1 Kings 16 Ė 18 part 12

Ahab and Elijah

 

Tonight we will start looking at Ahab and Elijah. In tonight lesson we will get to take a look at one my favorite stories in the OT in Chapter 18. But for now let take a look at the end of Chapter 16 where we get at brief introduction to King Ahab of the northern Kingdom.

 

1 Kings 16:29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years.30 Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him.31 And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him.32 Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.33 And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.34 In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation with Abiram his firstborn, and with his youngest son Segub he set up its gates, according to the word of the LORD, which He had spoken through Joshua the son of Nun.

 

Ahab is the 8th king of Israel that has been in power during Asa reign over Judah. In this brief account we learn that he is Omriís son and the he reigns for 22 years. He marries Jezebel who is one of the most evil women recorded in the Bible which I guess is great match for Ahab since it says he was the most evil king thus far and did more to provoke God to anger than anyone else as well.

 

Also we see a prophecy being fulfilled that Joshua said in,

 

Joshua 6:26 Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, "Cursed be the man before the LORD who rises up and builds this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates."

 

That exactly what happened with Hiel and his two sons as they rebuilt Jericho. Next we are introduced to Elijah.

 

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word."

 

Here is our first recorded instance of where Ahab and Elijah encounter one another. Elijah was a very courageous man as he delivers Godís message to him and what a message it was. Not only did he claim there would be no rain there would also be no dew. This is also mentioned in James 5:17. The name Elijah means ďmy God is JehovahĒ.

 

 

2 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,3 "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.4 "And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there."5 So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.7 And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

 

Apparently this message didnít sit to good with Ahab as our text shows that Elijah had to leave from there to hide. But, we can see that God was taking care of his servant by having the ravens feed him morning and night. However, his brook dried up and he was in danger of dehydration now.

 

1 Kings 17:8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink."11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand."12 So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."13 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.14 "For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.' "

 

Once again we see God taking care of Elijah by means of this widow lady. Now just for a minute I want you to put yourself in the shoes of this lady. Imagine being down to your last bit of food and there is very little water left and now some man is telling you to make him a cake first and that the Lord will make your bin of flour and your oil to never run out until it rains again. What would you have done? Would you believe this man and feed him or would you think he was out of mind and try to run him off so you and your son could die in peace? Well, lets see what see what she decided to do.

 

1 Kings 17:15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days.16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.

 

Well, she decided to believe Elijah and it paid off because everything happened just as he said it would. But another problem arises.

 

1 Kings 17:17 Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him.18 So she said to Elijah, "What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?"19 And he said to her, "Give me your son." So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed.20 Then he cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?"21 And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him."22 Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, "See, your son lives!"24 Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth."

 

First this widow thinks that Elijah whole purpose to see her was to kill her son and to remind her of whatever sin she was guilty of. This was enough for Elijah to question God about this as well, because her son was dead. His soul was separated from his body but Elijah carried him upstairs and stretched himself out over him 3 times and prayed to God for his soul to return and sure enough it happened. I find interesting that the widow now says that she believes that Elijah was a man of God. Wasnít the unending supply of flour and oil enough to convince her? Well, whatever the answer may be this certainly a great event that shows Godís care for his servant and his ability to work his miracles.

 

1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days that the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, "Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth."2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria.3 And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly.4 For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)

 

Once again it is time for Ahab and Elijah to meet again so that God will send rain to the earth. We find out that Jezebel had been on killing spree as she was trying to kill all of Godís prophets but their servant Obadiah was secretly working against them doing what he could to protect these prophets.

 

1 Kings 18:5 And Ahab had said to Obadiah, "Go into the land to all the springs of water and to all the brooks; perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, so that we will not have to kill any livestock.6 So they divided the land between them to explore it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.7 Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, "Is that you, my lord Elijah?"8 And he answered him, "It is I. Go, tell your master, 'Elijah is here.' "9 So he said, "How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me?10 "As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, 'He is not here,' he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you.11 "And now you say, 'Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here" '!12 "And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth.13 "Was it not reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid one hundred men of the LORD's prophets, fifty to a cave, and fed them with bread and water?14 "And now you say, 'Go, tell your master, "Elijah is here." ' He will kill me!"15 Then Elijah said, "As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today."16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

 

Obadiah didnít want to tell Ahab about Elijah but he didnít really have a choice in the matter because Elijah was determined to talk to Ahab. So, Ahab makes his way to meet Elijah.

