Elijah and Elisha Message #5 El Shaddai The Perfecter of Our Faith, Ed Miller, Dec. 7, 2022

Listen to the audio above while following along with the full transcript below (also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com)

We’ve come again to see our Lord Jesus, and I hope all of you can remain afterwards and share our fellowship luncheon together. 

As we come to look in God’s word, there’s a principle of Bible study that is absolutely indispensable, and that is total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  He is the One that gave us this Bible, and He must interpret it.  I’d like to share a verse from John 20:15 and this is when our Lord Jesus had risen, and this is Mary Magdalene. “And Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?”  Those two things are vital to go together.  Weeping just represents her sadness and gloom.  She loved dearly the One who died on the cross, but at this point, to her, that’s as far as she got, a dead Savior.  He said, “Whom are you seeking?”  Then He revealed Himself to her.  You are going to be weeping if you don’t have the revelation of the risen Savior.  That’s what sets us free.

One reason I wanted that verse is that we’re going to talk a little today about Elijah’s sadness, and he needed to see the risen Lord.  So, let’s bow and give our time to the Lord.  Heavenly Father, we thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit, the life of God in us.  It’s so amazing, and we just praise You, Lord.  We know, Lord, that this is Your book, and we can’t understand it by human wisdom alone, but we need Your Holy Spirit.  So, work in us the attitude of childlikeness that receives from You, and then dawn upon us in a fresh way, and then enable each of us, according to the revelation that You give us, to walk in the light as Christ is in the light for us.  We thank You, Lord, that You are going to guide us now.  We commit this session to You in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Let me review a little bit of where we left off, and then pick up our new material.  We were introducing the next portion of scripture, the next body of scripture that describes Elijah’s experiences.  Remember that God takes him through every experience so that he can have a fresh vision of the Lord.  In Elijah’s life at this point in our study, God is revealing Himself to Elijah.  Christ is being formed in Elijah.  So far, we’ve looked at the great title of our Lord called El Shaddai, and we’ve sort of summarized the heart of that, El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough.  Elijah had come to discover that. 

In his early experiences, God was teaching His child how to depend on the Lord, and to walk by faith and not by sight.  So, at the Brook Cherith, which is one of his early experiences, he learned to depend upon the Lord.  There he was all alone for a long period of time, and he had to depend upon the Lord.  There he was fed by ravens, and he learned how God provides, and some of the paradoxical ways of the Lord.  There he was called to a brook that dried up, so he had to depend upon the Lord and walk by faith.  There he learned that Jesus was more than enough for him. 

Then God took him to the widow’s house, you remember, and he experienced that miraculous and inexhaustible supply from the Lord, and he lived supernaturally, the Bible says for many days.  We don’t know how many days, but every day was a final meal; every day he existed at the bottom of the barrel, hand to mouth.  There he learned that not only is Jesus more than enough for me, but now at the widow’s house He’s more than enough for me and others like me.  In fact, unlimited resources, He’s enough for an unnumbered group of people who trust Him.

Then, finally, his training wasn’t finished.  1 Kings 17:17, “It came about after these things, the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick, and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.”  We see later in the text that the child actually died.  By a miracle, again, now this is the first time this ever took place on the earth, so Elijah had to trust God for a new thing.  Nobody had ever trusted God for this.  He laid himself, stretched himself out on that dead child, and if we take the same picture that Elijah had, his eyes on his eyes, his mouth on his mouth, his hands on his hands, and by contact with the one who had no life, he had another revelation of El Shaddai.  He’s not only enough for me, He’s not only enough for me and for others, but He is enough through me to manifest His life for those who do not have life, as I come in close and in intimate contact with them.  So, that’s what we’ve looked at so far, El Shaddai.  Rich and wonderful were those early experiences of Elijah at the brook and at the widow’s house.  God’s enough, and He’s more than enough for me, for me and you, for all of us, and through us to give life to others.

In our last lesson I introduced you to the next portion of scripture where Elijah is going to be taken deeper into the full meaning of El Shaddai.  He’s more than enough.  As a general overview, and it might be simplistic, but this section covers 63 verses, from chapter 18 through chapter 19:17, and I’ve divided it up, and even when we get to the details, it’s more than this, but if you just think in terms of these three great experiences, like we saw the brook and the widow’s house, so now we’re going to see Mt. Carmel, the contest against the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.  Then we’re going to see Elijah under the juniper tree.  That’s another experience.  Then we’re going to see him on Mt. Sinai, where he hears the still, small voice, those three experiences.

