Obadiah: Faithful but Fearful

Obadiah: Faithful but Fearful

Obadiah feared the Lord greatly; for when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water.
–1 Kings 18:3-4

Not everybody in Israel responded to Elijah’s burn-the-ships challenge by obeying God faithfully and fearlessly, as Elijah did. Obadiah was a follower of God, and he was faithful–but he was also fearful. Obadiah represents believers who keep their commitment secret. They find excuses not to speak about their faith at school, at work, or even in their families. They rationalize their fear by saying, “I could be more effective as a secret disciple.” That was Obadiah.

Obadiah was in charge of the palace under King Ahab. We learn in 1 Kings 18:3, “Obadiah feared the Lord greatly.” He worshipped God. How faithful was he? Look at verse 4: “When Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water.” Jezebel was so infuriated by Elijah’s pronouncement that there would be no rain that she determined to kill every prophet of Jehovah. But Obadiah, the secret follower of Jehovah, saved these prophets.

In verse 5, 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.” When Obadiah left the palace, he met Elijah, who was on his way to see Ahab. Look what happened next: “As Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him, and he recognized him and fell on his face and said, ‘Is this you, Elijah my master?’” (v. 7). Then Elijah told Obadiah, “Go, say to your master, ‘Behold, Elijah is here’” (v. 8). But Obadiah shook in his sandals with fear. Why? Obadiah was afraid King Ahab would kill him: “As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent to search for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,’ he made the kingdom or nation swear that they could not find you. And now you are saying, ‘Go, say to your master, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ It will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the Lord will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me” (vv. 10-12). That was the stated reason Obadiah was afraid. I think there’s an unstated reason as well. Obadiah knew that if he told Ahab about his meeting with Elijah, it would blow his cover as a secret follower of God. Ahab would ask, “How do you know Elijah?” Obadiah was fearful he would be exposed as a follower of Jehovah.

Obadiah is like many Christians today who want to follow God, but they want to keep it private. They rationalize their fear by saying, “If I speak up in my classroom, I may fail the class.” Or, “If I protest my business’s ungodly policy, then I might lose my job.” Or, “If I’m open about my commitment to Christ to my family, then I might ruin any chance I have to influence them.” That was Obadiah. He allowed his fear to dilute his faith. He was faithful, but he was also fearful.

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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.