1Kings 15-17

Sunday Evening Bible Study

June 23, 2002


The kingdom of Israel had grown to its greatest state under the reign of king Solomon.  When Solomon’s son Rehoboam took over, things began to fall apart, and the kingdom was split into two kingdoms.  The northern kingdom, called Israel, was ruled first by Jeroboam, and then by various other kings and their dynasties.  The southern kingdom, called Judah, was ruled by Rehoboam and his descendants, staying in the hands of the descendants of David.

We will now begin to see the various overlapping reigns of the kings of the north and the kings of the south.

1Kings 15

:1-8 Abijam reigns in Judah

:1 Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abijam over Judah.

Abijam ‘Abiyam – “my father is the sea” or “Yah(u) is (my) father”.  He is also called Abijah in the book of 2Chronicles.

:2 Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.

three years – Abijam doesn’t reign as king for very long.

the daughter of – actually, the “granddaughter” of …

Abishalom – another form of the name Absalom, David’s rebellious son. 

In putting the various Scriptures together, it seems that Absalom’s daughter, Tamar, married Uriel of Gibeah (2Chron. 13:2).  Maachah was the daughter of Uriel, and the granddaughter of Absalom.

Rehoboam married Absalom’s granddaughter, Maachah, who was then the mother of Abijam.

:3 And he walked in all the sins of his father

His father was Rehoboam.  Here was some of his sins:

(1 Ki 14:22-24 KJV)  And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. {23} For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. {24} And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

:3 his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.

heartlebab – inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding

perfectshalem – complete, safe, peaceful, perfect, whole, full, at peace

David his father – we’re going to see the term “father” used in the sense of an ancestor.  David is actually Abijam’s great-grandfather.


From the heart

Life flows from your heart.
God cares what you do with your heart.
The Pharisees were concerned about outer things, like what you eat or what you touch.  Jesus was concerned about the heart:
(Mat 15:15-20 NLT)  Then Peter asked Jesus, "Explain what you meant when you said people aren't defiled by what they eat." {16} "Don't you understand?" Jesus asked him. {17} "Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes out of the body. {18} But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the person who says them. {19} For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. {20} These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands could never defile you and make you unacceptable to God!"
Jesus was asked about the Greatest Commandment.  He said it was one that had to do with the heart:
(Mat 22:37 KJV)  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

:4 Nevertheless for David's sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem:

God didn’t wipe out Abijam because of David.

:6 And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life.

The state of war that had existed between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continued on into the reign of Abijam.

:7 Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.

the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah – this may be referring to the book of Chronicles, or it may be referring to a book we do not have.

there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam – the writer of Chronicles (2Chron. 13) gives an account of one of the battles, where Abijam faced Jeroboam and his army, being outnumbered 400,000 to 800,000.  As Abijam gave a speech telling Jeroboam and his army why God was with Abijam, Jeroboam had sent part of his army around behind to ambush the army of Judah.  When Abijam saw he was surrounded, he and the people cried out to the Lord and the Lord gave them a great victory, killing 500,000 of Jeroboam’s men.

:9-15 Asa reigns in Judah

:9 And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah.

Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, began to rule at age 41, and ruled for seventeen years (1Ki. 14:21), meaning he was 58 years old when he died.  His son, Abijam, only ruled for three years before he dies.

We weren’t given the ages of Abijam or Asa when they began to rule, but if Abijam was 20 years younger than his father, he would have died at age 41, and that means Asa might have been close to twenty years old when he takes the throne of Judah.

:10 And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom.

mother – better, “grandmother”.  This is still talking about the gal who was married to Rehoboam, who was the granddaughter of Absalom.

:11 And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father.

Except for a turn in heart that happens at the end of his life, Asa is seen as a “good” king.

There will be 19 kings of Judah, and eight of them will be classified as “good”. 

Even though Asa will do some bad things at the end of his life, his overall reign fell into the category of “good”. 

