by Kathleen Petersen

Have you analyzed the tone of this familiar testimony?

“I accepted Jesus into my life.” 

This statement assumes the power of choice — power to welcome God’s intervention. It also carries a suggestion that we retain power to manage his influence. 

Power of choice is not a new concept. 1 Kings 16:29 launches readers into the reign of Ahab, the king who ruled the Northern Kingdom of Israel from
874-853 BC. He began his reign by exerting his power of choice. He “trivialized the commands of the God of Israel” and fully embraced gods of surrounding nations. God evaluated Ahab’s choices in 1 Kings 16:30: 

Ahab…did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all [the kings] who were before him. 

One of the primary offenses that magnified Ahab’s evil deeds was his marriage to Jezebel, daughter of the king of Sidon, who was a wholehearted worshiper and promoter of the false Canaanite gods, Baal and Asherah. She not only eliminated (by death and exile) the kingdom-supported prophets of the God of Israel,
but replaced them with her 850 man team of prophets of those false gods.

In contrast to Ahab and Jezebel, 1 Kings 17 introduces Elijah, one of the displaced prophets of the God of Israel. Near the beginning of Ahab’s reign Elijah proclaimed to Ahab:

“As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall certainly be neither dew nor rain during these years, except by my word.”
1 Kings 17:1 NASB 

Immediately after this declaration, God directed Elijah to flee:

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 1 Kings 17:2-3 NASB

Although Elijah remained in exile and in hiding during most of Ahab and Jezebel’s reign,  Kings 17 through 2 Kings 2:11 shows Elijah’s prophetic career was far from over. While living in safe places that God supplied, the most amazing miracles were performed through Elijah. Though Elijah had only sporadically interacted with Ahab and Jezebel, Ahab attached this label to Elijah:

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, the cause of disaster to Israel?” 1 Kings 18:17 NASB

It’s no wonder Elijah felt like the ultimate outsider — one considered not only worthless but damaging to his fellow countrymen. Elijah twice made the following complaint:

“I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of armies; for the sons of Israel have abandoned Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they have sought to take my life.” 1 Kings 19:10, 14 NASB

Before making this utterance, Elijah’s ventures were dramatic. He experienced an exhilarating victory over 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, followed by fulfillment of his earlier prediction of rain only after a 3.5 year drought. When Jezebel heard about these events she swore to kill Elijah. 

Elijah didn’t wait to see if she was serious. He feared for his life and promptly escaped into the wilderness. He then went into deep despair and doubted his future. His response has been interpreted as a loss of faith. But he hung in there in the midst of churning emotions.

The New Testament says this about Elijah:

Do you remember Elijah? He was a man like us… James 5:17 PHILLIPS

Are you like Elijah in every respect? Me neither. But like him, we are human. Take courage and instructions from James 5:16 PHILLIPS: 

Tremendous power is made available through a good person’s earnest prayer.

Even though none of us have been made instantly superhuman when we “accept Jesus”, we can count on being transformed by his power. Moreover, we have access to that amazing power through prayer. Doubt and fear do not have to land knockout punches in our lives. If you have time today, read 1 Kings 17 through 2 Kings 2:11 and marvel at what God did through Elijah.

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