Over all five experiences, the brook, the widow’s house, Mt. Carmel, the juniper tree, and Mt. Sinai, we’ve just put the one revelation, El Shaddai.  He’s the God that’s more than enough.  But in order to put the proper focus on El Shaddai, in other words, to go deeper into the meaning of that, I’ve taken these next three experiences, Mt. Carmel, under the juniper tree and Mt. Sinai, and I’ve suggested a different title.  The different title of the Lord does not replace El Shaddai; it explains El Shaddai.  It goes deeper.  It’s a different title, but I’m not saying that he saw El Shaddai, and now he sees this.  No, he sees El Shaddai, and God is showing him more and more what that means.  

God is not always going to allow his child to be protected in the woods by a brook with the birds, and in a widow’s house safely hidden away.  He’s not always going to allow that.  He’s more than enough at that time.  The title I chose came from Hebrews 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”  KJV says, “The author and the finisher of our faith.”  At the brook and the widow’s house, Jesus, El Shaddai, was the author of his faith.  There He taught them to depend, there He taught them to walk by faith and not by sight.  But we’re about to look at a new block, a new set of experiences, and Christ needs to be formed in Elijah.  At Mt. Carmel and under the tree and at Mt. Sinai he’s going to have to discover El Shaddai as the One who finishes his faith, who perfects his faith.

We need to remember James 6:17 in all of this, “He was a man with a nature like ours.”  It’s important to remember when we study these Bible saints to remember that they are just human beings.  They are just like you and me.  Elijah was not a superhero, as we’re going to see.  He didn’t belong to some special force.  He wasn’t a Green Beret.  He wasn’t on some Delta Force.  He wasn’t a Ranger or a Navy Seal.  He was somebody like you, and somebody like me, just like us, like any one of us.  He’s about to experience something many of us have experienced, or maybe will experience, or we know others who have experienced, Elijah went down in the dumps.  He got very discouraged.  If Elijah were living today and went to the doctor because of his malady, he would be diagnosed with clinical depression.  That’s the technical term.

I’m not going to give you an imperfect lesson on psychology.  I’m not qualified to do that, and you didn’t come to hear somebody to do that.  You came to see the Lord Jesus.  But the psychologists, by observation, have given us some very helpful information.  They have levels of depression, and despair is probably the most severe.  The Bible is not a book on psychology, but it touches psychology, and where it touches psychology, it’s 100% accurate.  That’s true of all the sciences.  The Bible is not trying to be a science book, but where it touches science, you can trust the Bible.  They say that scientists have the latest word.  Well, maybe, but God has the last word!  So, we’re going to believe the Lord.

I want to summarize some of the observations of the psychologists, and there’s a reason for it, and I’ll tell you how that ties into Elijah.  From their observations, and there is overlapping here, but they say there’s a mild form of depression, and they group it under a category they call “stages of anxiety”.  So, they have that as stage one; anxious, anxiety, where you are worrying, and you fret.  Then there’s a more serious form of depression where anxiety becomes stress, and they lay a big emphasis on that, and that’s a little more serious.  Then there’s a more serious form where now there’s discouragement, and finally there is the clinical depression, which is hopeless. 

Under the mild depression, anxiety, they include fear and sadness and mood changes, mood swings, and that kind of thing.  Under the second stage of stress, they say there is a spirit of melancholy that takes over, and they begin to be very self-depreciating, and they cut themselves down, and they become lethargic.  The next state, though it’s not the most severe, is great discouragement, when somebody throws their hands in the air, and they begin to lose interest in life and in everything, and they are more introspective now, and they’re becoming self-depreciating, and nothing much has meaning.  People try to entertain them with this and that, and they begin to get isolated and withdrawn, and they don’t want to be with people, and they are more and more inward.

