1 Kings 15-19; this is such a packed passage of reading, it seems almost unfair to only blog once on the passage. In the midst of the revolving door of kings both for Judah and Israel; God brings a mighty prophet to the forefront to deal with a most derogatory person in Ahab and his wife Jezebel. The spiraling down spiritually for Israel has hit an all time low; Jezebel is the real ruler, all one has to do is read about the wimp of a man he is with respect to the belligerent Jezebel. The Northern Tribes have been entrenched in Baal worship, even Jezebel is credited with killing God’s prophets. Enter Elijah – from Tishbite, but no other advanced information is known about him. We do know that he was a powerful prayer warrior [James 5:17], to be able to pray and it not rain for 3 years. The phrase “and the word of the Lord came to him” is repeated in these chapters. At a time when it seems that everything has gone completely paganistic, there is an Elijah.
Elijah confronts Ahab, then disappears into the wilderness. Elijah is feed by ravens – they bring him daily bread and meat and he drinks from a brook. To be sure, ravens are carnage feeding birds – the eat road kill. I’m not sure how many of us actually catch the fact that for a time Elijah had a diet from the LORD of road kill! Soon he is aligned with the widow of Zarephath, and her son. I find the story a bit appalling in that on her way to fix a last meal, Elijah says feed me first. Her obedience as a non-Jew is particularly significant. As a result, the three of them live off a miracle of multiplication from the Lord [see the feeding of five thousand, another place where God multiplies little to feed His people]. Of course there is more to the story, the son dies and Elijah prays over him and lies on him and the “life” is returned. I found it humorous that the widow only after the son is revived that she knows that Elijah is a man of God. How soon she forgot the daily provision from an empty jar! The story of Elijah is a short one, his dealing with the Widow, the thorn in the side of Ahab and Jezebel and the Battle on Mt. Carmel. Just as quickly he comes on the scene, he departs leaving one called Elisha in his place. Before that, the rains come and Elijah hides from Jezebel in a cave, not just any cave, but a cave on Mt. Horeb i.e. Sinai. The story of Obadiah is a significant reminder to all pastors and ministers – we are not alone, we are not all that God has at His disposal. Elijah winds up running from Jezebel after a monumental victory on the Mountain. How often is that true in ministry? When there has been a great victory and blessing from God, we become fearful and faithless in the face of conflict. The conversation between Elijah and Obadiah is sort of funny, but I guess that would only be true if you were Elijah. “Go tell Ahab I am here” – Obadiah “yeah right” just as soon as I say that, you’ll disappear and Ahab will kill me! The Spirit had a habit of whisking Elijah off to various places avoiding being caught – I thought of Phillip in Acts being whisked off to Gaza to meet the Eunuch.
We have the amazing display of God’s fire/power on Mt. Carmel in chapter 18. The confidence Elijah displays is in measure of his fear later with Jezebel. Elijah runs away, hides for 40 days on Mt. Horeb, the same place Moses had audience with God and received the Tablets of stone. In Chapter 19, Elijah is subjected to various natural phenomenon, yet God is not in any of the boisterous displays – it is in the “still small voice, rustling of wind that God is heard. I don’t have any idea how many times this scene has been encountered in reminding mankind that God is in the still small voice, that we must almost strain to hear. Elijah, is as James says a man like unto us. We become fearful in the face of opposition, often forgetting what God has already brought us through. Elijah brings a valid excuse or reason from why he was there, but God doesn’t listen to the excuse and asks Elijah again “What are you doing here?” The same excuse is stated. I mentioned how slow the Widow of Zarephath was – Elijah has a memory problem too. God tells him, “get back to work” – so he returns and sets Hazael as king, Jehu as king and anoints Elisha as his successor. So are the days of Elijah. Huh, that’s it? Yep – Elijah is known for three or so years and then is ushered off the pages of history and scripture. This should remind us that our worth to God is not always in a long tenure, but being in the right place at the right time for the Glory of God! We live in a day where we need to have some Elijah’s to stand against the Ahab’s and Jezebel’s.