The Lord, He Is The God!
Based on Series of Sermons on the Repetition of Name and Titles
Preached in PCC Worship Service, 26 February 2017
Part 1 of 3


We are continuing in our study of the repetition of names, words and phrases in the Bible. Our text for the next three articles is 1 Kings 18:1-40 and the title is “The LORD, he is the God.” This title comes from verse 39 where we read, “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.” Not only do we find the repetition of a name in the verse, but we also have the repetition of a statement or proposition, which in Hebrew literally reads, “The LORD, he the God, the LORD, he the God.”

Context

But first, a little of the context and background to our text. In chapter 17, Elijah is introduced and mentioned for the first time. The Lord sent him to King Ahab to pronounce judgment upon the Northern Kingdom for their sin of worshipping Baal.

Elijah said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” Then having pronounced that word, the Lord instructed Elijah to go into hiding, first, by the brook Cherith, and then later in the house of the widow of Zarephath in Sidon.  

The drought was very severe and it lasted over three years. During this time, the people had no water and the land became dry and unfruitful. Ironically, the god whom they worshipped, Baal, was supposed to be the god of fertility and the god of the storm. He was supposed to be able to bestow upon man and soil the blessings of fruitfulness. But Baal was powerless to do anything during those three-and-a-half years.

Now, at the beginning of chapter 18, the true and living God or, if you like, the real God of fertility and of the storm was about to send rain again. But before He did that, He wanted to make sure that the people, including the king himself, understood that it was Him and not some rejuvenated Baal who was sending the rain.

This question of who is the real God dominates this chapter as we shall see, and this brings us to our text proper, which I’ve divided it into three parts. From verses 1-16, we have the reappearance of the prophet, then, from verses 17-29, the challenge of the prophet, and finally from verses 30-40, the Lord’s answer to the prophet.

In this article, we will look at just the first part.

The Reappearance of the Prophet (vv. 1-16)

 Verse 1, “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.”

Elijah was to go and meet Ahab first before the LORD sends the rain. Elijah obeyed and went to Ahab. The end of verse 2 informs us that there was a severe famine in Samaria or the northern kingdom at that time, no doubt because of the long drought.  

In verses 3-6, the scene shifts from Elijah to Ahab and we are introduced to a person by the name of Obadiah, who was the governor or chief administrator of Ahab’s house. This Obadiah is not to be confused with the minor prophet Obadiah, who wrote his prophecy probably sometime in the middle of the 6th century BC or about 300 years after the time of our text.

Well, according to verse 3, the Obadiah of our text, was a man who feared the LORD greatly, and verse 4 gives evidence of his fear of God. We are told that when Jezebel the queen ordered the execution of the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah rounded up a hundred of the LORD’s prophets and hid them in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water.

He must have done this at great risk to his own life for if Jezebel had discovered what he had done, he too would have been executed, and perhaps even his whole family. But Obadiah feared the Lord and did what he could to protect and provide for the servants of the LORD. Interestingly, his name, Obadiah, means the servant of the LORD. So right in the very household and administration of the wicked Ahab and Jezebel was found a man who faithfully served the Lord and who was secretly frustrating their wicked plans.

In verse 5, Ahab instructed Obadiah to go through the land to all the springs and valleys in order to find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so that they did not lose all their animals. Notice the sharp contrast in these few verses between Obadiah, on the one hand, and Ahab and Jezebel, on the other. Jezebel sought to kill the LORD’s prophets whereas Obadiah sought to preserve them. Ahab couldn’t be bothered that Jezebel was killing prophets but he was very concerned about the survival of his horses and mules. Ahab wanted to save animals whereas Obadiah wanted to save the Lord’s servants. What a contrast!

In verse 6, Ahab and Obadiah went out in different directions to search for food for their animals. But as Obadiah was walking along, he ran into Elijah, whom he recognized, and he immediately bowed down to the ground and said, “Is it really you, my lord, Elijah?” Elijah replied, “I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold Elijah is here.” To which Obadiah answered, “How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab to kill me?” And then he goes on, in verses 10-12, to explain why he thought Ahab would kill him if he did as Elijah instructed.

Ahab had been hunting high and low for Elijah in all the neighbouring nations and kingdoms, and he even required them to swear that they did not know where Elijah was. Actually, the irony is that all this while, Elijah had been living only a few miles away from Jezebel’s hometown in Sidon.

Obadiah was concerned that if he told Ahab of Elijah’s whereabouts and Ahab went there to look for him but before he arrived, the Spirit of the LORD took Elijah to another location, then Obadiah would be executed for the prophetic no-show. Then Obadiah cites his fear of the LORD from his youth and his secret preservation of the LORD’s prophets as arguments against sending him to his death.

We see a contrast, don’t we, between Obadiah and Elijah in terms of their character and the nature of their service to the Lord? Elijah is the bold and courageous and unflinching sort of person. He is not afraid to have an open challenge and confrontation with his opponents.

Obadiah on the other hand is the more hesitant and cautious and fearful kind of person. Now we shouldn’t be too critical of Obadiah for, as I mentioned earlier, it did take a huge amount of courage for him to hide and preserve those 100 prophets. Obadiah, like Elijah feared the LORD greatly. He is just very different from Elijah in terms of his character.

Another point of contrast or difference between them is found in their respective offices. Elijah served the LORD as a prophet whereas Obadiah served the LORD as a civil servant in the administration of Ahab. One served in the religious sphere whereas the other served in the civil realm. God called them to very different roles and offices but both were still the servants of the LORD.

But one final point of contrast between them: Elijah’s ministry was more open and public and confrontational whereas Obadiah’s ministry was of a quieter and more behind-the-scene nature.

And it is here that we are reminded that the LORD can and does use all kinds of people to serve Him in all kinds of vocations and settings. We must never think that only those who are publicly preaching and proclaiming God’s word are serving the Lord while the rest are not. No, those who work quietly in the background, often unnoticed and unappreciated by others, are nevertheless serving the LORD too, and the LORD will not forget their labour of love. In the end, faithfulness in the LORD’s servant is what is required and is what truly matters.

Well, Elijah responded in verse 15 with a solemn assurance to Obadiah that he would show himself to Ahab that very day. There would be no prophetic-no show that might jeopardise Obadiah’s life. And so Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him all that happened, and Ahab, in turn, went to meet Elijah.

In the next article, we will look at the second part of our text from verses 17-29 of 1 Kings 18 on the challenge of the prophet.   

…to be continued, next Issue

—Linus Chua