1 Kings 18* Elijah sends Ahab notice of his coming. (1-16) Elijah meetsAhab. (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 orchange the hearts of sinners; nothing, except the blood of JesusChrist, can atone for the guilt of sin; nothing, except thesanctifying Spirit of God, can purge away its pollution. Thepriests and the Levites were gone to Judah and Jerusalem, #2Ch11:13,14|, but instead of them God raised up prophets, who readand expounded the word. They probably were from the schools ofthe prophets, first set up by Samuel. They had not the spirit ofprophecy as Elijah, but taught the people to keep close to theGod of Israel. These Jezebel sought to destroy. The few thatescaped death were forced to hide themselves. God has hisremnant among all sorts, high and low; and that faith, fear, andlove of his name, which are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, willbe accepted through the Redeemer. See how wonderfully God raisesup friends for his ministers and people, for their shelter indifficult times. Bread and water were now scarce, yet Obadiahwill find enough for God's prophets, to keep them alive. Ahab'scare was not to lose all the beasts; but he took no care abouthis soul, not to lose that. He took pains to seek grass, butnone to seek the favour of God; fencing against the effect, butnot inquiring how to remove the cause. But it bodes well with apeople, when God calls his ministers to stand forth, and showthemselves. And we may the better endure the bread ofaffliction, while our eyes see our teachers. 17-20 One may guess how people stand affected to God, byobserving how they stand affected to his people and ministers.It has been the lot of the best and most useful men, likeElijah, to be called and counted the troublers of the land. Butthose who cause God's judgments do the mischief, not he thatforetells them, and warns the nation to repent. 21-40 Many of the people wavered in their judgment, and variedin their practice. Elijah called upon them to determine whetherJehovah or Baal was the self-existent, supreme God, the Creator,Governor, and Judge of the world, and to follow him alone. It isdangerous to halt between the service of God and the service ofsin, the dominion of Christ and the dominion of our lusts. IfJesus be the only Saviour, let us cleave to him alone for everything; if the Bible be the world of God, let us reverence andreceive the whole of it, and submit our understanding to theDivine teaching it contains. Elijah proposed to bring the matterto a trial. Baal had all the outward advantages, but the eventencourages all God's witnesses and advocates never to fear theface of man. The God that answers by fire, let him be God: theatonement was to be made by sacrifice, before the judgment couldbe removed in mercy. The God therefore that has power to pardonsin, and to signify it by consuming the sin-offering, must needsbe the God that can relieve from the calamity. God neverrequired his worshippers to honour him in the manner of theworshippers of Baal; but the service of the devil, thoughsometimes it pleases and pampers the body, yet, in other things,really is cruel to it, as in envy and drunkenness. God requiresthat we mortify our lusts and corruptions; but bodily penancesand severities are no pleasure to him. Who has required thesethings at your hands? A few words uttered in assured faith, andwith fervent affection for the glory of God, and love to thesouls of men, or thirstings after the Lord's image and hisfavour, form the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous man,which availeth much. Elijah sought not his own glory, but thatof 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 thesesaw, yet have believed, and have been wrought upon by it, morethan they that saw it. 41-46 Israel, being so far reformed as to acknowledge the Lordto 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 ferventand believing supplications does not come quickly, we mustcontinue earnest in prayer, and not faint or give over. A littlecloud at length appeared, which soon overspread the heavens, andwatered the earth. Great blessings often arise from smallbeginnings, showers of plenty from a cloud of span long. Let usnever despise the day of small things, but hope and wait forgreat things from it. From what small beginnings have greatmatters arisen! It is thus in all the gracious proceedings ofGod with the soul. Scarcely to be perceived are the firstworkings of his Spirit in the heart, which grow up at last tothe wonder of men, and applause of angels. Elijah hastened Ahabhome, and attended him. God will strengthen his people for everyservice to which his commandments and providence call them. Theawful displays of Divine justice and holiness dismay the sinner,extort confessions, and dispose to outward obedience while theimpression lasts; but the view of these, with mercy, love, andtruth in Christ Jesus, is needful to draw the soul toself-abasement, trust, and love. The Holy Spirit employs both inthe conversion of sinners; when sinners are impressed withDivine truths, they should be exhorted to set about the dutiesto which the Saviour calls his disciples.
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