History at the Time of Elijah

Lesson one

1 Kings 17: 1 Elijah the Tishbite, a temporary resident of Gilead, said to Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years but according to my word.

To gain understanding of this verse, it is necessary to have some information concerning the background and time in which Elijah lived.

In chapter 11 of 1 Kings there is the mention of Solomon building a place called Milo. During the construction period a young man named Jeroboam, who is described as a man of valor, was noticed and put into a place of leadership. One day Jeroboam, was apparently walking home from work, when he was confronted by a prophet. The prophet Ahijah took off his brand new cloak of good sturdy material, and ripped it into 12 pieces.

After Ahijah ripped his cloak in twelve pieces, he handed ten of those pieces to Jeroboam and told him that God was going to place ten of the tribes under his leadership. I can imagine the surprise of Jeroboam and guess that when he arrived home he probably said to his wife, "Youíre never gonna believe what happened to me on the way home tonight."

At the time, Solomon was king of the 12 tribes, and God was displeased with him. For just as Samson had sinned away his God given strength. Solomon with his many forbidden wives had sinned away his God given wisdom.

Of course it didnít take very long for the news of the prophetís action to reach Solomonís ears and he was not pleased. Out went the palace police with instructions to kill the man who now was a threat to his throne. Jeroboam, a hard working man with leadership qualities, became a fugitive, he fled to Egypt and remained there until the death of Solomon.

Rehoboam was the son of Solomon and when he took over the throne of his father, he first consulted with the wise older men of the kingdom, who told him that if he would serve the people and treat them fairly, then they would serve him all the days of his life. Rehoboam apparently did not recognize good advice when he heard it. So he then sought the advice of some of the young men he had grown up with. Who said, tell the people that the burdens of life that my father put on you will seem like nothing in comparison to what I am going to do.

The people upon hearing this, revolted and asked Jeroboam to be their spokesperson, when Rehoboam refused to reconsider, Jeroboam and ten of the tribes seceded from the united tribes. Thus the words of the prophet Ahijah were fulfilled.

And so in the history of Israel, we arrive at the divided kingdom. Later on Jeroboam, apparently began to think this is just to good to be true. He became fearful that if the people went to Jerusalem to worship, they would not come back. So he set up altars to golden calves, telling the people that Jerusalem was just to far for them to travel. And they could worship at home....... no need to go all that distance.

At the time when Elijah appeared at the palace. Fifty-eight years had passed since the tearing of the kingdom into two pieces. During this time Israel, the chosen and favored people of God had sunk to a new low. In the space of fifty-eight years SEVEN kings had ruled over Israel and all of them were very wicked.

During Solomonís time the people, led by Solomon, (who was led by his many heathen wives) began to worship other Gods. After Solomon died, Jeroboam the son of Nebat became king of the ten tribes. He started out pretty good. God through one of His prophets had spoken to him and told him that if he would hearken to His commands that He would build for him a sure house, even as He had done for David. But there came a time when Jeroboam began to reason with himself. 1 Kings 12:26-33.

The seven wicked Kings were:

1. Jeroboam who feared losing his kingdom set up golden calves and made it easy and convenient to worship at home.

2. The son of Jeroboam, was Nadab who continued in the ways of his father.

3. Baasha gained the throne by murdering Nadab.

4. Baashaís son Elah, a drunkard, was in a drunken stupor when he was killed by Zimri.

5. Zimriís reign lasted 7 days, then while under attack by Omri, he committed suicide by burning down the palace while he was in it.

6. Omri was a military adventurer, who thought that destroying the kingdom in order to gain power, was a small thing.

7. And finally Omriís son, Ahab. It is said of Ahab that he did evil in the sight of the Lord....above all that the others had done.

Ahab married Jezebel and under her guiding hand, in a very short time all traces of worship of Jehovah had vanished from the land. The golden calves were still worshiped at Dan and Bethel. A temple had been erected in Samaria to Baal and every where there were groves dedicated to Baal. The priests of Baal took full charge of worship. It was openly declared, by the people that Baal lived and Jehovah ceased to be.

