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1 Kings 18:6-19 by Robert Dean
Series:Kings (2007)
Duration:48 mins 42 secs

Elijah on Mt. Carmel. I Kings Ch. 18

 

The rebellion of Satan against God is at the heart of the whole sin problem. It caused a fall among the angels; Satan led about one third of the angels to go along with him in that rebellion, and then there was a trial of some type in eternity past where God establishes the guilt of Satan and these fallen angels, and apparently there was some sort of a challenge to that decision which is why there is human history. We are, as it were, an exhibit in this trial to demonstrate the significance of personal responsibility toward God and submission to His authority. And what happens when the creature disobeys the creator, begins to act as a god unto himself and begins to act independently of God, what God is showing is even in something as innocuous as eating a piece of fruit that because that is done in rebellion against God that act of disobedience alone has such ramifications and repercussions throughout not only the spiritual realm but also the physical realm that it is the root of all suffering, wars, famines, disease, heartache; everything goes back to that act. Therefore it shows that the simple act of rebellion that came from the volition of Satan in that initial act is responsible for all of that horror that we see throughout creation. Therefore there is the punishment of spending eternity in the lake of fire which is a just punishment

 

But where it comes down to where we live we have this basic challenge of authority for us, and that is the authority of God. How well do we respond to the authority of God and to the authorities that he has set up.

 

As we get into 1 Kings 18 there are two questions that are going to be raised related to authority. One is an explicit question in the text. As Elijah comes to the point where he is going to challenge Ahab and the false religion of Baal and the Asherah that has been brought in by Jezebel and that Ahab has willingly allowed to dominate the northern kingdom, he is going to challenge the people: How long are you going to teeter back and forth between two opinions? How long are you going to try to blend the two, doing it your way and stop doing it God's way? How long are you going to be in a position where you are going to give lip service to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob on the one hand, and on the other hand are going to worship Baal? The parallel of that to us as believers is that we also live, just as they did, in a culture dominated by paganism, by pagan though, by false views of the origin of life, the origin of the universe; a world dominated by a scientific mythology that came from Darwin that everything is just the product of time plus chance. That becomes for an entire way of looking at the details of life, all of the issues in life from politics to finances to education; every human endeavour is directly impacted and shaped by that foundation of Darwinism. And that stands 180 degrees against the view of the Bible, that there is a God, a personal infinite God, and that all things come from His mind, spoken into existence by His Word. Therefore, because He created the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them He is the one who has absolute authority; things are the way they are because He created them that way, defined them, and they are the way that they are because He said that is what they are. He and he alone is the one who defines reality.

 

The second question that we have embedded in 1 Kings 18 is one which is not expressed but implied, and that is directed to the believer, a question related to the extent of our obedience to God, our response to His sovereignty. We have looked at various Bible passages related to authority established by God. Human government is a divine institution that was established by God in Genesis chapter nine, and it is re-established in the New Testament that government comes from God; that there is no authority except those which have been established by God. The context shows that it is talking about a government.

 

Questions:

 

1.  In light of Romans 13 how are we to understand or interpret what took place during the American war for independence? It is very difficult to factor in all of the different factors that were going on during that particular time in history.

2.  What about the Boston tea party? Was that legitimate or not? We don't think it was, it was an act of destruction of private property. The tea that was on the ship belonged to the East India Tea company, it did not belong to the king or the government. It was not morally and ethically legitimate because it did not show respect for private property.

 

In 1 Kings 18 we see three people who are central to the events of the chapter. Elijah is the prophet of God, the one who announced to Ahab in 17:1 that it would not rain again until his command. He is the representative of God representing the Mosaic law. Remember, that God stated that if Israel was apostate, if they disobeyed Him and were all in idolatry, then God would bring various stages of discipline upon the nation. Within that is described in Leviticus chapter twenty-six that the ground would be hard, the sky would be like brass, and that God would bring a famine, a drought. So what Elijah is announcing is not just some arbitrary punishment that he has thought up on his own but he is stating that this is what God said he would do in the covenant He made with Israel.

 

For three and a half years it has not rained. During that time God has continued to train Elijah in terms of his own relationship to God, his understanding of divine authority, and Elijah is a man who trusts God extensively and is a great believer and prophet because he is completely sold out to obeying God no matter what the external circumstances might be. He is the kind of believer that we find in shirt supply today. Too many are not like Elijah, they are more like Obadiah. Obadiah as well is a believer, a believer of some courage and some application. He is not apostate but is a weak believer and limited in his application.   

 

The third person we see in this chapter is Ahab. He is ultimately an evil king, evil because he is disobedient to God and because he imports a false religious system and supports it within the nation. He is evil because rather than being a leader within the home he is a passive male to his aggressive wife Jezebel. He is a wimp of a husband and a wimp of a leader and as a result he is manipulated by whoever is around d him.

 

As we get into the chapter there are two basic sections that we look at. The first 19 verses is the prelude to the great event that occurs from verse 20 down though verse 46. This is the challenge that Elijah makes to the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. This is one of the greatest episodes in all of Scripture because of the tremendous way in which Elijah is able to trust God: the courage and the boldness that he shows in this stand, out in front of everybody at the risk of his own death, to call upon God to bring down fire upon the altar in a challenge to the priests of Baal. One of the key elements there is to show one way that believers can challenge and confront paganism in a pagan world and culture. But we want to look at the comparison and contrast between Elijah and Obadiah, for in that we see the importance of our obedience to God and the question of how obedient we are, how dedicated we are, how strong our commitment to follow the authority of God, how sold out we are in our relationship with God. That makes the difference between whether we are going to be a great believer, a strong believer, or whether we are going to be a mediocre, weak believer. What we need in this world today is believers who have the kind of courage and strength that Elijah.

 

As we look at these two men, Elijah and Obadiah, we see three areas initially where they are very similar. First of all, both men are Old Testament believers. In the Old Testament they were saved the same way as in the New Testament: by faith alone in the promise of God. In the Old Testament the promise of God looked forward to or anticipated God's solution to the sin problem. So the Old Testament individual was saved by trusting that God would provide a savior, a deliverer, and it was through that deliverer alone that they would have eternal life. In the church age we look back to the fulfilment of that promise which occurred on the cross of Golgotha when Jesus Christ died as a substitute for our sins. Secondly, both men feared (had respect for and believed) God. And, thirdly, both men had courage of their convictions—although Elijah's was to a greater degree than Obadiah's. They both have the spiritual courage that comes through having grown in the relationship to God and their understanding of the Word of God that is in their souls. Obadiah takes a tremendous act of faith on God in hiding the prophets at the risk of his own life, but he is timid and scared in the process. And many of us can relate to that because in the process of growing and maturing as a believer, though we often take steps of faith and trust in God, we know the seriousness of the circumstances of a situation and we do it with fear and trembling because we haven't quite strengthened our faith enough yet in our spiritual growth. That is the way we see Obadiah. When he sees Elijah on the road and that Elijah is coming to see Ahab we learn that he is quite fearful.

1 Kings 18:7 NASB "Now as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him, and he recognized him and fell on his face and said, 'Is this you, Elijah my master?' [8] He said to him, 'It is I. Go, say to your master, 'Behold, Elijah {is here.}' [9] He said, 'What sin have I committed, that you are giving your servant into the hand of Ahab to put me to death?'"

When God directed Elijah to confront Ahab Elijah goes to the most powerful man in the land who could have had him killed right there on the spite, but Elijah knows that his life is in God's hands and it is not up to Ahab when he lives or dies but up to God. So Elijah has the courage of his convictions of God's control over his life and that he can walk into the presence of Ahab and announce that there will be a famine until Elijah says that it will reign. But there is a limitation to the courage of Obadiah and a limitation to his faith. Elijah obeys God without hesitation; Obadiah questions Elijah—Do you really think that is a good idea? Let's have a little discussion over this. Elijah is bold but not bold in an arrogant way. He is bold with humility toward God, he is bold in his approach to God, and without that sense of human boldness which is an arrogant type of bravery. In contrast Obadiah was not bold, he was timid and willing to do what he did in the shadows and what he did was right and honourable, but he was not one to step out and take a stand. 

1 Kings 18:10 NASB "As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent to search for you; and when they said, 'He is not {here,}' he made the kingdom or nation swear that they could not find you. [11] And now you are saying, 'Go, say to your master, "Behold, Elijah {is here.}" [12] It will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although {I} your servant have feared the LORD from my youth." He is limited in his bravery and he is not bold, not one to take a stand on his own.

Next we see that one of the aspects of the mature believer in Elijah is that he is not concerned about what other people might think of him. He is not concerned about those negative consequences that come from how others might respond or react to him, he knows that his life is in the hands and protection of the Lord no matter what happens. He doesn't focus on the circumstances or details of life whereas Obadiah does. Then we will see that Elijah as a strong believer is going to stake everything on his obedience to God. He understands that God is real and what God says in His Word is real and so he is willing to stake it all on the reality of God. Obadiah, when he hears of Elijah's commission to go to Ahab goes on the defensive. He talks about what he has already done and why should he do more and do something that would threaten his life. 1 Kings 18:14 NASB "And now you are saying, 'Go, say to your master, "Behold, Elijah {is here}"'; he will then kill me." His life is more important to him and his comforts are more important to him than obedience to God. Elijah commands him again. [15] "Elijah said, 'As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today'." Finally Obadiah does follow him. His doubts have been satisfied by Elijah and so he goes to meet Ahab announces that Elijah is on the way.

As we look at these two men we have to ask ourselves what kind of believer we are. Are we an Obadiah believer or are we an Elijah believer? Years ago a bumper sticker was seen that said: "If God doesn't exist nothing matters; if God exists nothing else matters." That has summed up in a nutshell the reality in Scripture: that if there is a God and the God of the Bible exists then truly nothing else that we experience in life matters. Nothing else can stack up against the knowledge of God and relationship with God and living our life on the basis of that truth, because that is reality. Anything else is living in a fantasy world, living in a world of our own creation and it is doomed to failure. If God doesn't exist then nothing really matters; there is no basis for morality or ethics or future hope, and there is nothing in life that really matters, everything is just pure chance and chaos, and we are nothing more than an accident. But of God exists then nothing else matters.

And that is the challenge we see here. Elijah has understood that, and as we grow as believers we come to understand that more and more and more. But it only comes because we make that initial decision at some point in our life that nothing matters more than knowing God, nothing matters more than knowing His Word, nothing matters more than learning to think about reality and how God says we should think about reality; and therefore nothing that we do in life is more important than studying His Word and absorbing it into our thinking, my life, so that we are saturated with His Word in order to be the kind of believer that Elijah was, and have that courage, that kind of boldness and be one of those solid believers that has a positive impact by association with those around us. Anything less does not contribute to the solution but contributes to the problem. That spiritual life begins because we come to understand the fullness of God's grace and His love as expressed at the cross.