Summary: This is the second sermon in a series of four exploring the life and ministry of the prophet Elijah.

Elijah Part II

“Showdown on the Mountain”

Let’s begin this morning by reviewing briefly our previous sermon in this series dedicated to the life and ministry of Elijah. First of all, do you remember what Elijah’s name in the Hebrew means? It means “Yahweh is my God.” This prophet’s name very clearly defined his mission, to demonstrate or prove that “Yahweh is, in fact, not only his God but the only true and living God.”

At the time, the nation of Israel as a whole no longer exclusively worshiped Yahweh, they had progressively integrated the pagan god Baal and his female counterpart, Asherah, into their religion. In fact, king Ahab and his wicked queen Jezebel were well on the way to making Baal the primary god of Israel. As a result, God brought a severe drought upon the land and He commissioned Elijah to proclaim its soon arrival.

We remember that the moment Elijah pronounced this judgment to the king, he was told by God to flee to a remote location where he would be fed by the ravens and drink from a brook. So he followed the Lord’s instructions, and after a while when the brook finally dried up, he was told to go and find a certain widow in Zarapheth and stay with her. While Elijah lived with this poor Phoenician widow and her son, God miraculously supplied them with flour and oil in the midst of one of the most severe famines Israel had ever seen.

During the entire length of the drought, Elijah was in hiding. Because ever since he announced to the king that it was not going to rain, he became the most wanted man in all of Israel. You might say that King Ahab and his wife Jezebel issued an APB on this troublemaker. In fact, during the course of the drought, Jezebel had put to death all of the Lord’s prophets that she could find. Yet, the prophet she wanted most of all seemed to have disappeared into thin air. So, for three long years, not a single drop of rain fell on the land and for three years king Ahab and Jezebel diligently searched for Elijah.

In 1Kings 18 is recorded “phase two” of God’s plan to reclaim His children. And to initiate this part of the plan, God finally tells Elijah; “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” There’s something very important that I want us to remember about Elijah—he was quite human; he was subject to the same weaknesses and fears that we are. In James 5:17; James tells us that Elijah was a man “just like us.” With that in mind, I want you to think about the reservations that Elijah may have had with the thoughts of confronting the king of Israel knowing that he would enjoy nothing more than to kill him. Once again, God sends Elijah somewhere he would much rather avoid. Yet Elijah faithfully obeys the word of the Lord and, fighting the most powerful human instinct, self-preservation, he sets out for Samaria.

Meanwhile the famine had grown so severe that even the king’s royal household was very much in despair. The royal mules and livestock were in danger of starving to death. So king Ahab himself and his most trusted official, Obadiah, set out to scour the land in hopes of finding somewhere for his animals to graze. The bible tells us that, in order to cover more ground, the two split up and began searching.

Now you may or may not know that Obadiah was secretly a devout believer in the Lord God of Israel; in fact, while Jezebel was busy killing all the Lord’s prophets, he hid a hundred of them in two caves and continued to supply them with food and water. Obviously, if the queen ever discovered his treasonous act, he too would be killed.

Anyway, as Obadiah was walking along that day, searching for this illusive grass, Elijah was on his way to Samaria, and their paths intersected. When they met, Obadiah immediately recognized him as the Lord’s prophet and bowed down to show him honor. Elijah told him, “go and tell your master that Elijah is here.”

Obadiah’s expression quickly changed from one of joy to one of fear and disbelief. He said, “what have I done wrong that you are handing me over to Ahab to be put to death? My master has sent someone to every nation and kingdom searching for you, and when they claimed you were not there, he made them swear that they could not find you. If I go and tell the king that I have found you and then the Spirit of the Lord takes you away somewhere, he will most certainly kill me!” (1Kings 18:8-14 {paraphrased})

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