1 Kings 18:1-46
The drought in Israel had lasted three years. It led to a severe famine in the land…and now it was time. Elijah journeyed to present himself to King Ahab in obedience to God’s command. There was not only rain on the way, but a showdown was about to go down.
It just so happened that Elijah first crossed paths with Obadiah, the steward of Ahab’s house. Obadiah was a follower of the LORD, he had protected 100 prophets of the LORD by hiding them in caves and tending to their needs. Obadiah reveals to Elijah (and us) that King Ahab had searched everywhere for Elijah. We read in:
1 Kings 18:10 (NKJV) “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.’”
It just goes to show how God protects and even hides us as He sees fit – no one is allowed to touch us apart from His providential permission.
After 3 years of Divine discipline, it’s tragic to see that Ahab refers to Elijah as the troubler in Israel; Ahab had it backwards.
1 Kings 18:17–18 (NKJV) “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.”
Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a showdown. Elijah is passionate for the one true God, and the people of God. He wants to prove to them that the LORD is God (not Baal, Ashera, or any other deity) for their hearts were divided.
1 Kings 18:21 (NKJV) “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.’”
At the core, this is why so many fall, and falter, we’re half-hearted. One part belongs to the Lord and the other part belongs to this world. Satan has a stronghold, even on saints, and the mystery and reality of being lukewarm and having left our first love permeates the church (Revelation 2:4; 3:16).
The challenge is fairly simple. They would prepare a bull, lay it on wood and put no fire under it. They were to call on Baal, Elijah would call on the LORD:
1 Kings 18:24b (NKJV) “…and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”
As the day unfolds, it’s sad to see how the prophets of Baal, cried, and leaped, and even cut themselves (this was their custom) in order to get Baal’s attention, but no one answered. Elijah offered some suggestions with a hint of sarcasm, maybe Baal was busy, on a journey, or perhaps he was asleep. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. (all day long)
Then Elijah called the people closer to him. He set up 12 stones for the 12 tribes of Israel. He drenched the sacrifice and the wood with water, four times. Elijah prayed a simple prayer, sharing his heart – all he wanted was for the people to know that the LORD alone is God – and he wanted the people to know that he was a prophet of God (so they would heed his message). Sure enough, fire fell from heaven – proving to the people who God is.
1 Kings 18:39 (NKJV) “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!’”
The people then executed the prophets of Baal, and rightly so, under the theocratic laws of Israel.
Next came rain, following the fervent prayers of Elijah, who prayed with his head between his knees, seven times. You would think the nation would turn to the LORD after these turn of events, right? God had proven Himself beyond a shadow of a doubt. But as we’ll see next time, sin and Satan get such a hold on souls, that even the most convincing of evidence rarely leads to genuine conversion.
When Peter returns to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision question him because they’d heard the word, that he’d broken bread with Gentiles (that broke their law). Peter tells them the whole story, which is interesting to note that Luke, the author of Acts, repeats in such detail. Keep in mind that in those days, parchment was bulky and very expensive. This emphasizes how important this event is, as we read in:
Acts 11:18 (NKJV) “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, ‘Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.’”
“In Bible days, writing was not easy. Because parchment was used, and it was scarce, you had to conserve your words. For Luke to tell the entire story twice indicates that God’s extension of grace to the Gentiles was an important juncture for the church.”– Pastor Chuck Smith
As the Gospel continues to spread, a great work begins in the city of Antioch of Syria. Barnabas is therefore sent to Antioch. When he saw the grace of God upon the people he encouraged them to stay true to the Lord, with all their hearts. Barnabas is called a “good man.” This is the only time in the New Testament where someone is specifically identified in such a way, and the explanation is that he was “full of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 11:24)
Barnabas then goes looking for Saul. Apparently he needs help in the church; he needs leadership and some solid teaching, and the Lord laid Saul on his heart. What an epic step of faith; truly Barnabas was worthy of his name, “Son of Encouragement”(Acts 4:36).
Notice the epic fruit.
Acts 11:26b (NKJV) “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
“Christian means ‘little Christ.’ The Romans meant it as a derogatory term, but the believers in Antioch accepted it as an honor. Is your life a miniature model of what others can see in the Savior? Are you a ‘Christian’ in the truest sense of the word?”– Sandy Adams
At the close of the chapter, there’s a prophecy regarding a famine on the way – not just for information, but for action. So, they determine to send help, as each one is able, and they sent it by the hands of Barnabas and Saul. This would be Saul’s benevolent ministry…for years to come, he remembered the poor (Galatians 2:10).
Hallelujah means “Praise the LORD,” and that is the thrust of this Psalm. Praise Him and sing to Him. When we gather together assembled as a congregation come ready to worship – for He is good!
We have reason to praise.
We’ve been chosen by God, we’re His special treasure (Matthew 13:44) – created and redeemed – those are some of the reasons the Psalmist calls us to praise the LORD.
Creation, Redemption, and then there’s Provision. He’s taken care of me all my life. All this has come from the hand of the LORD Himself. Unlike the statues and wanna-be gods that the world puts their trust in and prays to, our God is the living God, who speaks, and sees, and hears.
Bless the LORD – Israel, Aaron (the high priest), Levi, and all who fear Him (Gentiles). All of God’s people have ample reaons to praise.
I believe this Psalm emphasizes that part of our lives where we SING praises to God. May we all cultivate that vital part of the celebration of salvation.
V. 12 – Mama bears will do anything to protect their cubs, they’ll fight furiously against male bears, or human beings (their worst enemies) if necessary.
But, it’s better to meet that mama bear, than it is certain fools. At least a mama bear has reason to fight – there’s a purpose and therefore a limit, fighting for their family and nothing more. But often times the fool with a knife, or a gun, is random, violent, and murders for no reason at all.
V. 13 – They did it to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 18:20)…and the nation was taken away to Babylon. They did it to Jesus…and 70 years later Titus sacked Jerusalem, over a million Jews died. It doesn’t mean it’s unforgivable, but it is very, very dangerous.
We’re not to reward evil for good; we’re not even to reward evil for evil, we’re actually called to bless those who curse us
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV) “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) “…not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.