1 Kings 17:1
Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (NIV).
The situation in Israel was desperate. In little more than a half century, the visible people of God had turned from the living to idols. Ahab had led the way into deeper spiritual darkness. This was a “reverse conversion”, in contrast to what had happened to the Thessalonians: For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God… (1 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV). Baal worship was substituted for the worship of the Lord, and it looked like no one was living for the glory of God. Years of isolation strengthened that impression in Elijah’s soul.
How did God respond to this challenge to his authority? Did he destroy those people? He could have, as he put to death an entire generation of their forefathers. Did he turn away from them forever? No, because his relationship wasn’t based on the nations faithfulness to him but on his to his promise and oath. Did he send them into exile? That was a real possibility, but God first sent a prophet to testify to his reality. He sent Elijah to speak for him, and the Lord acted powerfully through him. In a new time of spiritual declension in the western world, we need this account of Elijah to arouse us to live for the Lord our God, and to rekindle our faith in his all-ability.
Elijah was convinced of God’s existence. The Lord was the foundation of his world and life view. He confessed that the Lord is alive and able to act in this world. “God” is not merely an idea for troubled and confused people. Nor is the living God and the story of his glory in Christ intended to be a manipulative metanarrative. (We do not deny that evil people abuse and misuse others with their perverted version of the Bible’s message. But that is not God’s intent.) God is the Almighty, the Creator and Controller of all things. The existence of our Sovereign God has been vigorously denied for generations in western thought. We, his people, need to vigorously assert his sovereignty.
- Our God is in heaven and does whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3 CSB).
- The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths (Psalm 135:6 NIV).
Elijah confessed that the Lord is the God of Israel. As an Israelite, he called his fellow Israelites to agree to this fact. They may have walked away from the Lord, but he was faithful to the covenant. We can be confident, because the Lord Christ is faithful to his people. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV). God was shortly to lead Elijah down a most unusual path teach him contentment and the greatness of his love for his people Israel.
Elijah lived a way of life separate from the viewpoints and practices of others. He was faithful to the Lord, though many others had fallen away. Elijah would come into repeated conflicts with idolatrous Ahab and his followers. This was no easier for Elijah than it is for us. As James wrote, Elijah was as human as we are… (James 5:17a NLT). We too often act on the false assumption that people in the Bible were persons of “super-faith” and suppose that it was rather easy for them to do their exploits. I have called Elijah “a man of courage”, but courage is something that you’re forced into when you lack other alternatives. He will act courageously, because of his obedient faith in the Lord. Elijah remained godly in his lifestyle, in spite of the growing wickedness of the nation. This would lead him on a spiritual adventure.
Grace and peace, David