The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
TEXT: 1 Kings 18:7-16
Let's review again the theme and purpose of 1
Kings 18. It
is the famous story of Elijah's confrontation with the priests of Baal
In the process of developing this larger story and its truth, a number of smaller incidents occur and each has its own message to tell. In other words, there is the big picture, the main plot of the story, and there are also smaller stories, each with its own lesson. As believers in Christ, we are all part of a big picture that includes many little stories each with opportunities for growth, ministry, and glory to God. Today we want to focus our attention on Elijah's meeting with Obadiah (Ahabís God fearing house governor) and see how Elijah ministered to him.
Three‑and‑a-half years had passed since Elijah
marched up the steps of the palace and into the throne room of King
announce the fact there would be no rain again except by the word of
Prophet who was, of course, but the mouthpiece of the Lord. The clouds
rain had been driven from the
Ahab had searched both the land and the neighboring countries for Elijah, but in vain. He was angry and frustrated over his futile attempts to locate the prophet (). Furthermore, Jezebel had worked her futile vengeance on all the prophets of the Lord that she could get her hands on, as if they had been Elijah's accomplices and their deaths would somehow bring an end to the drought (18:4). Perhaps she thought if all the representatives of Yahweh were exterminated, His power could no longer be exercised in the land. Primarily, it was her desires to get revenge and crush all resistance to her insidious will that drove her to kill the prophets.
Weary day after weary day crept by with the sun
sinking on a cloudless sky over an arid land. There was no sign of
In the meantime, the Word of the Lord came to Elijah who is told to show himself to King Ahab. This meant it was time to demonstrate the power of the true God and to face the nation with a decision to choose for the Lord. Therefore, in the verses that follow, God providentially worked to bring about the meeting with Ahab through another of God's servants named Obadiah. But, as is always the case, the Lord works on many fronts at the same time. Not only was He working to bring Elijah and King Ahab together, but also He would use Elijah in the life of Obadiah to strengthen his faith and broaden his capacity for ministry. This story shows us how that, in the process of using us in God's primary purpose, the Lord also wants to use us with others whom He brings into our lives along the way. LIFE IS FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES FOR MINISTRY IF ONLY WE HAVE EYES TO SEE THEM!
Elijah Encounters Obadiah on the Way (18:7)
Obadiah was a court official in charge of the household of the King; a steward and manager of the palace and all its affairs. This meant he had a high position and the responsibility of leadership himself (vs. 3a). He was also a believer who feared the Lord and was a man of faith (vs. 3b). Because of his faith he had hidden 100 prophets from Jezebel (vs. 12-13). Like all of us, however, his faith needed further growth and maturity. And he needed encouragement.
God is in the business of stretching us to become more effective vessels for His purposes. We, however, like to stay within the comfort zones of our little routines, which include our places of work and even our places of spiritual ministry. This was the case with Obadiah but the Lord had other plans for him - just as He has for us. It was God's plan to use Obadiah to announce Elijah's presence to Ahab. Due to the conditions, this was no small challenge.
"Now as Obadiah was on the way, behold . . ." When did Obadiah face this test and challenge to be God's messenger of Elijah's presence to Ahab? While he was on the job attending to the King's business. This is life. This is where the tests of obedience and challenges come - while we are out involved in the everyday affairs of life. Here is where we meet people and needs and here is where God wants to work to stretch our faith.
Have you ever noticed that the trials of life usually do not come when we are in the church building all cozy and asleep? Excuse us! We mean, singing inspiring hymns and listening to stimulating messages. No! Usually they come when you are not being highly motivated by inspirational settings. Tests and challenges come when we are faced with drought‑like conditions, with difficult personalities, with temptation, and the manifold pressures of life. Then our motivation, our courage, and obedience have to truly come from the Lord and faith in Him.
