sometimes think that ourselves, especially when called by God to perform some mission which seems quite risky and dangerous. Fear is a normal part of being a human. We all fear something, and sometimes doing the things God asks us to do is the very thing which fills us with fear.
The situation we see here is almost humorous in some ways. Ahab has likely been scouring the countryside for three years looking for Elijah. He and Jezebel had obviously stated their intent to eradicate all those who were preaching God’s Word. Obadiah is out looking for water. Elijah is out looking for Ahab. It is evident that Obadiah was pretty clear just who Elijah was, as he fell at his feet seemingly in awe and obedience of the great prophet of God. Elijah’s request was quite simply: “Go tell Ahab I am back.”
Obadiah seemed to be worried that when he told Ahab, who had been looking for Elijah for close to three years, that Elijah would disappear, Ahab would be angry and kill Obadiah for the misinformation. At any rate, after a little round and round, Elijah convinced his fellow man of God that he was legitimate and Obidiah agreed to pass the message on to Ahab that Elijah was back.
What can we see here? It’s like today all over again. This was a land filled with sin and rebellion. We are a world full of sin and rebellion. God judged this land; He will judge this world as well. In the meantime, God always has a remnant of people who believe, and in that remnant are always those willing to do what needs to be done. Elijah was never that last prophet. Obadiah was left, as well as the one hundred prophets he protected from the murderous rage of Ahab and Jezebel.
We may think we stand alone, but we never do. It does not, however, matter what we might know or not know. Our responsibility is to simply execute our mission as we are called to do. Revival in our churches and in our land depends on it.
1 Kings 18:16-18
So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
God knew, Elijah knew, and we all know reading today just why Ahab’s Kingdom was in such trouble. We know the cause of the judgment and drought was the sin of Ahab and Jezebel and the people’s willingness to follow happily along into that sin. Even Ahab knew in his heart of hearts exactly where the problem lay. He had to have understood how God’s Covenant with the people and His promises for blessings upon them was a conditional one; God’s blessings were promised in return for their obedience. No obedience meant no blessings; in fact lack obedience meant the withholding of blessings and judgment.
But, nonetheless, it is interesting how Ahab reacted upon meeting Elijah after these three long years; Art thou he that troubleth Israel? He might as well said; “Well, here you are, the guy that caused all of this trouble!” It is simply a case of the person who does not like the message blaming the messenger for it. This is not unusual at all, as the messengers of God have often been accused of being trouble makers, and even the cause of troubles facing those who are in trouble. Our Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul knew much of this, being accused of causing trouble themselves:
Luke 23:5 And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.
Acts 16:20 And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city,
Acts 17:6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
Note Elijah’s response. Quickly and with no hedging whatsoever, the Prophet quickly pointed the finger in the other direction. He quickly established that this issue was between God and Ahab, not between Elijah and Ahab. It was the sin and disobedience of the people which had brought judgment on the people, not the messenger.
So, what’s new today? Nothing! In fact, this is simply what we see all of the time, even today; any one who actually has the audacity to stand and boldly proclaim the Gospel message will be vilified and blamed. The focus becomes the messenger rather than the message. Nothing has changed, and today resembles nothing but a clone of that day.
How do we deal with this? Elijah has taught us how, we need only read the story.
Elijah did what he was called to do. Even when it can’t have been pleasant, Elijah complied. Anyone ever live alone in the desert for a year?
Elijah was willing to show compassion and minister to whoever he was called to serve. Two years with a Gentile widow, in enemy territory? Who are we willing to reach out to?
Finally, Elijah never backed down. When accused of being the cause of trouble, Elijah properly focused on his message and not himself. He could have said, “Oh King, why are you picking on me?” but, he did not. He forgot himself and what was happening and put the message from God right back on the table.
Do we want revival in ourselves, our families, our churches, and our nation? We must do what God calls us to do, serve who He directs us to serve, and ultimately make a bold stand with the message of the Gospel.