Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys; perhaps we will find grass and keep the horses and mules alive, and not have to kill some of the cattle.”
–1 Kings 18:5
How did King Ahab respond to Elijah’s burn-the-ships challenge to commit to God? Ahab was both faithless and fearless.
Ahab was in Samaria, where the famine was especially severe because it was the center of Baal worship. Both people and animals were dying, but Ahab was more interested in the animals than the people. In 1 Kings 18:5, he said, in essence, “Obadiah, I want you to go find some food and water because my livestock are dying.” People were dying, children were dying in Israel as well, but Ahab didn’t express any remorse about that. He was concerned about his own possessions. Now, animals matter to God. In fact, Proverbs mentions a special judgment for those who are cruel to animals. But on God’s scale, people are more important than animals. Yet Ahab was concerned about his animals, not about the people.
What a contrast to King David! Years earlier, when David sinned against God, God sent judgment upon the land. David said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me and against my father’s house” (2 Samuel 24:17). David was concerned about the people. But Ahab personified Proverbs 29:2: “When a wicked man rules, people groan.”
I want you to notice something else about Ahab. As the drought got worse, Ahab doubled down on his disobedience and his idolatry. That’s what unrepentant people are like. They allow the judgment God is pronouncing against them to drive them further away from God. When Elijah finally approached King Ahab, what did Ahab do? Like many unbelievers, he blamed everybody except himself for the judgment that had come into his life. When he saw Elijah, he said, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought. But Elijah said in verse 18, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals.” Ahab and all of Israel needed a reminder that there was only one God.
I want you to consider the different possible responses you can make to God’s challenge to be “all in” in your commitment to Him. You can be like Elijah, who was both faithful and fearless. You can be like Obadiah, who was faithful but also fearful. You can be like Ahab, who turned his back on God. Or you can be like the Israelites, who were faithless and also fearful. But Elijah would not allow them to try to serve God and Baal. It was time for them to make up their minds.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Secret #4: Decide to Burn the Ships” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.