 

1 Kings 18:17 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, "Is that you, O troubler of Israel?"18 And he answered, "I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals.19 "Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table."

 

Ahab tries to blame Elijah for Israel problems but Elijah makes is very clear that both Ahab and his father disobedience to Godís commands it what is causing the problem. If they would turn back to God and put away their false Gods they wouldnít have any troubles. So, now Elijah asks Ahab to bring all 850 prophets to Mount Carmel.

 

1 Kings 18:20 So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel.21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word.22 Then Elijah said to the people, "I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.23 "Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it.24 "Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God." So all the people answered and said, "It is well spoken."

 

Here we see that Elijah is setting up a contest to see whose God is real so that way if their gods are real then all should worship them but if Elijahís God is real then all should worship him. All the children of Israel were there to watch this contest. Now I want point out that even though 850 prophets were invited it appears that only the 450 prophet of Baal came to the contest. Can you imagine being there and watching as 1 man faces 450 prophets as they set up their cut up bulls on their stacks of wood?

 

(ESV) 1 Kings 18:25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it."26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened."

 

Elijah is really putting it to these men because he let them go first and here it already noon and nothing is happening. I love how Elijah starts mocking them about their false God and tells them to yell louder to get their Godís attention. First, he says maybe he is musing which means he is meditating or in deep thought. Next he accuses him of relieving himself. Now this word has the idea of withdrawing yourself to a private place and some have suggested that he was saying maybe his off using the bathroom right now. Then he says maybe he gone on trip or maybe he just sleeping right now.

 

You have to admit Elijah is being very bold at this point considering there is one of him and 450 of them. Can you image what was going through the children of Israelís head when Elijah made this comment? What a show. But watch what the prophets do now.

 

1 Kings 18:28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.

 

One thing is for sure these prophets were doing everything they could think of to get a response from their God but all they got was a big bowl of nothing.

 

1 Kings 18:30 Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, "Israel shall be your name."32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed.33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, "Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood."34 Then he said, "Do it a second time," and they did it a second time; and he said, "Do it a third time," and they did it a third time.35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.

 

I want you to think about what Elijah is doing here. The contest was to simply call on you God to burn up this cut up bull on top of this wood and these other prophets had failed. But Elijah goes way beyond the agreement that he made and makes this burning of the bull impossible to be burned by a mere human. While Elijah may have appeared cocky by those looking on there would be no way anyone could accuse him of starting the fire himself because of all this water he has had poured on this wood. The trench he dug around this alter would hold a little over 4 gallons of water and now it was full.

 

1 Kings 18:36 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 Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.37 "Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again."38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, "The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!"40 And Elijah said to them, "Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!" So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.

 

Again, I ask you can you imagine being there to witness such an event. You know all those watching probably felt like they were about to jump out of their skin waiting to see what would happen when Elijah called up the Lord. Again can you imagine how hot the fire felt that came down and consumed up the bull, the wood, the water and even the 12 stones? All those standing there that day had no doubt the Elijahís God was the only true God and they all fell on their faces and humbled themselves before God almighty. Then all these false prophets were killed that day.

 

1 Kings 18:41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain."42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,43 and said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked, and said, "There is nothing." And seven times he said, "Go again."44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, "There is a cloud, as small as a man's hand, rising out of the sea!" So he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.' "45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.46 Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah; and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

 

After this great standoff God is now ready to send the rain but first Elijah prays for it and he does so 7 times before it starts happening. Of course we could use this to remind us to be persistent in our prayer life. Then Ahab makes his way Jezreel and by the hand of God Elijah even though he is on foot makes it Jezreel before him.