Of these eight kings, four of them would be reformers, working to turn the nation closer to obeying the pure Mosaic Law.  Asa was one of these reformers.  His reforms are described in 2Chronicle 14-15.

None of the kings of Israel were ever called “good”, though some were definitely more evil than others.

:12 And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

sodomitesqadesh – male temple prostitute

idolsgilluwl – idols

It was under Rehoboam that the sodomites had set up shop (1Ki. 14:24).  It’s under Asa that they’re removed.

:13 And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.

(NLT) He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother

idolmiphletseth – horrid thing, horrible thing

a grove‘asherah   “groves (for idol worship)”; a Babylonian (Astarte)-Canaanite goddess (of fortune and happiness), the supposed consort of Baal, her images


Godly grandmothers

Sometimes we get the notion that grandmothers are the women who ought to be praying and being a good influence on their grandchildren. Here’s an example of a grandmother who was not a good example. 
Paul gave Titus instructions for the older gals in the church:
(Titus 2:3-5 NLT)  Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. {4} These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, {5} to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.


Cutting the ties

Asa knew that he needed to stop his grandmother’s influence on the nation.  So he fired her.
I think there is a sense in which we need to be careful about the effect that some people have on our lives.
There’s a time to cut the apron strings.
A man needs to cut some of those ties with his parents when he gets married.

(Gen 2:24 KJV)  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

:14 But the high places were not removed:

the high placesbamah – high place, ridge, height, bamah (technical name for cultic platform)

It seems that the “high places” may have at one time been places where people worshipped Yahweh.  When Solomon had his dream of God asking him for his request, it was at the “great high place” of Gibeon.

But after the establishment of the temple, there was no longer a need for high places.  God had specified that when Israel came into the Promised Land, there would be a time when God would set aside a special place for worship, and it was to be the only place of worship.  That time had come.

It seems that now the “high places” had degenerated into places where false gods were now worshipped.

:14  nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.

Asa himself will become a bitter man at the end of his life and will do some pretty mean things to a prophet of God (2Chron. 16).  But what this is saying is that Asa did not stop following Yahweh and worship other gods.

:15 And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels.

This would include the things that Abijam had taken as plunder from his victory over Jeroboam (2Chron. 13), as well as an incredible victory that Asa himself had in the tenth year of his reign, when he was attacked by 1,000,000 Ethiopians.

(2 Ch 14:13 KJV) And Asa and the people that were with him pursued them unto Gerar: and the Ethiopians were overthrown, that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before the LORD, and before his host; and they carried away very much spoil.

:16-24 War between Asa and Baasha

:17 And Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah, and built Ramah

RamahRamah – “hill”.  There were a couple of places called “Ramah”, but this one seems to be the same one that was the hometown of the prophet Samuel, located in the tribe of Benjamin, about five miles north of Jerusalem.

The idea is to starve the city of Jerusalem by setting up a major fortress on the road to Jerusalem.

This doesn’t happen until the 36th year of Asa’s reign (2Chron. 16:1).

:19 There is a league between me and thee

Asa has sent a huge present to Baasha to buy him off and become his ally.  He wants Benhadad to attack Baasha from the north so he will leave Asa alone.  Pretty smart thinking.

:20 against the cities of Israel, and smote Ijon, and Dan, and Abelbethmaachah, and all Cinneroth, with all the land of Naphtali.

These are all areas and cities in the northern part of Israel.  see map

Cinneroth[email protected] – “harps”; the early name of the Sea of Galilee  see map

:21 And it came to pass, when Baasha heard thereof, that he left off building of Ramah, and dwelt in Tirzah.

Baasha backs off his building project and goes home to figure out how to take care of things in the north.

Tirzah – This was the capital of the northern kingdom at the time. see map

:22 they took away the stones of Ramah…built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah.

Asa takes the materials that were being used to build the city of Ramah into a fortress, and uses the materials to build two fortresses of his own, in Geba and Mizpah, two cities very close to Ramah.

