1 Kings 18:1-2
“After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria.”
Elijah was east of the Jordan during the time of protection and preparation, and the months passed, and then years. As the drought continued, King Ahab scoured Israel and the surrounding nations looking for Elijah, but the prophet remained hidden.
Meanwhile, Elijah was growing, developing, and waiting for directions from God.
Three years earlier God had said to Elijah, “Go, hide yourself.” Now the Lord says, “Go, show yourself to Ahab.” Three years earlier God had said, “There is going to be a drought in the land. There will be neither rain nor dew until I say so.” Now the Lord says, “I will send rain.”
The encounter between Elijah and Ahab must have been quite a scene. Elijah was the most wanted man in the land, and King Ahab was furious with him.
Try to imagine the scene: Three years without a drop of rain in the entire land of Israel. Every stream and brook had dried up. When Elijah made his way from Zarephath to Ahab’s palace, he must have walked around the carcasses and skeletons of many animals. Imagine the stench of death. The dryness and dust. The heat. The disease.
Into the midst of this scene walks Elijah, the man being blamed for it all. With hatred in his eyes, King Ahab meets the prophet and spits out a condemnation: “You troubler of Israel. You have brought disaster to our country!”
It took great courage for Elijah to go to Ahab, and great courage comes from deep faith. Elijah was prepared because his faith and courage had been trained at Cherith and Zarephath.
It is a timeless principle: Under pressure you don’t rise to the occasion; you rise (or fall) to the level of your training. Elijah had been trained.
Elijah did not flinch in the face of Ahab’s anger; instead, he shifted the blame back where it belonged. “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you have followed the Baals.” (1 Kings 18:18)
“Don’t blame me for what’s happened,” Elijah tells Ahab boldly. “God brought this drought of judgment because of your idolatry and corruption. You are the reason we haven’t had rain. God has restrained the heavens because you have broken His commandments. You have forsaken Him. You are worshiping idols.”
Ahab had been shamelessly disobedient, and had brazenly broken the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20: 3). Ahab needed to know that the God of heaven is supreme, and Elijah was going to prove it. And thus the showdown began: Ahab vs. Elijah.
In reality, it was a dramatic showdown between idolatry and the living God. The fireworks are about to begin.