The Story of Elijah and King Ahab is a story of faith, boldness, judgment, mercy, and God’s divine hand on display. Elijah was the first prophet God sent to Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom) to rescue them from their moral and spiritual decline. God sent Elijah to warn the people of Israel and Judah to repent and turn back to Him. In Elijah’s day, wicked King Ahab was the King of Israel.
1 Kings 16:29-33, “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. Now Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. 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 (Idol) and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 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."
King Ahab married the evil Queen Jezebel, who worshipped Baal (Idol), and Ahab built a temple and alter for Baal, to please her. Baal worshipers believed Baal was the god who brought rain and great harvests. With idolatry being the “moral standard” and heresy in the Kingdom of Israel, God sent Elijah to rescue them from this apostasy.
1 Kings 17:1-7, “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.” Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. 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. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land."
Elijah boldly confronted King Ahab and told him there would not be any rain, unless he commanded it from God. King Ahab and his people thought Baal brought rain, harvest, and other things, so at first, they did not believe the drought would last three years. However, they would soon learn that the God of Israel is the ultimate King, who controls all things. God always warns before He sends judgment. God warned Ahab and the people of Israel with a drought.
Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets."
Elijah was sent to spread the warning of the Lord so the people of the Kingdom of Israel would repent and turn back to God. Since the people worshipped Baal and put their faith in him and believed he was”the god of rain and harvest,” God was going to prove to them who the True Living God of all things is, including rain and harvest. So, He sent the warning sign, the drought. Do we recognize when God is trying to get our attention? Would we realize a warning sign such as a drought, flood, or natural disaster? Are we serving idols just as the kingdom of Israel did instead of serving the True Living God?
Proverbs 22:3, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished."
1 Kings 18:1-6, “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. So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria. And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. 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.) 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.” So they divided the land between them to explore it; Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.”
Although the prophet Obadiah was in charge of King Ahab’s house, his first loyalty was to God, and he proved his faithfulness by hiding one hundred prophets of the Lord.
1 Samuel 26:23, “May the Lord repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness.”
King Ahab chose Queen Jezebel and her religion over God. She was an evil queen who worshipped Baal and killed the prophets of the Lord. When Obadiah heard of Jezebel’s killings, he hid and fed many prophets of the Lord. The prophet Obadiah would have been killed for his actions if Ahab or Jezebel found out about his “treason.” Messiah stated in Revelation.
Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Are we willing to stand up for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted and martyred for their faith like Obadiah did?
1 Kings 18:7-15, “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?” And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”So he said, “How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 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. And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here”’! 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. 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? And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ He will kill me!” Then Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely present myself to him today.”
After Elijah’s command, Obadiah’s first instinct was fear. He was reluctant to tell Ahab because he wasn’t sure if Elijah was actually going to meet him. Like Obadiah, we all have “faith failures.”
Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (Messiah)."
Obadiah knew King Ahab had sent servants to track down Elijah because of the drought. He was frightened for his life until the Holy Spirit convicted Elijah, and Elijah reassured Obadiah that he was going to meet Ahab.
2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Like Obadiah, sometimes we want to tell about the “things” we did for the Lord instead of obeying the current command God has planned. The Lord knows what we have done for Him, so He wants us to obey His current command so we can bring Him glory, like Elijah did. Once Elijah convinced Obadiah he would confront Ahab, Obadiah had the courage to tell King Ahab about Elijah’s request.
1 Kings 18:16-19, “So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah. Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” And Elijah 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 Baals. 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.”
The boldness of Elijah is incredible! When King Ahab told Elijah he was the “troubler of Israel,” Elijah rebuked him and said, “YOU are the troubler of Israel.” The boldness and confidence of God was speaking through Elijah to the evil King Ahab.
Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”
Most people would be intimidated by the “king” of Israel, but not Elijah, as he knew the true King of Israel was, is, and forever shall be Almighty God. Elijah presented a challenge to Ahab in front of all of the people of Israel; 450 “prophets” of Baal, and 400 “prophets” of Asherah, both Ahab’s gods, against Elijah’s God. The Lord was going to leave no doubt who the True Living God is.
John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ who you have sent."
1 Kings 18:20-24, “So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. 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. 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. 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. 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.”
Psalms 94:16, “Who will rise up for Me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?"
Like Elijah, we are to take a stand for the Lord. If we don’t, then we serve two masters which Messiah warned us about.
Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other."
To imagine the scene of this “competition,” is incredible. Elijah, King Ahab, 450 prophets of Baal, 400 prophets of Asherah, tens of thousands of people, and the challenge of Elijah. There was going to be no question who the true God is with tens of thousands of people witnessing this event. Throughout the Holy Bible, we see God performing miraculous wonders against all odds in order to help people understand His Divine power and being.
Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
God loves to show off his great and mighty power! He loves to leave no doubt for all believers and non believers that He is the one True Eternal King! If we call out to Him, and fully surrender our lives to Him, He promises to show us great things that we can only imagine, just as He promised in Jeremiah.
1 Kings 18:25-29, “Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 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.”
Elijah’s mocking and teasing of the “prophets” is sarcasm at its best! We can only imagine the scene of these people acting in a foolish, ungodly way, to the point of cutting themselves! Elijah mocked them for their blinded foolishness, knowing that their cries and pleas to Baal would bring silence in return. This is a perfect example of false idols and false prophets.
2 Peter 2:1, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction."
Although the “prophets” of Baal called upon their god, leaped on the alter, cut themselves with knives, and acted foolish, their god Baal, did not answer. Why did he not answer? Because their “god” is not the One True God. Their god was Satan.
Exodus 7:11, “But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents, but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods.”
However, on this occasion, God did not allow Satan to intervene with his “sorcery.” Sometimes the “gods” we may be tempted with are not like Baal, but they are just as false and blasphemous. Anything that causes us to depend on “I,” “it,” or “them” instead of God, is an idol. (money, power, status, materialistic items, other people, ourselves, etc).
1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of ALL evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through many sorrows.”
When we fall into trouble or find ourselves in a crisis, all of the materialistic and other temporary things will be silent. Like Baal, these false gods will not speak a word. Only Messiah will be there to redeem us and carry us through our trials and tribulations.
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
1 Kings 18:30-40, “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. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob (Israel), to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” 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. 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.” 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. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench 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 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. 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.” 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. 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!” 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."
Elijah wanted ALL of the people of Israel to witness what Almighty God was about to perform. Elijah took twelve stones according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Please remember, at this event, the Kingdom of Israel was split into two kingdoms, north (Israel) and south (Judah). Ten of the tribes were in Israel, and two of the tribes were in Judah (Benjamin and Judah).
1 Kings 16:21, “Then the people of Israel were divided into two kingdoms.”
Elijah reminded the people that the Kingdom of Israel originated with 12 tribes, as it should have remained. As we can see, God is a God of order. Why did Elijah arrange the offerings like he did? Elijah remembered the evening sacrifice to the Lord, instructed in the Torah (The Law), which had been discontinued. Elijah poured the water three times over the offering as a reference to God’s “divine perfection.” As the number seven is “spiritual perfection” (7 days God created the world), the number three is “divine” perfection (Messiah’s death, burial, and resurrection). Elijah gave full glory and authority to God, because he was God’s servant. Like Elijah, we are also commanded to give all credit to God and exalt Him. Messiah states in Luke:
Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
In doing so, the Lord will exalt us in His will, by us exalting him.
1 Peter 5:6-7, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
Unlike Baal, Almighty God heard Elijah’s prayer and let everyone know, including the “prophets” of Baal, that He is the One True God! There was no doubt that the God of Elijah, Messiah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the true Living God!
Matthew 22:32, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
1 John 5:7, ” For there are three that bear witness in heaven; the Father, The Word (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”
Elijah’s mocking, sarcastic attitude turned into a warrior’s attitude as he commanded the people of Israel to “seize the prophets of Baal,” and Elijah executed them all. Wow. There is a limit to how far you can push the Almighty before His judgment comes down. Elijah followed God’s Law, the Torah, as commanded by the Lord.
Numbers 25:4-5, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take all the leaders of Baal and of the people, and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.’ So Moses said to the judges of Israel, ‘Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal.‘”
God will always help us accomplish what He commands us to do for Him. It may not be as drastic as Elijah’s story with King Ahab, but he will always provide the way for us to accomplish His purposes. When we are called to stand for Him and for His truth, like Elijah, He expects us to have unwavering faith and stand strong and bold for Him.
Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
1 Kings 18:41-46, “Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” 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, 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.” 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.’” 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. 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.”
God’s mercy is amazing! After Elijah executed the prophets of Baal, God gave King Ahab and the people of Israel another chance to repent and turn back to Him. Although God sends judgment to correct our sin, His nature is all loving, all forgiving, and all merciful.
Daniel 9:9, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him.”
James 5:11, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."
Elijah had faith in God to send rain, as he told Ahab to “go up and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” It had not rained yet, as Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed down before the Lord seven times after he told King Ahab. Only after Elijah bowed down, worshiped, and gave thanks to the Lord, did the rain come. This teaches us that although the Lord will do mighty works through us, we are to always stop, and praise Him, worship Him, and give thanks to His glory. The Lord God made Elijah bow down not once, not twice, but seven times (spiritual perfection) before He sent rain. This incredible story of Elijah and King Ahab teaches us lessons about faith, boldness, judgment, mercy, and the greatness of God’s mighty hand. Amen, Amen, and Amen