Geba  see map

Mizpah  see map

What Asa did made sense.  It even worked.  He took all the wealth he had accumulated, and used some of it to buy a little help from the Syrians.

But there was something wrong in what he had done.

(2 Ch 16:7-10 KJV) And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.

Because Asa had not been trusting in the Lord, but had been trusting in the king of Syria, the king of Syria got away.  God could have delivered the northern kingdom AND the Syrians into Asa’s hand.

Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand.

This was the battle that Asa had fought thirty years earlier.  He had trusted in the Lord to give him victory over 1,000,000 Ethiopians.

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.

God is looking for people He can use.  God is looking for people He can invest in.  God is looking for people who will trust Him and be obedient to Him.

Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. Then Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in a prison house; for he was in a rage with him because of this thing. And Asa oppressed some of the people the same time.

Asa didn’t like what he heard from Hanani.

:23 in the time of his old age he was diseased in his feet.

diseased in his feet

(2 Ch 16:12-14 KJV) And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign. And they buried him in his own sepulchres, which he had made for himself in the city of David, and laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries’ art: and they made a very great burning for him.

It’s not wrong to go to the doctor, but God would really like you to go to Him as well.

:24 Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead.

Some suggest that Jehoshaphat was a “co-regent”, reigning at the same time as his dad at the end of Asa’s reign since Asa was so sick.

:25-26 Back North – Nadab reigns in Israel

We now backtrack a little to pick up the history of what had been going on in the northern kingdom of Israel.

:25 And Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign …two years.

NadabNadab – “generous”

:26 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father

Nadab will continue the big sin that his father started, the worship of the golden calves (1Ki. 12:26-33).

:27-34 Baasha reigns in Israel

:27 Baasha smote him at Gibbethon

BaashaBa‘sha’ – “wicked”

Gibbethon[email protected] – “mound” see map

Apparently Nadab had taken on a campaign to conquer the Philistine city of Gibbethon.  Baasha took advantage of things and killed Nadab.

:29 he smote all the house of Jeroboam…which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite

Baasha has everybody in the family of Jeroboam killed, removing all threat to his reign.

Ahijah was the prophet who first prophesied that Jeroboam would become king of the ten northern tribes (1Ki. 11:31).  When Jeroboam led the people into idolatry by setting up his alternate worship centers and the golden calves, Ahijah was the one who prophesied that Jeroboam and his descendants would be wiped out (1Ki. 14:10).

:33  to reign over all Israel in Tirzah, twenty and four years.

This man rules a nation for twenty-four years, and all we have a record of is how evil he was.  Tragic.

:34 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.

Again, Jeroboam’s sin will continue, even when his family does not.

1Kings 16

:1-7 Prophecy against Baasha

:1 Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha

JehuYehuw’ – “Jehovah is He”; There will be another “Jehu” who is going to be the king of Israel.  This is not he.

son of Hanani – Hanani could possibly be the prophet that had confronted Asa, king of Judah.

(2 Ch 16:7 KJV) And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.

:3  and will make thy house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

I would think that since Baasha has just had a hand in seeing the prophecy of Jeroboam fulfilled, this would strike a little fear into his heart.

But it doesn’t change any of Baasha’s actions.  He never repents.


Stop repeating the mistakes

Sometimes we see other people having gone before us, who are involved in certain sins and we get to thinking that it’s just inevitable that we will do it too.
We don’t have to follow the crowd.

:4 Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat

There will be no honorable burials for his family.

:7  and because he killed him.

Even though God had determined that Jeroboam’s dynasty would end, Baasha is held responsible for being the one who made the choice to wipe out Jeroboam’s line.

:8-10 Elah reigns in Israel

:8 began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years.

Elah‘Elah – “An oak”

It’s interesting that Jeroboam had a prophecy of doom over him, and his son Nadab only ruled for two years before getting killed.  Now Baasha’s son is killed only two years after his father’s death.

