Jezebel is just nasty! I’m sure in her eyes, she thinks she’s being a good wife. What a disillusioned thought. From God’s perspective anyway. I certainly try to keep that perspective guiding my life. It’s not always easy with all the distractions of a crafty enemy!
Here’s another example of how Ahab passively acts in rebellion to God. He has very sinful motives and desires, yet he doesn’t need to act on all of them. He has a nasty wife to do his dirty work. From the sounds of it, she is pretty controlling. Ahab has learned over time to let her do her thing. It’s easier than trying to control her.
There’s a striking message for us in the “meanwhile.” I was a little perplexed at first reading, wondering what the story of the prophet’s black eye had to do with anything. I did a little digging so that I’d understand better the dynamics of the story. I’m glad I did.
We know from our last reading that God’s message to Ahab was to be ready for a second attack. Ahab knew that it was his response to destroy the enemy. So why didn’t he? Why did he show mercy to his “brother,” Ben-hadad?
God loves the people of Israel, doesn’t he? He also wants to make a point to King Ahab. We know this king to be notoriously drawn to idols and false gods. Ahab has also been a weak authority figure, seemingly involved in the happenings around him, but from a distance.
What surprised me was Ahab’s response to the negotiations. He was willing to give in and hand over his wives, children, gold, and silver. I suppose this makes sense when you think about his weak character. It wasn’t until greater demands followed that Ahab’s elders cautioned him.
And then, God sends a prophet with a message. Proof positive that God hasn’t abandoned Israel or King Ahab. This dispatch from the LORD is favorable in that Ahab will have victory. But the victory will not be Ahab’s but the LORD’s. What do you think Ahab is thinking now?
Elijah is still depressed. His declaration of the situation to God focuses on what’s wrong with his ministry. Has he forgotten about Obadiah, the burned-up sacrifice on the Mt. Carmel, or the deluge of rain that came at God’s command? Not to mention the miracles Elijah had done for the widow and her son!
Even after the “theophany,” or encounter with God through a storm, earthquake, and fire, Elijah’s view of his situation remains unchanged. His response was identical. Then Elijah heard the “sound of a gentle whisper,” also known as the “still small voice” in other translations. It was then that Elijah came out from the cave where he had been hiding.
It’s almost as if Elijah is giving up! We might wonder how he could even be afraid of Jezebel’s threats after the mighty way God showed up and used him. He probably did realize that, in spite of her oath, Jezebel’s gods wouldn’t kill her if she wasn’t successful. That just meant that Jezebel’s anger would live on, too.
Under the broom tree we see Elijah asking to die. He felt like he had done all he could. He was exhausted. He was depleted. It’s not surprising considering the great emotional high he just experienced on Mount Carmel.