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Sermons and Outlines

Elijah: The Prophet Of Courage And Confrontation

Sermon #5

1 Kings 18:1-16


Intro: After a three year period of being hidden away from public view, first by the Brook Cherith and then at Zarephath, Elijah is brought back into the spotlight. When he first appeared before the throne of king Ahab and announced the drought, he was a man of faith. However, as he passed through the trials of the dried brook, the empty meal barrel and the dead son, Elijah was transformed into a man of God.

He is a man wholly dedicated to the Lord God! As he reenters the public eye, Elijah's first encounter is with a fellow believer by the name of Obadiah. While both are believers, the contrast between these men is striking! Elijah is seen to be a faithful servant of God, while Obadiah is pictured as a mere hireling, that is, one who gives lip service to God, but by his life he denies the God he claims to serve.

Sadly, there are many people like Obadiah in the modern church. People who talk about being saved and who claim to love the Lord, but who by the lives they live deny Him, His power and His presence in their lives. Of course, this is as Paul said it would be in the last days, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.", 2 Tim. 3:5. However, it does not have to remain that way!

I would like for us to listen in on this encounter between Elijah and Obadiah. In this passage, we will meet a hireling and a servant. In fact, we may even meet ourselves this morning. If we find that we are more like Obadiah than we are like Elijah, may God give us grace to change today. Let's notice The Hireling And The Servant.


A. The Commander - After all this time, Elijah is still serving the Lord! All the trials and difficulties he has had to endure have not dulled his sense of service to God Almighty. They have not made him feel as though God has let him down. Just the opposite is true! Elijah has been honed by his afflictions into an instrument of power and ability. He is still serving God and is more than ready for the task which lies ahead. This is a man committed to serving God with his whole being!

(Ill. Surely we have learned by now that God allows the trials that come into our lives so that He might help us to grow into His image, Rom. 8:28; Eph. 4:13. Of course, when the trials of life come, we can respond in one of two ways. We can allow the trials to bring us closer to God, or we can allow the trials to drive us away from God! May the Lord help us to be like Elijah, who walked through the valley and came out the other side still praising the name of the Lord!)

(Ill. Some folks just need to get it settled in their hearts who they really serve anyway! Sadly, many are in live with self more so than they are with the Savior! Friend, who is the Lord of your life? Can you honestly say this morning that God is on control? Or, would you have to admit that, for the most part, you call the shots in your life? Who is your commander today?)

B. The Command - The command from God is for Elijah to come out of hiding and present himself to his arch enemy Ahab. For Elijah, this may have been a more difficult command than the one to hide himself, 17:3. After all, the nation of Israel has been in a drought for over three years! Thousands have died as a result! Starvation is rampant, poverty is all around, people are angry and Elijah is the man who God used to announce the drought, 17:1. The call to "hide thyself" came at a time when the flesh wanted to show itself. The command to "shew thyself" came when there was every reason not to want to. If I were Elijah, I would want to stay in seclusion for a little while longer! Yet, God's command is to show yourself.

(Ill. It has already been stated in previous sermons, but it bears repeating this morning, there are times when God's commands just don't make sense from a human perspective. Let me just remind you that God's ways are not our ways, Isa. 55:8-9. If we were in a position to figure God out, He wouldn't be much of a God! I have learned over the years that when you can't trace God, just trust Him, He knows what He is doing!)

C. The Comfort - Elijah may not know all the details, but he is reminded that God is still in control. God promises Elijah that if he will present himself to Ahab, that rain will come again. Basically, God is telling Elijah, "Things are going to work out!"

(Ill. Again, I will say that we do not always know what God is doing. However, when God gives a command, He is ready with whatever provisions are necessary to see that you are able to carry it out. God's commands are always accompanied by God's provisions! Regardless of how large or impossible the task may seem, God is always there and He is ready with His promise of victory and provision. Notice:

1. Abraham - Genesis 12:1-2

2. Moses - Exodus 3-4 (Ex. 4:12)

3. His Disciples - Matthew 28:19-20

Where God leads, He always promises His provision and His presence. He will not leave us out there alone.)

D. The Compliance - Elijah's response reveals his heart for God. He didn't need all the details, he just needed God to give him a command and he was ready to obey! Elijah's obedience to the Father sets the standard that all of God's children should strive to reach! This is why I say that Elijah is surrendered to the Lord. When God speaks, he moves! Elijah does not object, point out the difficulties or try to reason with God. When God speaks, he moves. What a lesson that is for us! God's call is enough to spur the prophet into action.