:9 drinking himself drunk in the house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah.

Another tragedy.  He had been given the throne of the kingdom of Israel, and all he was known for was getting drunk and being murdered.

How do you want to be remembered?

:11-14 Zimri eliminates the competition

:12 Thus did Zimri destroy all the house of Baasha

Zimri destroys everyone who might challenge him in his reign.  He ends up fulfilling the prophecy by Jehu.

:15-20 Zimri’s record short reign over Israel

:15 Zimri reign seven days in Tirzah… the people were encamped against Gibbethon

seven days – this is a world record, the shortest reign.

Gibbethon – this was the city that Jeroboam’s son, Nadab, had been trying to seize when he was murdered by Baasha, twenty five years earlier (1Ki. 15:27).  see map

Somebody must have decided to try and finish what was started twenty-five years earlier, and in the process, another change in governments will take place.

:16  wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp.

Omri‘Omriy – “pupil of Jehovah”

The people apparently didn’t like Zimri.  So they decided to take things into their own hands and make Omri king.  Omri had been the chief general of the army.

:18 burnt the king's house over him with fire, and died,

Zimri kills himself when he realizes that he’s going to lose the battle.  He burns down the palace.

:21-22 Civil War

:21 half of the people followed Tibni

TibniTibni – “intelligent”

A time of civil war will exist in the northern kingdom for four years.  It was in the 27th year of king Asa that Zimri was killed, and it won’t be until the 31st year of Asa that Omri will be king over the entire northern kingdom.

:22 so Tibni died, and Omri reigned.

Tibni was probably executed.

:23-28 Omri reigns in Israel

:24 And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver

ShemerShemer – “preserved”

two talents of silver - 150 pounds of silver

Samaria[email protected] – “watch mountain”  see map. Located about eight miles to the west of Tirzah.

This will become the capital of the northern kingdom for the rest of its existence.  Just as the United States is sometimes referred to as “Washington”, the northern kingdom will from time to time be called “Samaria” because of its capital.

Archeologists have unearthed evidence that Samaria was built by skillful craftsmen. The site dominated the north-south trade routes. Samaria proved to be almost impregnable as a stronghold against alien attacks because of its elevated position. [1]

:25 But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him.

Things are going to go downhill for the northern kingdom.

Omri – He was going to be the strongest leader of the Northern kingdom up to this time.  Assyrian records dating from over a century later refer to Israel as “the land of Omri”. During his reign, he was able to keep off the threat of attack from the Syrians in Damascus as well as the slowly building Assyrian empire.  During his reign, he was able to also defeat the Moabites, and the victory is recorded in the famous archaeological find, the Moabite Stone.  Having an alliance with the powerful Phoenicians through the marriage of his son to the daughter of the Phoenician king was another impressive political victory.

Yet despite all these things, the Scriptures only record that he was evil, and he was more evil than all before him.


Build things that last

Paul writes,
(1 Cor 3:10-15 NLT)  Because of God's special favor to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. {11} For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already have--Jesus Christ. {12} Now anyone who builds on that foundation may use gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. {13} But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone's work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. {14} If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. {15} But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames.

Only the things done in a way to withstand God’s judgment will ultimately last.

What are God’s criteria for building projects?
God is looking for things done for Him, things done in love.

(1 Cor 13:1-3 NLT)  If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. {2} If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. {3} If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.

:29-33 Ahab reigns in Israel

:30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.

Ahab ‘Ach’ab – “father’s brother”

Ahab will be the worst of the kings of Israel.

:31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.

Jezebel‘Iyzebel – “Baal exalts” or “Baal is husband to” or “unchaste”.  Great name (not!).  This is THE Jezebel.

