1 Kings 15-18
(Introduction to Elijah)
April 12th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel in the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah. Ahab son of Omri was king over Israel for twenty-two years. He ruled from Samaria. Ahab son of Omri did even more open evil before God than anyone yet—a new champion in evil!

- 1 Kings 16:29-30 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

The storyline in today's reading divides into two separate but related paths, as the author of 1 Kings tracks the succession of one king after another in Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern one). We learned in yesterday's reading that the kingdom of Israel had split into two kingdoms following the death of Solomon. The two kingdoms are estranged and are in conflict with one another throughout this time. Ironically, the author uses the number of years of reign for the king from one kingdom as a marker for the passage of time in the other.

In the north, Jeroboam was succeeded by Nadab and others who were each equally or more evil than Jeroboam. In the south, Rehoboam was succeeded by Abijah and Asa, who fought with the Northern Kingdom.

Amidst all of this chaos, God raises up a humble prophet named Elijah, who prophesies a three-year drought and then takes refuge with a widow because the evil regime was killing priests and prophets. With the LORD guiding him, Elijah called for a showdown versus several hundred fake prophets on Mount Carmel to see which god or God could bring fire onto earth. In this scene we see God’s sense of humor, as expressed by Elijah:

Elijah handicaped God by pouring gallons and gallons of water on the sacrifice he had set up, and then God’s flame consumed all of it in one stroke. The fake prophets were terminated and the LORD God brought a storm to end the long drought. Elijah gave the others a head start back to Jezreel, which was the capital of Israel, and ran a fast-paced 10K to report the news before anyone else. God brought the fire and God put wings on his feet to get him home first.

Reflection and Application

During the peak of Solomon’s reign the united kingdom of Israel stretched from the edge of the Sinai Peninsula up to the Euphrates River, encompassing land now recognized as parts of Syria and Iraq, as shown on the map at the link below:

Solomon's Kingdom

When the tribes split up, the combined territory was less then the whole of Solomon’s empire, and shrinking. Some of the people may have hoped that the tribes would re-unite, but they were moving further and further from each other and further from God. The kingdom now known as Israel was moving away from God at a faster pace than the other one, so God sent Elijah to speak to them.

Elijah was the first in a long line of prophets and is among the most significant of all of the prophets. He is referenced often in the New Testatament. For example, when John the Baptist began to attract a following some said he was Elijah. In the Gospel event known as the transfiguration it was Moses and Elijah who appeared with Jesus. And in Revelation, it is assumed that Elijah and Moses were the two witnesses who were called to testify at the temple of God for 1,260 days ( Revelation 11:1-13)

Elijah did not consider himself great, but attributed his accomplishments to God. Elijah’s humility is illustrated by his dependency on streams, birds, and a widow for water and food. He did not have a kingdom at his command. He did not have a thousand chariots, but he had the word of the LORD. The contest with the other prophets was most likely a plan devised by God and carried out by Elijah. We should not get the impression from this story that Elijah or anyone else could control or command God – it was by God’s will that the fire came down to consume the sacrifice. In other words, this is not something for us to try at home. But if God should call you to do something that seems beyond your own power, trust that he will provide the fire, speed, or whatever resources or attributes you need.

The widow who hosted Elijah trusted him by preparing a meal for him with the last of her food and she experienced the miracle of a bottomless supply of food and the restoration of life for her child. If we trust God by taking small steps to solve a problem then we may see a broader solution or a perhaps a miracle.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What are your favorite types of contests?
    2. What is the best way for us to address those who are worshipping false gods and leading others down the wrong path?
    3. What steps of trust is God asking you to take today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we acknowledge that you are the Creator of fire, rain, and earth. Help us trust you enough to follow your lead, regardless of where it might take us.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Cooks, chefs, and other kitchen workers

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: 1 Kings 19-20 (God Speaks in a Whisper)

    Comments and Questions
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