(Ill. Did you know that nothing reveals the truth of our love for God any more clearly than our obedience to Him? We can say anything we wish to say, but we prove we love the Lord when we cheerfully obey the commands He has given us, John 14:15. In fact, obedience to the Lord's commands carries with ti a special promise, John 14:21. What do your actions reveal about your heart? What does you obedience say about your love for the Lord God this morning? Elijah was a man totally surrendered to God. When God's command came, he responded by faith. When he didn't understand, he simply obeyed. This is the kind of heart and attitude God is seeking. This is the kind of life God can and will bless!)

I. Elijah's Surrendered Service


(Ill. In these verses we are introduced to a man named Obadiah. He is a man of great contradictions. On the one hand, the Bible tells us that he "feared the Lord greatly". On the other hand, we find him challenging God and the prophet. He is a man who cannot be totally exonerated nor can he be totally condemned. He is a mixture of good and evil. He is a glaring example of a selfish, self-centered believer. He can teach us much about how we should not be. Sometimes a negative example can be very powerful!)

A. V. 3 His Sovereign - While we have already seen that Elijah is sold out to the Lord God, Obadiah is sold out to Ahab. This verse tells us that he is "governor" of Ahab's house. This means that Obadiah was the man who ran things around the palace. Some historians believe that he was second in command to Ahab. Obadiah occupied a high position in the court of Israel. When he is met by the prophet Elijah, notice what Elijah says to Obadiah in verse 8, "Go tell thy lord..." While Elijah is clearly a servant of God, Obadiah is identified as a servant of Ahab.

Remember, Obadiah is a believer living a life of compromise. He is one who knows the Lord, but because of power, prosperity or position he has chosen to keep his faith a secret. He has sold out for personal gain!

(Ill. Friend, if all the pretense and all the window-dressing were taken away this morning, can you honestly say that Jesus is your Lord? Maybe you wonder how you can know such a thing. The answer lies in how you live your life!

    • 標ho's will is more important to you, God's or yours?
    • 肘s it more important to you that you please God or yourself?
    • 匹an you honestly say that you consistently place God before everything and everyone in your life?
    • 標hen you make a decision do you consult with God in prayer and search His Word for an answer, or do you base your decisions on what you want?
    • 標hat is your first consideration in any matter your desires or the clear Word of God?
    • 標here are your priorities? Do sports come before church? Does TV come before prayer and Bible study? Does your desire for rest and recreation outweigh your desire for worship?
    • 標ho gets the first of your money?
    • 標ho gets the best of your time and talent?
    • 標ho is the main one you want to please?
    • 標ho really occupies the throne of your life? God? You? Work? Family? Things?
    • 百o, who is your Lord today?

These are hard questions, but if they are answered honestly, they will reveal who is the Lord of our lives!)

B. V. 4 His Secret - Obadiah holds a high position in the court of Ahab. He is in a position that requires trust and faithfulness, but Obadiah has a secret. Actually he has two secrets, that if Ahab knew, would have meant death for Obadiah. Let's find out what those secrets are.

1. His Devotion - The Bible tells us that Obadiah is a closet believer! Now, he believes in God and fears Jehovah, but he isn't about to tell anyone. After all, Jezebel is actively engaged in eliminating the prophets of God, v. 4. If he were to stand up and declare his faith in God, he would be killed on the spot. While he did not let his true faith be come known, it also appears the Obadiah did not bow to Baal either.

2. His Deeds - v. 4 tells us that when Jezebel began to exterminate the prophets of God, Obadiah took 100 of them and hid them in caves. This was a deed that required great courage, effort and expense on the part of Obadiah. For this he is to be commended! If Jezebel had gotten wind of what he had done, he would have surely been killed!

