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Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord he is the God; the LORD, He is the Gon.
And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal, let not one of them escape: and they took them, and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The famine must have been very grievous in the land of Israel, to make it necessary for the king to go himself in search of forage for the cattle.
Obadiah seems to have been a religious man, and he had performed an action which testified his zeal for the Lord, as well as the humanity of his disposition.
The prophets whom Jezebel destroyed are supposed to have been persons who privately instructed those that were not worshippers of Baal in their duty to God, and encouraged them to the performance of it. They had not the spirit of prophecy like Elijah, nor did they offer sacrifices, or burn incense, but were most likely disciples (usually styled sons) of the prophets belonging to the schools, which Samuel is thought to have first instituted, and which, it is imagined, Jezebel intended to destroy.
It may seem strange, that so pious a man as Obadiah was, should be preferred to an high office by Ahab ; but it is probable, that he was distinguished for his integrity and abilities, which made it the king's interest to employ him. We
conclude that Ahab had not compelled him to bow the knee to Baal: Obadiah therefore was under no necessity of declining the appointment; besides
he might hope, by continuing in his office, to be an instrument of good, in the hand of Providence, to the faithful servants of God, of whom there were still many remaining in the land of Israel. Indeed, we may venture to conclude, that the Divine Disposer of all events overruled Ahab, in raising the good Obadiah to this exalted station, for the very purpose of counteracting Jezebel's wicked scheme of extirpating all the prophets. It is true she put numbers to death; but there is no doubt of God's having recompensed them for the loss of life in a better world : those who were left behind in such unsettled times were the most to be pitied: but their preservation was necessary for the propagation of religion; and they had reason to hope that, after a few more transient years, they should join their brethren in a happier state: for Solomon, and other inspired writers, had taught them this belief *.
It was in vain for Ahab to pursue Elijah; the same Divine power, which was so miraculously exerted in sustaining him, prevented Ahab from discovering the place of his retreat, He was, without doubt, greatly surprised when he was told that Elijah, whom he had so lately sought, was coming to meet him. Though Ahab must have been an eye-witness of many unhappy consequences of the famine, they had made no proper impressions on his mind.
The priests of Baal amounted to a very considerable number: Ahab assembled them at Elijah's desire, in hopes, perhaps, that he should prevail on the prophet to bring rain on the earth. Elijah reproved the people for mixing the worship of God and the worship of Baal together. More than one GOD there could not possibly be, for this name is sacred or set apart for the SUPREME Being, and when applied to any other is profaned; the question therefore was, which was the Creator and UNIVERSAL LORD? If JEHOVAH, why did they put any one in competition with Him, since He alone could be worthy of their adoration? If that senseless idol Baal was the Gov, why did they derogate from his honour by dividing their services ?
* Wisdom of Solomon, iii. 9
The Israelites, one would suppose, could not be ignorant of the majesty and omnipotence of the LORD JE. HOVAH, which had been so frequently displayed to their forefathers, and even in their own days wonderful things had been wrought by his ALMIGHTY Power: by forsaking his worship they provoked the Lord to destroy them: but, in remembrance of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God yet had compassion on their descendants, and on this occasion condescended to prove, in the manner related, that a vain idol was not worthy to be compared with Him.
The priests of Baal could not decline such a proposal as Elijah made to them, without disgracing themselves in the eyes of the king and people; and as they were numerous, and feared not the LORD, they thought to have had the advantage of Elijah, who had no one to join with him.
As the prophet could not bring the Israelites to the Temple at Jerusalem, he repaired the Altar of the LORD at Carmel : this Altar is supposed to have been one of those built in the time of the judges, when there were no houses for public worship. It is needless to give any farther explanation of this miracle, has so much as been said of former ones. We may suppose that Ahab and all the worshippers of Baal were struck with consterna.
therefore it was easy for the rest of the people to seize the idolatrous priests, and Elijah was fully justified in causing them to be put to death, especially as so many of God's servants, the prophets, had been slain by the command of Jezebel : besides, there was an express law *, that all those who attempted to draw the people away from the worslip rof the true and only God should be put to death. It is imagined, that the prophets of the groves (supposed to have been Sidonians) did not attend.
The woryls of Elijah to the people of Israel, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be GOD, follow Him ;, and if Baal, follow him, deserve to be seriously considered by us. As the LORD could not endure that the Israelites should divide their worship between Him and idols: sneither will he endure that Christiaŋs should divide their love between hinn and the world, so as to suffer the world to draw them away from his worship, and occasion them to profane his sabbaths. Nor will the Lord approve of those worshippers who set up their own Reason as-an idol, refusing to receive the truths of Divine Revelation, beçause they are in some instances above the comprehension of the human faculties t.
Let us then give to the LORD the honour due unto His name, not suffering any thing to draw our affections from Him, who is the author of all the good things that we enjoy; but let us serve hii sincerely, uniformly, and entirely, believing all He has revealed, and doing all that he has commanded.
* Deut. xiii 10-11.
† See a discourse upon this text in the second volume of Ser. mons, published by the late Bishop of London admirably suited to these times, in which many who call themselves Christians are partially so, both in respect to Faith and Ob ience.
SECTION SECTION LVI.
CONTINUATION OF THE HISTORIES OF AHAB KING OF
ISRAEL, AND ELIJAH THE PROPHET.
From 1 Kings, Chap. xviii, xix. And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink : for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down
upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward
And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
And it came to pass at the se time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel.
And the hand of the LORD 'was on Elijah : and he girded up his loins; and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword.
Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them, by to-morrow about this time.
And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Ju. dah, and left his servant there.