Illustration: We have all seen old movies
strips of our Marines taking the beachhead on
To further illustrate this, let's compare Elijah and Obadiah: (1) Both were believers, both loved the Word and the Lord. Both had served the Lord and others, and had shown courage. It took the courage of faith for Obadiah to hide 100 prophets and care for them. (2) Elijah, however, had just come from a time of special preparation and solitude with the Lord and with confirmation in the home of the widow and her son. Thus, when the call came to show himself to Ahab, he arose and went, trusting in the Lord. His delight was to serve the Lord and accomplish His purpose. (3) With Obadiah, it had been different. He had been working with unbelievers and living in the midst of idolatry. This was not wrong. Though we are not to be of the world, God has called us to go out into the world and into the work place to demonstrate God's love and the new life we have in the Savior (cf. John 17:14-18). But Obadiah had probably been without much close fellowship and the encouragement of other strong believers. His time with the prophets that were hidden away was undoubtedly encouraging, but most likely very short and sporadic.
Verse 13 might suggest Obadiah was a victim of the
victories syndrome. He may have been looking back at what he had done
rather than focusing on the Lord Himself and what God had done through
Since the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever, remembering
can be beneficial as long as we use it to remind us of what God is able
to do today
or tomorrow. Obadiah was not very prepared for his encounter with
he was open and positive and he becomes one of God's chosen instruments
drama that helps to prepare the way for
"Behold, Elijah met him." As in chapter 17, the word "behold" is here for a reason. This is again the Hebrew hinneh, an interjection used 942 times in the Old Testament to arrest attention. It means "look!" "see!" It is used to point something out and to emphasize the information that follows. What is so important about the fact Elijah met him while "Obadiah was on the way"?
First, it strongly points to the loving fact of
providence. Here was Elijah in hostile territory sent to accomplish
and carry out one of God's purposes for his life. Elijah does not have
into the capitol,
"And he (Obadiah) recognized him and fell on his
face." In the book of Revelation when the Apostle John fell on his face
before the angel at the announcement of the marriage feast of the Lamb,
angel said, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your
brethren . . . worship God" (Rev. 19:10; cf. also 22:8‑9). John's
actions fell in the realm of worship for the angel of this wonderful
revelation. Because Elijah did not correct Obadiah's action, this was
seen as respect for the prophet as a true man of God with the Word of
fulfilling the mission of God. Since he called Elijah his lord or
verse 7, this may indicate that Obadiah belonged to the school of the
of which Elijah was a headmaster. It was a term of reverence and
Elijah's leadership within
Elijah Calls for Obadiah's Help (18:8)
Elijah obviously saw Obadiah as a Godsend. Here was the logical, indeed, the perfect person to send word to the King. But would you also note that Elijah had not prayed for a miracle. At least there is no record of it. He didn't ask God to give the King a vision to come and meet him. He used the means and opportunities that God sent his way - and so should we.
Point: This illustrates the principle of getting help from people according to their training, talents, opportunities, and of course, their availability to the Lord. Sometimes, as we will see here, that takes our encouragement and biblical insight or the promise of our aid and faithfulness.
Obadiah Responds with Fear and Excuses (18:9‑14)
During a leadership meeting in one of our ministries we were examining some of the things that could be keeping us as men and as a church from moving more in the direction of the ideal - of what God has called us to be. One of the things mentioned was the fear or anxiety we often face when asked to consider certain ministries or responsibilities. We all face the problem of fear at times. We might be afraid we will lack what it takes to handle the job. We might be afraid of what it may cost us. Afraid of having to give up our time, comfort, or the things we love to do.
In times of real persecution, serving the Lord can be life threatening, as it was for Obadiah. For most of us, our fears generally fall into three categories: (1) fear of failure, (2) fear of rejection, and (3) fear of loss, i.e., fear we might have to give up something we think we must have to be happy. The cost of this rejection can be anything from being snubbed or having people think we are odd or dumb, to loss of a job, or even one's way of life.
Fear can paralyze and thus neutralize us. Fear can keep us from venturing out and being available to the Lord. This was what was happening to Obadiah. But we have a mighty God who has promised to stand with us so we can overcome our fears. More than 75 times throughout the Bible God tells His servants to FEAR NOT! We are told in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power and love and discipline (a sound mind)." We need: (1) The encouragement of one another, as happened here. (2) The power of a God, Christ, Spirit, Word‑filled life. (3) Genuine love that is willing to sacrifice for God and others. (4) The discipline of sound mind thinking that counts on the promises and principles of Scripture.
Obadiah's thinking was undermining his ability to respond to Elijah's request and need. It shows us how we need to bring every thought into captivity and to think with the perspective of the promises and principles of God's Word (cf. 2 Cor. 10:4-5).