(Ill. So it is clear that Obadiah has a few positive marks on his record. However, it is sad when people serve God in secret! It is a shame when those who know the Lord sell out to the world, the flesh and the devil. How many in this very room are guilty of the very same things? Because of a desire to fit in with the crowd, because of a job, or to keep a friend, we have chosen to keep silent about what we really believe. Far too often, God's children join the secret service. They conceal their faith in God to save face with men. That is a tragedy of the highest magnitude! When we consider what Jesus suffered to redeem our souls from Hell, how could we be ashamed to be identified with Him, Rom. 10:11? Notice Mark 8:38, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

When I think of Obadiah, one word comes to mind: Compromise! Obadiah has chosen to live his life somewhere between God and the world. He has chosen a position that forces him to conceal who he really is. He has chosen to hide his faith in God to protect his life, satisfy his greed, exalt his own name and secure his position. He has done what millions are doing today. That is, many are wilfully hiding their faith in God and the biblical convictions to please a world that does not know God. They do this for the same reason that Obadiah did it. They do not want to stand out from the crowd and be labeled different! Even when Christians aren't guilty of committing sins with their bodies, they sin by not abstaining from the very appearance of evil, 1 Thes. 5:22. This sin is a wicked as any that can be committed by the believer! Give this world no reason to doubt your faith in God!

May God help us all to realize that we are different, 2 Cor. 5:17! We are peculiar, Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9! We are not supposed to fit in because this is not our world! We are merely pilgrims and strangers passing through on our way to Heaven, 1 Pet. 2:11! Let us never, never, never be guilty of concealing our faith in God! Let us boldly stand beneath the blood stained banner of the Lord Jesus Christ and boldly declare our faith in and allegiance to Him, without fear and without compromise! Not everyone will appreciate you if you take a stand for God, but God will honor your obedience to Him! After all, who would you rather please; a few people that you spend a few years with, or God with whom you will spend eternity? Remember what Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.", Matt. 6:24. This thought was echoed by the Apostle John, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.", 1 John 2:15-17.)

C. V. 5-6 His Service - In these two verses, we find Obadiah actively involved in service to Ahab. Basically, Obadiah is guilty of two great errors. First, he is employed by the wrong people. He is in a job that requires him to compromise his beliefs so that he can keep it. Secondly, he is engaged in the wrong activity. Notice that Ahab and Obadiah seem to have no concern for the starving people of the land. They are out looking for grass to feed some horses. That shows a lack of compassion! Besides that, Obadiah is helping Ahab do something that was forbidden by the Law of God. The kings of Israel were not allowed to keep horses, Deut. 17:16. Of course, Obadiah's actions stand in marked contrast to those of Elijah. You see, Obadiah was busy looking for grass to save a bunch of nags, Elijah was looking for God to save a nation!

(Ill. This whole point of these verses is this: God's command to His people is crystal clear. He demands that we separate from the world, and from all things that are evil, 2 Cor. 6:17. Surely Obadiah thought that he was doing the right thing. I would imagine that he thought he could serve God in that position. However, what ended up happening is that Obadiah found himself pulled into a life of compromise and powerlessness before God. That is always the case! You might think you can lift the world around you by being involved in it. The opposite is true! You will not improve the world, but the world will eventually drag you down to its level, 1 Cor. 15:33. Remember the lesson of Lot, 2 Pet. 2:7-8. He did not improve Sodom, but he was sucked into its web and he lost his family as a result, Gen. 13-19. Obadiah found himself in a position where he was in direct disobedience to the Lord. He was guilty of helping sinners commit sin against God and he was reduced to the place of a hireling. He may have known God, but he knew nothing of the power of God!

I. Elijah's Surrendered Service

II. Obadiah's Secret Service


(Ill. These verses tell of the meeting between the hireling and the servant. Here Ahab's boy meets God's man and what a contrast there is between the two. Let's look for a few moments at Obadiah's selfish service.)

A. V. 7 Obadiah's Identification Of Elijah - By his dress and by the fact that he had probably seen Elijah before, Obadiah recognizes the man of God when they meet in the way. Obadiah is quick to show reverence to the man of God, but of course, no one else is around to see it! That is always the way of the compromiser!

B. V. 8-9 Obadiah's Indictment Of Elijah - Elijah sends Obadiah to tell Ahab that he has returned. Obadiah knows where Ahab is, he is his servant and so he should go to find him. However, he responds by pointing his finger at Elijah and accuses Elijah of trying to get him killed! You see, his reverence to the prophet in verse 7 meant nothing! His accusation in verse 9 revealed the true character of his heart! He had no respect for the man of God, his mission of the word of God at all! The same is true for those who place themselves and the world before the Lord. They have no respect for the things of God, regardless of what they may say! Those who love the Lord will honor Him actively obeying Him and responding in faith and not doubt. When a person responds to the command of God with doubt, accusation and resistence, it reveals that they are not in love with the God they claim to serve. It proves that there is a problem in their heart!