Stage four is where Elijah was.  That’s why we’re looking at this.  This is when hopelessness sets in.  This is more than anxiety, and this is more than fear, and this is more than worry, and is more than being stressed out.  This is panic.  This is debilitating.  This affects everything.  It’s hopelessness, and it’s called clinical depression, where a person actually loses the will to live.  They don’t want to live.  They can’t cope with life.  Everything is pressure, and every time they turn around, they just want to get out of it.  It affects the body as well as the spirit.  Sometimes it’s the racing of the heart, or heavy breathing or trembling, you can’t sleep, you lose your appetite, and when it gets very severe, they just want to check out altogether, and they check out of reality.  Sometimes they go into a catatonic stupor, and they’re just living in their own little world, and they don’t want to live anymore.

As I said, these stages are not static.  There is overlapping.  You can be in one stage and then have a characteristic of another stage.  The scientists can only observe it, and they can write it down, what they have observed, but they don’t understand it.  They can’t explain it, and they can’t cure it.  They don’t begin with the fear of the Lord.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and if you don’t begin with the fear of the Lord, the more logical you become, the further from the Lord you get.  You’ve got to begin with the fear of the Lord.  So, they don’t know what causes any of the stages of depression.  All they can do is guess, and they can treat it with therapy and medication.   That’s all they’ve got.  They have nothing else to treat it with, because they don’t even know what causes it.  They guess, “Well, maybe it’s genetic.  We can look into that.”  Or they say, “Maybe there is chemical imbalance, so we’ll have to treat that, or maybe it’s a response to some trauma that took place in life, some block, and you haven’t faced it, and you’re not able to get around that block, so maybe it was some kind of abuse at a younger age or an abandonment, or some traumatic experience, a fire, or an accident, or in time of war, and that kind of thing, some kind of tragedy, or maybe they saw it in someone else, so let’s talk it out, lets go back and we’ll go into your childhood and we’ll see where the block was, and then if we can find it, maybe we’ll help you adjust and get past that block, and you can live a normal life.”

All of that is psychology, and I bring it up because wonderfully for me, Elijah was in stage four depression, and he’s just like me and you.  If Elijah, man of God, servant of the Lord, can experience the depression in its most aggravated form and find deliverance, I’m telling you, that gives me some hope, and it should give you hope and give everybody hope.  His depression wasn’t mild, and it wasn’t moderate, and it wasn’t even severe.  It was desperate, and he didn’t even want to live anymore.  He asked God to take his life.  That’s why I went through that psychology stuff, just to show you that God is giving us the worst-case scenario, because all of the lesser are included in the worst-case scenario.

I’m so thankful that God gives us this particular record.  I know this, that Elijah’s depression was spiritual, and God deals with it that way.  How did he get so depressed?  Now, don’t think this is too simplistic.  He got that depressed because he took his eyes off the Lord.  How was he delivered?  He put his eyes back on the Lord.  When he took his eyes off the Lord, you’ve got to take your eyes off the Lord and look at something else.  So, he took his eyes off the Lord and looked first at his own circumstances, and they were too big to cope with, very dangerous.  And then he also looked at Elijah.  He looked at himself.  You take your eyes off the Lord and look at your circumstances and you start looking within and looking at yourself, I can almost promise you that you’re going to hit one of those stages of depression.  You are either going to start getting anxious and worried with fear and you’re going to start trembling if it’s not checked, and it can become very serious.

Let me ask this before we go on.  I know the answer, and I know you know the answer, but just think the answer, don’t answer out loud, is El Shaddai more than enough for your fluctuating moods?  Is He more than enough for your anxiety?  Is He more than enough for your fears?  Is He more than enough for your lethargy?  Is He more than enough for all the stress that you take?  Is he more than enough for your guilt, for your failure, for your discouragement, for your depression, for your panic, for the feelings of hopelessness, for wanting to check out altogether, is He more than enough?  Is He more than enough for every disorder?  The answer is an unqualified yes.  That’s what Elijah now is going to experience, God meeting him in that depression, and we’ll follow how the Lord deals with him.

Elijah is like us; he got depressed.  What that means is, don’t presume that it won’t happen to you, and I can’t presume it won’t happen to me.  1 Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall.”  Don’t presume.  But Elijah also has another message.  Since Elijah was discouraged, I can’t presume it won’t happen to me, and since he was delivered, I don’t need to despair, because that can happen to me, as well.  So, don’t presume and don’t despair; rather, let’s see God’s revelation of Himself in the story of Elijah.  When we get to the actual history, we’ll dig in a little bit deeper into God’s tender and gracious dealings with those who experience stage one, two, three or four of that terrible malady. 

