The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Kings

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1 Kings 18

1Ki 18:1

IN THE THIRD YEAR: After 3 1/2 years (cp Luk 4:25; Jam 5:17). Cp time periods in Dan 12:7; Rev 10:7; 11:7-15.

1Ki 18:7

IS IT REALLY YOU, MY LORD ELIJAH?: Reverence and fear. Cp Ahab's greeting to Elijah (v 17).

1Ki 18:10

THERE IS NOT A NATION OR KINGDOM WHERE MY MASTER HAS NOT SENT SOMEONE TO LOOK FOR YOU: No doubt at the instigation of Jezebel. Cp the implacable Saul (with Gentile aid -- Doeg) seeking the fugitive David.

1Ki 18:12

I DON'T KNOW WHERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD MAY CARRY YOU: Obadiah knew that God's Spirit had hidden Elijah during the time of drought.

1Ki 18:19

PROPHETS OF BAAL: Baal was one of the most popular Canaanitish and Phoenician gods. He was considered the god of storms, thunders and weather in general [one text reads: 'Yea, also Baal will make fertile with His rain, with water He will indeed make fertile harrowed land; and He will put His voice in the clouds, He will flash His lightning to the earth...']. According to the cultic texts, Baal is in a continual struggle to maintain order against the god of chaos (Yam/Nahar), and to maintain life against the god of death and sterility (Mott). In fact, the cultic texts speak of a time during the cycle when Mott gained the ascendancy, Baal was killed and imprisoned in the underworld.

For the land of Israel to be under drought for three years because of the command of the God of Israel meant that Yahweh was more powerful than Baal! No rain came, no food was available... the people were abandoned by their 'god'.

FOUR HUNDRED PROPHETS OF ASHERAH: The fact that the prophets of Asherah play no part in the subsequent story in 1KI 18 suggests that they did not come (cp poss 1Ki 22:6). See Lesson, Asherah.

1Ki 18:24

THE GOD WHO ANSWERS BY FIRE: Baal was the sun-god, the god of fire and storm, and needed only to work in his own "element"!

1Ki 18:26

NOON: When Baal the sun-god should have been most powerful.

1Ki 18:27

BUSY: Seeking one more consort, in his role as the god of fertility!

1Ki 18:29

NO RESPONSE, NO ONE ANSWERED, NO ONE PAID ATTENTION: Heb "And there was no voice... because there was no one to answer... because there was no one there!"

1Ki 18:30

COME HERE TO ME: He had nothing to hide! Nothing "up his sleeve"!

1Ki 18:33

HE ARRANGED THE WOOD: "He put the wood in order" (AV). Setting "in order" is a significant thing in the service of God: Gen 22:9; Exo 26:17; 39:37; 40:4,23; Lev 1:7,8,12; 6:12; 24:8; 1Ki 18:33; 2Ki 20:1; 2Ch 13:11; 29:35; Eze 41:6; Acts 18:23; 1Co 11:34; 14:40; Tit 1:5.

1Ki 18:37

TURNING THEIR HEARTS BACK AGAIN: Cp Mal 4:6: "He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse."

1Ki 18:38

The fire came from heaven, not from under the altar.

1Ki 18:39

THE LORD -- HE IS GOD!: Would sound like "Elijah": "Yahweh...el...yah...el", etc.

1Ki 18:40

SEIZE THE PROPHETS OF BAAL. DON'T LET ANYONE GET AWAY!: "When the prophet Elijah had received the answer to his prayer, and the fire from heaven had consumed the sacrifice in the presence of all the people, he called upon the assembled Israelites to take the priests of Baal, and sternly cried, 'Let not one of them escape.' He took them all down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. So must it be with our sins -- they are all doomed, not one must be preserved. Our darling sin must die. Spare it not for its much crying. Strike, though it be as dear as an Isaac. Strike, for God struck at sin when it was laid upon His own Son. With stern unflinching purpose must you condemn to death that sin which was once the idol of your heart. Do you ask how you are to accomplish this? Jesus will be your power. You have grace to overcome sin given you in the covenant of grace; you have strength to win the victory in the crusade against inward lusts, because Christ Jesus has promised to be with you even unto the end. If you would triumph over darkness, set yourself in the presence of the Sun of Righteousness. There is no place so well adapted for the discovery of sin, and recovery from its power and guilt, as the immediate presence of God" (CHS).

1Ki 18:41

In autumn, the renewal of the west wind brings heavy rain (Baly 53).

1Ki 18:43

HIS SERVANT: By tradition, the son of the widow of Zarephath.

SEVEN TIMES ELIJAH SAID, 'GO BACK': "Success is certain when the Lord has promised it. Although you may have pleaded month after month without evidence of answer, it is not possible that the Lord should be deaf when His people are earnest in a matter which concerns His glory. The prophet on the top of Carmel continued to wrestle with God, and never for a moment gave way to a fear that he should be non-suited in Jehovah's courts. Six times the servant returned, but on each occasion no word was spoken but 'Go again.' We must not dream of unbelief, but hold to our faith even to seventy times seven. Faith sends expectant hope to look from Carmel's brow, and if nothing is beheld, she sends again and again. So far from being crushed by repeated disappointment, faith is animated to plead more fervently with her God. She is humbled, but not abashed: her groans are deeper, and her sighings more vehement, but she never relaxes her hold or stays her hand. It would be more agreeable to flesh and blood to have a speedy answer, but believing souls have learned to be submissive, and to find it good to wait for as well as upon the Lord. Delayed answers often set the heart searching itself, and so lead to contrition and spiritual reformation: deadly blows are thus struck at our corruption, and the chambers of imagery are cleansed. The great danger is lest men should faint, and miss the blessing... At last the little cloud was seen, the sure forerunner of torrents of rain, and even so with us, the token for good shall surely be given. Elijah was a man of like passions with us [Jam 5:17]: his power with God did not lie in his own merits. If his believing prayer availed so much, why not ours?" (CHS).

1Ki 18:44

A MAN'S HAND: The Heb word here sig a man's hand with the palm downward and open: sig God pouring out His blessings upon mankind.

BEFORE THE RAIN STOPS YOU: A great danger of flood in the valley of Jezreel, below Carmel.

1Ki 18:45

This is the final embarrassment for Baal [the god of storm and rain!] and his worshipers. Who brings the rains back? Do they come back because Baal has escaped from the underworld, and finally has things under control? If the rains had come back without a demonstration of WHY they had come back, then the prophets of Baal could have passed off the three years as part of the natural cycle -- in which Baal[the god of rain] is periodically captured and controlled by Mott [the god of death]. But no... the prophets of Baal are given their opportunity to bring back the rain... and fail!

Elijah on the other hand prays to the God of Israel, and not only does fire come from heaven (an event often associated with Baal, the thunderer), but rain comes back! So in a public way the people of Israel were shown that the one who REALLY controlled the weather was Yahweh, rather than Baal, and the people were given something: a solid foundation of evidence upon which to base their faith.

1Ki 18:46

HE RAN: "They will run and not grow weary" (Isa 40:31). Elijah ran, not as a servant, but to show God's special power.

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