In 863 BC, a stranger showed up at the gates of Samaria. He mentioned that he was from Tisbeh, a city forty miles east of Israel’s capital and on the opposite side of the Jordan River.
Somehow, the stranger wangled an audience with King Ahab. The stranger’s dress, coarse camel’s haircloth with a rough leather belt, showed him to be a nomad of the desert, not a man suitable for the king’s court. But still, he approached the king.
King Ahab most likely wondered what the country bumpkin wanted when he saw him. He probably gave an impatient sigh and uttered, “So, Elijah, what do you have for me?”
Elijah spoke one of the shortest and most powerful messages in the Bible, just twenty-four words:
“As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (1 Kings 17:1)
The Bible does not give us an inkling of Ahab’s immediate reaction to Elijah’s short message. But, most likely, it caused a big enough ruckus so that Elijah was able to slip away without being stopped or followed.
Okay, was the drought which Elijah warned King Ahab and Israel about an example of God’s love toward the Jews?
You have to remember the drought lasted forty-two months. No rain meant no crops, which in turn meant starvation for animals and people. Babies and the elderly would have been the hardest hit, but also prophets of God were slain.
As a guess, let’s say 1/2% of the population died. That would translate into 20-25,000 deaths resulting from the drought.
Now, what’s your thoughts on whether or not the drought was an example of God’s love?
Eventually, Elijah showed up and challenged four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal to a fire contest on Mount Carmel. Why fire? Because Baal was the god of fire. Why Mt. Carmel? That was where the pagan prophets sacrificed to Baal.
“Eureka!” The prophets of Baal probably thought to themselves. “Elijah has stepped in it this time. He’ll be toast!”
But in the end, the Lord God of Israel sent fire and consumed the sacrifice on the altar made by Elijah. Then, Elijah slaughtered the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal in front of Israel and prayed for rain to fall on the nation.
Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!” (1 Kings 18:39)
Once again, what’s your thoughts on whether or not the drought was an example of God’s love? Tough question, right? Although the people repented, thousands of people died or were slaughtered.
For myself, I have no doubt it is God love:
First, God is love. His character never changes and there are no variations in His perfect love at any time. And even when He judges a nation in His godly anger, He is 100% love. It is who He is. Period.
while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn whom the LORD had struck down among them. The LORD had also executed judgments on their gods. (Numbers 33:4)
Secondly, God knows how to set people free who are imprisoned by their second nature sins, also known as iniquities. He is willing to take on the gods of the people’s iniquities, or ruling principalities, in a face to face battle, not on neutral ground, but in the ruling principalities’ strongholds.
You see, God is not afraid of a fight. He is not a bit fearful of how entrenched or how fortified the enemy is in its own stronghold. He just needs a man who is willing to be His vessel, like Moses was in Egypt, Elijah at Mt. Carmel, or Jesus on earth. The man just has to believe:
No man [champion, servant, or whosoever] will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)
Yes, there may be collateral damage in setting the people free and deaths may occur. But the deaths are due to our rebellion and sin and not to a lack of love on His part. We must trust that God knows what He is doing.
So, why California? Why San Francisco? Why now?
(Continued in Part 10…if you are interested, the full series, which was written in 2012, may be seen here.)