“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah.” This is the beginning of the prophetic era. God started with a priest as His representative (Moses to Samuel), then He used the kings (Saul to Ahab). But then the kings rejected God, and He raised up the prophets. Don’t be deceived by appearances. It looked like all the power was with the kings, with the Baalists, it looked like Yahwehism was in retreat or defeated. The government was promoting raw paganism of the worst sort. Even as a matter of policy and approval, with funding support. It is always true that despite appearances, the Word of God is powerful and working.
Try to picture for a minute a stranger, walking unannounced into the White House up to the Second floor, past all the staff and security, and boldly entering the oval office and with authority declaring that all import and export trading will cease for several years until I say it will resume. And then as suddenly as he appeared, he disappears. Who was that masked man? Where did he come from, and where did he go? What did he say? Where did he get such authority? People of conviction and passion stand out to us. Especially in a cultural climate like ours where it was neither comfortable or convenient to take a stand for God. Everyone fears to get involved. In an age "moral pygmies" Elijah towers like a giant. F.B. Meyer called him a “colossus among men.” Alexander Whyte called him “a Mount Sinai of a man with a heart like a thunderstorm.” Alexander McClaren called him “the Martin Luther of the Old Testament.” James says Elijah was a man like us. Really? How many of you think that when you think about Elijah? Let’s talk about spiritual conviction and moral authority. Where does it come from, how can we get it? By observing Elijah's life we can see there is truth in what James says, especially if you notice the qualities or characteristics about Elijah that make up the definition of a Christian, one like us.
If you are reading along in I Kings, when you turn the page to chapter 17 Elijah the Tishbite steps onto the canvas of Scripture from out of nowhere. Like a meteor flashing across a dark sky. His sudden appearance makes him somehow a grand and romantic figure. We are drawn to and fascinated by this unique character, and his abrupt declaration underscores his mystery. If we are going to study the life of an individual it helps to know something of the history they were a part of. And when we learn something of the history, his sudden appearance will make more sense to us. He served during the reigns of King Ahab and Ahaziah, from 870s to 842 b.c. He appeared on the stage of public action during one of the darkest hours of Israel's sad history. The nation of Israel was in a moral free fall. Never before had the favored nation sunk so low, grievously and willfully rejecting God’s Word and departing from God. For well over 100 years Israel had been ruled by three great, famous and flawed men, Saul, David and Solomon. In the 58 years that had passed since the kingdom had been rent in two following the death of Solomon no less than seven kings had reigned over the ten northern tribes, and all of them without exception were wicked men. From the seeds planted by Solomon's pagan wives, his son Jeroboam introduced the first fruits of idolatry among the people of Israel. I will just go back to Ahab’s father Omri.