Ahab had done worse than any King who had ruled Israel. He ruled Israel for twenty two years, ruling from Samaria. He did more open evil before God, becoming a new champion in evil doing. It wasn’t enough for him to copy the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat: he went all out first by marrying Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, King of the Sidonians. He was also introduced to the service and worship of the gods of Baal and built a temple for Baal in Samaria furnishing it with an altar for Baal. Worse still, he went on to build a shrine to the sacred whore Asherah. He made the God of Israel angrier than all the previous kings of Israel put together.
God always had a way of restoring His people back when they go astray. His people had gone astray especially into the worship of another god, the god of Baal. That hymn says “while life’s dark maze I tread, and grief’s all around me spread, be my guide; bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tear away, nor let me ever stray from your side”. At this very moment in the story, the children of Israel had meandered away from God and found solace (temporary though) in the god of Baal. In turning His people back from the worship of Baal, Elijah had to come into the scene.
Elijah was from a place called Tishbee. We have no record of him in scriptures; no genealogy, no father, no mother not even brothers and sisters. Elijah is a Hebrew name that means my “God is Yahweh”. From nowhere he appeared on the scene. “Tishbite” means recourse, which gives a sense or connotation of REMEDY. This means God has come to bring a cure to the present state of his children. In other words, God had not forsaken his people even though they went after another god.
God delivered his children through a series of steps using Elijah. These steps are the remit of this discourse or dissertation as we read along. Elijah appeared to King Ahab and made a pronouncement that there wouldn’t be rain or dew for a certain period as the Lord God lives. The statement he made was one that challenged the status quo. Baal represented the storm god. Sacrifices are made to the god and the promise of rain then follows.
Please remember God is bringing remedy to His people who have followed the god of Baal.
At Brook Cherith:
Immediately Elijah spoke the word to Ahab, the Bible records that the word of the Lord came to him asking him to go to a brook Cherith. Cherith connotes a place of covenant. God will get into a relationship with Elijah. Elijah has spoken a word and God is helping his servant to absolutely trust in Him. A brook is a place where there is little or no water. Eventually the water will dry up since Elijah will keep drinking from it. Apart from drinking from the brook, God promised Elijah that ravens (birds that don’t take care of their little one) will bring food to him in the morning and snack in the evening. How will this happen Elijah would have thought; and at the back of his mind he would think; only God can make that happen.
The raven did bring food in the morning and in the evening and to Elijah’s incredulity and bewilderment, he must have realised that God is at work and He (God) must be up to something. Imagine if the bird did not bring food to Elijah: there would have been so many questions about who called him out to the brook. Anyway he continued in the same place drinking out of the brook and getting fed by the birds waiting on God for the next move.
At this juncture the brook will dry up someday because Elijah already told Ahab that there would be no rain in the land. Just when the brook dried up, the Word of the Lord surfaced again. Arise Elijah and go to Zarephath. Hmm, all looking good Elijah would have vacillated, just when the brook dries up, God is asking him to move again: meaning God knew the level of the brook and also knew when it was right for Elijah to move from Cherith to the next phase. In other words, Elijah has started to trust God by his experience at the brook.
Elijah has been asked to move unto the next phase of this journey, ultimately to remedy the situation with the Israelites and the gods they have turned to serve and worship. Elijah has left a word with Ahab but then he has to learn to trust his God. God has to take him through some steps learning how to be contingent on Him. The instruction this time is to go to a widow for his sustenance. What a very hard one to believe again. No one was allowed to feed on widows according to the law, plus the woman was at Sidon, the centre for the worship of Baal.
Truly, when he got to Zarephath, there was a widow woman and Elijah asked for water, which was a common thing. On her way to get the water, he told her to bring bread with her so that he could eat. It was a time of famine according to what Elijah had told Ahab and God had found a way to feed the gentile woman oblivious to her and her son. First, Elijah would learn a higher level of trust and dependence. He encourages her to bring the bread and from then the widow and her son did not lack food until the said time when Elijah went back to Ahab.
Not only did Elijah provide miraculous food for this woman and her son, he stayed with them and in spite of the famine, he was fed and housed till the time appointed by God. Gradually Elijah is learning to take God at His Word, but God knows Elijah would need one more challenge before he goes to face Ahab and the gods of Baal.
The woman’s son fell ill and his sickness was so bad that there was no more breath left in him: in other words he died and her mother came asking Elijah if the consequence of her sin was for her son to die. Elijah took the son from her, prayed to God and the life of the boy was restored. This is very pertinent at this point; God has challenged and tried Elijah even on to death, which is supposed to be the worst of the encounters and the boy was restored back to life. Seeing that life restored, Elijah became very confident of the things God can do. He was able to pray because he had witnessed the feeding by the ravens, the continued supply of the cruise of oil and the barren of meal; therefore anything was possible with God on his side. All these lasted for almost three years.
Just before the episodes ended, God again brings His word to Elijah asking him to go and face Ahab. He had been moved from one degree of trust to another and facing Ahab shouldn’t be an issue for him.
Elijah Facing Ahab:
The final challenge. Remember God wants to bring his people back to worshipping him instead of the worship of idols. God had assured Elijah through the same means of speaking His Word that He (God) would cause it to rain after such a long time. There was complete famine in that land as he got there.
He met face to face with Ahab and he told Ahab about the catastrophe that had befallen them as a direct abandonment of the commandments of God and their opting to serve Baalim. He further told him to gather all the gods of Baal to Mount Carmel to finally settle the score.
Elijah made a statement to the people on how long they will remain confused about what god to serve. He gave them a choice of either following the Lord God or the god of Baal. But the people did not respond to him. He further went on to challenge the gods of Baal and everyone that cared to listen, that they should get an animal, a bullock in this case, cut them into pieces, place them on the wood without putting fire. Both sides would then call on their gods and the one that answers by fire will then be the god that is to be worshipped.
The people who worshipped and served the gods of Baal called of their god from morning till noon to the extent that Elijah started to mock them, nothing happened. It was Elijah’s turn and we all know the story. His God answered and he ordered for the gods of Baal to be rounded up and slew them at the brook of Kishon.
He is God before the plan and after the plan. He is God in the implementation of the plan and even after the implementation. He is always on time. He would always take you from one step to another even though you might not know what the trials and challenges might be.