People are strange; prophets are stranger. Evidently Elijah was known for disappearing. When Elijah instructs Obadiah to go tell King Ahab that he is there, Obadiah objects. He's afraid that when he brings Ahab, Elijah won't be there: "I don't know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you" (1 Kings 18:12). There is a similar fear expressed in 2 Kings 2:16, "Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley." So it must not have been unusual for God to transport Elijah somewhere else.
This time, though, Elijah assures Obadiah that he will be there when he returns with Ahab.
For Reflection: Isn't it interesting that the King comes to see Elijah the prophet rather than Elijah going to the King? What does this signify?
Let us pray. O Lord, you have searched me and your know me. You hem me in - behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Where can I go from your Spirit?" (Psalm 139:1, 5, 7)
The other thing happening while Elijah was waiting oj God is that Obadiah was doing his best to save at least some of God's prophets. He managed to save 100 prophets, 50 each in two caves. That also meant he was secretly getting food and water to them so that King Ahab and Queen Jezebel would not find out. It was a big risk for him (1 Kings 18:1-6).
So while Elijah is hiding in exile, no doubt wondering what God is doing back in Israel, God is using Obadiah, a man in the King's inner circle. God's plan did not depend entirely on Elijah; he had other people in place.
For Reflection: We may not see or know God's full plan. We may think that everything depends on us. But God has billions of people around the world who are devoted to him and available to carry out his plans. We need never feel alone in serving God whether we see others with us or not. St. Paul offers this encouragement in Hebrews 12: We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (those who have gone before us in the faith). Let us throw off everything that hinders us and run the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.
Let us pray. Jesus, I realize I am not privy to your entire plan. I know I'm just a small part of it. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you while I run the race you have marked out for me.
Three years pass for Elijah in Zarephath. While Elijah was hiding out in the home of the widow, King Ahab mounted a search to find this prophet who had cursed him with drought. In all the surrounding nations no one knew where he was. Meanwhile the drought continued and the famine worsened.
Queen Jezebel's response was to kill all the prophets of God that she could find. King Ahab and his top adviser (and faithful servant of God) Obadiah were trying to save the country from disaster. They went out one day looking for any remaining grassland on which to pasture the animals. Ahab and Obadiah had gone in different directions when Elijah walked up to Obadiah, who recognized him, and said, "Tell the King that Elijah is here" (1 Kings 18:1-8).
For Reflection: Sometimes the plans of God don't work quickly. While God waited three years for Ahab, King of Israel, to repent, Elijah cooled his heals in modern-day Lebanon. This time of resistance to God was not a fun time for anyone. Ahab and Obadiah had to deal with the drought; Elijah had to leave his country; most of the prophets of God were killed.
Where I am today? Am I in the "waiting on God to work out his plans" stage? Or am I in the action stage of speaking to people who need to hear God's word? Is it possible to be in both stages at once?
Let us pray. Only you know, Lord, only you know the times of my life, the ups and the downs. Don't let my heart be stubborn like that of Ahab or Jezebel. Help me to stay true to you like Elijah and Obadiah in times of waiting and times of action.
God has now worked two miracles regarding food for Elijah. First, he fed him through ravens in the wilderness. Second, he fed him through the widow of Zarephath. The third miracle related to Elijah, so far, is that God has withheld rain from Israel in order to prove to King Ahab that he is the one, true God.
Elijah is biding his time, waiting for the next call from God, when the son of the widow becomes ill and stops breathing. The woman immediately blames this on Elijah. Why not? By now she knows that not only is he a foreigner but also an enemy of the King of Israel. Surely her housing of this man has brought this evil upon her (1 Kings 17:17-18).
Elijah ignores the accusation and God uses Elijah to raise the boy back to life. This saving act, more than anything else, convinces the woman that Elijah's God is the true God and she has done the right thing by taking him in. "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth" (1 Kings 17:24), is her confession of faith. The multiplication of food had not convinced her, but bringing her son back to life has.
For Reflection: How many miracles does it take to convince me that God is at work?
Let us pray. Lord, I can be so hard-headed and disbelieving sometimes. Help me to recognize you in my life every day.
When the brook dried up from which Elijah had been drinking (because of the drought which Elijah had predicted), God led him to a widow in a town on the coast (1 Kings 17:7-16). The widow and her son were also suffering from the drought. When Elijah asked her for food, she told him of her dire circumstances - she was preparing her last meal. Elijah asks her for bread anyway. Then he makes her a promise from God: "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land."
And so it was. Elijah lived with the woman and her family while God kept his promise. The widow was not an Israelite, but a woman from the area where Jezebel was from. God had sent Elijah to a foreigner, you might say into the enemy's camp, someone who owed an Israeli prophet nothing.
For Reflection: God blessed this woman and her family for sharing their last meal with a visitor, a foreigner. Elijah had traveled a long way and was no doubt dusty and dirty. He'd been living outdoors for a long time without human companionship. A widow, who should have been afraid of him, takes him in. It is surely God at work to lead Elijah to such a woman and for that woman to open her home and hearth to Elijah.
Let us pray. Jesus, if you led someone to my door I hope I would be as welcoming. There may not be anyone knocking on my door, but there are many refugees in the world today. How should I respond? What is my responsibility?
Elijah is one of God's great prophets in the Old Testament. Elijah stood up to wicked King Ahab of Israel and his wife Jezebel and spoke God's truth to them. Ahab, largely due to the influence of Jezebel, had rejected worship of the one, true God and had begun not only to worship Baal but also built a temple for Baal. He erected a totem pole for Asherah. Baal and Asherah were nature gods or fertility gods.
