1 Kings Chapter 18: Obadiah, Contest with Prophets of Baal

Nov 8th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Kings, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Kings Chapter 18: Obadiah, Contest with Prophets of Baal


1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.

“In the third year,” near the end of the 3 1/2 years of drought, God told Elijah to show himself to King Ahab of the ten tribes. For two years, Elijah had been at the brook Cherith where he was fed by ravens, and then he went to the home of the widow of Zarephath, where he stayed for a while. Now he was instructed to go to Ahab. Presumably, based on the previous chapter, Elijah was up in Lebanon, so he had to journey south to the vicinity of Megiddo where the king was situated. God said He would send rain after Elijah met with Ahab.

1 Kings 18:2 And Elijah went to show himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.

With the drought lasting 3 1/2 years, the famine was especially severe in Samaria, including the capital of the ten-tribe kingdom. Of course each year the famine got worse. Elijah started on his journey “to show himself unto Ahab.”

Q: With Ahab and Samaria representing Papacy in the antitype, is the thought that the lack of truth was particularly severe during the 1,260 years from 539 to 1799?

A: Yes, there was a great drought in papal terrain in the Middle and Dark Ages.

1 Kings 18:3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly:

1 Kings 18:4 For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)

Ahab called the governor of his house, Obadiah, who feared Jehovah greatly. He manifested this “fear” when Jezebel was killing God’s prophets. At that time, Obadiah hid 100 prophets of the Lord (in two groups of 50 each) “in a cave” and, for the sake of expediency, fed them with the barest essentials of bread and water. (There were probably two caves, and he hid 50 prophets in each cave.) Thus Obadiah saved a remnant of God’s prophets.

1 Kings 18:5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.

1 Kings 18:6 So they divided the land between them to pass throughout it: Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.

Ahab had called Obadiah because of the severity of the drought. He wanted Obadiah to go in one direction, and he would go in the other direction, looking for some water and grass to feed the animals. Accordingly, the land was divided between them, and the two separated.

1 Kings 18:7 And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah?

As Obadiah was looking for water, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized Elijah and fell on his face before him, for he greatly respected the prophet. Nevertheless, he asked, “Are you Elijah?” In other words, Obadiah thought the man was Elijah, but he wanted to make sure. Perhaps an interval of time had elapsed since their last meeting, and appearances do change.

1 Kings 18:8 And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.

Elijah instructed Obadiah to go and tell King Ahab that he was here.

1 Kings 18:9 And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me?

1 Kings 18:10 As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not.

1 Kings 18:11 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.

1 Kings 18:12 And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth.

1 Kings 18:13 Was it not told my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?

1 Kings 18:14 And now thou sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he shall slay me.

Why did Obadiah go into this explanation? Why was he fearful? Obadiah realized that when he met Ahab later, the king would ask, “Have you found any grass? And incidentally, did you happen to see Elijah during your search?” Obadiah did not want to lie, but he feared the consequences if he said yes and Elijah was not with him. Here is an insight into Obadiah’s character. Not only had he hidden 100 of the true prophets earlier, but now he did not want to tell a falsehood. However, he was nervous about how to handle the situation, for he could see that Elijah did not intend to accompany him and was afraid the prophet would disappear in the interim. Obadiah assumed that Elijah would be whisked away by the Spirit—that he would be translated—as had apparently happened on numerous previous occasions.

As indicated in verse 9, because of the predicament he was in, Obadiah thought maybe he had sinned and was being punished. Here is another insight into Obadiah. He was not certain that Elijah intended to remain there until Ahab came. With this measure of uncertainty, Obadiah wondered if God’s providence was punishing him for something he might have done.

Comment: Elijah had characteristically moved around a lot, and Obadiah knew he would be in hot water with Ahab if the message was given and Elijah had vacated the area.

Reply: Yes, for Ahab had been searching for Elijah not only in Israel but also in alien territory.

Knowing Ahab’s temperament, Obadiah realized the king’s wrath would be carried out on him for not apprehending Elijah.

