Search

Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Old Testament

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 11

I think today we will wrap up our study of the story of the Prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal.I am not sure where we are doing next, but hopefully the Holy Spirit will point me in the direction He wants me to do next. Well, allow me to amend that. He will certainly point, but I hope I am listening.

Elijah

1 Kings 18:41-46

And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel

We started our study with Elijah handing a prophecy to King Ahab that, due to the sin and idolatry of both him and the nation, that God would withhold rain from the land or Israel as judgment upon them.

Elijah then spent three years basically keeping out of sight while the drought unfolded in the land, first living alone at the brook Kidron, then living in the home of a widow woman and her son. We learned that not only was God giving time for the drought to unfold in the land so that the people would understand the judgment they were under, but that God was shaping and molding Elijah for a great, great mission.

That mission, of course was the great confrontation on mount Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Of course we know there was really no showdown or contest in reality, as we know it was all merely an opportunity for God to showcase His awesome power and bring the people to repentance and forgiveness.

That is where we stand in our story. The “contest” on mount Carmel is over. God has shown to all the assembled just who is God and who is not; the prophets of Baal are all dead. At this point it is only Elijah, the people of Israel(who have immediately begun obeying God, as we see by the execution of the prophets of Baal at Elijah’s command), and King Ahab. What’s next?

It almost seems anti climactic at this point in some ways. Elijah seemingly said to Ahab; “Hey go get something to eat.”; however, Elijah did add some interesting words here: for there is a sound of abundance of rain. Basically, Elijah was telling the King to go celebrate the coming of the rain. Did Elijah actually hear rain here? Did Elijah have really good ears? Given what happened next, it doesn’t seem likely Elijah actually heard or saw anything to physically indicate rain was coming. What did Elijah hear?

Elijah has just spent three years relying on the promises and provision of God. He was fed by a raven, watched food refill itself for two years, and watched a young boy come back from the dead; Elijah had come to recognize the sound of God’s promises. While Elijah may not have physically heard or seen the signs of rain, he did know God had promised the rain would come. In 1 Kings 18:1 we see that: And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. Elijah heard and heeded the promise of God to bring the rain.

Note what the great prophet did now. The great man who had only moments before been standing with strength and confidence now prostrated himself in supplication and prayer to his God. Elijah didn’t just pray once, as we see. He sent his servant to scan the horizon seven times looking for signs on impending rain. On the seventh persistent prayer, Elijah’s servant reported rain on the horizon.

The interaction between Elijah and King Ahab is very interesting. Why wasn’t the most evil King in Israel’s history slain along with his idolatrous prophets? Well, I certainly don’t know. But it apparently was in God’s sovereign plan, and Elijah knew it. He sent the servant to Ahab to tell him the rains were coming, and to head quickly back to his home in Jezreel before the deluge stopped him. Filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit, Elijah ran before the King’s chariot the entire distance back. This certainly showed Elijah’s loyalty to the man ordained by God to be the leader of the country, as the custom was for runners to precede the chariots of kings. It again also showed the empowering of Elijah for this mission as this was likely in the range of 15-25 miles back to the palace.

The story of Elijah, Ahab, and Jezebel is not over yet; there is still an important episode left to record in relation to this story, and we will head there next time. The lessons we can learn from Elijah continue to show themselves to us.

We see by Elijah’s prayer that he was bold before men, yet humble before God,, just as believers today should be.

We see that Elijah was persistent in his prayer. Seven times he prayed for God to deliver what He had promised that he would.

Elijah’s loyalty to King Ahab show the prophet’s continued willingness to act in accordance with God’s plan and be loyal the the man God had place in leadership, even when he certainly had personal feelings that would have prompted him otherwise.

1 Kings 19:1-4

And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 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.


As we left our previous discussion, Elijah had run ahead of King Ahab all the way back to Jezreel, and seemingly dropped him off at the gate of the city, more or less. As was typical of Ahab, the first thing he did was run in and tell his evil wife, Queen Jezebel, what had happened back on mount Carmel. As was typical of Jezebel, she immediately took control of things and came up with a solution. As was typical of Jezebel, her solution was simply to get rid of the problem!

When informed of how Elijah has slain all the prophets of Baal, she immediately sent word to Elijah that his fate would be the same. “By this time tomorrow, you will be dead too!” is what she informed the great prophet of. Immediately, Elijah returned to the palace and boldly proclaimed a message of repentance and forgiveness to Queen Jezebel, right? He fearlessly confronted her with the Word of God, knowing that his God would continue to protect him, right?

Since we all have the book, we know that none of that happened. For three years, Elijah had trusted God; for three years Elijah had done all that God had called him to do. Elijah had stood bold and alone against the dancing prophets of Baal on mount Carmel. Elijah had mocked and defeated(in God’s power, or course), the 450 prophets of the false god. Elijah had chased the false prophets down and killed them all. Now, when given a message from Queen Jezebel of his imminent demise, he tucks tail and runs; Elijah heads for the hills! What has happened to the great man of God?

We really do not know exactly why Elijah reacted the way he did to Jezebel’s threat, as Scripture never comes right out and tells us, We can only theorize; so let’s theorize a little bit. As we theorize, let’s consider how many of these thoughts apply to believers today, even as we do The Lord’s work.

