This series of studies will concentrate on Elijah, rather than a verse by verse study. Mainly we will look at 1 Kings chapters 17-
But before we look at Elijah we need to look at Ahab. (Probably best if the leader reads these passages)
1 Kings 16v30
30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him.
Saul had been the first king, followed by David and his son Solomon.
David had left to Solomon a kingdom that was world renowned. But when Solomon died, rival factions split the nation into Israel in the north, and Judah in the south.
The King (Rehoboam) in Judah to the south, and his people, were left with the Temple and the priests. The people in Israel, the northern kingdom, would have to make regular pilgrimages to the Temple in order to worship, and the new ruler feared that they may defect.
He was king
(1) Jeroboam 1 Kings 12:28-
28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin; the people went even as far as Dan to worship the one there.
1 Kings 13:33 Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places.34 This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth.
The next king was
(2) Nadab: 1 Kings 15:25-
25 Nadab son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel for two years.26 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, walking in the ways of his father and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit.
(3) Baasha: 1 Kings 15:33-
33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah became king of all Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned for twenty-
(4) Elah: 1 Kings 16:8 and 13
8 In the twenty-
Elah was killed:
13 because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed and had caused Israel to commit, so that they provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger by their worthless idols.
(5) Zimri: 1 Kings 16:15, 18-
15 In the twenty-
18 When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died,19 because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and walking in the ways of Jeroboam and in the sin he had committed and had caused Israel to commit.
(6) Omri: 1 Kings 16:23, 25-
23 In the thirty-
25 But Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him. 26 He walked in all the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat and in his sin, which he had caused Israel to commit, so that they provoked the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger by their worthless idols.
(7) And so we come to Ahab: All turn to 1 Kings 16v29-
29 In the thirty-
Look at verse 31: What can we tell about Ahab’s character? (He had no concept of the affront to God that his sins caused – he considered it trivial)
What was the sin which was so bad in God’s eyes? Giving his glory to another.
What was the benefit to Ahab and Israel in marrying Jezebel? It would probably have been as a result of a trade agreement that Ethbaal’s daughter was given in marriage. Continuing battles between Israel and Judah over the trade routes to the only Mediterranean sea port at Joppa meant that good relations with an alternative port at Tyre and Sidon was essential.
Where do we read about developing relationships with unbelievers?
2 Corinthians 6:14-
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
17 "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
18 "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
What was the inevitable, immediate effect of marrying Jezebel? V31 ‘(Ahab) began to serve Baal and worship him’
But worse than that: 1 kings 16v32-
He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.
The temple of Baal was not a small thing, (2 kings 10v21) it could hold many hundreds of worshippers. Not only that, but shrines and temples were built in all parts of the land in honour of these false gods, while the altars of Jehovah, like that at Carmel, were systematically destroyed. The heathen priests were encouraged and the worshippers of the one true God were persecuted without pity.
The schools of the prophets were closed and Jezebel took it upon herself to hunt down and kill the prophets of God. As we will see later, Obadiah had a difficult time saving a few of them, hiding them in limestone caves and feeding them at the risk of his own life. (1 kings 18v13)
Israel had now reached just about the lowest point in its history; only seven thousand people remained who had not bowed their knee to Baal. And they were driven underground, forced to hide their existence so well that Elijah was unaware of them. The whole nation was actively being encouraged to turn their back on God, and Satan appeared to be in the ascendency.
Has our nation sunk to those depths?
Although ours is a Christian nation, there must not be any emphasis placed on that above any other religion that people may wish to embrace. When Prince Charles becomes king he would prefer to be known as ‘defender of the faiths’
And of course we have the right to follow the Baals. In fact if a town planner rejected an application for a temple of Baal in our town centre purely on religious grounds, he could be prosecuted under the human rights legislation.
Also our schools are encouraged to teach a certain amount of healthy scepticism. And no science lesson is permitted to teach that God created the world – that has to be part of an all-
Does it concern us as it did Elijah? How do we respond? Probably we say ‘Well what do you expect me to do about it?’ Let’s write that on the board, and come back to it later. (Write: Well what do you expect me to do about it? On the board)
The passages we are about to study were recorded here for a purpose, and I believe that they are going to show us that we too should make a difference in the world. We are going to learn what Elijah learnt – not only in our heads but hopefully it will go deeper than that, drawing us closer to the Lord in our walk with him. If that is not the result then frankly these studies will ultimately be a waste of time.
I don’t want my epitaph to be ‘Interesting but ineffective’ so don’t be surprised if after a few weeks I ask what we have learnt, what we’ve taken on board and what we’ve done as a result!
Let’s now go back to the land of Israel and an unknown man, in an obscure village, who God is going to use as His all-
Turn with me to 1 Kings 17:1-
1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”
5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
1 Kings 17v1 Elijah.....from Tishbe in Gilead. Where was Gilead? (Show on map)
Gilead was the area to the east of the Jordan, a hilly wooded land to the north, becoming flatter to the south where arable crops could be grown. The location of Tishbe can only be guessed at, but scholars assume that it was in the hilly northern section, land allocated to the half-
(Reuben in South, Gad in centre, Manasseh in north -
This was the outback of Israel, and it’s possible that Elijah, like most of his neighbours, would have been brought up to herd sheep and goats – coarse and rugged compared with the inhabitants of the more refined and civilised towns like Jerusalem and Samaria.
But what of his parents? Nothing is known – he was truly a nobody. And what do we know about his character? Although he probably had the physical attributes of those who had been brought up as shepherds we are told in James 5v17 he was a man just like us.
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