Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jun 20 2019 - 1 Kings 16:29-17:24 – King Ahab

After Solomon died, his kingdom fell apart. The ten northern tribes, who continued to bear the name Israel, broke away from the rule of David's house and set up a kingdom of their own. The tribe of Judah, along with the smaller tribe of Benjamin, continued to be ruled by David's descendants from the capital city of Jerusalem. Today's reading therefore begins with a reference to Asa king of Judah and Ahab king of Israel.

Ahab was particularly notable for his wickedness. He abandoned the God of Israel and, encouraged by his Sidonian wife Jezebel, led Israel in the worship of the fertility god Baal. He, "did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him" (1 Kings 16:33) – and that took some doing.

Elijah was a prophet of the Lord – he knew the Lord and the Lord spoke through him. He was sent to tell Ahab that there would be no rain or dew for a number of years. The Lord wants Ahab to know that fertility and good harvests are not in the gift of Baal; they come from the hand of the Lord, the only true God who had revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (a.k.a. Israel), and Moses. The Lord is able to give rain but he can equally withhold it; both are demonstrations of his power and the power of his word – the word through which the world was formed.

The power of the living God is displayed not only in months of drought but also in the way Elijah is sustained during the drought. Like Israel of old, Elijah is to live in a desert region where the Lord will provide him with water from the rock and with bread from heaven, this time delivered by ravens.

When even these waters dried up, the Lord sent Elijah to a widow living in Zarephath near Sidon – Jezebel's home country. The Lord planned to provide for Elijah through this foreigner. The widow is preparing a last meal for herself and her son from the meagre supplies of food she has left. After this, she expects that they will both starve to death. Elijah asks her to share her food with him, assuring her, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land’" (1 Kings 17:14). And that's just what happened; God provided not only for Elijah but also for this widow and her son when Baal, the god of the Sidonians, could do nothing. There is power in the word of the Lord.

Some time later, the widow's son fell ill and died. Elijah prayed earnestly to the Lord concerning the boy and he was restored to life. The Lord not only demonstrated his kindness and compassion, he also demonstrated that he had power to give life to the dead; he is the living God, the life-giving God.

Are there idols to which we devote our life in the expectation that they will deliver prosperity? We need to appreciate afresh that the God of Abraham is the living God, the God who gives life to the dead and who provides for all that he has made. He has shown us his power and goodness in the Lord Jesus Christ. He has demonstrated that he can give life to the dead by raising Jesus from the grave. Have we experienced the saving and life-giving power of God in the Lord Jesus Christ?

The God who has shown us his grace and power in the Lord Jesus is determined to bring his life and healing to places where he is not yet known, and he has chosen us to be his agents in bringing his life to a dying world. How might God use you to touch and transform the lives of those who do not yet know him?

Living God, you raised Jesus from the dead and you give life to all who come to you through him. Fill us with your Spirit that you might speak through our words and that your life might shine through our lives. May others come to know your transforming power through our words and actions.

Peter Misselbrook