Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.IV. THE PROPHET ELIJAH AND KING AHAB
1. Elijah’s Prediction and Miracles
1. Elijah’s message to Ahab (1Kings 17:1)
2. At the brook Cherith (1Kings 17:2-7)
3. With the widow of Zarephath (1Kings 17:8-16)
4. The widow’s son restored to life (1Kings 17:17-24)
Upon this scene of complete departure of God, when Ahab and his heathen wife worshipped Baal and all the vileness connected with that cult flourished in Israel, there appeared suddenly one of the greatest of God’s prophets, Elijah (my God is Jehovah) the Tishbite. “A grander figure never stood out even against the Old Testament sky than that of Elijah. As Israel’s apostasy had reached its highest point in the time of Ahab, so the Old Testament antagonism to it in the person and mission of Elijah.”--”He was the impersonation of the Old Testament in one of its aspects: that of grandeur and judgment” (A. Edersheim). His miracles, like those of Moses, have a judicial character. Heaven is shut in answer to his prayer and fire falls from heaven at his word. The last promise in the Old Testament is concerning Elijah the prophet who is to appear before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, to turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:5-6). See also the Lord’s words concerning the coming of Elijah (Matthew 17:10-13). He appeared with Moses on the transfiguration mountain. In the book of Revelation two witnesses are mentioned who witness among Israel before the great day of the Lord comes. Though their names are not given, the miracles they perform clearly show that these witnesses will be like Moses and Elijah. “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy (Elijah), and have power over waters to turn them to blood and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will (Moses).” “And if any man will hurt them fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies (Elijah)” Revelation 11:5-6. James speaks of Elijah also and tells us he was a great man of prayer.
He appeared suddenly upon the scene and said to wicked Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” He had, no doubt, like other great servants of God, his training in secret.
The passage in James gives us the key: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain” (James 5:17). It was in secret that he sought God’s presence and wrestled in prayer till the Lord sent him forth with the message of judgment. Prayer, persevering prayer, is the one great need in the days of declension and departure from God, and it is the one resource of God’s faithful ones. And how little true and continued waiting upon God there is in the days of apostasy! When Elijah delivered the message to Ahab and said “according to my word” he did not speak presumptuously, but as standing in the Lord’s own presence as his mouthpiece he had a perfect right to speak thus with divine authority.
As soon as he had delivered the message the Lord told him to hide himself by the brook Cherith. There he was miraculously fed by the ravens. He was in the appointed place and the Lord took care of him in His own way. Rationalistic critics have made the absurd statement that the word “orebim”--ravens--should be arabim, which means Arabs. (Thus Canon Farrar in the Expositor’s Bible: “The word (orebim) may equally well mean people of the city Oreb, or of the rock Oreb; or merchants as in Ezekiel 27:27; or Arabians.) But the Lord had commanded the birds, so shy in their nature, to supply His servant with the needed food. Twice every day they ministered to his wants. How this shows the omnipotence of the Lord. There is nothing too hard for Him. If we are in the right place, the place He assigns to us, we shall find that He still provides for those who trust and obey. The brook dried up. Surely his faith was being tested. Then he was sent to a destitute Gentile widow, who faced starvation. And concerning her the Lord said: “I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.” The Lord who commanded the ravens, commanded the widow. The Lord delights to take the weak things and use them for His glory. And how did Elijah find her? Preparing the last meal for herself and her child. Her faith was tested. She was to make first a little cake for Elijah and bring it unto him and afterwards to do the same for herself and her son. She obeyed and “the barrel of meal wasted not neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the Word of the LORD.” Here was greater faith than in Israel. See also Luke 4:26. The story foreshadows the bringing in of the Gentiles to know the Lord. And when the widow’s son fell ill and died and was restored by Elijah and he delivered him to the mother saying: See, thy son liveth--she made the blessed confession: “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God and that the Word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.” The truth of resurrection both physical and spiritual is here foreshadowed.