1 Kings 16: 31-34; 1 Kings 17: 1

This week’s devotions were written by Kathy Patrick, a member of Faith Lutheran Church.

Ahab Marries Jezebel and Worships Baal

And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him.

He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. Ahab also made a sacred pole. Ahab did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than had all the kings of Israel who were before him.

In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho; he laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Joshua son of Nun. 1 Kings 16: 31-34

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” 1 Kings 17:1

As part of our preparation for our Proclaim Jubilee Campaign, we gathered on Sunday to hear the story of Widow of Zarephath. We asked ourselves what it meant to receive gifts and to give them. We also imagined ourselves as characters in the story:  hoping to learn more about how it feels to ask for help, to receive help, and to be asked for help when we feel we have nothing left to give. Over the course of this week, we will examine this story in more detail.

Today, we’ll talk about Elijah.

Elijah was a prophet called by God to speak to the people of Israel during the reign of Ahab. 1 Kings 16 reports that “Ahab did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than had all the kings of Israel who were before him.”  Ahab, among other things, married Jezebel, a gentile follower of the God Baal. He began to follow her religion and, because their King was following Baal, the people of Israel began to do the same. Through their shared influence, the people of Israel began to put their God Yahweh on a par with Baal. Ahab even erected an altar to Baal in the Temple of Baal.

Into the midst of this turning away from God, Elijah appears to remind the people of Israel who—and whose—they are. We don’t know anything much about Elijah except that his name means “Yahweh is my God.” When Elijah first appears, he does something extraordinary:  he confronts an evil, idolatrous King and promises (really, he threatens him) with a drought, saying, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” (1 Kings 17:1)

His calling, in fact his very name “Yahweh is my God,” gives Elijah his voice. He knows who his God is and so, on behalf of that God, he raises his voice to advocate for the holiness of God and God’s reign. Named as God’s own, Elijah speaks truth to a powerful, evil king and—as we will see tomorrow–he suffers the consequences.

In our Baptism, we are all named and claimed as children of God. What does the example of Elijah teach us about the power of God’s claim on our lives? Will we raise our voice and open our hands to respond to God’s call to serve God and God’s purposes?

Let us Pray: In our Baptism, you called us by name and claimed us as your own. Give us open ears to hear you speaking to us. Remind us that we are your hands and feet here on earth. Grant us good courage to answer your call to live generously in furtherance of your will. Amen.

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