Royalty and Ruin


Elijah Confronts King Ahab

This chapter is based on 1 Kings 17:1-7.

Among the mountains east of Jordan there lived a man of faith and prayer whose fearless ministry was to stop the rapid spread of apostasy. Though he occupied no high position in life, Elijah entered on his mission confident that God would give him abundant success. His was the voice of one crying in the wilderness to rebuke sin and press back the tide of evil. And, while he came as a reprover of sin, his message offered comfort to sin-sick souls. RR 42.1

As Elijah saw Israel going deeper into idolatry, he became indignant. God had done great things for His people “that they might observe His statutes and keep His laws.” Psalm 105:45. But unbelief was quickly separating the chosen nation from the Source of their strength. Viewing this apostasy from his mountain home, in anguish of soul Elijah called for God to stop the people in their wicked course, to bring judgments on them if need be, that they might come to repentance. RR 42.2

Elijah’s prayer was answered. The time had come when God must speak by means of judgments. The worshipers of Baal claimed that dew and rain came from the ruling forces of nature, and that through the creative energy of the sun the earth brought forth abundantly. The apostate tribes of Israel must be shown the foolishness of trusting to Baal for material blessings. Until they turned to God with repentance, neither dew nor rain would fall on the land. RR 42.3

God entrusted Elijah with the mission of delivering Heaven’s message of judgment to Ahab. He did not seek to be the Lord’s messenger; the word of the Lord came to him. To obey the divine call seemed to invite swift destruction at the hand of the wicked king, but the prophet set out at once and traveled night and day until he reached the palace. Dressed in the coarse garments usually worn by the prophets, he passed the guards apparently unnoticed and stood for a moment before the astonished king. RR 42.4

Elijah made no apology for his abrupt appearance. One greater than the ruler of Israel had commissioned him to speak. “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand,” he declared, “there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” RR 42.5

On his way to Samaria, Elijah had passed by ever-flowing streams and stately forests that seemed beyond the reach of drought. The prophet might have wondered how streams that had never ceased their flow could become dry, or how those hills and valleys could be burned with drought. But he allowed no doubts to linger. God’s word could not fail. Like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, the message of judgment fell on the ears of the wicked king; but before Ahab could recover from his astonishment, Elijah disappeared. And the Lord went before him, making the way plain. “Turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” RR 43.1

The king inquired diligently, but the prophet was not to be found. Queen Jezebel, angered over the message that had locked up the treasures of heaven, lost no time in conferring with the priests of Baal, who united in cursing the prophet and defying Jehovah. News quickly spread throughout the land regarding Elijah’s denunciation of Israel’s sins and his prophecy of swift-coming punishment. Some became concerned, but in general the people received the heavenly message with scorn and ridicule. RR 43.2

The prophet’s words went into immediate effect. The earth, unrefreshed by dew or rain, became dry, and vegetation withered. Streams never known to fail began to decrease and brooks to dry up. Yet the leaders urged the people to have confidence in Baal and to ignore the prophecy of Elijah as idle words. Do not fear the God of Elijah, they urged. It is Baal who brings the harvest and provides for man and beast. RR 43.3