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  • A Chance Encounter

    Elijah Meets Obadiah

    1 Kings 18:1-16

    I started our Elijah study by sharing a little of Israel’s history. We learned that Obadiah was a prophet at the same time as Elijah but he was a prophet to the Southern Kingdom, during Jehoshaphat’s reign. Well, in this story it’s POSSIBLE that the minor profit Obadiah is colliding with Elijah. It’s argued that it MIGHT be a different Obadiah, but it also might be the exact same as in the book of Obadiah. They’re alive and prophesying at the same time, so it definitely seems feasible that it’s the same guy.

    At the beginning of this story, God is telling Elijah that it’s time for him to show himself to the king again. It’s been 3 years since Elijah found himself in front of Ahab declaring the famine and drought, and now the kingdom is in the thick of the consequences.

    This time, Elijah is to go to the Ahab and declare the end of the famine. Obadiah also has a message for Ahab. He is working with Ahab to keep the cattle alive during the drought, looking for bits of water where he can. Obadiah goes one way, Ahab goes another to see what they can come up with.

    In Obadiah’s direction he meets up with Elijah. Obadiah recognizes Elijah and immediately falls on his face in front of him. It’s a combination of relief and fear. Obadiah is terrified of Ahab. Elijah’s prophecy means Obadiah is looking for water in a deserted land and he’s afraid if he doesn’t find it, Ahab will kill him.

    Meanwhile, Obadiah is drawing on faith that he’s found before. In this passage it says that "Obadiah is a man who hid prophets in caves when Jezebel set out to kill them." He’s already on thin ice for that act of faith before. It seems maybe this little exercise of finding some water might just be exactly the excuse Ahab needs to put an end to the prophet.  There’s a lot at stake here.

    Elijah’s been in high demand, he finds out from Obadiah. While Obadiah was hiding the other prophets, Jezebel and Ahab have been searching high and low for Elijah so they can end his shenanigans before he does any more damage. Elijah tells Obadiah to tell Ahab where he is. He’s ready to be out with it, and face Ahab. This has Obadiah on edge, because he’s afraid that now that he’s found Elijah, Elijah is going to up and disappear.

    It seems to be a thing with Elijah. He’s one place one moment, and gone the next. Obadiah says, “the Spirit of the Lord will carry you where I do not know.” Obadiah has faith enough to believe that the Spirit can move Elijah where He will, but not faith enough to believe that the very same God will take care of him in the face of Ahab and Jezebel.

    I’m no different than Obadiah. Some portions of my faith are easier to hold onto than others. Sometimes I have an easier time trusting God’s presence for someone else, than I do believing He’s going to show up for me too. It seems Obadiah and I are in the same boat.

    Obadiah is obedient to Elijah’s command. He goes to Ahab and Jezebel and tells them he’s found Elijah. He finds courage and belief even amidst great fear and then he exits the scene. He has his own gigantic story all tied up in this. He did not find water, but he found Elijah, and for Ahab and Jezebel, that’s the next best thing.

    Who have you had a “chance” meeting with that later you saw was orchestrated by God?

    Why do you think God included this encounter with Obadiah and Elijah in the Scriptures?

    How can you related to Obadiah’s great relief and great fear in meeting Elijah?