Verses 10 and 11 show that Ahab’s method was to require an oath of people that Elijah had not been there. In other words, the king pressured those under his charge to search for Elijah.

Ahab was searching diligently to find him. Therefore, Obadiah was afraid he would be asked to take an oath in the name of Jehovah, and he did not want to lie lest he break one of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” (Exod. 20:7).

Q: Is there an antitype for Obadiah?

A: During the Inquisition, a class in Christendom was not in heart sympathy with Papacy’s persecuting tactics. Knowing where Christians were, this class warned them to flee when persecution was coming. Thus we think Obadiah represents a class within Christendom who were considered loyal subjects to the rulers. Obadiah was not under suspicion because he was in the house of Ahab, but that does not mean he did not love the Lord. In the antitype, this slaying of the prophets took place during the Middle and Dark Ages, for the rainstorm occurred in 1799 (1 Kings 18:44).

Q: Spiritually speaking, the 3 1/2 years were from 539 to 1799, and the antitypical Elijah was fed by “ravens” (an unconsecrated element) for much of that time. Did the sympathy of the raven class extend into the Protestant Reformation under Martin Luther?

A: There were two 1,260-year time periods. The 1,260 years of famine for the Word of God ended in 1525, and the 1,260 years with Elijah terminated in 1799. These two time periods overlapped. Stated another way, one 1,260-year period began in 265, and the other started in 539. With only a 274-year differential, a large portion of the two 1,260-year time periods overlapped, with a famine in the land and the hunting of the Elijah class to persecute them. The account in Revelation 11:3-12 is from a different perspective. While the Word of God was translated from the Vulgate into the language of the people, it took time for that Word to trickle down to the people where it would be very meaningful, and that occurred after 1799 with the abundance of Bible societies. Hence there was a void between 1525 and 1799, but in the meantime, the New and Old Testaments, the Word of God, stood on their feet for a period of 3 1/2 literal years. However, their subsequent ascent “up to heaven,” to a place of great prominence, corresponds with the abundant rain in 1 Kings 18:44,45.

The raising up of the man-child (Papacy) to a position of authority in 539, when it became the man of sin, is similar. The man-child of 314 was caught up to the false ecclesiastical heavens in 539. The Word of God was published in the language of the people, but at that time, it was like a babe, for it was something new and different. However, after 1799, the Word of God came into great prominence—just as the man of sin did in 539. The raising up to heaven, as it were, took a couple of centuries.

In summation, the persecution of Elijah (true Christians) by Ahab and Jezebel (the nominal system) occurred after 539, not after 265. Obadiah represents a class within the stronghold of Catholicism that was sympathetic to the Lord’s people and their suffering in the Middle and Dark Ages and tried to help them escape the wrath of the antitypical Jezebel.

Q: First, Elijah was fed by ravens for a period of time. Then Obadiah sympathized and rendered some assistance. Is the antitype consecutive timewise? Does Obadiah’s hiding of 100 prophets extend antitypically from 1517, when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, to 1799?

A: There is a sequence, but the timing cannot be pinned down that way. Obadiah fed 100 prophets with bread and water at a later period of time than the beginning of the 1,260 years in 539, but the account does not indicate how much later. When Jezebel was slaying the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah was hiding them in a cave, but the exact time is not pinpointed.

In verse 12, Obadiah said to Elijah, “It shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth.” It is interesting that “the spirit of the LORD” carried Elijah from one place to another. Elijah was miraculously translated in connection with his death. When “a chariot of fire, and horses of fire” separated him from Elisha, he was translated so that his body was not found (2 Kings 2:11,15-17). On another occasion, Elijah arrived ahead of Ahab’s racing chariot (1 Kings 18:46).

A New Testament example is when Philip was translated to Azotus from the presence of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:39,40). In other words, verse 12 indicates that Obadiah was aware of previous incidents, not recorded in the Bible, when Elijah had been translated. Elijah had a reputation of being translated.

Obadiah continued to speak in verse 13: “Was it not tol d my lord what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD, how I hid an hundred men of the LORD’S prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water?” It took courage for Obadiah to hide 100 prophets at the risk of his own life. Of course Ahab and Jezebel were unaware of this act, which was a public secret, but Obadiah assumed that Elijah, being a prophet, knew what had happened—or perhaps he was informed by some of the very prophets who had been rescued. In any event, he was alerting Elijah, and the recording of this exchange with Elijah informs us.

Obadiah finished speaking by saying, “And now thou [Elijah] sayest, Go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here: and he [Ahab] shall slay me.” Obadiah feared that Ahab would slay him.

1 Kings 18:15 And Elijah said, As the LORD of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself unto him today.

Elijah responded with an oath that he would show himself to Ahab that day. Thus Elijah reassured Obadiah that he would continue his journey at his own pace and appear to the king.

1 Kings 18:16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah.

Obadiah told Ahab, and the king went to meet Elijah.

1 Kings 18:17 And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?

Ahab asked Elijah, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” His question was a reversal of the true situation.

Comment: That is how the nominal Church views true Christians.

Reply: Yes. Also, Christians in Paul’s day were addressed this way. They were accused of turning the world “upside down” (Acts 17:6).

1 Kings 18:18 And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.

Elijah replied to Ahab, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house, your predecessors, have done the troubling.” In other words, a history of offenses was associated with the northern kingdom, and Ahab was following in the path of his predecessors.

Comment: With the use of plural and singular pronouns, Elijah was making a distinction. “Ye [plural, that is, Ahab and his predecessors] have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou [Ahab, singular] hast followed Baalim.” After marrying Jezebel, Ahab “did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the [other] kings of Israel that were before him” (1 Kings 16:33).

1 Kings 18:19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.

1 Kings 18:20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.

Elijah told Ahab to gather the 400 prophets of the groves, who ate “at Jezebel’s table,” and the 450 prophets of Baal—a total of 850 false prophets—to Mount Carmel. Ahab had wanted to apprehend Elijah, so why did he now do as Elijah commanded? For this king to acquiesce when he had such hatred for Elijah and the desire to exterminate this troublesome thorn means that the prophet talked STRONG! There are several other reasons why Ahab complied. (1) He wanted rain, and he thought the drought had come about because of Elijah. (2) Ahab’s conscience was bothering him a little, for he knew he should not be worshipping Baal. (3) He felt the 850 prophets were already under his influence, so his attitude was, What could one prophet do against such odds?

1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

1 Kings 18:22 Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.

Here again Elijah was a leading spirit. When all the people were gathered at Mount Carmel, Elijah asked them, “How long do you halt between two opinions? Follow the one who is God.”

The people were silent. Some of them would have been troubled with regard to the Baal worship, which was contrary to the religion of their forefathers, but no one opposed the worship openly. Elijah’s question was a shocker. He was saying in effect, “Whatever you do, do it with a definitive purpose. If Baal is God, let him be God, but if Jehovah is God, let Him be God. Let us have a contest to settle the matter once and for all and not have a mixture of Baalim worship and Jehovah worship. While I am making this suggestion, plurality is on your side with 450 prophets.” The proposition seemed very reasonable to Ahab.

As summarized below, Elijah contrasted singular and plural with both gods and prophets. On the one hand, he said, “I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD.” On the other hand, Baalim worship entailed the worship of not only Baal but also subsidiary associated gods. It is something like Catholicism’s subservience to the pope as the supreme authority plus many designated idols and saints.

Elijah (a singular prophet) versus 450 (plural) Baal prophets Jehovah (the singular God) versus Baalim (plural gods)

Actually, Baalim is a singular god, but subsidiary gods are involved. Similarly, Elohim is a title of Jehovah, but it is also a title of the judges of Israel. Hence this title can be used in various ways.

For instance, it refers to the plural majesty of Jehovah Himself—that He is omnipotent and omniscient and has a great scope of authority. The plural form is used to intensify the various branches of His sole supreme authority. But the false gods could also be elohim. In another illustration, the plural form Ephraim can be an individual (the son of Joseph), or it can mean the tribe of Ephraim (many people). Similarly, the word elohim, which is plural in form, can mean Jehovah singular, or it can refer to judges (mighty ones) plural.

Elijah used wisdom in suggesting a contest. We are reminded of Joshua, who put a question before the nation that required a decision: “If it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15). First, he proposed that Israel make a definite, positive commitment. Then, with his leadership spirit, he suggested what he and his house would do.

It is interesting that Elijah thought he was the only true prophet of the Lord. “I only, remain a prophet of the LORD.” He repeated this thought in 1 Kings 19:10,14, but God told him, “Yet I  have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). There was only one Elijah, but God had other prophets.

1 Kings 18:23 Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:

1 Kings 18:24 And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.

1 Kings 18:25 And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.

Elijah suggested that two bullocks be taken for a sacrifice, but what was unusual was that when the animals were put on the altar separately, there would be no fire underneath them. The bullocks were to be prepared for sacrifice, and then “the God that answereth by fire”—that is, the God who supernaturally ignited the fire and started the sacrifice burning—“let him be God.” Notice that Elijah took the two animals but then let the prophets of Baal choose the bullock they wanted to offer; that way they could not accuse him of a trick. One bullock would be Elijah’s offering, and the other bullock would represent the offering of the 450 prophets of Baal. Incidentally, Jezebel’s 400 prophets were not specifically mentioned in the contest.

The 450 prophets of Baal prepared their bullock first. Elijah had great strength to be able to prepare a bullock all by himself. To dress a bullock was no small effort, for the hide had to be removed, and the bullock was cut in pieces. Later Elijah rebuilt the altar of God with 12 stones, and this effort also required great strength. It was logical that the 450 prophets of Baal would offer their bullock first, for Elijah needed more time to prepare his sacrifice.

1 Kings 18:26 And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.

The 450 prophets “called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon.” They went through antics and pleadings and said, “O Baal, hear us,” but they got no answer. They even “leaped upon the altar.” All this time—for three hours—Elijah was silent. He did not interrupt them until noontime.

1 Kings 18:27 And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.

At noon, Elijah began to mock and goad the 450 false prophets. They knew that he was not sincere as he said, “Cry aloud: for he [Baal] is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” Meanwhile, the people were observing what was happening, and the scene made a very deep impression on them.

The fact there was no answer indicated that the worship of Baal was a false religion.

1 Kings 18:28 And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.

In desperation, the 450 prophets of Baal cried loudly and cut themselves until “the blood gushed out upon them”—but to no avail.

1 Kings 18:29 And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

Elijah had been silent from 9 a.m. until 12 noon. At that point, he mocked the false prophets and goaded them on. Then, presumably, he waited patiently for another three hours while the false prophets continued their frenzied actions—until 3 p.m., the time of the evening sacrifice— but there was no response from Baal. There was “neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.”

1 Kings 18:30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.

1 Kings 18:31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:

Elijah addressed the people and exhorted them to come close to him. As the people drew near, “he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.” What is the thought here?

Comment: For the contest, Elijah chose a location where there had been an altar to Jehovah in the past. The people knew the historic significance of this altar.

Reply: Yes, he specifically chose this place at Mount Carmel, and now, in this dramatic fashion, he was exhorting the people to return to their former true worship. With the bullock already prepared, he proceeded to repair this broken-down altar. He took 12 stones “according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob.”

Comment: The symbolism was powerful because at this time, the kingdom was divided into ten tribes and two tribes, for a total of 12. The ten tribes were disobedient in setting up rival places of worship. Therefore, Elijah was emphasizing the lesson that they were really one united kingdom as far as their religion was concerned.

Reply: Elijah definitely had a strategy in mind. Not only did he choose a site near the brokendown altar of the Lord, but by taking 12 stones, he showed that this altar represented a unified nation of 12 tribes, which included Benjamin and Judah, as well as the ten tribes.

Many years earlier “the word of the LORD” had come to Jacob, saying, “Israel shall be thy name.” Elijah may have called attention “to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob” either by gesticulation or by speaking and giving a simple explanation.

1 Kings 18:32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.

Elijah built the altar in the name of Jehovah and made a trench around it that was large enough to contain “two measures of seed,” that is, two bushels. If 12 stones represented the unified kingdom of ten plus two tribes, then the two bushels of seed represented the children of Israel, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. Mixing the two bushels in the trench—that is, combining the seed—symbolized unification.

1 Kings 18:33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.

1 Kings 18:34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.

1 Kings 18:35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

For Elijah to single-handedly cut the bullock in pieces indicates that he was a very strong man.

Moreover, he would have done this work in an efficient fashion. After laying the bullock on the wood that was on the altar, he told the people to “fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.” They did this three times (4 x 3 = 12 barrels, a barrel for a tribe). As a result, the trench was flooded. By involving the people, Elijah let them see that the water was real.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see this event as it actually happened? After all the vain and frenzied efforts of the 450 prophets of Baal from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. without getting an answer, Elijah quickly finished the dramatization in the waning daylight. The people would be watching his every movement with intense interest. When Elijah instructed them to saturate the bullock, they thought that he was making it more difficult for the true God to answer by fire.

1 Kings 18:36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.

1 Kings 18:37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

Around 3 p.m., Elijah offered a short prayer: “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.” This brief and simple prayer is contrasted with six hours of praying and wild actions by the 450 false prophets. We can be sure that Elijah’s voice was powerful and that the people knew he was praying on their behalf. His criticism was constructive. He prayed that they would know Jehovah is the true God.

The people had been seeing this enactment all day without food or rest, and now Elijah was taking them into his custody. As their mouthpiece, he called to Jehovah to open their eyes to see that He is “the LORD God,” and not the false gods they had been worshipping.

1 Kings 18:38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

Jehovah answered by fire. “The fire of the LORD fell, and [not only] consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood … [but also] the stones, and the dust [debris], and licked up the water that was in the trench.” In other words, the fire consumed everything, including the 12 stones, and even scorched the ground. The water in the trench was completely dried up.

1 Kings 18:39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.

The people fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.”

1 Kings 18:40 And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

Elijah gave the commandment to “take the prophets of Baal,” all 450 of them. Then he brought the false prophets “down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” Whether or not Elijah personally killed all 450 prophets, the people were certainly willing to cooperate, for they had seen, by the enactment, that Jehovah was God. The point is that the false prophets were slain according to Elijah’s command.

Comment: It is good to go over the details of this account, for Revelation 13:13,14 alludes to this incident of fire coming down from heaven. “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.” Reviewing the type helps to put us on guard against what will happen when there is a powerful fulfillment by the two-horned beast. However, the difference with regard to the coming fulfillment is that the people will react against the Lord’s true people. The “miracle” will help the false side.

Reply: Yes, the miraculous nature of the sign that is indicated in Revelation 13:13,14 will convince the public that the Lord’s true people are false—just the opposite of the type.

Comment: In the type, the holy angels were very busy preventing the fallen angels from answering for Baal.

Reply: Yes, no interference was allowed by the fallen angels, for the moment was holy in the type.

1 Kings 18:41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.

Elijah told Ahab to get up and eat and drink, for there was “a sound of abundance of rain”; that is, thunder in the distance indicated rain was on the way. Elijah was solicitous for Ahab, for apparently, the king had not eaten all day. While the contest was going on, he was attentively absorbed as a spectator from morning until late afternoon, when fire came down and consumed Elijah’s sacrifice. Then the 450 prophets of Baal were slaughtered.

1 Kings 18:42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,

Ahab went to eat and drink. Elijah had descended the mountain in connection with the slaying of the false prophets, and now he returned to the top of Carmel. There he assumed a praying posture by falling down on his knees and placing his forehead between his knees. To a certain degree, Mount Carmel is like a tabletop, or a plateau, from which the Mediterranean Sea could be viewed in those days.

1 Kings 18:43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.

Elijah told his servant to go and look toward the sea. From where Elijah was praying, he could not see the sea, so the servant went farther and higher in the mount, for the northwest portion was more elevated. When the servant saw nothing and returned, Elijah instructed him to look six more times, that is, until he had gone a total of seven times.

Comment: The King James wording sounds as if the servant looked eight times: “Go again seven times.”

Reply: “Seven times” was the customary way of speaking, so we need to orient ourselves to Bible thinking and language. It is obvious that Elijah meant a total of seven times because “seven” is the sacred number, and it indicates completion. The expectation was that the servant would see something the seventh time. The first time the servant looked was just a test to show there was nothing out of the ordinary, and then he went six more times. Another example of “seven times” was when Naaman, the Syrian general, had to bathe seven times in the Jordan River in order to be cleansed of his leprosy.

Q: Verse 43 is the first mention of the fact that Elijah had a servant. The Hebrew word naar, translated “servant,” refers to a young person, a youth. Could this “servant” be someone who was so impressed with the contest with the false prophets of Baal that he then joined himself to Elijah and wanted to help him?

A: Elijah was a Tishbite from the land of Gilead. Schools of the prophets existed at that time and earlier. Of those schools, certain individuals emerged as recognized prophets as time went on, and the rest remained on a secondary level. Evidently, as has been suggested by some Christian expositors, this young man who accompanied Elijah was a trainee from one of those schools. He had attached himself to Elijah out of respect for the prophet.

1 Kings 18:44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.

The seventh time the servant saw a cloud formation shaped like a man’s hand, or fist, arise out of the sea. The time setting was at the end of the 3 1/2 years of drought, or antitypically at the end of the 1,260 years from 539 to 1799. It was not unusual for a little cloud to arise from the sea, but the timing and the shape of the cloud were unusual. The cloud was miraculously seen after the defeat of the false prophets, and to Elijah, it was an indication that rain was coming, that is, the end of the drought. Thunder was associated with the rain. In the antitype, the cloud (trouble) that arose out of the sea (the anarchistic masses) represented the French Revolution, which was a mini-picture of the great Time of Trouble to occur at the end, or in the seventh period, of the Gospel Age. Shortly after the end of the French Revolution, Bible societies printed Bibles in great quantities. In other words, just as thunder preceded the rain, so the French Revolution preceded the Bible societies, the “rain” of truth.

Evidently, Ahab was down on a lower level, but he was still higher than the plain. Elijah instructed his servant to tell Ahab, “Prepare your chariot, and get down to the plain so that the rain will not stop you.” How would the rain have stopped Ahab?

Comment: The chariot wheels would have dragged in the mud.

Reply: If the rain came down like a cloudburst, it would have impeded the speed of the chariot, and Ahab would have gone home in a fashion unbecoming a king.

Also, to a certain extent, Elijah honored and paid respect to the office of king. A Christian should follow the same principle, for even though his first loyalty is to God, he is to be a respectful alien in the country where he resides.

1 Kings 18:45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.

The storm came quickly. “The heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” The implication is that Ahab got caught in the rain, but at least he had made a rapid departure and was apparently well on his way before the deluge came down. He rode in his chariot to Jezreel in Megiddo.

1 Kings 18:46 And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Elijah “girded up his loins”; that is, he pulled up, or double-folded, his long garments with a girdle so that he could run without the flow of the garments impeding his progress.

Comment: Elijah had help in covering the distance, for the “hand of the LORD” was on him. Apparently, Elijah was translated to hurry him along.

Reply: Yes. It was customary at times when the king traveled to have trained men running before the chariot. However, on this occasion, not only was Ahab’s chariot moving with speed, but also he had a head start. Nevertheless, Elijah caught up to Ahab and ran before him.

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