1 Kings 14–18: Elijah & Israel

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 25: Tuesday

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals.”
1 Kings 18:17–18

Tuesday’s Bible reading is 1 Kings 14–18. These chapters continue the record of Rehoboam, king of Judah, and Jeroboam, king of Israel and the successors to their thrones. It’s a woeful tale of conspiracy, rebellion, slaughter and war. With the exception of Asa, a king of Judah, it’s a story of idolatry, religious prostitution and leading the people into sin against God. Ahab and Jezebel are introduced in these chapters—a king and queen of Israel whose notoriety made them familiar to this day—and the name Jezebel is still synonymous with an immoral woman.

The lives of Ahab and Jezebel are intertwined with one of the most famous of all of the prophets of Israel—Elijah.

1 Kings 17–2 Kings 2 is called the Elijah cycle and 2 Kings 3–10 is the Elisha cycle because these two sections are the records of the two prophets.1 William LaSor has these comments about Elijah:

“Elijah, who is to the prophets as Moses is to the law, is presented to us without introduction other than that he is called ‘Elijah the Tishbite’. Yet it is obvious that there must have been quite a history of his activities before the event in 17:1….Certainly there had to be an anterior reputation for Elijah to create such an effect upon Ahab, particularly for Ahab to take seriously the prophecy of drought in 17:1….One measure of his stature is to be found in the fact that he was the man raised up by God at the time that Baal worship threatened the very existence of the worship of Yahweh in Israel. His place in the NT also underscores his importance. The forerunner of the Christ was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Lk. 1:17). Moses and Elijah, as representatives of the law and of the prophets, stood with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt. 17:3; Lk. 9:31)….Skinner says of Elijah, ‘He is to be ranked as the greatest religious personality that had been raised up since Moses’ (CB, p. 222).”2

1 Kings 17–18 contains miracles done by Elijah as well as the enthralling story of his great confrontation with 450 prophets of Baal in chapter 18.

At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God.”
1 Kings 18:36–39

LaSor writes:

“The contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel is one of the most dramatic stories in the OT. Historically, we could say that it saved Yahweh-worship in Israel. In view of the subsequent marriage-alliance between Israel and Judah, we might even extend this to say that the knowledge of the Lord in both Israel and Judah could have been wiped out forever if the Lord had not raised up Elijah at this moment. The contest was not to demonstrate which of two gods was greater, but to demonstrate which was the true God and the other no god at all.”3

Yet James writes, Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he encourages us to pray with the examples of Elijah’s prayers for drought and rain. That’s incredible—may we understand, as Elijah did, that the Lord, He is God, and live accordingly.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2, 3William Sanford LaSor, “1 and 2 Kings,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie,
J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., pp. 341, 349; 341–342; 343.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

One thought on “1 Kings 14–18: Elijah & Israel

  1. Pingback: 1 Kings 19–22 |

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