1 Kings 18:1-15
1 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.
7 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?”
8 And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’ ”
9 And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me?
10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you.
11 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.” ’
12 And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth.
13 Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water?
14 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here” ’; and he will kill me.”
15 And Elijah said, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.”
Ahab and Elijah are about to meet for a serious showdown. The god of Tyre has been unable to end the drought that is killing the land and the people of Samaria. Now the true God is about to show the world who actually has the power over the universe. Caught in the middle of this battle is a frightened man named Obadiah. He is clearly caught between his desire to be an obedient follower of the Living God and his realistic fear of King Ahab, who would happily kill anyone who thwarts his plans. I have to admit, my respect for Obadiah isn’t very high. While he did indeed save and support 100 prophets of God, he is terrified of Ahab and gives him way too much power over his life. His fear even drives him to mistrust Elijah.
All of us face days when we are caught between the direction of the Lord and our own fears. Those fears are real and in our brokenness we give them more power than they usually deserve. My husband always tells people that 98% of what they fear never comes to pass, so why waste the time. Obadiah had some genuine concerns about Ahab’s ruthless ability to destroy anyone who made him the least little bit unhappy and Elijah was certainly about to do that. Obadiah wasn’t sure he wanted to be associated with Elijah in front of Ahab which seems fairly reasonable. In fact, we always seem to be able to justify our fears. They seem fairly reasonable. But in the face of an almighty God who is able to take care of any situation, our fears are not reasonable. They display a mistrust of God. Instead of giving those fears their way, we do what Obadiah did – we share them. Obadiah shared his fear with Elijah and was reassured that Elijah would keep his word. We share our fears with God and allow Him to handle them. There’s no sense in hiding those fears from Him. That would be a ridiculous waste of energy. But sharing them with Him helps to relieve the power that they have over us as we place them into His all-powerful care. Once again, I know it sounds easy, but sometimes it’s not. I heard a psychologist say that a full blown panic attack cannot last more than 20 minutes. All you have to do is get through it. Now I’ve never had a panic attack and I can only assume they are terribly frightening. But if you give yourself the time to “get through it” you will come out on the other side. If you give your fears to God, even though they may disable you for a time, you will come out on the other side, with God holding your hand!
In the next few days we will read about Elijah facing his enemy with God’s power. He responds with courage and with terror. It’s a great story and we have much to learn!