In his Epistle, James says, Elijah was a man just like us.”(James 5:17) Over the next several weeks, I pray that the Holy Spirit will help us to see just how much like us Elijah really was.
I Kings 16:29-33 “Ahab…became king of Israel and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. Ahab… did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam…, but he also married Jezebel… and began to serve Baal and worship him. 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, God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.”
Things have changed dramatically for the nation of Israel. Back when David was their king, Israel was one Kingdom consisting of twelve united families, called “tribes.” They were one nation under God with liberty and justice for all. They were a world leader. They were admired and respected by all the nations around them. They were examples and role models for the other nations in the world. Everyone knew and feared the God of Israel who had always blessed and protected them as a nation.
They were founded on and governed by the Law and the Ten Commandments. Under the leadership of David’s s son Solomon, they built a Temple in the capital city of Jerusalem. They established and Altar for sacrifice and prayer. It was the heart of the nation; a gathering place for all people; a place where they, as individuals and as a nation, could confess and repent of their sin and find mercy and grace; a place where they could receive forgiveness and become reconciled to each other and to their God.
What a glorious day it was for the whole nation when the Temple was finally completed. The entire nation celebrated the dedication of the Temple. The Bible tells us that when the priests placed the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies, the glory of God filled the entire structure. No one could sing. No one could pray. No one could speak. No one could stand. No one could move. When the Lord was in His holy Temple, the whole earth was silent before Him. They celebrated the occasion with loud shouts of praise.
How could a nation, how could a people get from where they were then to where they are now in less than a hundred years? It’s only been about seventy or eighty years since the dedication of the Temple. But in those seventy/eighty years, the nation has been divided into two separate kingdoms – the Kingdom of the North, consisting of ten tribes and still called Israel and the Kingdom of the South, which consisted of only one tribe, the tribe of Judah.
The Kingdom of the North had a new capital city – Samaria. The capital city of Judah, the Kingdom of the South, was still Jerusalem. The tribe of Levi was technically considered to be neutral.
Here in I Kings 16, Ahab has become the king of Israel, the Kingdom of the North. Since the original Temple was in Jerusalem, Israel built its own Temple in Samaria. Israel built a Temple for the god, Baal, the god of lust, greed and pleasure.
How could a nation, how could any nation stray so far away from the faith of their founding fathers in such a short amount of time? How could their political leaders, their educational leaders and their spiritual leaders take them so far away from the faith, from the principals, from the God who had so greatly blessed and protected them and made them so strong?
Living by the Law of Moses used to be normal for Israel; not having any other gods or idols; not lusting after someone else’s wife, not being envious of what others had, remembering the Sabbath Day and keeping it holy was something everybody automatically did. But if you still believe that and try to do that now, everybody laughs at you. Your kids get picked on in school. What does God have to say to an unholy, ungodly and unbelieving world? What does the Lord expect, what does He desire from those who still love Him and who want to remain faithful to Him?
I Kings 17:1 “Now Elijah… 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.’”
Ahab, you and the nation of Israel have been going your own way and doing whatever you wanted for quite a while now, but things are about to change. Regardless of how enlightened you think you are, in spite of how advanced and progressive you think you may be; God is still God. There are no other gods. The I Am That I Am, the Lord alone is God and He is sovereign over all things. He’ll always have the last word..
Regardless of what you have chosen to believe, everything was created by, everything is determined by His word. If God says it’s not going to rain, it’s not going to rain until God says it is. You may refuse to believe it. You can choose to ignore it but you can’t change it, you can’t stop it and you can’t control it. In the end, it’s going to be the way God says it’s going to be.
We’ll be following Elijah over the next several weeks so I hope you’ll come along with me. Lord willing, we’ll pick it up from here next Tuesday.