This threat was personal; it was aimed directly and personally against Elijah. He had just been the channel by which God showcased His amazing power and proved just who He was. But think about the conversation between Ahab and Jezebel. No doubt, Ahab gave a blow by blow description of what happened, with every intention of making Elijah look as bad a possible and himself as good as possible. He told Jezebel about all that Elijah had done. The responsibility for these things had been laid squarely at Elijah’s feet; God was not acknowledged as the source for them. That must have hurt! There was Elijah, just doing God’s called work, and all of these horrible things had been laid at his feet. Does that happen today?

Elijah was tired. He had maintained focus for three long years, and had done all things God had asked of him. Think about this: that day on mount Carmel must have been a long one. This all started early in the morning, continued into the evening, and was capped by a 25 mile road march! Elijah was no doubt exhausted. How often do we push so hard in God’s service that we become exhausted?

Perhaps Elijah was disappointed. Surely he expected everybody to see the great thing God had done and react in repentance and faith. Perhaps he even expected Jezebel to react this way. Her heart, however, was so hard she did not. Have we ever been disappointed to see our best efforts, often at personal cost to us, fail when they confront a hardened heart?

Elijah was simply a human being, just like the rest of us. Elijah was nothing special; his only notable characteristic is that God called him. He tells us himself, that I am not better than my fathers. Elijah was a human, with human emotions and weaknesses. He, and any of us, can fail to rely on the presence of the Holy Spirit on our lives and slip into a slump.

It’s not far from the Penthouse to the outhouse. I used to know a fellow who said that quite often, and it is a true statement. Just like Elijah, we can all be used greatly and mightily by The Lord. Just like Elijah, even at the height of our God given successes, we can find ourselves quickly in trouble.

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 10

Elijah

 1 Kings 18:25-29

And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.


Well, here we are! The time for the great “showdown: is here! I hope readers notice that every time I type that word, “showdown,” it has been in quotation marks; that has not been an accident. We often refer to this as the contest on mount Carmen between the Prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Two points are critical to assess at this point: It was NOT a contest, and it was NOT between Elijah and anybody. The result of this confrontation was predetermined, preordained, and there was never any question of just who would prevail here. Elijah was simply God’s chosen tool and representative; he was simply the man God had picked to show His might and power to the idolatrous Israelites, Ahab, and the prophets of Baal.

Before we move on, let’s recap quickly where we have been. Three long years ago, Elijah had pronounced God’s judgement via drought on the nation of Israel for turning their backs on God under the leadership of King Ahab and the evil, idol worshiping Queen Jezebel. Elijah then took off into the desert to escape the wrath of the angry Jezebel, who we find out later began a systematic pogrom and purge of the men of God in the Kingdom. Elijah basically hid himself out for three years first by a brook where he was fed by a raven daily, then with a widow woman and her child, where God provided for the three of them. Elijah was doing much more than just hanging out; God was working a purpose in The Prophet. Elijah was being taught, groomed, and strengthened for a great work

What are some of the things Elijah learned over the course of three years?

Elijah learned that, if God called him to do something even though seemingly dangerous, that He would protect and provide for him. We see that as he sat by the brook Kidron for a year drinking its waters and being fed by a raven. We see that as God provided for Elijah for two more years while dwelling with the widow woman and her son, who just before Elijah’s arrival were preparing to eat their last meal and die.

Elijah learned that God would provide physical safety for His people if He puts them at risk. No doubt while Elijah was sitting hidden by that brook, Ahab and his soldiers were desperately seeking to kill this prophet who had spoken so brashly against him. Then God sends Elijah to abide with the widow, practically in the evil Queen Jezebel’s very back yard!

Elijah learned that his God can do anything, even seemingly the impossible. Remember that the raising of the widow woman’s son was the first instance in The Bible of that occurring. It must have been an amazing and awesome thing for Elijah to be a part of, and must have forever cemented in The Prophet’s mind the power of God.

Elijah learned that sometimes we just have to be where God puts us, and that every mission counts. He spent likely two years in the widow’s home, very likely sharing his God with her. As we see, she did become a believer in the One True God. Than may have seemed like an insignificant little mission, but Elijah was willing, and he simply did it.

Now it’s time. Elijah has invited the people of Israel, Ahab, Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a confrontation on mount Carmel. We would find out soon, just who the real God was, and who the fake gods were as well.  The challenge was straightforward. Each side would take a sacrificial bullock, lay it on the altar, and the God who consumed the sacrifice with fire from heaven would prove the be the true God.

Right from the beginning, we see Elijah striking right at the heart of the believers of Baal. After all, Baal was the god of storms and lighthing(fire from heaven.) Surely such a god could perform his mission, right? Not only that, but Elijah said they could go first, and take all of the time they needed to call their god and watch him work.

Call they did! They called, and called, and called some more. There was silence. Where was Baal? They danced, shouted some more, and even cut themselves. Still, there was silence. Where was Baal?

It seems Elijah had the same question, and his reaction may seem odd to us. Elijah shouted at the dancing prophets of Baal and mocked them! Is Baal sleeping? Is he travelling? Perhaps he cannot hear so well? There is even writing that suggests Elijah asked the frantic prophets of Baal if perhaps their god was out relieving himself. Honestly, this is smack talking at its best!