C. V. 9-14 Obadiah's Indifference Toward Elijah - In these verses, Obadiah begins to offer up one excuse after another as to why he cannot do what Elijah is telling him to do. These excuses reveal the hypocrisy that is hiding in his heart. We must remember that no matter how hard we may try to hide it, what is on the inside of us will eventually make its way to the surface of our lives, Luke 6:45; Matt. 15:17-20. Let's dissect this man's excuses and see if they hold water!

1. V. 9, 12, 14 His Personal Fears - His first objection is that if he does this thing, he will be put to death for it. Apparently, he does not believe that God has the ability to protect him from Ahab.

(Ill. If you ever come to the place where you start to believe that God cannot take care of you, you need to check up! It may be that you have stopped trusting God and have started looking to other sources to meet your needs. This is always an indication of sin in the heart!)

2. V. 10-12 His Pathetic Faithlessness - Here, he tells Elijah that Ahab has looked for him in every country around Israel. He has made the kings of those lands take and oath that they do not know where he is. He even questions the faithfulness of God in verse 12. He has been so indoctrinated into baalism that he has come to believe that God is no better than Baal. He doesn't even believe that God will honor His own Word. He has no faith in God, God's Word or God's man! He has been brought to a place where his faith is shattered!

(Ill. When we reach this place in our spiritual lives, we are in serious trouble! When adopt the idea that God is unable to do what He has promised and we lose faith in Him and His Word, that is a sure sign that we are out of God's will and need to repent and seek His face!)

3. V. 13 His Past Fruit - In this verse, he takes the position that he is too good for the job Elijah is suggesting. After all, why would God or the prophet risk losing a man with his connections? Doesn't God think that Obadiah has done enough already? Obadiah seems to be living on his past works. Maybe he feels that being right with God and serving God in the past is enough to make up for being backslidden today!

(Ill. When you come to the place in your spiritual life where you have to pint back at what you used to do, instead of being able to see what you are currently doing, you are in deep spiritual trouble. Sadly, many believers are right there this morning! You hear things like, "I worked in Bible School for years, now it's time for someone else to do it!" Or, "I taught that class for a long time, I need a break!" Or, "I used to go to church!; I used to serve God!; I used to be faithful!" What about today? What are you doing for God this morning? Don't fall into the trap that claimed Obadiah! Serve God in the here and now, not the then and when! Paul's fear is that he would become a "castaway", 1 Cor. 9:27, some of you have and do not care!)

D. V. 15-16 Obadiah's Indulgence Of Elijah - At Elijah's insistence, Obadiah reluctantly agrees to go find Ahab and tell him the news. As Obadiah walks away, he is never heard from again. Did Ahab kill him as he feared? Probably not! Most likely, he simply faded back into the woodwork and continued to live his live of compromise and disobedience. His is a life that could have been greatly used of the Lord, but because of his reluctance, his lack of faith and his compromise with the world, he was a man who never amounted to much for the glory of God. Think about this: later in this same chapter, Elijah is all alone when he confronts Ahab and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. If Obadiah had been all he claimed to be, he would have been right there with the man of God!

(Ill. Just this final observation from the life of Obadiah. Friend, you had better watch those people who have to tell you that they love the Lord! If they have to tell you it is usually because they cannot show you! Usually those who boast the loudest about their love for God, His church and His work are those who do the least! You know what I'm talking about! People say they love their church and don't come on Sunday night or Wednesday. You watch them! If they love the church, they won't have to tell you, you will see it in their attendance! If they love the Lord, they won't have to tell you, they'll show you by the life they live! I wonder if your walk matches your talk?)

Conc: Are you a hireling, or are you a servant of God? Do you talk a good game, or are you really living out what you claim to be with your lips? If you were really honest, would you have to say that you are more like Elijah, who did the will of God obediently, or that you are more like Obadiah, who made excuses and lived a life of compromise? Who describes you best? If you need to work on your relationship with God, there is no better place than in this altar to get it fixed up. If God is dealing with your heart about salvation, service or total surrender, the place to get it settled is right here! Will you mind the Lord as He speaks to your heart today?

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