After a long time, in the third year of the drought, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth."
I. SOME CRIED FOR LIFE TO NATURE.
1. Such was the case with Ahab.
(1) He had worshipped Baal, the fire of nature. But Baal was now punishing his votaries. Such is the manner in which the "god of this world" repays his dupes.
(2) Yet did not Ahab repent of his folly. For, instead of seeking the living God, who was proving Himself the superior of Baal, he divides the land between himself and the governor of his house, to search for herbage.
(3) Note also the heartlessness of the idolater. He is more concerned for his stud than for his people. "Peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.'
2. He was a specimen of a class
(1) His queen was of the same way of thinking. She had been brought up to worship Baal. She had a masculine temper and swayed the mind of her husband.
(2) The courtiers and the majority of the nation, who thought more of court fashion than of the holy service of Jehovah, bowed the knee to Baal.
II. OTHERS CRIED FOR LIFE TO GOD.
1. Of this number was Elijah.
(1) He recognized God as above nature, when he announced that there would be a departure from the ordinary course of nature in the withholding of dew and rain for successive years. Still he recognizes this when he shows himself to Ahab, believing that God would now give rain (1 Kings 17:1; 1 Kings 18:1, 2).
(2) He recognized God as above nature before these assurances, for he received them in answer to faithful prayer (see James 5:17, 18). This is not mentioned in the history, but implied in his character as a man of God. Note: A man of God is a man of prayer.
2. Obadiah also was of this number.
(1) He "feared the Lord greatly." This arose from the strength of his faith. We cannot fear that in which we do not believe.
(2) His faith was fruitful in good works. He screened one hundred of the Lord's prophets from the violence of Jezebel, and sustained them. "Bread and water," like "daily bread" in the Lord's prayer, is an expression for things needful for the body. And in thus sheltering and nourishing the servants of God, Obadiah hazarded not only the loss of his situation, but also of his head.
(3) One who feared the Lord greatly after this fashion would pray to Him. Piety would move him to it. Patriotism also would move him at this juncture.
3. There were many more who cried to God.
(1) There were the "prophets of the Lord" preserved by Obadiah, and doubtless others also who escaped the vigilance of Jezebel. These would cry to God for life.
(2) And if there were so many prophets, or sons of the prophets, there would be a considerable number of devout persons in Israel notwithstanding the abounding apostasy (see 1 Kings 19:18). There is a great deal of goodness where men little expect to find it. God is the source of life, not only to the body, but also to the soul. Let us seek to Him for life. - J.A.M.
Go, show thyself unto Ahab.
1. It is possible for a man to be very bad in one direction and very tolerant in another. It was so in the case of Ahab. He was the worst of the kings of Israel, yet he kept a governor over his house who feared the Lord greatly.
2. The Lord causes the most wicked men to pay His religion the homage which is due to its excellence. A bad king employs a good governor! The thief likes an honest man for steward. The blasphemer likes a godly teacher for his child.
3. He who is the slave of idolatry becomes an easy prey to the power of cruel tempters. We do not know that Ahab was a cruel man, but we do know that Jezebel was a cruel woman, and Ahab was greatly influenced by his passionate and sanguinary wife.
4. Ahab was a speculative idolater, Jezebel was a practical persecutor; Ahab showed that speculative error is consistent with social toleration. Redeeming points do not restore the whole character. "One swallow does not make a summer."
5. In the same character may be met great faith and great doubt. Obadiah risked his life to save fifty of the prophets of the Lord, yet dare not risk it, without first receiving an oath, for the greatest prophet of all! This mixture we find in every human character. "How abject, how august is man!" In Ahab, Obadiah, Elijah, and Jezebel, we see a fourfold type of human society; there is the speculator, the godly servant, the far-seeing prophet, the cruel persecutor. Society has got no further than this to-day. O wondrous combination! So checked, so controlled, by invisible but benignant power. Speculative error has its counterpart in actual cruelty, and patient worship has its counterpart in daring service. Application.
(1) (2) (3) (J. Parker, D. D.)
(2) (3) (J. Parker, D. D.)
(3) (J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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