So, what can we learn here? Are we to mock and deride those who have opposing views from us? Are we to mock and deride those who may mock and deride God and thumb their nose in His face? Probably not. We are called to:

I Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

That doesn’t really sound like mockery now does it? Perhaps we should take a quick more in depth look at the term “meek.” Meek as described in the Bible does not mean a retiring weakness, but rather a state of strength under control. In its every day usage it was commonly used to describe the training of a horse. A horse would be “meeked.” That stallion would not lose one ounce of it’s vast strength and power, but that power would simply be controlled and in a submissive state to the desires of its master. That is how meekness applies to us, Great power, from the Holy Spirit, under control and submissive to the desires of our master, Jesus Christ.

So, are we to mock our “opponents?” Very likely the answer to that is simply: no. On the other hand, when faced with open challenges to our God, mockery of Him, and open mistreatment of His people, are we to turn the other cheek and head for the hills? Maybe. There is a time for heading for the hills, but the when is not our decision; that timing and that decision belongs to God. Our job is to listen to Him and execute that timing according to His will. On the other hand, God may not be telling us to head for the hills.

It may be our time, just as it was Elijah’s time. Perhaps we have been taught, tested, provided for and molded, and it is time for God to use us in a great way. So, while maybe mockery is not the way we should deal with those who oppose or mock God, standing in an unequivocal way against them is just fine and dandy.

When told that “truth is relative,” and that it’s not what we believe that matters but how sincerely we believe it, are we willing to look a person in the eye and say: “That is untrue!”?

When the people we are with mock God, Jesus, and those who believe in Him, do we speak up or remain silent?

Are we willing to speak out against things God clearly considers sin, even when the tide of the world says otherwise?

When God asks us to go to our mount Carmel, will we be willing?

1 Kings 18:30-40

And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired  And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.


After hours of watching the 450 prophets of Baal dance and cut themselves, Elijah finally took his turn. This would have been around three in the afternoon, about the time of the evening sacrifice as described in verse 36. So, Elijah calls the people of Israel to come near as he prepares to show them the awesome power of God.

Apparently, both the false prophets and Elijah were using an altar previously built for the worship of God, because we see a reference to the altar of the LORD that was broken down. It’s some what unclear just where the altar came from. It may even have been one in use by men and women worshiping God in private during the evil reign of Ahab and Jezebel. Note some things here; Elijah did not just immediately use that altar, as is. He repaired it. He made God’s House ready for the worship of God. What a great representation of how we should prepare ourselves, and God’s House for the proper worship of him. Elijah collected 12 stones to repair and build the altar he would use for his sacrifice, and our text tells us these represented the 12 tribes of Israel. In God’s mind, even though the 12 tribes were divided asunder in the Divided Kingdom of the day, they were still the people and the nation He had made His covenant with.

As earlier Elijah had stacked the deck in favor of the false prophets, he now stacked the deck against the True God. Three times Elijah ordered the altar and the sacrifice to be saturated with barrels of water. So much water was applied that it ran off of the altar into a trench which had been dug around it! Basically, this altar and the sacrifice were literally sitting almost in pool of water. It must have been obvious to all gathered that no human was going to be able to start a fire there and consume that offering. Elijah had spent three long years learning just who God was, and what He was capable of doing; now the nation of Israel and its idolatrous people were about to learn the same lesson.

Elijah knew what was about to happen, nonetheless he prayed this prayer:

LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again

There were many messages in this very simple prayer.

Elijah prayed that this thing be done for the honor and glory of God. Those are the prayers God responds to. Even our Jesus told us that :

John 14:3 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Not only would God be known as the God of Israel, but Elijah would be know as the man speaking for him. As with all prophets, the signs were merely and indication of for just whom they were speaking.

Finally, this prayer was a wonderful example of God’s grace and forgiveness, even in the face of such idolatry and rebellion by His people. God was drawing His people back to Him, and if they responded, He would welcome them back with open arms. Since we have been noting during this study the similarities between that day and this day, we should note that one as well. Even today, God is drawing His people back to Him, and will welcome them with open arms if we only turn our hearts back again.

What happened next? Well, of course God proved he was, in fact, God. Immediately upon the conclusion of Elijah’s prayer, fire descended from Heaven and consumed both the sacrifice and the altar. Never again would this place be used for the worship of any false god.

Most likely the prophets of Baal were shocked beyond degree at this turn of events, after all they had danced and called to their god for hours! Something else important happens here when we note the differing reactions of the people assembled on mount Carmel.

The prophets of Baal continued their rebellion, not with words and prayers to false gods, but by fleeing the scene.

The people of Israel turned to God in repentance, acknowledged Him, and worshiped Him

The slaying of the prophets of Baal at Elijah’s order may seem rough and harsh, but was it really? They saw the same God in action that the Israelites saw, yet they continued in their rebellion. They had been warned of their rebellion, as the Law of Moses was clear what was to be done to false prophets; they were to be killed. God had given them every chance to turn to HIm in submission just as God’s people did when they proclaimed, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God

God has not changed in respect to how He will deal with us. We have discussed the many similarities between then and now during the course of this study, and they continue. God warned the people then, and He warns the people today. God showed Himself then, and He shows Himself today. Some chose to repent and come to God then, and some do now. God accepted the ones who repented then, and He still does; He offered forgiveness then, and He offers it now.