Before I move on, I also want to make it clear, because some will be listening by tape and ready to pounce on me, I’m discussing the depression that comes from taking your eyes off the Lord.  I’m not denying the possibility of some medical cause for depression.  I don’t know.  I’m not a doctor and I’m not a psychologist.  Maybe there is such a thing as chemical imbalance and medication can help that.  I don’t know about that.  Maybe there is some other physical cause, a growth or a tumor, or something like that.  I don’t know anything about that.  I know Elijah’s depression was spiritual, and I have a strong idea that most depression is spiritual.  I’m not quite ready to say all because I’m not qualified to go there.  So, just understand that I’m not denying the physical side; I just know nothing about it, but I know a little bit about the spiritual side.  I not only know it from studying Elijah, but I’ve been some of it, and I’ve experienced the same deliverance in the same way.

Now, I want to set before you, we aren’t only going to get into his depression yet, but I want to show you how his depression is related to the central message of why we’re studying Elijah.  I think I told you in either the first or second lesson that the Lord rebuked me because I was off-center when I began this study.  I thought I was studying Elijah and Elisha because they were exciting characters to study, but I didn’t see God’s heart.  God’s heart was to recover His people.  1 Kings 18:1, “It happened after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third years saying, ‘Go, show yourself to Ahab.  I’ll send rain on the face of the earth.’”  God wanted to restore Israel.  They threw Him out, but He didn’t throw them out.  He still was their God, and they took the Living God and cast Him out, and they turned to dead gods, to Baal and Asherah, but God was still the Living God.

After the widow’s house, the first word Elijah got was, “Go show yourself to Ahab.”  Now, I’ve got to do a little donkey work, and I’ll ask your patience.  At this point God brings a man into the text called Obadiah, and we need to look at Obadiah.  When you hear Obadiah, most people think of the minor prophet Obadiah, the one who wrote the shortest book in the Old Testament.  He prophesied against Edom, and so on.  When you come across a name in the Bible, make sure you study the context.  For example, if you come across the name Herod in the Bible, are you talking about the Herod that killed the little babies, Herod the Great (I like to say the Great Monster), or are you talking about the Herod that killed John the Baptist, or are you talking about the Herod that killed James?  See, there’s different Herod’s.  The reason I call attention to this is because when you see the name Obadiah, you’ve got thirteen choices; there are thirteen Obadiah’s in the Bible, and so you’ve got to find out which one he’s talking about.  The full record of the Obadiah that we’re discussing is in chapter 18.  Everything we know about this man is here, and no place else in the Bible refers to him, and no place else mentions him.  It’s just here.

When I started my study of Obadiah, I really misjudged him, and misjudged him terribly, actually, and I did so with the help of my commentaries, because they also misjudged him.  The Lord corrected me when I saw Obadiah’s strategic place in the history of redemption, and I’m going to give you that, but first I want to show you how I misjudged him and why I misjudged him.  It will become clear when we tie it into the whole thrust.

Now, because of my rather high views of Elijah, the good guy, Obadiah became to me the bad guy.  He’s not, but that’s how I looked at him.  I know that in 1 Kings 18:7&8 he respected Elijah and called him “my master.”  I know in verse 13 he hid 100 prophets of the Lord by fifties in a cave.  I know his testimony in verse 12, “I, your servant, have feared the Lord from my youth.”  I know whoever wrote 1 Kings, some people think it was Jeremiah who wrote 1 Kings, verse 3, Ahab called Obadiah, who was over his household, “Obadiah feared the Lord greatly.”  Even though I read those things, that he respected Elijah, and he hid the prophets, and he said from his youth he feared the Lord, and the author of Kings said that he feared the Lord greatly, when I read it, he looked like he didn’t fear the Lord.  I’m wrong, but I want to show you why I was wrong.

