King Ahab and Jezebel, Part 4
In our last article – part three in this series – we highlighted a number of things, including the fact of King Ahab’s corruption and weakness that caused him to cater to his wife, Jezebel, and Jezebel’s insisting that Ahab allow her to worship Baal. This not only occurred, but eventually, she brought 450 prophets to Samaria and housed them within the royal palace where they were fed like kings. A room was also built to house the false god Baal where worship could occur.
Because of threats to kill Elijah, he removed himself to the wilderness to be fed by ravens. During this time when Elijah was out of King Ahab’s line of vision, Ahab could have thought about the ramifications of what Jezebel wanted to do. King Ahab could have repented but refused, likely seeing no problem in his leadership and what he was allowing his wife Jezebel to do.
1 Kings 17 focuses our attention on Elijah, who is out in the wilderness area and who had come at the Lord’s command to address King Ahab. Elijah announced that by his own command (Elijah’s), that there would be no dew or rain again until he commanded it (v. 1). Following this pronouncement to King Ahab, Elijah was led of the Lord to leave Ahab’s presence and situate himself by hiding in the Kerith Valley near the Jordan. There, he would be fed by ravens sent by the Lord and would have the water of the Jordan to drink.
Of course, because Elijah had promised no rain or dew, the stream eventually dried up. But the Lord had Elijah’s back and told him to go to see a widow who already knew Elijah was coming. The woman though, either through disbelief or something else, was preparing to die. She had only a little flour and a little oil left to make one last meal for herself (v. 12). I’m sure God placed something on her heart in preparation for Elijah’s arrival though it may be that it wasn’t clearly focused.
However, when Elijah told her not to fear and that she should make the cake/bread as she had said, but she should provide for Elijah first, rather than for herself and her son (v. 13). Elijah follows this up with the promise that until it rains again, her flour or oil will never run out. Upon hearing this pronouncement, the widow did as Elijah commanded and the text tells us that the jar was never empty and the oil never ran out (v. 16).
Verses 17 to the end of the chapter (v. 24) tells us that the widow’s son became gravely ill and apparently died (v. 17 tells us he could no longer breathe). I find it fascinating that the woman immediately questions Elijah’s presence as bringing her “sin” into the open. In those days, it was very common to believe that “bad” things happened due to someone’s sin. This was the case even in Jesus’ day (cf. John 9) and it was likely due to the way people viewed God and His dealings with humanity as well as all the warnings in the Psalms and Proverbs of that day. People got used to seeing God as One who seeks retribution against sin and sinners and did not routinely see Him as being patient and loving, full of grace. Too often, people do this today as well. I’ve made that mistake. Have you?
Had that really been the case, it’s very doubtful God would have healed the young man through Elijah, yet this is what occurs (vv. 19-24). Interestingly enough, the woman, upon seeing her newly resuscitated son, proclaims that it is proof that Elijah really is a vehicle through which God speaks. Even though God provided a steady stream of flour and oil allowing the woman to make cakes/bread, she really is saying that raising the boy to life again is the convincing proof that God speaks through Elijah. In reality, the miracle of the endless supply of flour and oil is also proof, but we fallen humans seem to always need something more, something bigger to prove that God is involved in our life and that He cares.
We might forgive the widow because we are looking back and realize that she personally may not have had much to go on. Yes, there was the record written by Moses of the exploits of God’s chosen people Israel and how one by one, God vanquished foes and cleared the way. But certainly, we have the entire Bible today and can benefit from its entirety, where as that woman did not have what we have now. We have far less of an excuse than she simply because of what God has revealed to us at this point in history.
Several years later – into the third year of the famine due to lack of rain and dew (1 Kings 18:1), God told Elijah to make an appearance before King Ahab. One would think that by this point, King Ahab would have come to understand that it was not Elijah, but God Himself who caused the rain and dew to cease. He was sending a very strong message to King Ahab. Let’s not forget that King Ahab was the king over Israel, not some other nation. Israel had been created for the express purpose of being a light to all other nations on earth and to fulfill its destiny by bringing forth the Messiah/Savior. The latter eventually happened in spite of the less than stellar performance of Israel, the nation, which only goes to prove that in spite of humanity’s propensity toward evil, God gets things done His way.
In verse 1b of 1 Kings 18, God effectively tells Elijah the following:
Go, make an appearance before Ahab, so I may send rain on the surface of the ground.
I cannot tell you how much I like that! The reason is very simple. God was telling Elijah to go before Ahab in the hopes that Ahab would have repented and have become willing to take God seriously. The impression was that this would simply be a perfunctory meeting, with Ahab providing proof of his repentance, God would then release the rains and things could get back to normal with Israel’s king directing people back to the worship of Jehovah. This was the intended purpose of Elijah’s visit to King Ahab. The fact that God knew it would not turn out like that does not diminish the mission. God told Elijah what he needed to know at that moment.
It is interesting that we read in the next several verses that even though it was Elijah who had declared that it would not rain nor would dew come up from the ground to water the plants unless Elijah commanded it (1 Kings 17:1), King Ahab calls for not Elijah, but Obadiah, a contemporary prophet of Elijah. Ahab didn’t want to acquiesce to Elijah, so he sought out Obadiah. This is an indication of where Ahab’s heart was and clearly, he had not repented. The text tells us that Ahab summoned Obadiah because Obadiah oversaw the palace (v. 3). Still, the command for no rain/dew had come from Elijah, not Obadiah. Ahab was well aware of that.
More proof of Ahab’s obstinacy is found in verse 5.
Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grazing areas so we can keep the horses and mules alive and not have to kill some of the animals.
He still wanted to do things his way. He was not about to kowtow to Elijah or Jehovah. He even knew he would have to kill some of the animals because of the lack of grain (due directly to the lack of rain), but he’d rather do that than admit defeat of any kind to Elijah. Notice also we learn that Obadiah was a devout follower of Jehovah and even hid some of Jehovah’s prophets in caves and secretly fed them (v. 4), because Jezebel was having the Lord’s prophets killed without mercy.
Verses 7 – 15 is an interesting conversation. Elijah meets Obadiah on the way and tells him to tell Ahab that he (Elijah) is back and seeks an audience with the king. In the next several verses, we learn that Ahab had searched high and low for Elijah but could never find him. Obadiah is concerned that after he tells Ahab that he has found Elijah, God will secret him away into hiding again and Obadiah will lose his life over it. I have to appreciate the nuanced reply of Elijah.
As certainly as the Lord who rules over all lives (whom I serve), I will make an appearance before him today (v. 15).
Did you see that? Elijah states without equivocation that the Lord “rules over all lives.” What this means is that while we are free to use our freedom of choice or so-called free will, our free will only goes so far. Ultimately, God rules over all, including the millions of lives on this planet in Elijah’s day and now ours. God’s sovereignty extends to everyone’s life. While He probably does not care which toothpaste we use or even if we brush our teeth, there are many decisions we make every day that conform – in some way or another – to His purposes and will, whether we can fully appreciate that truth in the here and now. Such was certainly the case during Elijah’s life and there is nothing in Scripture to show us it has changed since them.
We will pick this up next time as we move toward the big contest on Mt. Carmel between Baal’s 450 prophets and Jehovah’s one. Join me next time.
Entry filed under: christianity, devil worship, eternity, israel, Judaism, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Religious - Christian - Prophecy. Tags: 1 kings 17, 1 kings 18, baal, elijah, elijah raises widow's son, jezebel, king ahab, mt. carmel, Obadiah, prophets of baal.