Ethbaal ‘Ethba‘al – “with Baal”

BaalBa‘al – “lord”; The Hebrew noun ba‘al means ‘master’, ‘possessor’ or ‘husband’. Baal is a weather god associated with thunderstorms. Baal was said to appoint the season of rains. Clouds were thought to be part of his entourage. Lightning was his weapon, and it may have been his invention. The windows of Baal’s palace were thought to correspond to openings in the clouds through which rain flowed. [2]

He was also highly immoral, having many lovers such as Asherah, Astarte, and Anat.  The worship of Baal was also just as immoral.

It might be argued that Jeroboam wasn’t really trying to make the people worship another god.  It might be argued that he was just trying to “put a face” on Yahweh, making golden calves and saying that this was the god that led them out of Egypt.  He had twisted or perverted true Judaism.

But Ahab goes way beyond Jeroboam.  He now adds the worship of Baal to the worship of Yahweh.

Even though Jezebel will be very antagonistic against the things of Yahweh, Ahab doesn’t totally turn his back on the Lord.  His sin is not in replacing the worship of Yahweh, but in adding to it the worship of other gods.

:33 And Ahab made a grove

grove ‘asherah   “groves (for idol worship)”.  These were wooden poles carved to look like a goddess.  Asherah was one of Baal’s lovers.  The worship of Asherah would be something that Jezebel will invest in.

:34 Jericho rebuilt

:34 In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.

HielChiy’el – “God lives”

When Joshua conquered Jericho, he pronounced a curse on the place.

(Josh 6:26 KJV)  And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.

This is exactly what happened to Hiel as he rebuilt the city.

This ought to have served as a warning for Ahab that God’s Word is true and he had better pay attention to it.

1Kings 17 - Elijah’s Training Camp

I remember as a kid, one of the exciting things in town happened every summer as the Los Angeles Rams opened their Training Camp out at Cal State Fullerton.  You used to be able to go out to the field and stand behind the fence to catch a glimpse of Roman Gabriel and the Fearsome Foursome (Merlin Olson, David “Deacon” Jones, Lamar Lundy, and Roosevelt “Rosie” Grier).  They would practice at Cal State Fullerton and stay at the old dormitories on Yorba Linda Blvd.  My best friend had a job as a dishwasher at the dormitory, and he got to wash the guys trays after they ate dinner.  I used to think it was crazy that these grown men would come and endure such hard workouts in the middle of summer.  But they were a pretty good team, and we loved them.

The northern kingdom of Israel was in a bad place.  They had wandered farther from the Lord than they had ever gone.  God was going to use a man to get their attention.  God was going to use a man to call down fire from heaven. God was going to use a man to challenge the nation to come back to God. 

But before the fire falls from heaven, a man needs to be prepared.

The things we’re going to read about this morning take place over a period of three and a half years.  It’s about the same time that Jesus trained His twelve disciples. It is during this time that God is not only going to get the attention of the nation, but God is going to prepare a man for his mission.

:1-7 Elijah at Cherith

:1 And Elijah …said unto Ahab…there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Elijah ‘Eliyah – “my God is Yahweh”

TishbiteTishbiy – “captivity”; the home of Elijah; site unknown but maybe the town of Tishbe

Gilead – the land on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

Elijah declares that there will be a drought.  There will be no rain unless Elijah says there is going to be rain.  There is some divine irony here because Ahab has been worshipping the Phoenician god Baal, the god of thunderstorms.  God is trying to get Ahab’s attention.

(James 5:13-18 NLT)  Are any among you suffering? They should keep on praying about it. And those who have reason to be thankful should continually sing praises to the Lord. {14} Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. {15} And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. {16} Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. {17} Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! {18} Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again.


Just like me

God did some amazing things through Elijah.
But before you dismiss this whole message this morning and think, “God could never use me like that”, keep in mind that James is trying to tell you that Elijah was just an ordinary person, just like you and me.

:2 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

This phrase “the word of the LORD” seems to be a key element in this passage.

