Reader: “‘Go and tell your master,”
Response: “Elijah is here.’”
Scripture: I Kings 18:1-18
Later on, in the third year of the drought, the Lord said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!” So Elijah went to appear before Ahab.
Meanwhile, the famine had become very severe in Samaria. So Ahab summoned Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. (Obadiah was a devoted follower of the Lord. Once when Jezebel had tried to kill all the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had hidden 100 of them in two caves. He put fifty prophets in each cave and supplied them with food and water.) Ahab said to Obadiah, “We must check every spring and valley in the land to see if we can find enough grass to save at least some of my horses and mules.” So they divided the land between them. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
As Obadiah was walking along, he suddenly saw Elijah coming toward him. Obadiah recognized him at once and bowed low to the ground before him. “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?” he asked.
“Yes, it is,” Elijah replied. “Now go and tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”
“Oh, sir,” Obadiah protested, “what harm have I done to you that you are sending me to my death at the hands of Ahab? For I swear by the Lord your God that the king has searched every nation and kingdom on earth from end to end to find you. And each time he was told, ‘Elijah isn’t here,’ King Ahab forced the king of that nation to swear to the truth of his claim. And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ But as soon as I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you away to who knows where. When Ahab comes and cannot find you, he will kill me. Yet I have been a true servant of the Lord all my life. Has no one told you, my lord, about the time when Jezebel was trying to kill the Lord’s prophets? I hid 100 of them in two caves and supplied them with food and water. And now you say, ‘Go and tell your master, “Elijah is here.”’ Sir, if I do that, Ahab will certainly kill me.”
But Elijah said, “I swear by the Lord Almighty, in whose presence I stand, that I will present myself to Ahab this very day.”
So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”
“I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.
Reader: “The word of the Lord,”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
And you are wondering by now, “What does this passage of Scripture have to do with Advent or Christmas?” Thank you for asking! God’s plan of redeeming his fallen creation spans thousands of years. We are living in the unfolding of that plan in the First Testament as it continues. We’re going to examine a part of that plan which involves the prophet Elijah, whose name means “my God is Yahweh” (El=God, jah=Yahweh).
Prophets were and are major players in the revealing of God’s truth. Old Testament prophets spoke God’s truth to nations and kings. This pericope mentions a group of 100 prophets. It was common for prophets to get together for study and encouragement. Apparently Elijah exercised leadership in some of these groups (II Kings 2:3-7). A significant portion of the content of the First Testament is the writings and messages of the prophets. Their words were of judgment and on occasion of prophesying the future, not only of events but also of the coming of the Messiah. The closing verses of the book of Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, makes reference to Moses as the giver of the Law and Elijah as “the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.” So it is not surprising then that these two “greats”of the Old Testament appear at the Mount of Transfiguration to encourage Jesus just before he embarks on the final weeks of his life on earth.
Now, in the passage you just read, Elijah did what prophets do. He confronted old Ahab, a wicked Jewish king, and Jezebel, his pagan wife and worshipper of Baal, for their abandonment of the God of Israel. As a result of God’s judgment, Elijah had prophesied a seven year drought. This reading ends with Elijah laying it out plain and simply to Ahab, “I’m not the problem for Israel. You are because of your refusal to obey the Lord.” Down through the ages there have been people used of God to speak the truth into the life and culture of people and of nations. Through the voices of people like Elijah, may there be people in our day who confront leaders and nations with their abandonment of God’s truth and call for repentance.
Music: “I Wonder as I Wander” Simon Khorolskiy
Thou blessed Spirit, author of all grace and comfort, Prophet to my soul, come, work repentance in my soul; represent sin to me in its odious colors that I may hate it; melt my heart by the majesty and mercy of God; show me my ruined self and the help there is in him; teach me to behold my creator, his ability to save, his arms outstretched, his heart big for me. Help me not only to receive him but to walk in him, depend upon him, commune with him, be conformed to him, follow him, imperfect, but still pressing forward, not complaining of labor, but valuing rest, not murmuring under trials, but thankful for my state. Perceiving nothing in myself, may I find in Christ wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. In his holy name I pray. Amen. ―adapted Daniel Sharp, The Valley of Vision, p.17