So when Elijah steps up and declares to Ahab that there will be no rain in the next few years except at Elijah's word (1 Kings 17:1), he is directly challenging the nature/fertility gods of Ahab. The gauntlet has been thrown down and God guides Elijah in finding food and water while hiding from the wrath of Ahab. God first leads Elijah to the Kerith Ravine where he is brought bread and meat twice a day by ravens and he drinks from the brook in the ravine as long as it continues to flow.
For Reflection: It is no small matter to challenge a king and a false god. But God inspired, enabled, and empowered Elijah to do what was needed. And he backed up Elijah's word. Ahab probably didn't believe Elijah in the beginning. But when the drought and famine became severe Ahab realized that Elijah had spoken the truth.
Am I more like Elijah or Ahab?
Let us pray. Jesus, I want to be more like Elijah than Ahab. I want to stay close to you no matter what the people around me are doing.
Many may be unfamiliar with the story of a Jewish woman who was forced to watch her seven sons be killed in the space of a single day. The story is told in 2 Maccabees 7 that the king was trying to force the family to eat pork. The account is extremely gruesome.
But the mother is lauded for combining "womanly emotion with manly courage" while she spoke words of encouragement to each of her sons. She reminded them that it was God who created the universe and gave them life, that God was merciful and would reward them with eternal life. She encouraged them to their death.
Lastly the mother died.
For Reflection: For all the mothers who send their sons (and daughters) off to war. For all the mothers who offer encouragement in times of persecution. For all the mothers who receive back the wounded and the dead, let us thank God.
Let us Pray. We do not know your ways, Lord, nor understand why some suffer so much for believing in God the Creator. But we thank you for the mothers who give life and encouragement to their families to keep to the laws of God. We entrust these mothers in their love and their sorrow to your care.
It is hard to imagine living under persecution for being Christian (or any faith belief), but Christians have the words of Jesus who tells us to "fear not." That's much easier said than done; however, I think Jesus meant it.
If we know that when we die we will spend eternity in the Kingdom of God, then we need not fear death. So for Christians fear should not arise from death itself. Many of us, though, may fear what comes before death - suffering or pain. Is Jesus telling us not to fear suffering or pain?
Well, Scripture says that perfect love (God) casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), but it appears to me that verse is meant for the day of judgment. If we consider Jesus' agony in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:36-46), Jesus is concerned about something. But what is it that overwhelms him? Is it death itself? or the pain of the whipping and crucifixion to come? or the weight of the sins of the world?
For reflection: Honestly, I don't know but I don't think it was the prospect of death itself that caused Jesus such anguish. I think it was either the physical pain to come or the weight of the sins of the world. What do you think?
Let us pray. Jesus, only you know what the persecuted Christians around the world are facing. We thank you for being with them in their time of testing and temptation, and we thank you for holding them like the Good Shepherd you are. Strengthen their faith in the face of the enemy. May your Name be always in their minds, and on their lips and in their hearts.
Our weapon against Satan is words, so what we have is a war of words. Some might not consider words to be very powerful. But we are not speaking of words of diplomacy. These are not the words of Secretary of State. We are speaking words with the same power as God's words of creation. When we speak, all of creation listens.
God's word did not go forth at the time of creation without effecting what he set forth to do. His word does not go forth void now (Isaiah 55:11). No, the word of God is living, active and sharp. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart and applies to all of creation (Hebrews 4:12).
Since we are praying again today on behalf of the persecuted Christians around the world, how then ought we to pray? We need to pray aloud and our words might be something like the following. As always, please feel free to add your own prayers.
We command all man-made weapons to be silenced and broken and to never work again (Isaiah 54:17).
We send the word of God into the hearts and minds of those who have a murdering spirit: you shall not kill (Exodus 20:13).
We proclaim the word of God to all who worship false gods: you shall worship the Lord, the God who brought the Hebrew people out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 20;2-3).
We command those with a spirit of hatred and covetousness: you shall not rape women, nor evict people from their homes (Exodus 20:14-17).
We proclaim the word of God for all to hear: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Mark 12:29). You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:13).
"I brought you into this world and I can take you out," we sometimes hear as a threat from a father to a wayward son. I think there is an application for that thought in the spiritual world.
As we continue to pray for persecuted Christians around the world, I have still been reflecting on the fact that the Christian enemy is not flesh and blood but the powers and spirits of darkness in this realm and in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). And our weapon against these spiritual forces is the word (the sword of the Spirit, the word of God).
God created everything in this world and in the spiritual realm by his word. His words, "let there be . . . ", took effect and accomplished what they were sent to do, including the creation of the angels. So the spiritual powers of darkness (fallen angels) were created by God - not for evil, of course, but for good. After creation, God continued to speak words to his people, but they didn't listen all that well. So he sent The Word, his Son. The Son spoke his words, but the people didn't listen all that well, until the Son shed his blood and said, "It is finished."
Those who did listen wrote down the word of God which we have with us today. And this written word, which came from the flesh-and-blood Word, to the people created by the spoken word, we learn so that we can overcome the spiritual forces in the world and in the heavenly places by the blood of the lamb and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). The lamb's work is done (it is finished!) and our work is to speak the word of our testimony.
The word of our testimony is the Word of God (Jesus), the word of God (Scripture) and the words that tell what God has done for us personally. What was created by a word of God we have been empowered to overcome (or take out) by a word from us. In our war on the spirits and powers of darkness, our weapon is the word. The evil spirits don't have the Word on their side, we do. Let us speak to the evil spirits, the powers of darkness, and overcome them with the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.
Let us declare. Spirits of war, hatred, murder, genocide, you were defeated by the blood of the Lamb. That same blood was shed for me so that I might be washed clean and set free from my sins. Furthermore, Jesus is my Lord. He has given me abundant life. He has justified me and made me righteous in his sight. By God's Word and by my word you are cast down. You have no more power in this world. You are defeated. The captives are set free.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.