1 Kings 18:1-16


It had now been 3½ years since it had rained in Israel.  This was a disaster of epic proportions.  This was not a matter of being able to water lawns or sip lemonade - it was not an issue of luxury but of mere survival.  Crops had long since died and now both man and beast were in danger of becoming extinct.  And still the drought continued.


As we saw in the last chapter, this drought was brought about because the people of Israel had turned away from worshiping the Lord.  The physical drought was a reflection of the dry spiritual condition in men’s hearts.  But this would soon change.





            Now it happened after many days that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.”  So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. (1 Kings 18:1-2).


Elijah had made his initial prophecy before Ahab and then had gone into hiding.  This had been at the command of the Lord.  God told him to hide and God even told him where to hide.  For three years he has been in hiding.  And now the time of hiding is at an end.


I believe that this time of hiding had also been a time of preparation in the life of Elijah.  As God had been judging the nation, He had also been preparing the heart of his prophet.  He had done this at two separate locations.


In chapter 17 Elijah had been told to hide himself.  Now he is ordered to “show himself.”  Each action required faith on his part.

·        At the brook Cherith he had learned to trust in the Lord in a place of solitude.


·        In the Phoenician city of Zarephath, he had learned to trust in the Lord before the watching world.  He had been on display before the widow and her son and had represented the Lord to them.


Now he is ready for the ultimate confrontation - he will stand alone before the king and all of the prophets of Baal and the entire nation of Israel and he will represent the Lord.  Here is the principle.  It is only after you have been faithful in the little things that you will be ready to be faithful in the big things.





            Ahab called Obadiah who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly;  4 for when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water).  (1 Kings 18:3-4).


Now we are introduced to a new character.  His name is Obadiah, though he is not necessarily to be confused with the prophet Obadiah who wrote the book by the same name.  There are at least 10 different people with this name in the Old Testament.  On the other hand, Jewish tradition has it that this IS the same man who later authored the book of Obadiah.


Obadiah was a steward in the service of the king.  He was over the household (       ).  And yet, though he was in the service of this apostate king, he also feared the Lord greatly.  This reverence for the Lord had been demonstrated when Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, had gone on a search and destroy mission against the prophets of God.  Obadiah had sheltered and provided for a hundred prophets of God.  This was treason against the state.


This brings us to a question.  At what point should a Christian disobey governmental authority?  At the point where that authority commands that which is sinful.  And ONLY at that point.  This is reflected in the example of Obadiah.  He disobeyed Jezebel by hiding the prophets of God.  But when Ahab gave him an order to survey the land for feed for his animals, he was subservient to that authority.


There is an interesting comparison to be made between Elijah versus these prophets who had been hidden by Obadiah.


One Hundred Prophets

One Prophet - Elijah

Prophets of God

A Prophet of God

They had been hidden in a cave

He had been hidden by the brook Cherith and in a widow’s home in Zarephath

Obadiah had provided for them bread and water

The Lord had provided him with food and water


Do you see what happened?  Obadiah did for these men what the Lord did for Elijah.  He was God’s instrument to care for his prophets.


The Lord still works today.   He is the God who provides.  But He does not always provide by sending ravens or by miraculously extending a supply of oil and flour.  More often than not, He supplies through an Obadiah - a man who is willing to be an instrument for God.





5                       Then Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys; perhaps we will find grass and keep the horses and mules alive, and not have to kill some of the cattle.”

6                       So they divided the land between them to survey it; Ahab went one way by himself and Obadiah went another way by himself. (1 Kings 18:5-6).


Ahab calls for Obadiah and commissions him for a special task.  It is a task in which both king and steward will share.  They will both go out and search for water.




Worshiped Baal

Feared the Lord

He was concerned about keeping horses and mules alive

He had been concerned with hiding the prophets of the Lord


We will not read that either of them was successful in finding water.  But Obadiah succeeded in finding the One who brings water.  And with this success would come a test.


Have you ever noticed that testings do not usually come while we are in church all cozy and asleep - or even when we are listening to inspiring hymns and stimulating messages?  They do not normally come when you are having a mountaintop experience.  More often than not, they come when you are in the dry place - when you are faced with difficult personalities, with temptation, and with the normal pressures of life.





7                       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.’” (1 Kings 18:7-8).


These to men stand in contrast to one another.  On the one hand, both were men who feared the Lord and who had been used by Him to serve others.  Both had manifested they love of the Lord by their actions, risking their very lives to do His work.

