1 Kings 18:41-42
“And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees,”
On Mt Carmel Elijah humiliated and defeated the prophets of Baal, and Ahab watched in dismay as the prayers and pleading of the prophets of Baal went unanswered, while the prayer of Elijah was answered immediately by God with fire from heaven.
Before Ahab could gather his wits from the shock of seeing God rain down fire, Elijah ordered the people of Israel to kill all of the prophets of Baal.
At this point, Ahab must have been afraid for his life. Ahab knew he had chosen the worship of Baal over the worship of Jehovah, and he knew the drought was punishment for his disobedience and idolatry. The dramatic display of the power of Jehovah and the killing of the prophets of Baal only served to deepen Ahab’s realization that he had chosen to worship the wrong god.
Would Elijah now call for Ahab’s death? Would God strike down Ahab with fire?
The answer is no. This was not the time for Ahab to die. Instead, Elijah instructed Ahab to eat and drink, and he told him that rain was coming. Ahab must have been thoroughly confused, yet still fearful. We can only speculate what was going through Ahab’s mind. Eat and drink? Really? Elijah says that rain is coming … does that mean the drought is ending?
Certainly, this was not what Ahab expected. Nonetheless, Ahab went off to his palace in Jezreel, while Elijah climbed back to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees before the living God, and prayed. Elijah knew that prayer was the means by which he would seek God to bring blessing to the land.
“And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” (1 Kings 18.41-44)
Elijah persevered in prayer. “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And the servant went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah told him to go back and look. The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
“And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (1 Kings 18.45-46)
Ahab, however, did not seek God in prayer. Apparently, on the chariot ride from Mt Carmel to Jezreel, rather than reflecting on the evil he had done and repenting, Ahab grew resentful about the trouble Elijah had caused.
The next thing we will read about Ahab is that he complains to Jezebel about Elijah’s killing of the prophets. No sense of humility. No remorse for the suffering he caused Israel. No repentance for his idolatry. Only stubbornness and selfishness and hardness of heart.
Lord, please deliver us from selfish leaders!