The man of faith need not be afraid to risk his all on the honor of God (v. 23).
Let opposers who talk of the failure of Christianity, do what it does —
bring down the consuming, cleansing, illuminating power of God into the lives of men.
I Kings 1
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.
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.
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.
I Kings – J. Vernon McGee
1 Kings 18:1-15 – Behold, Elijah!
“The word of the LORD came” to Elijah on four successive occasions—I Kings 17:2, 8; 18:1; 19:9. God has many things to say to us, if we will only listen. His word may find us in very different places, and direct us to varied duties; but to live by it is to execute the perfect plan of life.
Obadiah was a good man, but weak. He did his best to shield the prophets and to keep the true light from becoming extinguished—I Kings 18:13. But court favor had corrupted him. He stood before Ahab, while Elijah stood before God. Our Lord said that soft raiment and the king’s court go together, Luke 7:25; and in the enervating atmosphere of a palace, it is granted to very few to retain the spirit and power of Elijah or of the Baptist. Who would not rather be Elijah than Obadiah! Elijah dared confront Ahab as the troubler of Israel, while Obadiah daily feared for his own life. Elijah rooted up idolatry, while Obadiah endeavored only to check its excesses. Obadiah sought grass for the royal steeds, but Elijah’s prayer brought the rain. Let us dare to stand for God, though we stand alone!
1 Kings 18:16-29 – The God That Answereth not
“The God that answereth by fire, let him be God.” We are thrilled as we read these words. Our altars stand unkindled, our sacrifices are unconsumed, our churches do not witness the descending of the holy flame, and our sermons are damp tinder. It ought not so to be. The Baptist said that our Lord would baptize with the Holy Spirit as by fire, Matthew 3:11, and Jesus Himself taught that he came to kindle fire on the earth, Luke 12:49. The seven lamps burn evermore before the throne, Revelation 4:5. It was as fire that the Holy Spirit fell on the sitting group in the upper room–sitting because they had reached an end of praying, and were now only waiting for the fulfillment of the promise, Acts 2:2-3.
Nothing is needed more absolutely than the answer by fire. There are many who, like the prophets of Baal, endeavor to kindle it. But when prevented from putting their own false fire into the stack of wood, they are paralyzed. The frantic entreaties, the self-inflicted wounds, the monotonous chant, are insufficient. They are carnal and arouse only the worst emotions. Spiritual conditions have to be fulfilled, as Elijah showed; then God bears witness “by signs and wonders” and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.
1 Kings 18:30-40 – The God That Answereth by Fire
Too many halt, or limp, between two opinions. The altar of consecration to Christ has been thrown down, I Kings 18:30. The worship of Baal, which stands for creature-energy, has secretly stolen away our allegiance from Him, who is very jealous of any strange affinities; and as the necessary result, our heart is drought-smitten and our sphere of service is like a parched land. The idolatrous priests had everything in their favor, for at noon the sun-god was on his throne; but there was no voice. It is an awful thing when a man listens for his god to speak, and there is no reply!
Elijah built again the ruined altar which for long years had stood on Carmel’s height, I Kings 19:10-11. Let us build again the altars of personal consecration, of family piety, and of national religion. Elijah prayed; as the Apostle expressed it, James 5:17, he put all the passion of his mighty nature into prayer. As a result, because they had been shown to be deceivers, he destroyed the prophets of Baal with a ruthless hand. These are the conditions of revival and refreshing. Let any church give itself to consecration, fervent prayer, and the excision of wrong, and there need be no anxiety as to the result—there will be an abundance of rain.
1 Kings 18:41-46 – Exaltation
When the priests had been executed, the quick ear of the prophet detected the hurrying rain-clouds. Note the contrast between Ahab and the prophet. The one ascended from the Kishon gorge to eat and drink in his pavilion until the darkened heavens made him drive-post-haste to Jezreel; the other went up to pray! which do we care for most—to eat and drink or to pray? God help us! The answer that our hearts utter is far from satisfactory. But what praying was this! So humble, so intense, so expectant. Six times the servant came down from the spur, saying, “There is nothing,” and a seventh time he was sent back to watch the Mediterranean sky-line—this time, not in vain!
1 Kings 18:42—So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel.
Such differences obtain still. The children of this world and the children of light are manifest. What though the bodies of four hundred and fifty prophets lay slain in the gorge of the Kishon; or that by one great act Elijah had hewn down the upas tree, the deadly, influence of which had corrupted Palestine; or that the long-expected rain was in the air—yet Ahab must eat and drink. These are the things which the children of the world seek after. Watch and pray, lest you enter into this temptation. Let appetite be kept well in hand—your servant, not your master; and see to it that you are capable of such profound and absorbing interest in the things of the Kingdom of God, as to count the gratification of physical desire unworthy to be compared with the high delights of service, prayer, and communion with the unseen.
Though he must have been exhausted with the excitements and efforts of the day, Elijah must spend the evening hour with God. Though he knew that the rain was near, he felt that his prayers were a needful condition for its bestowment. Though any part of Carmel might have become his oratory, he sought the lonely solitudes of the summit with the outspread sea before him, that his soul might hold undisturbed vigil, and that he might see over the wide expanse of the ocean the first tokens of the coming answer. His attitude denoted his humility. His repeated injunction to the lad, his perseverance. His success approved his faith.
Stand, O suppliant soul, on the highest point of expectant hope; see the hurrying answer, which was being prepared from pools and lakes and seas, long ere thy prayer began. “Before they call, I will answer” (Isaiah 65:24).