I had a little problem with his association with Ahab, verse 3, “Ahab called Obadiah, who was over his household…”  Now, you know Ahab and Jezebel were idol worshippers.  They worshipped Baal.  You wonder why he didn’t give a public testimony against Baal.  He would have been killed if he had, but here was a secret disciple in the highest realm; he’s in the oval office and working for Ahab.  2 Chronicles 11 there’s a similar situation, and this time it wasn’t Ahab.  Jeroboam was the idol worshipper, and he forbid people to worship the Lord.  2 Chronicles 11:1, “The Levites left their pasturelands and their property, and came to Judah, for Jeroboam and his sons had excluded them from serving as priests.”  “You aren’t going to let us serve the Lord, we’re going to go serve Him, anyway.  In fact, look at verse 16, “Those from all the tribes of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord God of Israel followed them to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the Lord.”  “You’re the king, but you aren’t going to stop me from worshipping the Lord.”  But Obadiah seems to be a secret disciple.  He’s in the house of Ahab.

The so-called prophets that were hidden in verse 4, “He hid them by fifties,” and there were a hundred of them, he hid in a cave.  More confusing to me was verse 3, that he was over the household.  We read that like what does that mean that he was over the household?  The same word in the Hebrew is used to describe a man named Shignah, and it says that he was in charge over the household, and it says that he had the keys to the whole palace.  So at least Shignah over the household had the keys to the whole palace, and it also says that he was in charge of all the horses and chariots.  I don’t know if Obadiah had that much power and authority.  Later in Isaiah 22, God took that office from him and gave it to a man named Elkaida, but the whole point is, that was a high position, and here’s Obadiah.  I’m saying, “What are you doing working for that wicked king?  Why aren’t you confessing that Baal was a idol.  Why don’t you take a stand?  Others are getting killed, and you’re just getting privately paid, and you’re working for this guy, and all.” 

I wondered in verse 1, when God said, “Elijah, go show yourself to Ahab,” he just clicked his heels, saluted and went.  But later on, when Elijah says to Obadiah, “Go tell him I’m here,” verses 8 & 9, “You are giving your servant into the hand of Ahab to put me to death,” he’s going to kill me.  1 Kings 18:12, “He will kill me.”  1 Kings 18:14, “He will then kill me.”  Do you see what Obadiah is afraid of, he loves his life, “I don’t want to die.”  God told Elijah to go to Ahab, and there is a price on his head, but he obeys.  Elijah told Obadiah to go to Ahab, and, “He’s going to kill me. I don’t want to go to Ahab.”  He had no problem referring to Elijah as his master or Ahab as his master.  I might be reading into this, but when you read Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters,” I’m just questioning Obadiah, “How many masters do you have, Obadiah?”

The in verse 13, “Was it not told to my master what I did?”  When I read that, that came across as arrogance and pride.  It’s not, but that’s how I read it.  He hadn’t seen Elijah for a long time, a couple of years, and now he meets the prophet and says, “Hey, did anybody tell you what I did?  I hid prophets in a cave, and there were a hundred of them, and then I fed them every day.  Did anybody ever tell you about that?”  That just came across as pride.  Would you do that, if you met a Christian, would you say, “Hey, have you heard what I did?  I gave money to the church, and I’ve been supporting widows and I took an orphan in.”  It hit me the wrong way, and I’m wrong. I’ll show you why I was wrong. I also wondered why when Elijah was on Mt. Carmel, 1 Kings 18:22, he said, “I alone am left a prophet of the Lord.”  Well, he just heard about a hundred, then why does he say that he’s the only one, unless, two possibilities, he thinks they aren’t real, that they are just faking it and are hypocrites and, “I’m the only one that’s a true prophet.”  Or maybe by this time they were found out and killed.  He says, “I’m the only one because they don’t exist anymore.”  We don’t know about that.  And I’m not even going to try to speculate where Obadiah got the food in time of famine and the water in time of famine.  I don’t know if he raided Ahab’s kitchen, or what he did, but he’s coming up with enough food to feed a hundred masculine appetites for who knows how long.

