It’s showtime – Wednesday 10th Week in ordinary time – 1 Kings 18:20-39

Have you ever been in a spiritual battle where you thought that you were on the losing side? Well, you’re not alone. The Bible is full of stories of God’s people and their struggle with spiritual battles. Often they thought that God had abandoned them, when in reality he was always with them. One example is the story of Elijah. He often thought that he was alone, especially when he was running away from the evil Queen Jezebel, who wanted to kill him.

Yet Elijah has been called “the iron prophet.” In chapter 17, Elijah (whose name means “Yahweh is God”) appears before Ahab after a three-year absence. King Ahab, son of Omri, ruled the northern kingdom of Israel for 22 years (874 – 853 BCE). Ahab’s marriage to the Phoenician princess Jezebel was the reason why Ahab began to serve and worship Baal, one of the gods worshiped by Jezebel. Promptly after his marriage to Jezebel, Ahab, among other things, built a temple for Baal in Samaria and erected an altar to Baal in the temple.

Elijah announces that Ahab’s worship of Baal has provoked God to cause a drought in the land (1 Kings 17:1). Ironically, when the drought occurs Ahab blames it on Elijah (1 Kings 18:17).The drought occurred as prophesied, lasting three years (18:1). The prophecy was aimed squarely at the heart of Baal worship, given that Baal was supposed to be the storm god of rain, dew, and fertility in Canaan and Phoenicia. The drought was not only a punishment for worshiping Baal, but it also challenged the leadership of Ahab in the eyes of his own people.

In the eyes of God, the king was charged with seeing that the people were faithful to the covenantal law and the prophet was responsible for keeping the king accountable to the law. Now that Ahab had broken the commandment of God, King and prophet were on collision course with Ahab seeking to kill Elijah. The King holds the prophecy of Elijah as being the reason for the land to be stricken by famine.

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