Now Elijah the Tisbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, 'As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.' The word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'Go from here and turn eastwards, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.' So he went and did according to the word of the Lord; he went and lived by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
(New Revised Standard Version)
We are suddenly introduced to Elijah, who will become the most important prophet in Israel, as see on the Mount of Transfiguration when the disciples see Jesus talking with Elijah and Moses. His name 'Elijah' means 'Yahweh is my God'*.
Most of the country including King Ahab, has gone over to worshipping the Caanite god, Baal, and if the king can catch Elijah he will surely be killed. The next few chapters of the first book of Kings are full of miracles and stories that show us the growing strength of the prophet as he battles the pagan sun and storm god Baal, whose worship often involved human sacrifice and ritualistic temple prostitution. Yahweh initially sends a drought which last three and a half years, as a sign that He is the one who controls the rain, not Baal.
So what has this story to do with us two thousand plus centuries later? As Christians this is part of our back story, and history often repeats itself, because our human nature doesn't change much. So we can learn valuable lessons from the mistakes that the Israelites made so long ago. God is a God who loves us, and who accepts us back when we repent of our sins, when we humble ourselves, and turn to Him. He offers us healing, peace, and eternal life.
* YHWH is the Hebrew consonants of the name given to Moses (see Exodus 3), when he asked God for His name, and is now usually spelt 'Yahweh'.
help us to learn from
Your prophet Elijah
to brave the challenges
of our world;
to continue to be faithful
to You, our God;
and not to be swayed
by the current idolatry