Our story takes place today in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, beginning about 45 years after the kingdom fractured. Jeroboam’s dynasty lasted barely two generations, and Baasha’s will last barely two years. As you’ll read today, chaos has a stronger reign in Israel than any of her kings do, with conspiracy and treachery accompanying almost every generation.
But this is not just another record of ancient political intrigue. Though the children of Israel are governed by separate kingdoms, the LORD’s covenant is with Abraham’s descendants, not their political entities. And when they provoke the LORD to anger with their idols, the LORD responds, often by sending prophets to speak His warnings.
While we’ve seen prophets such as Nathan, Gad, and Ahijah confront kings on the LORD’s behalf, none rises to the stature of Elijah, who rises to prominence in chapter 17. Elijah is sent to Israel’s king Ahab who, with his wife Jezebel, did more to provoke the LORD…than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
Today’s intrigue is set against the backdrop of a drought, which the LORD has orchestrated to show His power to Ahab. After pronouncing the LORD’s vow, Elijah runs, to be cared for by the LORD first east of the Jordan and then in the land of Sidon, where the LORD exerts His power to provide for Elijah and his foreign hosts.
In the third year, the LORD sends Elijah back to Israel, where a showdown is arranged between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. The dialogue in this episode is rich, humorous, biting. Elijah’s sarcasm is unlike anything we’ve seen. He’s fearless before the king, audacious in the face of Baal, and utterly convinced that the LORD will win. “Answer me, O LORD answer me,” he calls out on Mount Carmel, “that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God…”
Our verse for this week is 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
1 Kings 16 through 18. Now let’s read it!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.