Sadly, due to some rejecting God’s offer of forgiveness, some faced judgment then, and some face it today.  It doesn’t need to be that way, as the offer of forgiveness remains open until one’s final breath.

Next: The rain comes

 

 

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 9

Last week, if you all remember I resposted a post by my fried Bill on the prophet Elijah instead of writing a new post for my own Elijah series. Today, I am doing the same for today’s Monday installment of my Elijah series. There are a little out of synch with my own study, but I bet readers can keep up. Blessings and enjoy!

Elijah

As we take another look at Elijah, a quick reminder of what went before.

He appears out of nowhere, a nobody, an unknown who finds himself before the King of all the land.  (An evil King at that)

He is a Prophet of the Lord, he has a Word of Knowledge from the Lord, and he has the Gift of Faith, from the Lord and boldly proclaims, to this evil King. (Ahab)

As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Picture that, speaking to the King… There are no lightning bolts, earth quakes, darkness covering the earth, or even a loud voice from heaven…..read the rest of the post here: Elijah, a man of God 2: The Fix-it Shop-Filling Station

Dinah and the Shechemites, Genesis 34

It’s Friday night, and time for another installment of this study of Genesis by KD Manes. Blessings and enjoy!

0c272b5765a8cec96a2947c5edfad9a1

Now Dinah, the daughter Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land. When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and violated her. His heart was drawn to Dinah daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. And Shechem said to his father Hamor, ‘Get me this girl as my wife.’” –Genesis 34:1-4

Shechem was not only the name of a place, but also the name of the man that Dinah encounters. Jacob probably didn’t foresee the immediate crisis looming. But the consequence of compromising God’s directive to go to Bethel (31:3, 13) would wreck havoc not only on his family, but also on the Shechemites.

You may read Genesis 34 here: Bible Gateway.

Dinah—Leah’s youngest child—must have been at least a teenager at this time. This suggests that Jacob and his family had been living in, or near, Shechem for several years.

Who could blame Dinah—living with 11 brothers—for wanting to get out and socialize with other girls her age? After all, a girl needs girlfriends!

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel must have been somewhat uncomfortable with their children living so close to pagan influence. Maybe they planned on moving to Bethel (as God had directed) in the near future to find mates for their growing kids. Maybe Jacob remained near Shechem in hopes of spreading a godly influence. Whatever their reasons, by-passing God’s command to return to Bethel put themselves in a tangled mess.

It wasn’t long before Shechem, the city’s chieftain, took notice of Dinah. This soon turned into an obsession. Beautiful Dinah, being of a different nationality, probably held a certain charm that the Canaanite girls lacked. For they were immersed in a culture of immorality and idol worship..…read the rest of the post here: Dinah and the Shechemites, Genesis 34

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 8

Elijah

1 Kings 18:19,20

Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.


Read all of 1 Kings 18 here

The Gauntlet Is Thrown Down

This is somewhat mis-titled, to tell the truth. In reality, this gauntlet had been thrown down three years before when Elijah was first called to prophesy that drought would seize the land. As we, discussed way back when, early in this series, the use of drought as a judgment was very intentional and pointed on The Lord’s part. One of Baal’s supposed roles was as the god of the storms. Baal was the subject of his worshipers concerning weather related issues. One of the main purposes of a drought specifically was to show who was really in charge around these parts!

As we will see later, this contest was to be set up in such a way as to further specifically illustrate just who the True God really was. The role of Baal as the god of storms, and the god of lightning and fire from the sky specifically would play a key role.

Let’s take a quick step back to an earlier installment before we continue. Remember how when Ahab and Elijah met that Ahab immediately blamed Elijah for his trouble? This challenge from Elijah was the answer. Elijah did not defend himself, he did not defend God. He simply focused ON God and on the person he was dealing with. That’s a good lesson for any of us.

Now Elijah makes his invitations. Who was invited? King Ahab of course. Also invited were the 450 prophets of Baal, Jezebel, and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah. (Note the lack of mention later of Jezebel and her prophets. It seems they declined the invitation!)

The first invitation seems the most notable, as Elijah invited all Israel to come to this showdown. Now, it’s not likely that every person in Israel was literally invited or instructed to be on Mount Carmel; likely it was a representation of the 12 tribes to hear and see what was about to occur.

Why Israel? Wasn’t the big showdown between Elijah, and Ahab and Jezebel? Wasn’t Ahab the problem? Not at all. Of course, as King, the people would tend to follow him, particularly in that day where the King’s power was absolute. But, then, as today, the people had free will; they had the ability to choose a different path than they did.

That hasn’t changed a bit. Even today, our leaders are not responsible for the choices what we, the people, make. It seems like we spend a lot of time complaining about the lack of, and praying for the restoration of, Godly men and women in leadership in this country. We should, as in fact we are commanded to pray for our leaders. But if every man and woman in office in this country was a staunch, Bible believing Christian, would anything really change? I say not a bit. Revival doesn’t start from the top and work its way down; Revival starts from the heart of one individual and works its way up.

1 Kings 18:20,21

So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.


Well, there every body was, assembled on mount Carmel: Elijah, Ahab, the prophets of Baal, and the people of Israel. Elijah had a message for all of them, but first and foremost, he had a message for the people of Israel who had turned their backs on God and fallen into idolatry.