You see it either clearly or implied seven times (clearly in vs. 2, 5, 8, 16, 24; implied in vs. 1,14)

(1 Ki 17:1 KJV)  …but according to my word.
(1 Ki 17:2 KJV)  And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
(1 Ki 17:5 KJV)  So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD
(1 Ki 17:8 KJV)  And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
(1 Ki 17:14 KJV)  For thus saith the LORD God of Israel …
(1 Ki 17:16 KJV)  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD
(1 Ki 17:24 KJV)  And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.


The person God uses is the person who knows God’s Word

We may not always have a specific word like Elijah received, but we do have God’s Word, the Bible.
If you want to be a person God uses, you MUST know His Word.

:3 hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

Cherith[email protected] – “cutting”; a brook east of Jordan, near where the Jordan dumps into the Dead Sea. The name comes from the word karath, “to cut, cut down, cut off a body part, cut out, eliminate, kill”


Ministry requires cutting

Before Elijah will call down fire from heaven on Mount Carmel, he has to spend time at Cherith.  You might say to me, “Rich, you’re making too much out of a simple name”.  But look at the passage, Elijah is going to be cut back.  He’s going to be pruned.
Jesus called it “pruning”
(John 15:1-3 KJV)  I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. {2} Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth (prunes) it, that it may bring forth more fruit. {3} Now ye are clean (pruned) through the word which I have spoken unto you.

If you want to produce “fruit” in your life, you are going to need to be pruned.  There are going to be things that God is going to want to cut away from your life.

You might wince and say, “No, don’t touch that branch!”  But He knows it needs to go.

Brian Broderson shared at the Pastors’ Conference that he found out that the older a vine gets, the more it needs to be pruned.

:4 I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

ravens – ravens were considered an “unclean” animal (Lev. 11:15). They are also an animal that is so naturally selfish that they will neglect feeding their own young (Job 38:41), so this will be quite an interesting, supernatural thing.

ravens ‘oreb – raven


God provides

Even though Elijah will spend some time being “pruned”, God will provide for him.
Even though Elijah will be touched by the drought himself, God will still take care of him.
Sometimes we wonder if we will ever survive the hard times.
If you are in the place God wants you to be, He will provide. He will command the ravens to feed you if necessary.
(Phil 4:19 KJV)  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

:5 So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD



There are great blessings that come in our lives when we learn to simply obey what the Lord wants us to do.
When God begins to use you in the lives of others, you will find that before you can expect others to see the blessings of obedience, you need to be obedient.
Elijah is going to live with a widow woman and she’s going to need to trust that God is going to provide.  But before Elijah can go there, Elijah must learn to obey the word of the Lord himself.
If you are trying to help people who are struggling with disobedience, you need to be sure that you are setting the example.

:6 the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning …

Where did the ravens get the bread and the meat?  We used to have a children’s book of Bible stories that suggested that the ravens were part of God’s air force, and every day they would make a run through the kitchens of Ahab’s palace, snatching up the king’s goodies, and heading off for Elijah’s hiding place.

:7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up


You need to experience it too

Elijah doesn’t get a free pass on this drought thing.
He too must experience the drought.
He has a ministry to the nation, but in his ministry, he needs to know what the people are going through.
Jesus is a Great High Priest because He knows what we’re going through.
(Heb 2:18 KJV)  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
(Heb 4:15-16 KJV)  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

:8-16 Elijah at Zarephath

:8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

Elijah doesn’t move from Cherith until the Lord tells him to move.  He didn’t say, “Hey, it’s dry out here, it’s time to move on …”

:9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath

Zarephath[email protected] – “refinery”.  A city up north on the coast of Israel, belonging to the Phoenicians at Sidon, the city is located between the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon.   see map . This isn’t a short journey.  Zarephath is at least 100 miles from Cherith (as the raven flies). The name comes from tsaraph, to smelt, refine, test


Ministry requires refining

Sometimes it seems that the tough times never end.  Elijah moved from “cutting” (Cherith) to “refining” (Zarephath).
(1 Pet 1:3-7 NLT)  All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. {4} For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. {5} And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. {6} So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. {7} These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
God refines our faith, our trust in Him, like a goldsmith refines gold.  He does it by allowing us to go through the fire, the tough times.