1. There seemed to be a misconception about trials or difficult assignments. Obadiah evidently saw them as one means of punishment for sin (vs. 9). This illustrates our need to know God's Word, understand His grace, and keep short accounts with the Lord concerning sin in our lives. Certainly, one of the causes for suffering is discipline from the hand of a loving God who is seeking to train His children. But as stated in previous lessons, it is only one of many causes.
2. There was a misdirection of his focus. Obadiah had his eyes on the problems rather than the Lord. A wrong focus makes mountains out of molehills and in our perspective reduces the Lord to a molehill. It's the age-old grasshopper syndrome of Numbers 13.
3. There was a mismanagement of his mind. He failed to control his mind or thought patterns with the promises and principles of the Word, as we are challenged to do in Ephesians and Philippians 4:8.
Principle: When we fail to focus on God's person and claim God's promises as did Obadiah, we start assuming all kinds of things about what can or is happening. We become rather paranoid and begin to worry (NOTE: worry is when you hold mental pictures of things you donít want to happen). Obadiah imagined Elijah would disappear and he could just see himself hanging from the gallows (vs. 12). When we do not control our minds with the principles and promises of God's Word, our imaginations will paralyze us with fear and worry.
Ahab had so long and so systematically sought for Elijah that Obadiah could only imagine the prophet had been miraculously removed from shelter to shelter, just in time to save him from being detected by the messengers of Ahab. In point of fact, we know that such was not the case. But those who have lost the habit of seeing God in the ordinary providence of everyday life - as is the case with all who are conformed to the world - are too often in the habit of looking for things strange, or for miracles, and thus become at the same time superstitious and unbelieving.
4. There was also a misplacement of his confidence or faith. It seems he was trusting more in his past performance than in the ever-present reality of God's presence and power. Knowing our God‑given talents is important to our confidence in God's will and the ability to do a job. The primary basis of our effectiveness or ability to do a job, however, is never our record nor our gifts and training but God and His faithfulness - ALWAYS.
Elijah Removes Obadiah's Fear Through an Oath ()
He Proclaimed God's Person! This is seen in the words, "As the Lord of Hosts lives." Elijah was firmly convinced of the aliveness of Yahweh and His mighty power as the Lord of Hosts (or Armies), the Lord who has all of heavens mighty and holy angels at His command. By this oath, Elijah was focusing Obadiah's eyes on the Lord and assuring him that his own life was ordered by this fact.
Application: As believers in Christ and especially as leaders, we need to help others see the majesty of the Lord and see that our lives are ordered and directed by that same majesty. This illustrates why it is so important for leaders to be models of integrity, men and women who are faithful and stable. One of the signs of decay in a church or in a nation is when the leadership act as capricious children governed by their own whims and fancies (cf. Isa. 3:4).
He Promised Not to Let Obadiah Down! By the words, "I will surely show myself to him today," Elijah was assuring Obadiah that he could count on him. He would not let him down and would be there as promised. The emphasis here is "You can count on me because I am counting on the Lord." Obadiah knew from the life and history of the prophet that Elijah could be counted on. Faithfulness is such a needed quality. What is faithfulness? It is the product of a life full of faith.
Obadiah Responds with Courage (18:16a)
Part of Obadiah's anxiety and uncertainty was caused by the fact he was not sure of God's will or of what was going on. He needed the motivation of Elijah's leadership through the example and encouragement of the prophet. We all vary in our leadership roles, but there is a sense in which we each have some kind of influence on others as priests, as those who are to function as salt and light, and as people who are to be an encouragement to those around us. As we see in this passage, God wants us to be sensitive to needs and to be examples by demonstrating the reality of Christ in authenticate Christianity. "Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you are doing" (1 Thess. .)
* Are you facing the challenge of a ministry opportunity, but find you are fearful? Then find a mature Christian and seek their encouragement and guidance to strengthen your trust in the Lord.
* Perhaps you know of someone who is facing the challenge of a ministry opportunity, but is holding back because of fear or anxiety. Then try to reach out to encourage them.
Are you fearful of ministry opportunities? Then evaluate your thinking. Are you making mountains out of molehills? Are your eyes on the problem rather than on the Lord? Are you seeking your happiness, significance and security from people rather than in Christ? Are you resting on your past victories instead of on God's presence and provision?