Today: [1 Kings Chapter Eighteen]: Getting Results Like Elijah. In this chapter Elijah meets with Ahab. He declares a contest with the prophets of Baal and the Lord answers by fire. This is one of the most well known stories in the bible. The important thing to realize is the importance of prayer in this narrative. Everything God does in this chapter is in response to prayer. When we make room for prayer in our lives and cry out to God with the earnestness, and transparency that Elijah did – then we will see “Elijah Results”.
[1Ki 18:1-46 KJV] 1 And it came to pass [after] many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. 2 And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And [there was] a sore famine in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which [was] the governor of [his] house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly: 4 For it was [so], when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) 5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts. 6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself. 7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, [Art] thou that my lord Elijah? 8 And he answered him, I [am]: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah [is here]. 9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? 10 [As] the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, [He is] not [there]; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not. 11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah [is here]. 12 And it shall come to pass, [as soon as] I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and [so] when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth. 13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah [is here]: and he shall slay me. 15 And Elijah said, [As] the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to day.
In this chapter the famine and drought conditions continue for three years in Israel by the word of the Lord. The situation is so severe that even the royal house of Ahab is suffering. Ahab’s chief steward Obadiah is sent out to look for grass and water in fear of losing the remaining livestock. This Obadiah is the same person who writes the book of Obadiah that will be studied in the course of our reading through the bible. This time in Israel is important to us because it is referred to by James in the book of James as an example of prevailing prayer:
[Jas 5:16-18 KJV] 16 Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
As it was with king Asa, Elijah was an imperfect man with a perfect heart before God. He was a complicated person with much inner conflict but his earnestness in prayer prevailed before God. As powerful and unique a person as Elijah was the scripture goes to great lengths to tell us that you and I have much in common with this man. We are encouraged that when it comes to answered prayer and prevailing before God Elijah is not a singular exception. As Elijah prevailed before God so we will prevail before God if we are earnest. The word earnest here really doesn’t convey everything from the original language. It means to put your heart into prayer and also to make room for prayer in your life – to give place to heartfelt prayer. Elijah was passionate, honest and transparent in prayer and just as importantly he made room for prayer in his life. It is so easy for us to crowd prayer out of our lives. David said that he would seek the Lord early in morning. Jesus would go out to a place of prayer on a regular basis. The writer of the Hebrews describes the earnestness of Jesus prayers:
[Heb 5:7 KJV] 7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
If Jesus Himself, the sinless son of God felt the need for such earnest prayer in His human condition then any lesser response on our part is backsliddenness and endangering to our soul. Let us repent now and make room for prayer in our lives. We need prayer more than we need our paychecks. We need prayer more than we need our relaxation time. We need prayer more than we need to go to church. We need prayer just as much as we need our Bibles yet how great is our neglect of both? Let us repent today and not be so arrogant as to live another day without giving place to heartfelt prayer in our lives.
Elijah seeks out Obadiah and we see one prophet working now with another. Notice the deference of Obadiah to Elijah. He isn’t competitive or territorial as we see many ministers today in their dealings with one another. He is also hesitant to comply with Elijah’s request for a meeting with Ahab. Elijah apparently had a reputation for disappearing and being caught up to heaven and coming back down at some other place. Obadiah wants to make sure that Elijah will be there when he gets back with Ahab.
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, [Art] thou he that troubleth Israel? 18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. 19 Now therefore send, [and] gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. 20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. And the people answered him not a word. 22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, [even] I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets [are] four hundred and fifty men. 23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay [it] on wood, and put no fire [under]: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay [it] on wood, and put no fire [under]: 24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. 25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress [it] first; for ye [are] many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire [under]. 26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed [it], and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But [there was] no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he [is] a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, [or] peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. 28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the [time] of the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that [there was] neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. 30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD [that was] broken down.
Obadiah brings Ahab to Elijah. The part that Obadiah plays in this well known bible story is very under rated. Do you see what is happening? One prophet is bringing the king to another prophet. That wouldn’t happen today. Prophets are very territorial and other ministers as well. Obadiah depended on Ahab for his living. For Obadiah to be a steward and a house prophet was a very influential and important position that he was putting at risk in bringing Ahab to Elijah – knowing that Elijah isn’t going to say nice things to Ahab. We cannot under estimate the integrity Obadiah shows in this situation.
Ahab shows up and accuses Elijah of troubling the nation. Elijah points out that it isn’t he that troubles the nation but Ahab and his idolatrous lifestyle. Prophets get the blame for many things because when they show up what is in the people and in the situation will manifest. No matter what your expectation is regarding the prophetic you need to have your heart ready because what is in you will manifest when the prophet in your life comes before you.
Elijah declares a contest between the prophets of Baal and the one true God. Don’t ever be afraid to challenge the enemy. The point for Elijah was not about showing off in front of Jezebel but about REPAIRING THE ALTAR. In this entire exchange the first thing Elijah does when given leave to do so is to repair the altar. Why? Because he is a man (as James wrote) of earnest prayer. Never forget that the altar was an altar of prayer. Never forget that it was not Elijah’s preaching or prophesying but his PRAYING that shook the nation and brought revival. Satan does not fear our prophesies or our preaching. He does not fear our worship teams or our church programs. He does not fear any aspect of our lives as believers more than he fears and is terrorized by our prayers.
31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: 32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid [him] on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour [it] on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. 34 And he said, Do [it] the second time. And they did [it] the second time. And he said, Do [it] the third time. And they did [it] the third time. 35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. 36 And it came to pass at [the time of] the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou [art] God in Israel, and [that] I [am] thy servant, and [that] I have done all these things at thy word. 37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou [art] the LORD God, and [that] thou hast turned their heart back again. 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that [was] in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw [it], they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he [is] the God; the LORD, he [is] the God. 40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. 41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for [there is] a sound of abundance of rain. 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, 43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, [There is] nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. 44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare [thy chariot], and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. 46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
Elijah prays and God answers by fire. The altar God answers is the altar of prayer. Notice also that it was a unified altar representing all twelve tribes in Israel. If you are praying to get over on your brothers and sisters in Christ you will not have your answer. Just as in Jacob’s day all the shepherds must come together to roll away the stone from the well’s mouth. God will not answer by fire upon an altar that leaves out the church across town or that group or minister that you don’t like and would be willing to exclude from what God is doing. Pettiness and competition must go or nothing changes.
God answers by fire and the prophets of Baal are destroyed but Elijah is not done. The rains have yet to come. It is one thing to defeat the enemy but the answer from heaven is still withheld. Elijah goes up on Mount Carmel and prays seven times. He cries out to God and finally a cloud barely discernable to the human eye appears. Elijah doesn’t wait for the full manifestation but declares the abundance of rain and the drought is brought to an end.
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