I strongly believe we are each uniquely designed by our Creator to serve Him in different ways on this earth. I Kings 17:1-18:45 showcases two faithful wanderers, each doing God’s will in radically different ways.
The first is the prophet Elijah, who got in King Ahab’s face, boldly proclaiming God’s sovereign rule and judgement on Israel. He was Yahweh’s fiery messenger, speaking out at a time when Queen Jezebel was slaughtering all the Lord’s prophets. We’ve all heard Elijah’s story. Remember God’s “raven catering service?” The poor widow, whose oil and flour never ran out? Elijah pitted against the 400 prophets of Baal? Or when Yahweh dropped divine fire from heaven and consumed his prophet’s water-logged sacrifice?
Elijah confronted evil and won. Fearful or not, he obeyed God and saw the Lord respond with miracle after miracle. He also turned the hearts of the Israelites back to their God.
Yet in these two chapters, another courageous servant of God dwells. Unlike the prophet, he works in the shadows. Elijah boldly confronts the evil king about his sinful ways. Obadiah quietly serves the same evil ruler faithfully for years. The bible states Obadiah was in charge of Ahab’s palace. With the level of idolatry Queen Jezebel kept pushing on Israel, that doesn’t seem like a very comfortable place for a God-loving man to be.
Why serve an evil king? I think the Lord chose to have one of his trusted servants strategically placed in the palace, close to unique resources and inside information. Obadiah is only mentioned in a handful of verses, but he’s one of my favorite characters in the bible.
I Kings 18:4 reveals his major accomplishment;
While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a 100 prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.
At this point, you may be wondering why Elijah alone confronted Ahab, while these other prophets hid in caves, like scared rabbits. My answer? Elijah was the only prophet God sent–and Elijah was extremely obedient. He pronounced one sentence of judgement on Ahab, then shut up and disappeared for three years. Elijah went into hiding like all the other prophets–and he didn’t move until God told him to, not even when his source of water dried up.
In contrast, Obadiah’s task required secrecy and stealth. Imagine smuggling enough food and water into two caves to keep 100 men alive over several months or even years! You could perhaps drop off enough food once every three or four weeks, but enough water? In a desert region, the men would have to be supplied with water every week or they’d die.
I think Obadiah manifests a spiritual gifting listed in I Cor 12:28, called the gift of administration. People with this gift are detail-oriented problem solvers. I don’t know how much food and water 100 men consume in a week–but Obadiah did. How did he gather everything together and then transport it secretly? If he’s hiding people in two desert caves, wouldn’t his camels leave tracks in the sand every time he brings fresh supplies?
How come nobody noticed? Food and water are getting scarcer and scarcer. Yet Obadiah continues tending his cave-dwelling “guests” week after week, and no one discovers his secret. He definitely would have been tortured and killed had Ahab or Jezebel discovered his off-duty activities.
Like Elijah and Obadiah, our Savior has tasks for each of us to do. A word of encouragement, a truth spoken, an act of kindness—in Jesus’ hands our smallest obedience can multiply into eternal, life-changing significance for the people He sends us to bless.
Our journeys will all be different, but our purpose is the same—to follow and obey Him.
God planted ‘Easter eggs’ in the bible long before any game designer’s ancestors were even born. See if you can unearth this one.
Elijah was sent to a widow in Zarephath to hide from the evil King and Queen. Read this part of the story, then check out Chapter 16 to find out why this was such an unusual place for God to send Elijah. Personally, I think God has a great sense of humor.
If you’re stumped, drop me an email at faithfulwanderer (at) gmail (dot) com.
Images of the raven, the camel and the bread were from Pixabay.com and the desert cave came from Morguefile.com.