Elijah presented the people with a very clear choice and question. Today, will you serve God, or will you serve Baal? He said they were halt between two opinions; they were limping between loyalty to the one True God and the idols they were serving, not committing fully to either one. Elijah presented them a clear choice: serve God, or serve Baal.

What was the answer of the people? Complete silence; the people answered him not a word. Elijah asked a simple question, and not a person said a word in return. Why was this so? Maybe they were guilty; here we see a case of guilt shutting people up:

Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Maybe they just didn’t know which way they planned to turn,  Perhaps they literally awaited the results of this contest to see which god was truly the more powerful. It really doesn’t matter why they didn’t speak, as the end result was the same.

They were limping back and forth between serving the God of Israel and the various gods of the day, particularly Baal. They wanted it both ways. They may have called themselves believers and children of  God in name, but had allegiance to neither totally. Later in God’s Word, James would cover this same issue when he told us:

James:1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

We have been considering revival in our land as we work our way through the story of Elijah, and we have made many comparisons between the land in that day our our land today; let us make some more. There we had a nation wallowing in and accepting sin; we have that today in our country. There we had an almost wholesale rejection of the things and people of God; we have that today in our country. There we had a country being led astray by ungodly leaders and examples; we have that today in our country.

Finally, we see in Israel people who did not want to choose; they wanted it both ways. Do we see that today? How many people in our nation today, if asked, would refer to themselves as Christian? Even today, the majority would identify themselves exactly as such. Yet, how many of these if OTHER people were asked, would be identified as Christians? Do we identify ourselves as Christian or are we KNOWN as Christian? Are we limping back and forth between worshiping Jesus Christ and our idols? Wait! You say, I don’t worship idols? Are we sure?

Of course most of us don’t head up on a mountain to worship Baal, or down the the groves to worship Asherah; our idols are different today. Nonetheless, they are there. What are our idols today? Well, if we classify an idol as anything we place in a place of higher importance in our lives than Jesus Christ, they are many! Money, jobs, our sinful lifestyles, sports, and our “stuff” are all things we place higher on our priority list than God. We, also, limp back and forth, thinking we can call ourselves Christian while keeping our toes in the pool of the world. We think we can call ourselves Christian, yet find ways to support and accommodate things clearly counter and in conflict with God’s Word: sexual sin of all varieties, the watering down of God’s Word to make it appealing, the teaching that Faith exists to improve our lives and make us wealthy and healthy; these are all things we limp back and forth between.

Do we want our nation to become revived? Then, we have to ask ourselves the same question that Elijah asked the children of Israel. Who will we serve today: The Lord or Baal?

1 Kings 18:22-25

Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire underAnd call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.


It’s finally time for the big showdown! I use the term showdown very loosely, as we all know there was never really a showdown, don’t we? We know it, and Elijah knew it. Of course, God knew it as well. The end was decided, and only Ahab, the prophets of Baal, and the people of Israel had any doubts about who was going the be the victor here.

Elijah was ready. He had been shaped and formed over the course of three years and was fully prepared and willing to engage in this contest with the King, the prophets, and the idolatrous people. He even made it clear just how ready he was when he said to the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Of course, he knew that was not true, as he was sell aware of the 100 prophets of God Obadiah had hidden away in caves. It seems that what we have here is a little hyperbole simply for illustrative purposes. What did this illustrate? it pretty clearly lays the ground work, that God doesn’t need large numbers to accomplish His work. God and one person is more powerful than all of the opposition that can be mustered.

Elijah goes even further to illustrate the point the God will prevail in this seemingly uneven contest. Put no fire under is used three times in this particular section of our story, and it seem notable. Being the god of weather and the storms also meant that one aspect of Baal was that of being the god of lighting. Surely the god of lightning could send fire from heaven to burn the sacrifice, right?

Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. Elijah made the contest yet further skewed towards his opposition, granting to the prophets of Baal not only the chance to go first in the contest, but to take all the time they needed to get their god to cooperate.

The rules have been established, the preparations made, and the “contest” is about to begin.

What do we see quite clearly here? Confidence is what see here. Elijah knew the outcome in advance, because he knew who was producing the outcome. He was more than willing to stack the deck against Himself, because he knew it did not matter. He had spent three long years talking with God, learning from God, and being prepared by God for just this very moment. Elijah KNEW. Not only did Elijah know, but he wanted the people of Israel to see clearly just who the true God was.

Are we that confident? We know the end of the story as well; God has told us what the end is, and God wins. We can know that just as confidentially as Elijah did as he went head to head with God’s enemies and also proclaimed God’s truth to those willing to listen. Today, in our nation, those two groups still exists: those who hate God and seek to destroy him, and those who are honestly seeking and willing to listen.

Are we ready for our mount Carmel?

 

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 6

Elijah

Elijah’s long period of training is over, and now it it 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.

 

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 3

Elijah

1 Kings 17:10-12

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

As we have covered, Elijah’s brook had dried up. The Lord had been taking care of him for possibly as long as a year, and likely as the drought had progressed he had watched his brook slowly dry up and his raven fly away. Then, The Lord had commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath, and Elijah as usual, got up and went.

