Lessons from Villains: Refuse to Change
1 Kings 17:1-19:2
I. God judges evil actions; 17:1.
1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, 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." (1 Ki. 17:1)
Baal worshipers believed that their storm god made rain. To refute this belief Elijah states that Yahweh is the one who determines when rain falls, that Yahweh always lives, and that Yahweh is not afraid to challenge Baal on what his worshipers consider his home ground. Ahab and the northern kingdom will be punished so they can recognize that Yahweh is the only true God.
God still promises to judge selfish, evil actions. He judges us, our families, and nations when, like Ahab, we put our prosperity and success above everything else. God still brings drought to our lives to get our attention and remind us that He is God and the true provider of all good things.
II. God gives opportunity for repentance; 18:1, 16-21.
1 After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land." (1 Ki. 18:1)
16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?" 18 "I have not made trouble for Israel," Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." 20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing. (1 Ki. 18:16-21)
Ahab blames the drought on Elijah. He states that Ahab’s family’s commitment to Baal has forced Yahweh to withhold rain, thus proving the Lord’s power over the storm god. Now Elijah suggests a contest to determine who benefits Israel and who troubles the land. Ahab apparently is satisfied with the odds and expects this to be an excellent way to rid himself of this troublesome prophet and Yahweh’s worshipers at the same time.
People like to ride the fence, keeping their options open for what will benefit them most. God has dramatically defeated all other religious practices with His mighty acts; culminating in the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ, and raising Him from the dead. We are given a choice of who or what is the most powerful influence in our lives.
III. We choose what to do with God’s offer of repentance; 18:39-46, 19:1-2.
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD-- he is God! The LORD-- he is God!" 40 Then Elijah commanded them, "Seize the prophets of Baal. Don't let anyone get away!" They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there. 41 And Elijah said to Ahab, "Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain." 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. 43 "Go and look toward the sea," he told his servant. And he went up and looked. "There is nothing there," he said. Seven times Elijah said, "Go back." 44 The seventh time the servant reported, "A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea." So Elijah said, "Go and tell Ahab, 'Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.' " 45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the LORD came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. (1 Ki. 18:41-46)
It looked like everything was going well and everyone, including Ahab, would now repent and follow Yahweh and Him alone.
1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, "May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them." (1 Ki. 19:1-2)
Ahab apparently goes home and complains, whines, and cries to his wife about what happened. He does not go home and repent and set things right with God. Jezebel swears by the “gods” that Elijah will die.
God continues to offer us the opportunity to repent and turn to Him, even in our worst rebellion. God has done so very much by sending us Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and His Word in the Bible. It’s up to you to decide how you are going to respond to God’s offer of repentance.