Today read 1 Kings 18, Amos 4, and 1 Peter 4.
This devotional is about 1 Kings 18.
Sometimes the most joyous times of the Christian life are called “mountain top experiences.” Elijah experienced one of those literally and figuratively in today’s passage.
After a long absence of over two years (v. 1a), Elijah presented himself to Ahab according to the Lord’s command (v. 1b-2). Elijah approached Obadiah, Ahab’s palace administrator, who was devoted to the Lord and his work (vv. 3b-8) but terrified that Ahab would kill him if he falsely claimed to locate Elijah (vv. 9-14). After reassuring Obadiah (v. 15), Elijah met Ahab and challenged him to contest (vv. 16-24).
The contest was straightforward:
- Build two identical altars with bulls on top of them, ready to be offered as burnt offerings (vv. 22-23).
- Have your prophets call on your god Baal. Then Elijah would call on YHWH.
- The god who sent fire to consume the offering was the one true God (v. 24).
YHWH won this battle easily (vv. 24-40) and then provided the rain that he had withheld for three years (vv. 40-45). God even empowered Elijah to run faster than Ahab’s chariot and horses could carry him (v. 46).
What stands out to me, though, is Ahab’s greeting (if you can call it that) when he first saw Elijah: “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (v. 17). Ahab said this to Elijah because of Elijah’s prophecy and its fulfillment that there would be no rain in Israel until Elijah said so, at the Lord’s direction, of course.
Ahab blamed Elijah for the extreme drought that blanketed the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This is an all-too human tendency, isn’t it? When life gets complicated and difficult because of our sins, we tend to blame God or, at times, blame his servants who call us to repentance.
I have experienced this personally when involved in church discipline issues. We try our best as elders to be compassionate, kind, and patient with people in sin. Often, though, they lash out and condemn you for being unloving or unkind or worse. Elijah would accept no blame from the mouth of Ahab. In verse 18 he laid the blame where it belonged—on Ahab’s head: “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.”
Sin is always destructive; it is usually pleasurable and promises good things ahead, but instead of delivering the promised goodness, it brings consequences. This is why it is so much wiser to repent when you are confronted with your sin rather than to deny or try to evade accountability.