April 19, 2007
I Kings 18-20
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- And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
- And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
- And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly:
- For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)
- And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
- So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
- And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?
- And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
- And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?
- As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.
- And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
- And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth.
- Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD'S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?
- And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.
- And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
- So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.
- And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
- And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
- Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table.
- So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
- And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
- Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
- Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
- And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
- And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
- And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
- And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
- And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
- And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
- And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto 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, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
- And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
- And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
- And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
- And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also 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 of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
- Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
- Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
- And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
- And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
- And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
- So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
- And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
- And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
- And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
- And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
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- And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
- Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time.
- And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.
- But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.
- And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat.
- And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again.
- And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.
- And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
- And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?
- And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
- And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
- And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
- And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
- And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
- And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
- And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
- And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
- Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
- So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
- And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
- And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
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- And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it.
- And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Ben-hadad,
- Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine.
- And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have.
- And the messengers came again, and said, Thus speaketh Ben-hadad, saying, Although I have sent unto thee, saying, Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy gold, and thy wives, and thy children;
- Yet I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away.
- Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray you, and see how this man seeketh mischief: for he sent unto me for my wives, and for my children, and for my silver, and for my gold; and I denied him not.
- And all the elders and all the people said unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.
- Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, All that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do: but this thing I may not do. And the messengers departed, and brought him word again.
- And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and said, The gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people that follow me.
- And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.
- And it came to pass, when Ben-hadad heard this message, as he was drinking, he and the kings in the pavilions, that he said unto his servants, Set yourselves in array. And they set themselves in array against the city.
- And, behold, there came a prophet unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou seen all this great multitude? behold, I will deliver it into thine hand this day; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.
- And Ahab said, By whom? And he said, Thus saith the LORD, Even by the young men of the princes of the provinces. Then he said, Who shall order the battle? And he answered, Thou.
- Then he numbered the young men of the princes of the provinces, and they were two hundred and thirty two: and after them he numbered all the people, even all the children of Israel, being seven thousand.
- And they went out at noon. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him.
- And the young men of the princes of the provinces went out first; and Ben-hadad sent out, and they told him, saying, There are men come out of Samaria.
- And he said, Whether they be come out for peace, take them alive; or whether they be come out for war, take them alive.
- So these young men of the princes of the provinces came out of the city, and the army which followed them.
- And they slew every one his man: and the Syrians fled; and Israel pursued them: and Ben-hadad the king of Syria escaped on an horse with the horsemen.
- And the king of Israel went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew the Syrians with a great slaughter.
- And the prophet came to the king of Israel, and said unto him, Go, strengthen thyself, and mark, and see what thou doest: for at the return of the year the king of Syria will come up against thee.
- And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.
- And do this thing, Take the kings away, every man out of his place, and put captains in their rooms:
- And number thee an army, like the army that thou hast lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot: and we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. And he hearkened unto their voice, and did so.
- And it came to pass at the return of the year, that Ben-hadad numbered the Syrians, and went up to Aphek, to fight against Israel.
- And the children of Israel were numbered, and were all present, and went against them: and the children of Israel pitched before them like two little flocks of kids; but the Syrians filled the country.
- And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the LORD, Because the Syrians have said, The LORD is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
- And they pitched one over against the other seven days. And so it was, that in the seventh day the battle was joined: and the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day.
- But the rest fled to Aphek, into the city; and there a wall fell upon twenty and seven thousand of the men that were left. And Ben-hadad fled, and came into the city, into an inner chamber.
- And his servants said unto him, Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings: let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel: peradventure he will save thy life.
- So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, and said, Thy servant Ben-hadad saith, I pray thee, let me live. And he said, Is he yet alive? he is my brother.
- Now the men did diligently observe whether any thing would come from him, and did hastily catch it: and they said, Thy brother Ben-hadad. Then he said, Go ye, bring him. Then Ben-hadad came forth to him; and he caused him to come up into the chariot.
