Summary: Elijah challenges the people of Israel about the reality of God in their lives.
Elijah’s confrontation I Kings 18:17-40
We’ve looked at Elijah in terms of where he’s been and what he’s done at the beginning of each week. And now I want to focus for a few moments on the man himself, even though we don’t know too much about his background. For instance, we know nothing about his family, his religious upbringing, whether or not he came from a background of wealth or poverty, or even his education. That fact that we don’t know any of these things is relevant from the standpoint that this tells us that none of these things are important as far as who he is and what he came to do. We do know that he was obedient to the will and the word of God. He went where he was sent and he went when he was sent. There doesn’t seem to be any hesitation about him. Elijah had died to self and he was constantly at the disposal of God. He was God’s man with God’s message. He knew God and God was at work both in him and through him. He had no home and no family ties or anything else that would hold him back from serving the Lord and not because no one would have him but for the simple reason that this was how he could best serve the Lord. I see this and I say for him this was great. If that’s what your called to do. The Bible says some people are called to be single. I have met a few of these people and they are not single because they haven’t found the one they spent the whole lives looking for. They’re single because they chose to be and they’re content. God has created them to be like they are for His purposes.
Now let me just summarize where we’ve been so far.
1. First we saw the provision of God. As Elijah went to Cherith and he was fed by the birds and drank from the brook. From there he went to Zaraphath where we saw the miraculous provision of the oil and flour as God provided for him, the widow and her son.
2. Secondly we saw the protecting hand of God. Ahab had searched and questioned everybody and everywhere but the prophet was no where to be found. He couldn’t find him because God hid him. Psalm 91:1 says, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” For us today I believe the secret place of the Almighty is found in the place of prayer. It’s that secret place where we spend time with Him. And that’s exactly what Elijah did in Zaraphath.
3. Then we saw the power of God as He provided life from the dead when the widow’s son was raised. And you will remember that I mentioned that this was the first instance of anyone being brought back from the dead.
4. And now we see his position as Elijah stands on the side of God. There were four hundred and fifty false prophets on one side and Elijah is alone on the other. God tells him later on that there were seven thousand others in Israel that didn’t bow the knee to Baal but we wonder where they were that day. I think if they had opened this service by singing ‘who is one the Lord’s side’ they might be able to hear Obadiah mumble to himself, “I am, sometimes” but that would be it. Elijah would be doing the number as a solo.
Today we’ll see how God proves to the people and to us that He’s the One who’s pre-eminent or the One and only One. As He says elsewhere, “I am God and there is none beside Me.” And so the stage is set for a confrontation.
Ahab summons the people and they all come to Mt. Carmel. When I first read this I wondered what Ahab is up to but I think he’s so desperate for rain, he’s willing to try anything. And the people have all come to see Elijah. There are two kinds of prophets in the Old Testament. There are speaking prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. They seem to major in areas like prophecy and judgement on unbelief. And then there were the miracle working prophets like Elijah and Elisha. They never preach long sermons but they’re like E.F. Hutton. “When he speaks, everybody listens.”
I think the people not only came because the king told them to, but they also wanted to see Elijah, to see if he would do a miracle. I mean after all, he was the guy who stopped the heavens from raining for the last three and a half years. I think these people are kind of like King Herod who was happy to see Jesus because it says he wanted to see Him work a miracle. Then again these people might have been just as happy to see an execution. No doubt they were ticked off about the drought as Ahab was and so they would be just as happy as him to see the prophet get what was coming to him. Then again, they may have just come out of curiosity. To answer the simple question. Who was this man? Was he the mouthpiece of God or was he a madman? Remember there was no movies and no television. So what else did they have to do?