On the other hand, Elijah had just come from a time of special preparation and solitude with the Lord.  He had seen the Lord raise the widow’s son from the dead.  And when the Lord commanded him to go and speak to the king, he was ready to obey without question.


It had been different with Obadiah.  He was the servant of an unbeliever and living in the midst of idolatry.  Though he endured in his faith, he had likely been without the fellowship and encouragement of other believers.  Thus when he is given instructions to go and announce the coming of Elijah, he responds with fear.




When God told him to do something, he did it without question.

When Elijah told him to call Ahab, he hesitated and questioned.

He was a man of faith and courage.

He was a man of fear.





9                       He said, “What sin have I committed, that you are giving your servant into the hand of Ahab to put me to death?

10                     “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.

13                     “Has it not been told to my master what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, that I hid a hundred prophets of the Lord by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water?

14                     “And now you are saying, ‘Go, say to your master, “Behold, Elijah is here’; he will then kill me.” (1 Kings 18:9-14).


Elijah has been declared Public Enemy Number One.  There is a warrant out for his arrest.  His picture is on wanted posters throughout the land.  Ahab has gone so far as to send emissaries to other countries seeking for Elijah that he might be extradited back to Israel.  But Elijah has been nowhere to be found.  It is as though the Spirit of the Lord has snatched him off the face of the earth.


Now Elijah is back.  And he wants Obadiah to go and to announce that he is back.  Obadiah has a problem with this.  His problem is that he is certain that it is the Lord who has kept Elijah out of Ahab’s clutches.  And he believes that the Lord is going to continue to keep Elijah out of Ahab’s clutches.  He doesn’t want to be the one to announce that Elijah is back, only to have the Lord snatch him away again.  Obadiah had several problems.


1.         Obadiah had a problem with Fear.


He was afraid of what might be the reaction of Ahab.  And this fear made him timid.


            For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

            Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,  9  who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted un in Christ Jesus from all eternity (2 Timothy 1:7-9).


We are not told that we will never suffer.  Rather we are told to be bold in the face of suffering.  We have a source of power that can overcome all persecution.


2.         Obadiah had a problem with Failure.


His view of failure was that it must be a punishment from God.  He immediately asks the question, “What sin did I commit?”  He did not realize that it is possible to do everything correctly and to still have bad things happen.


It is true that one of the reasons for sufferings is as a result of discipline.  But this is only one reason that suffering comes and problems do not always come as a result of sin.


3.         Obadiah had a problem with Faith.


He had become a bit paranoid and this is evidence that he was not trusting in the Lord in this midst of this situation.





            Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.”(1 Kings 18:15).


Elijah now moves to comfort and to confirm Obadiah in the message which he has given to him.


1.         He Proclaimed God’s Person


This is seen in the words, “As the Lord of Hosts lives.”  The title, “Lord of hosts or armies” is a reference to the strength and power of God.  And He is the God who LIVES.  This is in opposition to the gods of wood and stone which the pagans worshiped.


This was an oath.  Elijah says, “If this does not take place, then may the living God no longer be living.”  God did the same for us.  He tells us that when He could swear by no greater, He swore by Himself.  The impact of such a promise is that you can trust in Him.


2.         He Pointed to His Call and Commitment.


This is seen in the words, “before whom I stand.”  This is the language of servanthood.  Elijah assures Obadiah that he is here to serve the Lord and not himself.  He is looking out for God’s best interests, not his own.  His actions take into account that he is a servant of the Lord.


3.         He Promised to Not Let Obadiah Down


He says, “You can count on me not to leave you standing along before Ahab - I will show myself to him today.”  The emphasis here is:  “You can count on me because I am counting on the Lord.”





            So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah. (1 Kings 18:16).


How do we know that Obadiah believed the words of Elijah?  Because of his OBEDIENCE.  Here is the principle.  Obedience is always the outward manifestation of faith.  Do you believe the promises of God?  Then demonstrate your belief by obeying the commands of God.


Our example is Jesus.  He is the One who came to earth to be completely obedient to His Heavenly Father.  His obedience was unto death.  Obadiah asked that he might obey and be delivered from death.  His prayer was answered.  Jesus also went to His Father with a request.  His request was that the cup of suffering and of death might pass from Him.  But He went to the cross because it was the only way that you and I could be spared the suffering and death we deserved.


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