- And Ben-hadad said unto him, The cities, which my father took from thy father, I will restore; and thou shalt make streets for thee in Damascus, as my father made in Samaria. Then said Ahab, I will send thee away with this covenant. So he made a covenant with him, and sent him away.
- And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the LORD, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.
- Then said he unto him, Because thou hast not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee. And as soon as he was departed from him, a lion found him, and slew him.
- Then he found another man, and said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him.
- So the prophet departed, and waited for the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face.
- And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle; and, behold, a man turned aside, and brought a man unto me, and said, Keep this man: if by any means he be missing, then shall thy life be for his life, or else thou shalt pay a talent of silver.
- And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone. And the king of Israel said unto him, So shall thy judgment be; thyself hast decided it.
- And he hasted, and took the ashes away from his face; and the king of Israel discerned him that he was of the prophets.
- And he said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.
- And the king of Israel went to his house heavy and displeased, and came to Samaria.
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Thought for the day:
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Ahab was an evil king.
I Kings 16:30 tells us that he was more wicked than all the wicked kings who had come before him. His chief sin was the worship of the pagan deity Baal. Not only did he worship Baal but he went so far as to marry the heathen princess Jezebel, and together they led Israel down the path of idolatry. His actions were displeasing to God, and God judged him for his rebellion. Because Israel willingly followed him in his idolatry, God punished the entire nation. In
I Kings 17 we read that God stopped the rains from falling in Israel. He did it through the word of his prophet Elijah.
Three years later, Elijah went to see Ahab. He sent the prophet Obadiah ahead to announce that he wished for Ahab to meet him. When Ahab and Elijah finally meet, Ahab's opening question is amazing. He asks,
"Art thou he that troubleth Israel?" (
Isn't this typical of the world's thinking? Ahab was the problem and the people's willingness to follow him contributed to the problem. Who does he blame? The man of God, who has done nothing except proclaim the Word of the Lord. So today we are surrounded by evil. Morals are eroding, and heathenism is growing by leaps and bounds. Because of this we see God's wrath being displayed through environmental and biological catastrophes. Yet as soon as the believer stands up and proclaims that God is displeased with the world's actions, the ungodly blame him for the problem. In our society we constantly hear about tolerance. We are told that we must be tolerant of false religions such as Islam. The Moslems can attack our country, and blaspheme our Lord, and the Christian is to be tolerant. Yet, if a Christian attempts to evangelize a Moslem, then he is declared to be intolerant, and must be silenced. The sodomites can practice behavior that unleashes the dreaded epidemic of AIDS on the world. That must be tolerated. If a Christian proclaims that the Bible forbids sodomy, and that the AIDS problem might just be the judgement of God upon an immoral society, then suddenly he must be rejected because he dared to speak the truth. May we have a generation of Christians who will boldly speak the words of Elijah:
"I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim," (
No matter what anyone says, be it our neighbors, false preachers, or political leaders, may we be willing to stand like Elijah did.
Following this exchange with Ahab, Elijah put God to the test. He boldly challenged Ahab and the prophets of Baal to a contest which would reveal which deity was the True One. The people of Israel came and watched as 450 prophets of Baal participated in a sacrifice to their god. All day long they danced and cried and injured themselves in a vain attempt to get Baal to consume their sacrifice. Of course, nothing happened. Finally, Elijah rebuilt the altar of God, placed the sacrifice upon it, and drenched the entire site with water. He then prayed the following prayer:
" LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again," (
Imagine what would have happened if God had not responded. Elijah would have been humiliated at best, and Israel would have had an excuse to reject Jehovah. However, God had told Elijah what to do, Elijah did it, and God responded in a miraculous way. Fire fell from Heaven, the Jews announced that the Lord truly was God, and the prophets of Baal were executed.
Sometimes the things that God calls us to do are difficult. Sometimes they put us at odds with society in general, and sometimes they open us up to ridicule and risk. Yet God knows what He is doing, and if we follow Him, He will do as He promised, and great victories can be won. Don't be afraid to speak up for Truth, and don't be afraid to challenge the ungodly. Remember
"The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me."
Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery