1 Kings 18

* Elijah sends Ahab notice of his coming. (1-16) Elijah meets

Ahab. (17-20) Elijah's trial of the false prophets. (21-40)

Elijah, by prayer, obtains rain. (41-46)

1-16 The severest judgments, of themselves, will not humble or

change the hearts of sinners; nothing, except the blood of Jesus

Christ, can atone for the guilt of sin; nothing, except the

sanctifying Spirit of God, can purge away its pollution. The

priests and the Levites were gone to Judah and Jerusalem, #2Ch

11:13,14|, but instead of them God raised up prophets, who read

and expounded the word. They probably were from the schools of

the prophets, first set up by Samuel. They had not the spirit of

prophecy as Elijah, but taught the people to keep close to the

God of Israel. These Jezebel sought to destroy. The few that

escaped death were forced to hide themselves. God has his

remnant among all sorts, high and low; and that faith, fear, and

love of his name, which are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, will

be accepted through the Redeemer. See how wonderfully God raises

up friends for his ministers and people, for their shelter in

difficult times. Bread and water were now scarce, yet Obadiah

will find enough for God's prophets, to keep them alive. Ahab's

care was not to lose all the beasts; but he took no care about

his soul, not to lose that. He took pains to seek grass, but

none to seek the favour of God; fencing against the effect, but

not inquiring how to remove the cause. But it bodes well with a

people, when God calls his ministers to stand forth, and show

themselves. And we may the better endure the bread of

affliction, while our eyes see our teachers.
17-20 One may guess how people stand affected to God, by

observing how they stand affected to his people and ministers.

It has been the lot of the best and most useful men, like

Elijah, to be called and counted the troublers of the land. But

those who cause God's judgments do the mischief, not he that

foretells them, and warns the nation to repent.
21-40 Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and varied

in their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whether

Jehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator,

Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It is

dangerous to halt between the service of God and the service of

sin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. If

Jesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for every

thing; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence and

receive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to the

Divine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matter

to a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the event

encourages all God's witnesses and advocates never to fear the

face of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: the

atonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment could

be removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardon

sin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needs

be the God that can relieve from the calamity. God never

required his worshippers to honour him in the manner of the

worshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, though

sometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things,

really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requires

that we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penances

and severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required these

things at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, and

with fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to the

souls of men, or thirstings after the Lord's image and his

favour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man,

which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but that

of God, for the good of the people. The people are all agreed,

convinced, and satisfied; Jehovah, he is the God. Some, we hope,

had their hearts turned, but most of them were convinced only,

not converted. Blessed are they that have not seen what these

saw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, more

than they that saw it.
41-46 Israel, being so far reformed as to acknowledge the Lord

to be God, and to consent to the execution of Baal's prophets,

was so far accepted, that God poured out blessing upon the land.

Elijah long continued praying. Though the answer of our fervent

and believing supplications does not come quickly, we must

continue earnest in prayer, and not faint or give over. A little

cloud at length appeared, which soon overspread the heavens, and

watered the earth. Great blessings often arise from small

beginnings, showers of plenty from a cloud of span long. Let us

never despise the day of small things, but hope and wait for

great things from it. From what small beginnings have great

matters arisen! It is thus in all the gracious proceedings of

God with the soul. Scarcely to be perceived are the first

workings of his Spirit in the heart, which grow up at last to

the wonder of men, and applause of angels. Elijah hastened Ahab

home, and attended him. God will strengthen his people for every

service to which his commandments and providence call them. The

awful displays of Divine justice and holiness dismay the sinner,

extort confessions, and dispose to outward obedience while the

impression lasts; but the view of these, with mercy, love, and

truth in Christ Jesus, is needful to draw the soul to

self-abasement, trust, and love. The Holy Spirit employs both in

the conversion of sinners; when sinners are impressed with

Divine truths, they should be exhorted to set about the duties

to which the Saviour calls his disciples.

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