It’s my understanding that a goldsmith will heat the gold ore until it’s in a molten state.  As he keeps the heat on, the impurities all come to the surface.  The goldsmith will keep skimming off the impurities until the gold is pure.  He knows it’s pure when He can see His own reflection in the gold.

Elijah was definitely a man of faith, yet God would need to continue to refine Elijah’s ability to trust in God.  Even after Elijah’s great victory on Mount Carmel (1Ki. 18), we can see that Elijah’s faith still needed quite a bit of refining.
Charles Spurgeon said: “I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord's workshop.  I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod.  When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most.”

:12 And she said… I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

This woman is at the end of her resources.  All she has left is a little flour and a little oil and after she and her son eat that, they plan to die. The woman was willing to go get Elijah a drink of water, but she was a bit reluctant to give him her last bit of food.

Her oath (“as the LORD thy God liveth”) indicates that she is a believer in the God of Israel.  Jesus talks about Elijah and this widow woman and tells us that this woman was a Gentile (Luke 4:24-26).

(Luke 4:24-26 NKJV)  Then He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. {25} "But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; {26} "but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.

The only place where Elijah would find safe haven from Ahab was with a Gentile widow.  There was no place for him in Israel.

:13 but make me thereof a little cake first

At first, Elijah sounds kind of selfish to me. But this is really just a test for the widow woman. Will she put God’s priorities first?

:16 And the barrel of meal wasted not …


When you put God first, your needs are met

Sometimes, if we want to see the works of God being done, we have to learn to give up the things we might be clinging to.  We need to be willing to let go of the things we think are absolutely necessary for our existence.
Jesus feeding the five thousand –
(John 6:5-14 KJV)  When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? {6} And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. {7} Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. {8} One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, {9} There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

The little boy had to give up his lunch for Jesus to feed the five thousand.

{10} And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. {11} And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. {12} When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. {13} Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. {14} Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

Yet after having given up his own lunch, the little boy was one of the five thousand that were fed that day.

I’ve heard people put all kinds of preconditions on God.  I’ve heard others say that if God gets them a job, that they’ll serve Him. I’ve heard people say that if God heals them, they’ll serve Him.  I’ve heard people say that as long as God puts their marriage back together, they’ll serve Him. 
Put away your preconditions.  Just serve Him.

:17-24 Elijah raises the dead

:18 art thou come unto me …to slay my son?

This is how the woman is thinking:  After all she has done for Elijah, this is her reward, her son dying?

When you serve the Lord, you are not exempt from going through difficult, horrible times.

:20 O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

It seems that Elijah has trouble with the boy’s death as well.  It doesn’t seem fair to him either.

:21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times

At this time in the Bible, no one has ever been raised from the dead. It seems that Elijah has the intention of raising this child from the dead, but it doesn’t happen the first time or the second time.  He has to repeat this three times.

:22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.


Raise the dead

Could God raise the dead today?  Why not?
I think it happens when we share the gospel.
God wants to give life to dead people.

The Bible says that without Jesus, every one of us is as good as dead because our sins have cut us off from God.

The Bible says that Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins.

The Bible says that when we come to trust in Jesus, we are given new life, and God raises the dead.

Some of the people God wants to use us with are people we’ve given up on.  They are people we consider hopeless.  But God hasn’t given up on them.
I think God wants to use people who are willing to live in Cherith and Zarephath.

:24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know …


People will know by what we do

Are we people who just talk a lot, or are we people who have actions that match our mouth?




The Kings

[1]Walvoord, J. F. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (1 Ki 16:21). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2]Achtemeier, P. J. 1985. Harper's Bible dictionary. Includes index. (1st ed.) (Page 84). Harper & Row: San Francisco