Elijah has spent some substantial time camped out alone beside that brook, and was now a graduate of, as one writer said, the B.B.I, or Brook Bible Institute. This is important, as Elijah is a man in training. God had big plans for this man, and these things happening to him were no more than his training ground for the final act of God’s great play here. Elijah is now ready to move in to higher level studies as God hones and grooms him for his ultimate mission.

We covered some how this instruction to go meet the widow must have been puzzling to the Prophet. First, he was being sent to be provided for by a widow woman. In the economy of the times, this would have been the most unfortunate of people in the best of times, much less during a nationwide drought. The location where Elijah was being sent is also of note. Zarepath was a Phonecian city about 100 miles from where Elijah had been camped out. This was not an Israelite city, but a Gentile one. It was not actually not that far from Sidon, which was Jezebel’s home town! So, Elijah’s brook was dry, he is being sent to be provided for by the poorest of the poor, and he is being sent into likely a Godless, gentile area, and the almost the hometown of his greatest hater. That’s pretty interesting.

Why did God allow the brook to dry up? Why didn’t God just keep the water flowing, and the raven coming? He is God, of course, so He could do these things. Well, as with anything, God has a point and a plan. God was still honing Elijah to be the man He needed him to be, and lessons still needed to be taught. As one writer I read noted, we can become so focused on the fountain that we forget the source. Perhaps this change was to reinforce in Elijah’s mind just who was protecting him and where his sustenance was coming from.

Perhaps in our own lives, as we step out willingly to obey God even when things look too rough, we will encounter situations like this. Perhaps when it seems the rug has been snatched from under us, it is just God making us keep the focus on Him rather than what He gives us.

A last note for this section. He has a calling and a mission for each and every one of us. If we obey and execute, He will take care of us. We may not understand the whys of His method, but if we are performing His work according to His plan, we will be taken care of.

1 Kings 17:12-14

And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.

How dire were the circumstances faced by the widow woman in our story? Just read above, and the situation seems abundantly clear. Elijah had trooped into town, encountered the widow woman, and asked her to prepare something for him to eat and drink.

Her initial reaction was very telling. We can see here that she did not have the resources to do what Elijah asked. In fact, she was gathering sticks for a fire to prepare what she suspected would be her last meal for her and her son. Their last meal. She had nothing left other than a little flour and oil to make one last cake for the two of them. Can you imagine if you only had a biscuit left to eat, with no hope of there ever being another? Starvation is not a good way to die, and that is what she and her son were facing, and she knew and understood that. Her situation was hopeless. Then, this man pops up and says basically, “Hey, fix me supper please!”

A question seems to arise here. Was this woman a believer in the on True God? We really don’t know, to tell the truth. It seems likely that in that moment we was not. She said to Elijah, the Lord thy God. Maybe He was her God at this point, maybe not. We will see later, however, that she trusted what the Prophet told her and did as he asked.

Back in verse 9 of our chapter, we had learned that God had communicated with the woman; Elijah’s showing up was not a surprise to her at all. God told Elijah that he had already commanded a woman to take care of Him after his brook dried up.

I find the woman’s response interesting. If she did believe in God, then she is a great example of obedience even in the face of simply awful circumstances. Who, after all, was this man telling her that things would be okay?

If she was NOT a believer, then her response is even more interesting. A God she perhaps did not even believe in communicated with her. We don’t know how that communication happened, just that it did. The important part is that she responded. She had no proof of the validity of God, just the fact that she apparently understood of His existence. On that meager knowledge, we see her stepping out in faith initially. More importantly, later we will see how that, in response to her initial faith, that God continued to prove Himself to her.

A final note. Why this particular widow woman? Surely there were others in the city. Did God just pick one because He wanted to? Did He pick her because He know her heart was responding to a drawing by Him? Who knows, really, but it is something to think about.

1 Kings 17:13-16

And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.

 

One of the things God wants to teach us as he prepares us for our missions in life is that He is trustworthy and can be counted on; God wants us to understand that, when He asks us to obey, He will not leave us hanging, unprepared, and without resources.

Earlier we saw how, when Elijah asked the widow woman to provide him food and water, she had pointed out that she and her son were just about to eat the last meal they had. Her plan after that was to simply await their deaths. Elijah’s response?:

“Look, go ahead and give me what I need. You have this promise from God, that this won’t be your last meal. In fact, your barrel of flour and pitcher of oil will not go empty again as long as I live in your house, and until God finally restores rain to this country.”

She trusted. Elijah trusted. God provided. Think about this. If Elijah was by the brook for something approaching a year, and the drought lasted three years, then Elijah and that woman lived on nothing but the provision of God for two years!

What can we learn here relevant to reviving us as servants of God?

God has a mission for each of us. It may be a difficult, challenging mission for which we feel totally unequipped. God will equip us. He does not, however, necessarily just hand us the stamina and ability to accomplish this mission. Sometimes we have to learn these things, and sometimes the lesson may seem painful.

If God calls us for a mission, and we accept and obey, He will provide for us what we need in order to be taken care of. It may not be the things we would have preferred, but it will be sufficient for our needs.

If God says it, it will happen. It may not be on our schedule, or in accordance with the way we would have done it, but it will happen.

