Elijah Meets Ahab Again
1 Kings 18:17-19
17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?”18 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. 19 Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel,together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
Last week we looked at a chance encounter of Elijah and Obadiah. This week Ahab comes to Elijah. They have a very dramatic standoff, of who is the greatest troubler of Israel. Elijah challenges Ahab to a duel. Really, it’s God who is in the cross hairs in this scenario. Elijah has asked Ahab to show whose God is stronger: Baal, whom Jezebel re-introduced to Israel, or Elijah’s God who has shown up in Israel’s history before Israel existed.
Elijah does not hold back what angers him about their idol worship. “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.” He is FEARLESS speaking to the king. He does not shrink down from the harsh things that need to be spoken.
I believe at times kindness is the first best first word. I also believe when leaders are leading groups en masse astray from what is right sometimes there is no longer time for gentle words. Elijah has no patience for kind words. Ahab and Jezebel have led the people of God down a path leading to destruction and punishment, and he can’t stand by doing nothing. But greater than Elijah’s personal passion, is what God has required of him.
Elijah has chosen to live an unpredictable and committed life to God. God has been faithful, and Elijah believes in this scenario He will be again. Elijah believes that God deserves the best from His people, meanwhile His people have turned from Him. Scripture describes 3 ways God’s people have lacked intentionality in their pursuit of Him. And before we start judging Israel for how they’ve turned from God, realize with me just how guilty we ourselves are.
Easily swayed and distracted from what is right. In verse 19 it says that there are 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah. This is no small group of people. This is a massive amount of people who have been distracted from what is right, and now are distracting the rest of the country from following God. This troubles my heart for all the times I’m distracted from God, and distract others with matters that have little significance.
Uncommitted and swerving in their faith. After all God has done for His people, they easily walk away to join another. They have no wherewithal. This shouldn’t be surprising given what Israel has previously been known for in their history, but it’s no less disheartening because I know how easily I can swerve in my own faith to pleasures that God has nothing to do with.
Taken in by the “important” people. It says that all 850 of the prophets take meals at Jezebel’s table. They eat delicious food. They rendezvous with the queen. They have influence. Instead of thinking for themselves, learning some courage, and trusting God’s hand, they are wooed by the "important" people and go their own way. I sometimes also trust big name people in my life more than I trust the God who created me. I want the respect of others and neglect God’s work in search of it.
In these 3 verses I find tremendous conviction. My heart aches as I try to justify the ways in my own life I become like the prophets of Baal and Asherah. And it only gets worse. Their deep faith in a faulty system leads to crazy shenanigans that are so ridiculous they’re almost cartoonish. But these were real people and I am sobered as their story forces me to sit with their sin and mine.
Which of the 3 ways that Israel lacked intentionality in their relationship to God can you most relate to?
Take a second to turn your heart toward God in that area. Confess to Him your rebellion. Ask Him to stir true repentance in your heart and turn fully back to Him. His grace is consuming. He'll mercifully draw us back to Himself.