Trusting God to Show Up
Imagine facing off against a wicked, angry king and 450 false prophets! In today’s word of encouragement from Elijah, we shall examine how God draws His wayward people back to Himself through a miraculous display of His power. First, we need to be reminded that in any Biblical narrative, God is always the subject and focal point. This story isn’t centered on Elijah’s faith or how he brings great revival–it’s about God showing up and calling His people back to Him. Obviously, God works through His faithful and obedient servant Elijah!
Setting and What Is At Stake 1 Kings 18
The time has come wherein God is calling His people to choose between the false gods of baal and Yahweh-the One True God of Israel. After three long and dry years, God sends Elijah to Ahab. Interestingly, the author mentions that God intends to “send rain upon the face of the earth.” God has already decided that He will send refreshing rain! God is gracious! He has sent the drought and now is ready to refresh the weary land and people. The rain returning is a precursor to the people returning to God–in a real sense this verse and phrase indicates that the contest has already been decided! Elijah knows that God will bring His people back!
As you read through this passage, it is worth noting that Obadiah remained faithful to God and sheltered 100 prophets from the murderous Queen Jezebel. Obadiah’s name means “servant or slave/worshiper of Yahweh.” Remember that Elijah means “Yahweh is my God/Lord.” The author of 1 Kings is making a point here: namely that God’s true servants align themselves with Him even during time of national apostasy. Apostasy generally means a time of falling away. As Ahab is seeking water for his horses to survive, Obadiah and Elijah are seeking to serve God. The author of 1 Kings suggests that Ahab cares more about the horses (horses that powered his war chariots) than the people of Israel who are suffering from the drought. Extra biblical sources mention that Israel had over 2,000 war chariots. God mercifully sends Elijah to Ahab to gather the people.
The people of Israel face a choice: to worship and follow the false gods of Baal and Asherah or the True God Yahweh. Ahab calls Elijah (v18) the “troubler of Israel” and Elijah correctly points out that it is Ahab and his father’s pursuit of the baals who is the real origin of trouble. As humans we daily face a choice: to follow God or to follow whatever idol(s) that we have in our lives. As people who enjoy action, we tend to read and focus on the exciting parts of scriptures wherein God sends the fire and consumes the offering, wood, stone, water, etc. Yet, I want us to focus on the faithful obedience and trust in God aspects of this narrative.
Elijah was outnumber 850 to 1. But numbers don’t matter when Yahweh shows up! Elijah taunts the false prophets who are powerless to cause fire to come from heaven. Baal is supposedly the “weather god” who supposedly was in charge of storms and rain. The drought was a direct attack against the idol’s “claimed” power. Elijah didn’t use magic: he used prayer! God answered Elijah’s prayer and the people saw God’s power and realized the error of following baal. Revival came when the people trusted in God and acknowledged Him. Elijah then has the false prophets executed. Acknowledging God meant destroying those who would continue to lead astray. Imagine the shock on Ahab’s face when all of this happened! I imagine that he would be horrified and afraid of his wicked queen’s anger over this. Even Elijah feared Jezebel in chapter 19. Elijah’s fear was appropriate considering her threat and previous actions.
God demonstrated His power and the Israelis recognized Yahweh as the True God! Tragically, we often mistakenly believe that if God would just reveal Himself then we or others would trust and obey Him. Scripture teaches us that this isn’t the case. The Hebrew people rebelled against God after He brought them out of Egypt. People forsook Jesus after He had miraculously healed, feed, and taught them. God showing up in power isn’t enough to guarantee faith! When God makes Himself clear, humans tend to rebel.
After the false prophets were executed, the first hint(s) of a rain cloud became visible. God’s blessings follow obedience and repentance!
- Are you obeying God? If He leads you in a direction will you recognize His leading?
- Do you depend on your own strengths and abilities? God’s power and presence are key to accomplishing the mission He has for you.
- Are you living your life for God’s glory and purpose(s)? Can others see God’s presence in your life?
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