This may be simply my personal spin on this, but it struck me as relevant. Elijah was there in that house, several meals a day, for possibly as long as two years. During that time, the flour and oil would deplete, then it would fill up. It would deplete, and it would fill up. It, however, never went dry. What do you think Elijah, the widow, and her son did all day? They were probably NOT watching TV. Is it possible they spent their time in worship, prayer, study and fellowship with one another? If we spent more of our time in worship, prayer, study and fellowship with one another perhaps, like the flour and oil, we would never become empty but be constantly refilled by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we would become REVIVED!

Next: Things take a turn for the worse

Elijah-How One Man Made a Difference-Part 2

Elijah

Monday we covered the back ground for this story: what was going on in the Nation in that day, and the little we know about Elijah. Now, it’s time to progress forward, as we see God preparing The Prophet for his ultimate mission. Blessings and enjoy.


1 Kings 17:1

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Well, here he is. Elijah the fiery prophet with a blazing heart and a blazing tongue. What a sight this must have been to all watching. Here suddenly we have this previously unknown man, Elijah, showing up on the King’s doorstep to make a pronouncement of judgment upon the King and his nation. “Hey King! You and all of your people have been living in evil, and it’s about to stop raining, and it won’t start again until I say so! Oh, by the way, I speak for God here, in case you wondered.”

We have to understand that this was a pretty dire pronouncement for any people of that time. This was predominantly an agricultural society, so no rain meant starvation ultimately. This was much more than not being able to take long showers or wash the chariot here. Drought in this day was extremely serious.

Another thing to note here is that God didn’t just wake up, so to speak, and feel cranky and decide to judge the people of Israel. God is not arbitrary, and is never randomly capricious. In fact, God is shown time and time again to be patient and long suffering towards a people who constantly drift away and reject him. We never see God exercising judgment without the people being given ample warning and opportunity to repent.

Ahab was the seventh king to reign over the Norther half of the divided Kingdom of Israel. We all know the story, as we know that back when Solomon ruled as the last king of the unified Kingdom, God told Solomon that after his death that his Kingdom would be taken from him and divided. Why? Well, for the sin and idolatry Solomon had turned to personally, and leading his people in that same direction. Things didn’t get any better as the years went on, as not a single one of the Northern Kings was a Godly man. Ahab just happened to be the worst of the lot.

Just a quick discussion of the theology of the day is in order. It seems that worship of the god Baal was the primary direction the nation had gone under the influence of the evil Jezebel, with worship of Asherah running a close second. Between the two of them, they had 850 prophets serving them. The One True God had one: The man Elijah. It seems almost unimaginable to even consider how Elijah must have felt, and Scripture really never tells us. We can ask ourselves, however, how we would feel? How would we respond?

Apparently Elijah was fully confident in where he stood, and for whom he stood. He said as much, referring to the Lord God of Israel, before whom I stand. Then Elijah made God’s pronouncement: There will not be rain again until I speak it. That is pretty powerful stuff.

Here I am, and I stand for God. Here I am, and I speak for God. Here I am, and I speak with the power of God behind me.

Why drought? It was no accident that rain(or lack thereof) was the chosen judgment on Israel. Baal was noted for being the God of the storm. In other words, Baal controlled the rain. This was like a theological dagger into the heart of Baal, this declaration that the rain would stop. This would prove who REALLY controlled the rains.

Elijah confronted Ahab, and the gauntlet was cast down. Armed with the power of God’s Word, Elijah boldly proclaimed it to a hostile audience.

Who is our Ahab? Are we willing to do the same thing Elijah did?

1 Kings 17:2-4

And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

Scripture never says this explicitly, but there is little doubt that Ahab was, to put it mildly, angry after Elijah’s visit. So, God warned him to go hide by the brook Cherith where He would be safe.

Why would Ahab have been angry?  Well, we know by now Ahab was doing wrong in many, many ways. He had married a idolatrous woman and she had turned Ahab, and subsequently the entire nation of Israel away from the True God. It is doubtful that Ahab was simply clueless about the state of his heart and his actions. Even today, how do we act when confronted with our sin? How does the non believing world react today when confronted with there sin? Written anything on WordPress lately of a Christian nature? Chances are you have felt anger from a non believing world, and perhaps even believers.

Was Elijah the first time Ahab and Jezebel had heard God’s Word preached? Maybe, maybe not. We see later in 1 Kings Chapter 18 that the two of them were at some point so angry about Elijah’s announcement and the subsequent drought that they began to systematically kill off the prophets of God in the Kingdom. We see how Obidiah, one of King Ahab’s servants, and a man of God, had hidden 100 prophets of God in caves to protect them. If he hid 100, surely there were many more than that.  I personally suspect Elijah was not the first time they had heard God’s Word preached.

Other than protection, why would God instruct Elijah to go off and hide in the desert? Well, there was nothing else for Elijah to do at the moment. He had preached The Word, and perhaps others had as well. The difference was, Elijah had not only preached The Word, but had pronounced judgment. There was really nothing else to do now but wait and watch the truth of God’s Word unfold. “I told you what was coming, now watch and see!

Not only did God protect Elijah, but we will see later that He provided for him as well. And that is our point here. We have discussed several times the similarities between society in the day of Ahab and Jezebel and our society today. We have discussed the need today for those willing to step up and boldly proclaim God’s Word. Even the reaction is the same to the preaching today as it was then. People have heard it, but they do not want to hear it. Are you a Christian? Is anybody angry at you for your proclamation of your faith? Great, then you might be doing what God wants. Is your life as a Christian just peaceful with not strife or issues whatsoever? Maybe it’s time to step out some.

