Ahab son of Omri began to rule over Israel in the thirty-eighth year of King Asa's reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria twenty-two years. But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the LORD's sight, even more than any of the kings before him. And as though it were not enough to follow the example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. (1 Kings 16:29-31 NLT)
This point in Israel’s history is not a pretty one. “Israel” does not refer to the man, the 12 tribes, or the nation that The LORD set free from slavery in Egypt and brought to the Promised Land. No, “Israel” is referring to the ten tribes in the north who are currently under the reign of Ahab. Ahab did what was evil – even more than any of the kings before him. He even put in place 450 prophets of Baal while putting to death all (almost all) the prophets of the LORD. One true prophet of God remained: Elijah.
Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, "As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives--the God I serve--there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!"
(1 Kings 17:1 NLT)
Elijah is sent to confront Ahab in a way that hearkens back to Moses against Pharaoh. Pharaoh and the Egyptians believed in false gods who controlled various things and the plagues proved that those gods had no power. The LORD controlled it all.
Now, God’s chosen people, the Israelites, are worshipping a false god who is known as a fertility god and for his ability to control the weather. The LORD is going to prove that their god has no power. The LORD will stop the rain for three years while Baal will be powerless to do anything. Elijah has the tough job of confronting Ahab at the beginning and at the end of this drought. So, the LORD provides a way for Elijah to live during a season where no water will also produce no food in the land.
Then the LORD said to Elijah, "Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food."
(1 Kings 17:2-4 NLT)
I don’t know about you, but I would think twice about eating already-been-chewed meat and bread brought to me by scavenger birds. But, this week, we will all be reminded that “need” is a very strong word and this was all Elijah needed to survive.
How about you? Do you find yourself using the word “need” for things that really aren’t a need? Do you know what you really need to survive in this life? Is “need” a strong word in your vocabulary?