I Kings 15-18
New King James Version
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
God, some of the things you need to do to clean up the world that man messes up is almost too much to bear. But we want to be on your side of righteousness, on your side the law, and sided with you in all your grace. Thank you for calling us as you called Elijah. Amen.
15 – In case the memo missed anyone, the reading today opens in 915 B.C. That is before most of us started kindergarten… really….! Abijah had a short reign of a couple years or so. He was mostly all-in for evil. He fought with the northern king Jeroboam who started the rebellion against the south about 18 years prior. His mother was evil and apparently she mentored him so. He did win back some cities from the north as the LORD stepped in for Judah; the southern kingdom. Comparing Abijah’s story here with the one in II Chron. 13 gives the fuller picture of Abijah.
Asa, his son reigned immediately following. Asa sought the Lord wholeheartedly and his plan was to clean up Judah. He banished his twisted grandmother (Abijah’s mother), he rid the lude idols and the Lord gave him reign for 41 years; a time span that covered 7 of Israel’s kings in the north. II Chr. 14-16 has more of Asa’s story. Notice that he turned to Syria [not the LORD] for military help, He did the same in his old age regarding the problems with his feet and he suffered for his refusal to come to God in this matter. Take note here, friends!
I Kings 15-16, for the remainder of the run here, lists a string of kings that coincides with the reign of Asa. It’s a grisly, bloody, backstabbing, horrid time in Israel. The kings are practically trying to outdo each other in an “ungodliness contest” wherein the thirst for darkness doesn’t seem to be quenchable. They are then listed and described in succession; Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab [Jezebel’s wife] . None are people of character nor virtue. Their exploits are garish, huge and far reaching for the next 35 years or so. Keep in mind that “1 & 2 Kings” is much more of the northern perspective, while simultaneously, while 1 & 2 Chronicles is much more the southern perspective. Kings is a zany rendition of simply what happened as a nation frantically ran from God. Chronicles has a couple dozen reminders and anecdotes that are an attempt to see Judah return to following the Lord.
17 – Enter Elijah, one of the most glorious and powerful characters in the whole Bible. He is so etched in the “hall of heroes” among Judaism that the leaders in Jesus’ day think that it is Elijah that Jesus is calling out to 800+years later as he is gasping to breath on the Cross. Just in reading this part of the incidents in Elijah’s life we see why he had Messianic level status as he did many miraculous deeds, multiplied food, raised the dead, won victories and so forth. He first declares a drought and then is instructed to hide in a canyon by a brook west of the Jordan. He is miraculously fed there until God prompts him onward. He then is to go to a widow in duress who is out of food. Elijah restores her food supply. Her son then dies and Elijah brings her son back to life. He has quite a string of salient assignments and he follows God’s prompting gloriously. We can see why he is so highly revered in Judaism and later in Christianity.
18 – Elijah and Obadiah have an encounter, as they are both on the right side of faith and Elijah has Obadiah set up a meeting with Ahab. Ahab was the most wicked king to date. His wife Jezebel even outdid Ahab for treachery, paganism, murder of God’s people and diabolical deeds. Elijah calls for a spiritual showdown on Mt. Carmel and wanted all of Ahab/Jezebels’ prophets present and for Israel to watch this showdown. They meet on Mt. Carmel and Elijah set the parameters. Each side sacrificed and arranged a bull on their respective places and they were to call on their divine source for God/god/Baal to light the fire and burn the sacrifice. The Baal worshipers commenced and called and danced and cut themselves as their false religion required of them. All the while Elijah jeered and cheered them on sarcastically as if they weren’t trying hard enough. Elijah then arranged his sacrifice and soaked it with a laborious amount of water to over prove his point. There well could have been ca. 300 gallons of water poured over the wood and bull and to fill the trench. Then God sent down fire as Elijah called for God to give this sign. It was so hot that the entire altar burned up and vaporized with the bull and the wood. Even the stones were burnt and gone!! My husband looked this up for me and stones vaporize / “evaporate” at +3450 degrees fahrenheit. They turn white hot and then are gone. Btw, the surface of the sun is calculated to be 10K degrees! This was a demonstration of many things among them is that “our God is a consuming fire” / He is livid at Baal worship / He’s all powerful / …the list goes on. Israel was on their face in worship and confession. Elijah orders that all the Baal prophets be executed. The drought then ends in a wild display as Elijah orchestrated the exit from Carmel and ran ahead of, shall we call it –> “Ahab’s parade”.? This would make quite a movie scene would it not? It’s a scene that is among the most wild-like nature miracles and savagely impressive in all the Bible.