First Kings 18 Commentary
Throughout history, the servants of God have suffered on account of God’s word. Elijah is a hunted man. But at the command of the LORD, he must present himself to Ahab.
Then we hear of another devout servant of God at the palace. It is through Obadiah that we hear about King Ahab’s unimaginable wickedness: the killing of the servants of God.
But today the battle is not between Elijah and Ahab. It is between the LORD God and Baal. This chapter invites people to examine the facts presented here and judge for themselves between the LORD and Baal. Baal fails the contest and his servants are killed. It is a fitting punishment for this kind of sin according to the Law of Moses.
The message is simple: Baal is not the god of rain. But there is more. Elijah is representing the God of Abraham who is the creator of life and responsible for all its support systems. Is this the message the reader gets? Who is responsible for providing life support systems in your life? The Hospital? The Bus driver? The vaccine? The police? The military? The Government? Technology? These questions may help us see who the real provider is. Baal is not the provider, yet Baal wants everyone in Israel to believe that he is behind it all.
Ahab is so deep in idolatry that he thinks Elijah is responsible for the drought. Typical of humanity. We can have dozens of reasons why something happens and God is never one of them!
At Mount Carmel, Elijah bends down between his knees in prayer. He is praying for something the LORD had already decided should happen. This shouldn’t surprise us. It is the essence of prayer that it flows along with the purposes of the Creator God. Elijah isn’t just a courier of God’s word but a participant. What a privilege! The LORD wants prayer to be the means by which His children participate in creation. Above everything else, this chapter is a call to prayer. The LORD wants to achieve something great through the saint’s prayer.
The small cloud concept teaches us the value of small things in the Household of faith. Indeed through the story Elijah, we have seen how small things become big things. The little flour and the little oil never run out. Now it’s the small cloud that grows and brings a heavy downpour. The word of the LORD spoken in some corporate Board Meeting may be scorned and actually appear isolated and insignificant, but it is this same word that the LORD magnifies to a greater and noticeable effect.
This chapter has value today as the Christian message grapples with many enemies: insignificancy, smallness, general disrespect, and diminished influence. It is this very smallness that the LORD may use to upset the order of things in a world full of Baal worship.
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