June 22

June 22

Ahab (Northern King 22 years) — Elijah’s victory, the fires from heaven, & end of the drought.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1 Kings 18

Reading 2: 2 Kings 1:1-15

Reading 3: Luke 9:51-56

We have already seen Elijah’s obedience to God through his conflict with wicked king Ahab. The drought that Elijah prophesied lasted three years (making Elijah very unpopular with the king). There was hardship for all in the nation, but this did not stop true believers from trusting God. The exchange between Obadiah and Elijah is almost humorous despite the deadly significance of the task Obadiah is given – to tell his wicked master that his greatest enemy is here!

This leads to the famous confrontation between Elijah (representing God) and the prophets of Baal. Baal and Asherah were pagan deities that God had commanded His people to reject, but Jezebel and Ahab had replaced the worship of God with these two demonic counterfeits.

Elijah is notably unthreatened by the evil around him. He knows the true God and has no reason to be afraid. He sets the challenge and waits for the demonic worship to be fully revealed in all its powerlessness, then calmly asks God to reveal Himself (which of course he does) and this allows Elijah to have all the prophets of Baal killed.

Then Elijah tells Ahab that rain is on the way, but he has to pray until he sees the answer to his own instruction from God. Just as godly people suffered along with the ungodly as a result of Ahab’s rebellion against God, so Elijah had to play his part in seeking the answer God had already promised. The godly suffered with the ungodly, and the servant of God works with God.

Later we see that Ahab’s son Ahaziah is just as ungodly as his father. Faced with injury, he sends messengers not to God’s prophet Elijah, but to consult the pagan god Baal-zebub in Ekron. This deity has the same name as satan himself (see Luke 11:15 where he is called beelzebub) so this is the peak of pagan worship – to ask the rebellious spirit for answers and to reject the living God. Elijah obediently delivers God’s message to Ahaziah’s messengers – that Ahaziah will die for his sin. But Ahaziah wants Elijah arrested for opposing the king. The first captain, and his 50 men, die when Elijah calls down fire from heaven to consume them (just as fire had demonstrated God’s power over Baal on Mount Carmel).

Ahaziah sends a second captain and fifty men, and the same fate befalls them. Undaunted Ahaziah sends a third captain, who fears God (and Elijah) and pleads for his life. This humility is enough to show Elijah it is safe to go with this captain, and so he goes with the captain to Samaria, delivering the message to Ahaziah in person.

Notice that all this happens in obedience to God’s Word. God speaks to Elijah, and Elijah obeys. In the same way Jesus told his followers He only did what He saw the Father doing. So when James and John demonstrate their knowledge of the Old Testament on the way through Samaria, they ask Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven on inhospitable Samaritans. Clearly they remember that this is the way to show Samaria that God is boss? But Jesus rebukes them because (listening to God) He knows this is not what God wants now.

Let us be those who listen carefully to God, and show His love wherever we go, rather than those who think they know God’s methods and call down fire from heaven on everyone who does not fit our stereotype of godliness.

Have a great day!

Mark.