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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
1 Kings 18

 

 

Verses 1-46

2. Elijah on Carmel: The Answered Prayer

CHAPTER 18

1. The command to see Ahab (1 Kings 18:1)

2. Elijah’s response (1 Kings 18:2)

3. Ahab and Obadiah (1 Kings 18:3-6)

4. Elijah and Obadiah (1 Kings 18:7-15)

5. Elijah meets Ahab (1 Kings 18:16-18)

6. Elijah’s demand (1 Kings 18:19-20)

7. The events on Carmel (1 Kings 18:20-40)

8. The answered prayer (1 Kings 18:41-46)

The judgment of God as announced by Elijah continued its allotted time. A Greek historian, Menander of Ephesus, in his account of the acts of Ethbaal (the father of Jezebel, Ahab’s wife), says: “Under him there was a want of rain from a certain month till the same month the following year.” And Josephus, the Jewish historian who quotes this, adds, “by these words he designed the want of rain that was in the days of Ahab.” It was in the third year of the drought that Elijah is commanded to show himself to Ahab. Elijah obeys. Great distress and famine were everywhere. Then we see Ahab and Obadiah, the governor or steward of his house, looking for a little pasture so that they might save the horses and mules alive. Obadiah (servant of Jehovah), holding a high position with Ahab, feared the Lord greatly. He belonged to the faithful remnant who did not bow the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). He must have had severe tests of faith and much courage. It showed faith and devotion in hiding the Lord’s prophets. Jezebel, the wicked idolatrous woman, used the civil power to kill off the true prophets. Her aim was to exterminate completely the men of God who stood for the truth. We find her mentioned in Revelation 2:20. There she is used to represent Rome, the harlot, and her spiritual fornication and idolatry. Rome, like Jezebel, has persecuted the Lord’s servants and killed them (Revelation 18:24). Jezebel had evidently left the palace of Samaria and was at Jezreel, but Ahab and Obadiah were still in Samaria making a survey of the land. Then Obadiah met Elijah. The prophet requests Obadiah to announce his presence to Ahab. But Obadiah feared that such a message might cost him his life. Had not the whole country been searched for Elijah? And what if the Spirit should carry Elijah away? Then he pleads his kindness to the hundred prophets whom he saved when murderous Jezebel slew the prophets. From all this we learn that Obadiah, pious and faithful, was full of fear and trembling. He and the other faithful ones in Israel during the dark days of Ahab and Jezebel typify that faithful remnant of Israel during the end of the present age, suffering and persecuted during the great tribulation.

Ahab and Elijah met, and the prophet, clothed with power, rebuked the apostate King: “I have not troubled Israel; but thou and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” What would have happened if the daughter of Ethbaal, demon-possessed Jezebel, had been present? The great gathering suggested by Elijah would hardly have taken place. But she was in Jezreel and was ignorant of what was taking place. Ahab gathers all Israel and the 450 prophets of Baal upon Mount Carmel as demanded by Elijah. It is said that upon that mountain there stood two altars, one dedicated to Jehovah and another altar of Baal. This place Elijah chose for the vindication of Jehovah. To describe the scene, one of the grandest in the history of Israel, would take many pages. To his solid statement demanding decision--”How long halt ye between two opinions? If Jehovah is God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him”--the people had no answer. Then follows his great declaration as the only prophet of Jehovah, while 450 prophets of Baal stood over against him. Then the sacrifices are suggested “and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.” And all the people answered, it is well spoken. Then follows the wild crying of the prophets of Baal from early morning till noon; Elijah’s sarcasm and the greater frenzy of the Baal worshippers. A wild scene followed. Crying louder and louder, they cut themselves with knives and lancers till the blood flowed. But there was no answer and no voice. Then Elijah repaired the altar of Jehovah, that was broken down. What a reminder the twelve stones were with which he built the altar! The sacrifice had been put upon the altar with the wood. Three times the altar had been drenched with water, so that the trench was filled with water. And now the time for the evening sacrifice, that significant time had come. A simple prayer follows. Jehovah’s vindication is demanded and that he is Jehovah’s servant. “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the LORD God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.” Then Jehovah answered by fire and everything was consumed. The people who witnessed the indescribable scene fell on their faces and cried: “The LORD He is God--the LORD He is God.” Thus Jehovah manifested His power in the vindication of His name and in answer to His servant’s prayer, and the people were brought back to the confession of the name of the LORD. His great mission to which the Lord had called him had been accomplished and the prophets of Baal, wicked and guilty as they were, received their deserved judgment. And here we have a foreshadowing of events to come.

Apostasy from the Lord and from His Word is increasing. Before the age closes it will be universal, though the Lord will have a faithful remnant even in the dark days of the age. His name is dishonored and rejected. But that blessed name will be vindicated by a manifestation of His power in judgment. “For behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with His chariots like a whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fires. For by fire and by His sword will the LORD plead with all flesh; and the slain of the LORD shall be many” (Isaiah 66:15-16).

Higher criticism has not left these records unattacked. They speak of “the legendary narratives in which Elijah’s history is enshrined.” All is done to discredit these records and to make them appear doubtful. But the verdict given by these men who sit in judgment upon the Word of God, that the scene on Carmel is unhistorical, is a false verdict which shows lack of real research. Nothing whatever can be brought forward to question the historicity of this great scene, while much confirms it.

Then follows Elijah’s word to Ahab: “Get thee up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of abundance of rain.” It was spoken in faith. The Lord had said to him: “I will send rain upon the earth” (1 Kings 18:1). And then came his prayer. He knew the Lord’s will and the Lord’s promise, and then persevered in prayer, and when the answer was in sight then he exercised faith once more by sending a message to Ahab. Then the heaven was black with clouds and wind and there was a great rain. The hand of the Lord was also upon Elijah and he ran before Ahab’s chariot to the entrance of Jezreel. It was supernatural power which sustained him (Isa. 60:31).

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 1 Kings 18:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/1-kings-18.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 13th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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