Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Elijahs and Obadiahs

In 1 Kings 18, we have the record of a conversation between the prophet Elijah and a steward of King Ahab named Obadiah.

Obadiah

The name Obadiah is a common one in the Old Testament. We know nothing of the man other than what is revealed in this text. From the text we can state with confidence his faithfulness to Jehovah, even though he was “in charge of his [Ahab’s] house” (vs. 3).

Verses 4 and 5 of 1 Kings 18 reveals that Obadiah “feared the Lord greatly”, and had personally secured the safety of 100 prophets by hiding them from the murderous actions of Jezebel.

He was obedient to his king (see verse 5-6), despite the fact that the Ahab “did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him” (16:30). His king’s ungodliness did not compromise his faithfulness to God.

He was solicitous of the mighty prophet Elijah, as indicated by his address to the man in verse 7, “Is that you my lord Elijah?” And, despite misgivings he had, he obeyed the prophet’s command (cf. vs. 8-16).

Elijah

The prophet Elijah was a thorn in the side of the evil king: “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” (vs. 17). Ahab and Jezebel were angry at the prophet because of the drought in the land, and later because of his massacre of the prophets of Baal at the Brook Kishon (vs. 40).

Elijah was the most vocal of the prophets, and the primary target of the ungodly king and his pagan wife (19:1-3), though God assured him that there were many others in Israel, faithful to Him (19:18).
Lessons to Learn

  1. There is room in the Kingdom of God for both Elijahs and Obadiahs. There is no indication that Elijah was unhappy with Obadiah, despite his serving in the evil king’s house. So long as Obadiah heeded the command of God, as he did, Elijah was satisfied. In contrast to the quiet faithfulness of Obadiah, Elijah was a vocal critic of the king. Obadiah didn’t consider Elijah a “troublemaker”, and assisted him in his work as a prophet.

    We can learn a great deal from this. Just as there are different “styles” of preaching and preachers, there are different “types” of Christians. It is wrong to question the faithfulness of another just because you are more like Elijah than Obadiah, or vice versa. Some think because we are not as vocal in the profession of our faith, as confrontational in exposing error, that we are not as faithful. This is not so! Conversely, others feel intimidated and uncomfortable about our willingness to speak boldly and plainly as we defend the faith. Their view that we are mean-spirited in such a defense is likewise inaccurate. We must be careful not to define others by our own subjective view of what it means to be faithful to God.

  2. Elijah was not a Diotrophes. Elijah contended for truth, with stern admonitions for the evil king. He did not act inappropriately in his work as a prophet. I fear that some among us act in inappropriate ways, and defend contentiousness (cf. Galatians 5:20), hobby riding (cf. Titus 3:9), and intimidation (cf. 3 John 9-11), as a “defense of the truth.” Brethren, the end does not justify the means, and we must be careful to always act in love and righteousness, even when defending the truth
  3. Obadiah did not have itching ears. The apostle Paul warned of some in the latter days who would “not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teacher; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). I fear that some among us complain about the perceived extremism of present day Elijahs, not because we resent inappropriate behavior, but because we resent the plain truth of God’s word. Brethren, the call to love and longsuffering is not a license to cowardice or compromise.

Conclusion

The apostle Paul admonished the Corinthians for being carnally minded (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10-14; 3:1-4). Their sin manifested itself in their preference for one preacher above another. They felt superior to others in their congregation, and this attitude showed itself in various ways (cf. 5:2,6; 6:1; 8:9; 11:19-21; 14:39-40). Brethren, arrogance and pride has no place in the Christian’s heart. Those who are His must be accepted as just and righteous even if “they” are different from “us.”