Do people know your stance on God? Do they know you are zealous for Jesus Christ, filled with The Spirit, and obedient to The Father? Do you have a reputation?
Elijah had a reputation as The Lord’s prophet. Both people who loved God and those who rejected Him and followed idols knew about Elijah. Ahab hated Elijah since Elijah had delivered the Word of The Lord against him and announced a terrible drought. There had been no rain in The Northern Kingdom for three years. At God’s direction, Elijah had lived near a brook until it dried up and after that with a widow for whom The Lord had provided miraculous flour and oil. Ahab had searched everywhere for the hated prophet with no luck. Then The Lord told Elijah it was time to go talk to the evil king. Verses 1-6 read,
“After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, 4 and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.) 5 And Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” 6 So they divided the land between them to pass through it. Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.”
Obadiah had a precarious position. He was head of Ahab’s household, yet he feared God. Ahab was the most evil king to have ruled Israel in its history, his queen Jezebel was just as evil, if not more so than her husband. They hated anything of God and sought to kill all the prophets. Obadiah did a great and courageous act for 100 prophets in his position over the royal household. Now he was searching for any sign of growth in Ahab’s effort to save his horses. But on his search, Obadiah ran into Elijah. Verse 8 reads,
“And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?”
He was thrilled since he knew Elijah’s reputation. He was so happy he fell down on his face and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” But he didn’t stay thrilled for long. Elijah told him, “Go tell Ahab I’m here.” Obadiah said, “Dude! What have I done to you? If I do that Ahab will kill me! He’s been searching for you for a long time. I’ll tell him you’re here, he’ll come to kill you, God’s Spirit will protect you and whisk you away and he’ll kill me when he doesn’t find you.” But Elijah promised he would be there when Ahab arrived. So Obadiah went and told Ahab.
Elijah’s reputation was so great that Obadiah had no doubt that The Lord would miraculously protect him. He knew Ahab was bent on destroying the prophet and he knew His God would not let that happen. Elijah lived a supernatural life naturally. Obadiah fully expected a great miracle.
Ahab arrived and said, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” Ahab knew Elijah’s reputation as well, but to him, he was not someone to be respected with the title of lord. Elijah’s attempts to speak the Word of The Lord and change Ahab’s wicked course unsettled the king. He couldn’t take responsibility for Israel’s drought, so he blamed Elijah. Elijah didn’t take the bait. He had a challenge to show Ahab and Israel how great and awesome the Lord was. Verses 19-24 read,
“Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.”
20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”
The people thought, “450 men against one? No problem!” So they chose a bull and prepared it and from morning ‘til noon they made a show of calling on their god. They carried on so long that they were limping around the altar. Elijah had a good ol’ time watching the show. Verses 27-29 read,
“And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.”
Elijah’s reputation was not based on an imaginary god. Baal’s prophets made a big show and there was nothing and no one to answer them. Elijah didn’t have to go crazy all day, crying out to a make-believe idol. Verses 30-35 read,
“Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 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 seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.”
Elijah was very careful as he rebuilt the altar. He used it as a time to gently remind the people of Israel who they were and where they had come from. He knew that they would remember their history and recall that they were God’s people and He was their God, not Baal. Perhaps every day at this time they offered their sacrifices to Baal, but tonight, the sacrifice would be for The Lord and so it would be done properly. He prepared the burnt offering and then had the people pour water over everything. There would be no way anyone could say it was the heat of the day, the sun, or any other natural happening. Elijah didn’t stop expressing The Lord there, when He prayed, not with pomp and circumstance but sincerity, he continued to glorify God. Verses 36-40 say,
“And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.”
Elijah lived up to his reputation, he did it by furthering The Lord’s reputation. Every chance he got, he obeyed, he did great works in the name of the Lord. He withheld rain from Israel, he was fed by ravens, because of Elijah the Lord provided supernatural food to a widow and her son, he prayed and the Lord brought a child back to life, and he asked and The Lord burned his sacrifice including the wood and the altar. Elijah’s reputation was so great because He knew how truly great God was. He had faith. Now it was time to end the drought. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It had not rained in three years. Verses 41-46 read,
“And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 And he 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. 44 And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” 45 And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went toJezreel. 46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.”
Although there was no rain and no cloud in the sky, Elijah told Ahab to go ahead and eat and drink, celebrate because he could hear the sound of rain. That is faith. Elijah himself went to pray because the drought would end with his request. He had to ask seven times for rain. He didn’t give up when he asked and noting happened, he just asked again. He prayed seven times and then he saw the tiny hand shaped cloud. With that little cloud, God told Elijah, “You better hurry and you better tell Ahab to hurry cause it is gonna rain and it is gonna rain hard!” Sure enough soon the sky was black with heavy clouds and Elijah ran. He ran supernaturally fast and past Ahab who had left well before him.
Elijah had his reputation because he trusted the Lord’s reputation. That faith allowed him to live a supernatural life in which he consistently exalted God. His reputation and favor flourished and because of that God’s reputation flourished.
I encourage you today to remember who God is and who you are in Christ. Trust Him and choose to express Jesus in everything you do. Let Him grow you, your ministry, and your reputation.