For all those reasons, his high position, a secret disciple, more than one master, fearing for his own life, sounding proud, saying, “I’m the only one,” he looks like a Robin Hood, robbing the rich to feed the poor; I don’t know, but that’s how it started when I studied.  I knew it had to be wrong, and one reason is because of all of the inspired space God gives to this man.  I think God is jealous of inspired space, and when I read it, in my mind and heart, and I was wrong, I said, “I could take this out of the Bible and lose nothing.  I don’t need the story of Obadiah, because he still went to Ahab, and I could have just left that out.”  Now, you know I’m in trouble when I say, “I could take something out of the Bible, and I’m not missing anything.”  I knew the Lord had to check me, but I didn’t know how to get over those speed bumps, because when I read it, and I even discussed it with someone in this room, and I said, “What color hat does he wear?  Is he a good guy or a bad guy?”

Now, I told you when I introduced the story, that I was off-centered.  1 Kings 17:1, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives,” He’s the God of Israel.  In the days of Ahab, as I said, they threw Him out, but He didn’t throw them out.  I want to read a couple of verses from Nehemiah because God does this over and over.  He not only did it here, but He does it.  Nehemiah 9:17, “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness, and you did not forsake them, even when they make for themselves a calf of molten metal and said, ‘This is your God.’”  What a God!  And then in Nehemiah 9:28, “Many times you rescued them according to Your compassion and admonished them in order to turn them back to your Law.”  God is constantly reaching out to bring His people back.  Verse 31, “In Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them.  You are a gracious and compassionate God.”  2 Peter 3:15, “Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.”  That’s the prevailing theme of this series.  That’s why we’re studying Elijah, to show how God recovers His backsliding people, by raising up men like Elijah and Elisha.  It’s all about His heart of recovery.  Israel was not responsive, and so God reaches out again, “I want to recover Israel,” and they aren’t responsive.  “Alright, I’ll recover Ahab.”  I want to show you that.

You know about Ahab.  1 Kings 16:30, “Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.”  1 Kings 16:32, “He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria.  Ahab also made the Asherah.  Thus, Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”  You get the idea.  1 Kings 21:25, “Surely, there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel, his wife, incited him.”  Such a wicked man!  Why didn’t God just wash His hands of him?  Why didn’t God say, “Forget it, you wicked, wicked man.  Judgment on you!”  If God’s heart is, “I want My people back,” and they are stubborn, He says, “I’ll go after the king, and I’ll bring him back.”

I want to show you several steps.  We’re going to go through a lot of history, but I’m not going to develop the history.  I just want to focus on how many times God reached out to restore Ahab.  Of course, there’s the testimony of Elijah.  God used Elijah in Ahab’s life.  In 1 Kings 20, the whole nation of Israel under Ahab was about to go to war.  Then Hadad, the king of Syria, wanted to destroy Israel, and couldn’t do it alone, so he decided to get thirty-two other nations and their armies to have an alliance with him to go against little Israel.  What did God do?  1 Kings 20:13, “Behold, a prophet approached Ahab, king of Israel, and said, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you seen this great multitude.  I will deliver them into your hand today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”  God reaches out to him, and that wicked, wicked man sends a prophet and gives a deliverance over thirty-two nations!  Did Ahab respond?  The answer is no. 

After that victory, what did God do?  1 Kings 20:22, “A prophet,” this is a different one, “came near to the king of Israel and said, ‘Go strengthen yourself, and observe and see what you have to do.  At the turn of the year, the king of Aram, or Syria, will come up against you.”  Another prophet comes and warns him that in the spring there’s going to be another war.  Why is God sending him prophets?  It came to pass, there was a war.  1 Kings 20:27, “The Sons of Israel were mustard and were provisioned and went to meet them.  The Sons of Israel camped before them, like two little flocks of goats, but the Amorites filled the country.”  Overwhelming odds, so what did God do?  1 Kings 20:28, “Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Because the Arameans have said, ‘The Lord is a God of the mountains, and not a God of the valley, I will give this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”’”  I want you to see what God is doing.  He sent Elijah.  He sends a prophet.  He sends another prophet.  He sends a man of God.  Ahab doesn’t respond.  In fact, he was supposed to kill Ben Hadad and he didn’t do it. 

So, what does God do?  2 Kings 20:35, “Now, a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to another by the word of the Lord,” now He sends one of the sons of the prophets to Ahab.  How many times is God going to reach out to this scumbag?  He hated the Lord.  He rejected the Lord.  God sends Elijah, God sends two different prophets, God sends a man of God, God sends one of the sons of the prophets, and then there’s the sad tale of Nabor’s vineyard.  You can read all about that in chapter 21.  What does God do?  He calls Elijah again and says to go back into Ahab’s life.  1 Kings 21:17, “The word of the Lord came to Elijah, the Tishbite, saying, ‘Arise, go meet Ahab, king of Israel.’”  And now Elijah explains that the Lord’s patience is running low, “I’ve sent you My prophets, I’ve sent you men of God, I’ve sent you the sons of the prophets, and I’ve warned you about wars, I’ve given you victory, and I’ve done everything for you,” and He warns them about that vineyard.  1 Kings 21:27, “The word of the Lord came to Elijah, the Tishbite, saying, ‘Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me?  Because He has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.’”  Maybe you can help me with that.  I don’t know what to do with that.  It almost looks like he repented.  At least, he did something, and God turned away His wrath for a while.

But three years passed, and now Ahab wants to increase his kingdom, and wants Ramath-Gilead, but he’s not strong enough to go against the enemy, so he wants an alliance, and he goes to Jehoshaphat of the other kingdom of Judah.  1 Kings 22:5, “Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, ‘Please inquire first for the word of the Lord.’”  Now he brings in an ordinary, well, another king, a royalty, but a Christian, and he says, “We can’t go to war.  Inquire of the Lord.”  Ahab says, “Alright,” and he calls four hundred false prophets, and he inquires of them, and they all give him the same advice.  You can see that in verse 6.

Then Jehoshaphat says in verse 7, “Is there not a yet a prophet of the Lord that we may inquire of him?”  “Let’s get a true prophet.”  So, he finally agrees.  He says, “I don’t like this true prophet.  He always speaks against me.”  Anyway, he gets another prophet called Micaiah.  All I want to do is machine gun this.  God’s heart is, “I want My people, but they’re not listening.  So, I’ll go after their king, I’ll send Elijah, I’ll send prophet #1, I’ll send prophet #2, I’ll send a man of God, I’ll send one of the sons of the prophets, I’ll send Elijah back to him, I’ll send a testimony of Jehoshaphat into his life, I’ll send Micaiah, the true prophet of the Lord, and he was warned by the true prophet, “Don’t go to war, or you are a dead man.” 

How does he respond?  1 Kings 22:30, “I will disguise myself and go into battle.”  He thinks if he disguises himself, he is safe.  I love this verse, verse 34, “A certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel.”  Do you know what that is saying?  Some guy in the war got bored, and he took his bow and arrow and just shot it in the air, and it landed inside of one of the places in the armor, and that was the end of Ahab.

Now, let me return to Obadiah.  How does he fit into the story?  You see, God did not only send to Ahab Elijah and prophet #1 and prophet #2 and the man of God and the son of the prophet and then Elijah again and then the testimony of Jehoshaphat and then another prophet Micaiah, he not only sent all of that in, but I believe Obadiah had more testimony than all of those put together.  He had a Christian in his kitchen.  This guy was living with him.  Obadiah was there all the time, and I don’t doubt for a moment now why God insists on the record to let me know that he’s genuine.  From his youth he was genuine.  He fears the Lord, and I’m putting him in Ahab’s house.  That was just another part of the influence of God’s heart, trying to reach Ahab, and a strong part of the influence.

So, having said that, here’s God’s heart, “Follow Me; I want My people, they need to be recovered.  They’re not listening.  I’ll go after Ahab, my heart.  I love Ahab.  I love him, but he’s not listening.  Now what?  God says, “Oh, my son, Elijah, now I must recover you.”  Do you see what is happening?  God wants to recover Israel, but first He must recover the king.  He reaches out for the king, but first he must recover Elijah.  Elijah now has taken his eyes off the Lord, so God’s great heart goes out again, and this time to recover Elijah, so he can recover the king, so he can…  It’s a marvelous illustration of the heart of the Lord.

Now I’m only going to state what is the next experience, and Lord willing, next week we’ll develop it.  There are two passages that unlock this next experience; at the brook the Lord is enough for me, at the widow’s house He’s enough for me and others, and enough through me.  He’s going to have another lesson.  1 Kings 18:1, “Go show yourself to Ahab.”  I want to think spiritually because this is bigger than Kings.  This includes Romans and Hebrews and Galatians, and it’s just so tremendous, but there’s going to be a time, they won’t be exactly these words, but they will be, “Go show yourself to Ahab.”  In other words, there will come a time in your life when you’re not going to be pampered, and you’re not going to be camped out by a brook where nobody knows where you are, and God is showing how faithful He is and how He can provide and how He loves you and how He protects you, and in the widow’s house where you are safe, there’s going to be a day when He says, “Alright, you’ve had your shelter, now come on out and face the enemy, face Ahab. 

We are entering in what the theologians call spiritual warfare, and he is about now to learn about spiritual warfare, standing face to face with Ahab and all that he represents.  God began to provide for that day by bringing him to Sidon, the territory of Jezebel, in the area, but now he’s going to face the enemy.  The hedge is taken down, and Elijah is about to learn a new depth of El Shaddai that he never knew before.  Before he knew a little bit about rest, and a little bit about provision, and a little bit about assurance, and a little bit about liberty, and now he needs to learn something about victory.  He needs to learn something about conquering.  He needs to learn something about being an overcomer.  Ahab represents the enemy, the world, the flesh, the devil, and there’s going to be a time in your life, if it hasn’t already taken place, where you are going to stand face to face with the world, the flesh, and the devil, and you better know El Shaddai is more than enough.

Alright, that was the first thing.  He had learned to depend on the Lord and to walk by faith.  1 Kings 18:22, “Elijah said to the people, ‘I alone am left the prophet of the Lord, but Balaam’s prophets are 450.’”  And when he was in the deepest part of his depression, 1 Kings 19:10, “I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away.”  1 Kings 19:14, he said it again, “I alone am left.”  Putting these two things together is a large part of what caused the depression in Elijah’s life.  He was face to face with the enemy and he said, “I alone…”  He’s trying to face the enemy in his own strength.  This is an amazing unveiling of the Lord’s dealing with… He fails.  He thought after the victory with Baal, 450 die, he’s expecting revival, and he failed.  I’ll tell you this.  When you come face to face with the enemy, and you try to face them in your own strength, you are going to fail, and that failure is going to bring you into depression.  That’s what happened here, and that’s what we need, because God’s heart wants His people, and He goes after the king, and now He’s going to restore his servant, so that, as Christ is formed in him, and he learns that El Shaddai is more than enough, not only to provide my needs and protect me, but give me victory when I’m facing the world, the flesh and the devil.  That’s where we’re going to go.  He needs to learn 2 Chronicles 20:15, “Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude.  The battle is not yours but God’s.”  2 Chronicles 20:17, “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.”

It’s vital in that day when you face the enemy and stand before Ahab, with the light of the Holy Spirit of God, by revelation, that God communicates to your heart, who’s the battle really is, and who is going to give the victory.  An incorrect view of spiritual warfare, and there’s a lot out there on it, and I’m going to try to touch of the thing, because some of it is way off centered.  Pray for me as I prepare this.  If you have an incorrect view of spiritual warfare, you are going to end up with panic and discouragement, and you’ll just want to sign out.  Elijah came face to face with the enemy, and he said, “I’m the only one.  Nobody else is fighting him, and it’s all up to me,” he’s destined to fail, and he does.

Luther wrote that “Mighty Fortress,” “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.”  Elijah needs that, and Elijah should have sung, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus,” because verse 3 there, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone, the arm of flesh will fail you, you dare not trust your own.”  That’s what Elijah is going to learn.

Lord willing, we’ll pick it up there next time, but I just wanted you to see God’s heart, reaching out for Israel, reaching out for Ahab, and now needing to recover His own child, so that He could have an instrument through which His heart would be satisfied.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it means, but all You inspired it to mean.  Lord, we just pray as we study these precious things, that we would learn who is the Victor, and that we would be delivered from depression in all of its stages, and in its most aggravated form.  Thank You that we can trust You for that.  Now, Lord, we give this season of fellowship unto You.  Thank You for the provision, and thank You for the food, and nourish our bodies and guide our conversation.  Lord, we want to honor You, and receive again our thanks.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.