In was in the midst of this great spiritual darkness in Israel, that the man named Elijah showed up at the palace. We know nothing of the background of Elijah except that he was from Gilead. Gilead was settled earlier by Gad and Manasseh (if you can call wild, rocky mountains settled.) It is probable that the people of the hills were as rugged as the land they lived on. Very likely they dressed in sturdy clothing. Mountain man Elijah was no doubt a marked contrast to the people at the palace who dressed in silk and other fine fabrics.

There is very little information concerning the religious background of Elijah, but 1 Kings 19:10 tells us that he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts. His parents must have been true Israelites for they are the ones who named him. Elijah means my God is Jehovah, or He is my God.

It is also likely that Elijah was very familiar with the early scrolls of the old testament and knew how much God had favored His people. So when he heard what Jezebel and Ahab had been up to, he was probably filled with indignation.

I can imagine that he might have sat on a hillside thinking about what was going on in the city and wondering how he should respond. After all he was just one person from the country without formal training, not familiar with the ways of the city. No doubt Satan was whispering in his ear, itís hopeless, you canít change things, just forget it.

But Elijah lived up to his name, which meant, MY GOD IS JEHOVAH and did what he could, he prayed earnestly. When I was studying this, I wondered why he chose to pray for no rain, why not hail and brimstone, what was it that caused him to pray for drought?

In order for prayer to be effectual, it must be grounded on the word of God. Jeremiah 1:12 declares that God watches over his word to perform it.

I think that Elijah prayed the way he did because of a particular passage of scripture.

Deuteronomy 11:16-17 says take heed that your heart be not deceived and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them. For the lordís wrath will be kindled against you and he will shut up the heaven and there will be no rain.

This was exactly the crime of which Israel was guilty. Suppose then, that the judgment mentioned here, did not happen? Wouldnít that make it seem like Jehovah was a myth? But Elijah was very jealous for the Lord God of hosts, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain.

Here we have an example of what true prayer really is, it is laying hold of the established word of god and pleading it before him, saying, as did King David, "thy words are true, do thou as thou hast said." 2 Samuel 7: 25-28.

As Elijah prayed it must have become evident that God wanted him to go and speak to Ahab. Can you imagine what Elijahís thoughts might have been? WHO AM I TO GO UNINVITED BEFORE A KING? And what about the Queen? She had slain all of those who had been opposed to her? In particular the servants of God. It would have been natural to think, sheís not going to invite me to dinner.

Perhaps some of Davidís psalms came to mind and Elijah might have said or sung them over and over. Though 10 thousand encamp round about me, I will not be afraid. Thou oh lord, art my shield and defense. No evil shall come nigh me, angels are given charge over me to keep me in all my ways. Blessed be the name of the lord god forever, who forsakes not those who trust in him. Thy words are true oh lord, do thou as thou hast said."

Time to go, put one foot in front of the other, CONCENTRATE, on the word of God....wonder what Moses felt like when God sent him to that Egyptian king? Wonder if he was nervous? Probably. Wonder how many times you have to do this sort of thing before you get used to it?

What I have to remember, is that God didnít fail Moses, and He wonít fail me. Go forward Elijah, thereís a job to be done. Concentrate Elijah, fasten your mind on the word of God.

And so, about 860 years before the birth of Jesus, Elijah the Tishbite, a plain man, dressed in rough clothing arrived at the palace of Ahab and Jezebel to pronounce the judgement of God


What can we learn from some of the men that we have just heard about?

Solomon got big headed. Started thinking that it was his power that built the kingdom. We need to always remember where the blessings have come from, and be grateful.

Jeroboam started out pretty good, but then started to squeeze the life out of his miraculous gift, he let fear get the best of him, probably didnít think he was worthy.

Ahab: never take the words of a brave country man in rough clothes lightly and be very careful about who you choose for a wife.

And Elijah: Pray, listen and go. You donít need a university degree to be greatly used of God. But you do need to know your name and what it means, it must be rooted in your spirit.

If you have received Jesus as your Lord and savior, your name is Christian and that means that you have a BA (Born Again).. that you have completed the pre requisites for a PhD (Past having Doubts). And a DD. (Devil Disturber) Those degrees are bestowed on us by God and what God has given no man can take away.

Next: Lesson Two