Okay, I understand not everybody is called to be an Elijah; not everybody is called to stand on the street corner and preach the Gospel. We are all called to boldly proclaim God’s Word in different ways; however, we are all called to proclaim it in SOME way. And the reaction is likely to be anger, perhaps strong anger. But, as we can see from Elijah’s story,

God will keep us safe.

1 Kings 17:3-6

Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.

Well, Elijah has made his proclamation of God’s judgment to King Ahab. God had subsequently given Elijah his marching orders so to speak. Elijah was to go to the brook Cherith and simply hide and wait. As we covered earlier this may have been due to Ahab’s anger at being called on the carpet. It may also have simply been for the sake of waiting itself; Elijah had promised drought, now he just had to wait for God to bring that promise of judgment to bear.

God did provide for Elijah’s need, As we see in the text, God commanded ravens to bring food to Elijah, and Elijah then drank from the brook. It is interesting to see how God provided for His Prophet.

God provided for Elijah emotionally it seems. God could have just dropped manna from Heaven or something like that so that Elijah could eat; instead he had Elijah’s needs provided by a raven. In other words, sustenance was provided by another living creature. I can’t help but think that must have been somewhat of a comfort to Elijah, sitting out there alone by the brook. Elijah was not alone.

God provided completely, in that He provided bread and meat. God provided something resembling a balanced diet for His Prophet.

By using the raven, God showed us that He can use the unworthy to accomplish His works. The raven was considered and unclean bird according to Jewish dietary law; even today we would look at a raven as no more than a common scavenger, hardly what we would pick ourselves to perform this mission. But, God still chose this unworthy vessel to be His chosen way.

Again, what is the point? The point is, Elijah was willing to step out and do what God wanted even when he must have wondered what would happen to him when he did. We see what happened.

Elijah stepped out, and God then protected and provided for him. Just as He will us.

1 Kings 17:7-9

And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

Of course, as readers we all know the big climactic event of the Elijah story. That would be the Prophet’s “showdown” with the prophets of Baal atop Mount Carmel. I put that word in parentheses because, as my friend Colorstorm pointed, out, it really wasn’t a contest at all. The point here is that, although we all know the end of the story, Elijah did not. There is not any evidence that God had revealed just what was to be done eventually by Elijah.

Elijah had not come out of the box, so to speak, ready to use. That is true for most of us really. We may be willing to go where God sends, but few of us are ready. God makes us ready. If we are to be a vessel ready for God’s use, sometime we have to be fired, or tempered a bit before we are ready for use.

We see that with Elijah now, and we will see more of it in the future as this story progresses. Note that the drought not only arrived, but the effects of it are being seen. The brook Cherith where God had provided sustenance to Elijah for some period of time, had dried up. That must have been somewhat of a shock to Elijah, as God had been providing his every need for some time. Suddenly God’s own promise of a drought in the land was not only happening, but was affecting this man of God.

That is very true, by the way. Sometimes when judgment comes, even God’s people suffer the consequences of it. But, that is exactly the point. God is in the process here of molding Elijah into a vessel suitable for his use.

God has provided for Elijah, and Elijah has seen God’s Word come to pass as promised. God is teaching Elijah to trust Him. Although he doesn’t know it yet, the biggest challenge of Elijah’s life is coming up, and he will need to be even stronger and more resolute than he has already shown himself to be. He will have to learn that God will take care of business even under the direst of circumstances.

God’s instructions to Elijah are simple: Go to Zarepath, where I have prepared a widow woman to sustain you. After reading this numerous times it finally hit me that this must have sounded quite odd to Elijah. There is a drought in the land. His creek had dried up and his raven friend was gone. Now, he was to go into the city where the one person mostly likely to be truly suffering in a national time of need, a widow, was going to take care of this grown man. I wonder if Elijah was wondering what God was planning at this point?

Maybe he was, maybe he was not; nonetheless he simply executed God’s instructions to him without skipping a beat. God had provided for him once, and He would do it again.

How about us? Do we trust God that much? Will we speak boldly regardless of the perceived threat? Do we believe God will take care of us? More importantly, do we believe God will take care of us when things get even worse?

Next…a change of scenery for the prophet

Sin in the Camp

Sometimes we are so worried about what the world around us is doing that we forget we need to clean our own house. If we want to see the culture and world around us change, it all has to start right in our own Church buildings. I thought this article about Achan really illustrated that point well.

Building My Faith

The walls of Jericho had fallen. The Children of Israel were celebrating the victory and anxious to move on to the next conquest in their return to the Promised Land after being slaves in Egypt for 430 years (Exodus 12:40). The Canaanite city of Ai was scouted out and it was determined a small band of two to three thousand men was all that would be needed to take it. The others could remain in the camp resting from their seven days of marching around Jericho prior to its destruction.

The day of battle came when the inhabitants of Ai defended themselves and sent the Israelites running from the battle back towards their encampment. Thirty-six men of Israel lost their lives that day. The victory celebration over Jericho became the lamentation of a lost battle. Joshua 7 tells us Joshua tore his clothes, fell to the earth with his face on the…

View original post 322 more words

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: