Pastor James J. Barker

Text: I KINGS 18:17-22


  1. Elijah the prophet is one of the OT characters most frequently mentioned in the NT.
  2. RG Lee, in his great sermon, “Payday – Some day,” said this about Elijah, “ I introduce to you Elijah, the Tishbite, prophet of God at a time when by tens of thousands the people had forsaken God’s covenants, thrown down God’s altars, slain God’s prophets with the sword (I Kings 19:10). The prophet, knowing much of the glorious past of the now apostate nation, must have been filled with horror when he learned of the rank heathenism, fierce cruelties and reeking licentiousness of Ahab’s idolatrous capital. Holy anger burned within him like an unquenchable Vesuvius. He wore the roughest kind of clothes, but he had underneath these clothes a righteous and courageous heart. He ate bird’s food and widow’s fare, but he was a great physical and spiritual athlete. He was God’s tall cedar that wrestled with the paganistic cyclones of his day without bending or breaking. He was God’s granite wall that stood up and out against the rising tides of the apostasy of his day. Though much alone, he was sometimes attended by the invisible hosts of God. He grieved only when God’s cause seemed tottering. He passed from earth without dying – into celestial glory. Every where courage is admired and manhood honored and service appreciated, he is honored as one of earth’s greatest heroes and one of heaven’s greatest saints. He was a seer who saw clearly. He was a great heart who felt deeply. He was a hero who dared valiantly.”
  3. Elijah ministered during the reign of wicked King Ahab.  First Kings 16:33 says, “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”
  4. First Kings 21:25 says, “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.”
  5. Dr. Lee referred to King Ahab as “the vile human toad who squatted upon the throne of his nation—the worst of Israel’s kings.”
  6. King Ahab considered Elijah nothing but a troublemaker, but Elijah told Ahab that it was he who was causing all the trouble (I Kings 18:17, 18).
  7. During the reign of wicked King Ahab, Baal worship was becoming the officially recognized religion in Israel.  God used Elijah to put at end to that.  A showdown was inevitable; decisions had to be made.
  8. The worship of the true God of the Bible and the worship of Baal could exist together.  In like manner, the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ and the worship of the false gods of our day (Allah, the god of Mormonism, the gods of Mormonism and Hinduism, etc.) cannot exist together.
  9. Recently, President Bush said that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.  He was wrong and he ought to know better.
  10. Many conservatives are saying we should overlook Mr. Romney’s Mormonism because he would be a better president than Mrs. Clinton or Rudy Giuliani.  But how can a Bible-believing Christian overlook something as wicked as Mormonism?
  11. Elijah’s name means, “My God is Jehovah.”  Not “My god is Baal” or “My god is Allah.”
  12. This morning I would like for us to look at the life of Elijah, noting the challenges and obstacles he faced, as well as the great victory God gave him up on Mount Carmel.



  1. The two people that caused the most trouble for Elijah were King Ahab and his heathen wife Jezebel (I Kings 16:30-33).
  2. Jezebel murdered God’s true prophets, and replaced them with Baal’s false prophets.  First Kings 18:19 says, 400 false prophets (“prophets of the groves”) ate at Jezebel’s table. These “prophets of the groves” worshipped Asherah, the queen of heaven, Baal’s female consort.
  3. Queen Jezebel was financially supporting these false prophets.
  4. In addition to these 400 that ate at Jezebel’s table, Elijah refers to another 450 in I Kings 18:19. 
  5. That is a large group of false prophets, but we have a lot more than that around today! 
  6. Things were so bad in the days of Elijah that Elijah thought he was the only one left who was still standing for God.  God had to tell him, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (I Kings 19:18).
  7. “Hath not kissed him”??  That sounds pretty disgusting.  When I was visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, I saw a long line of people rubbing the foot of a big bronze statue of St. Peter.  People used to kiss the feet of the statue, but they had to stop that practice because one of the toes has been worn away from all of the people kissing it.
  8. By the way, this statue was originally a statue of the pagan deity Jupiter.  The popes changed it to Peter, and millions of RC’s kiss this statue, not realizing it is nothing but a pagan idol.



  1. Besides King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, and all of the prophets of Baal, another man that hindered Elijah was Obadiah, who was the governor of King Ahab’s house.
  2. Obadiah was a believer. It is sad but true that oftentimes weak believers actually hinder those that are trying to do something for God.   We know Obadiah was a saved man because I Kings 18:3 says, “Obadiah feared the LORD greatly.”
  3. First Kings 18:4 says, “For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.”
  4. Obadiah was trying to serve God in a quiet way but he was too weak and too frightened to take a strong stand for God.
  6. Obadiah was too afraid to go and tell Ahab that Elijah wanted to see him (I Kings 18:7-14).  He did not have the boldness or the courage of Elijah.
  7. The Scofield Bible says, “Obadiah is a warning type of the men of God who adhere to the world while still seeking to serve God. The secret of the Lord, and the power of the Lord were with Elijah, the separated servant” (p. 412).
  8. Many Christians are like Obadiah, but very few are like Elijah.   Apparently Obadiah never said a word to King Ahab about his wicked Baal-worship.  Obadiah was a compromiser.
  9. There are many Christians like that today.  The devil’s crowd says, “So-and-so is a Christian and he doesn’t mind if I curse or take God’s name in vain.  He doesn’t object when I tell a dirty joke.  He listens to rock music and watches the same sorry garbage on TV that we watch, etc.” 
  11. And we wonder why more sinners do not get saved!
  12. Obadiah had a good-paying job with great benefits.  Many Christians are employed at places that are not right but they will not give it up because the money is good.
  13. There are many Christians in bad churches.  They know they ought to get out but they are too afraid of what others may say.  They are very comfortable going to worldly churches because their family and friends are all there.  But what does God say?
  14. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (II Cor. 6:17).
  15. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins” (Rev. 18:4).  Most of these backslidden, worldly, and liberal churches would have gone out of business a long time ago if Christian people would obey God and take a stand for what is right.
  16. Men like Obadiah hinder men like Elijah.  They say, “He’s a fanatic…he’s an extremist…he’s too strict…he’s too narrow-minded…he’s too negative…he’s a legalist, etc.”
  17. Elijah is one of the greatest prophets in the Bible.  His name is mentioned 69 times in the OT, and 30 times in the NT.  Do you know how many times Obadiah’s name is mentioned in the NT?  None.
  18. Men like Elijah the prophet get things done for God.  Unfortunately men like Obadiah often hinder them.
  19. We are facing a crisis today.  Churches everywhere are bringing in the devil’s rock music, as well as these new and inaccurate translations of the Bible.  Very few churches have any kind of standards.  It is going to take men like Elijah to turn this thing around – not men like Obadiah.
  20. You may recall that in I Kings 17:9, the LORD said to Elijah, “Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.”
  21. Our Lord referred to this widow woman when He spoke in the synagogue in Nazareth.  Our Lord said, “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elijah sent, save unto Zarephath, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.  And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.”
  22. In other words, most of the people of Israel did not help Elijah and they did not help Elisha.  The Jews in the synagogue got the point.  Luke 4:28-30 says, “And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust Him out of the city, and led Him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong.  But He passing through the midst of them went His way.”
  23. When Elijah was up on Mount Carmel, he challenged the people: “How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.”
  24. But “the people answered him not a word” (I Kings 18:21).  You would think that at least one Israelite would stand up for the LORD.  You would think that at least one God-fearing Israelite would shout out, “Elijah, I will follow the LORD.”
  25. But the Bible says in I Kings 18:21, “And the people answered him not a word.”
  26. I often wonder how many missionaries and evangelists and pastors are being slowed down and hindered in their work, because so many Christians are not doing anything for God.



  1. Elijah was hindered and opposed by wicked idolaters like Ahab and Jezebel, and the wicked prophets of Baal.
  2. Furthermore, he was slowed down and hindered by compromising believers like Obadiah. 
  3. Bob Jones Sr. used to say, “You and God make a majority in your community.”
  4. The king and queen of Israel were opposed to Elijah, but God was with him.   Elijah knew how to pray.  James 5:17, 18 says, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”
  5. God answered Elijah’s prayers and He answers our prayers.  Are your prayers answered?
  6. If not, then you ought to find out why.
  • Perhaps there is some unconfessed sin in your life.  The Psalmist said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).  Isaiah 59:1, 2 says, “Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
  • Perhaps you have an unforgiving spirit.  Our Lord said in Mark 11:25, 26, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
  • Some men’s prayers are not answered because of marital problems. First Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”
  • Some people do not have their prayers answered because they are always skipping church services.  Proverbs 28:9 says, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”
  • Some people never have their prayers answered because their motives are worldly and selfish.  James 4:2, 3 says, “Ye have not, because ye ask not.  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”
  1. When we pray, we must make sure our requests are according to God’s will.  J. Vernon McGee said, “Prayer is not to persuade God to do something that He didn’t intend to do; prayer is to get you and me in line with the program of God.”
  2. First John 5:14 says, “If we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us.”  Elijah knew he was praying according to God’s will, and God answered his prayers.
  3. “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (James 5:17, 18).
  4. Elijah “was a man subject to like passions as we are.”  Elijah believed God and Elijah walked with God.
  5. On the top of Mount Carmel the prophets of Baal called on their god all morning long, but there was no response (I Kings 18:26, 27).
  6. The prophets of Baal “cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them” (I Kings 18:28).
  7. Evening came and still no word from Baal.  Elijah called on God to rain down fire, and the fire fell (I Kings 18:36-41).



  1. Up on Mount Carmel, Elijah cried out, “How long halt ye (waver, literally “to walk with a limp”) between two opinions?  if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (I Kings 18:21).
  2. W.B. Riley, a great Baptist preacher of the past, said that the Bible had much to say about the Perizites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, and the Moabites, but, in his opinion, the most dangerous enemies of the people of God were the “IN-BETWEENITES...” (Ernest Pickering, cited by David Cloud).
  3. We have too many “In-betweenites” in our churches.  They are sitting on the fence.  They are not sure which side they’re on – God’s side or Satan’s side.
  4. After Elijah was taken up into heaven, Elisha took his mantle, and smote the waters of the Jordan River, and said, “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” (II Kings 2:14).
  5. Over the years, many people have asked that question.  But just as God showed Elisha by parting the waters and allowing him to cross over, God has showing men and women that He is still here.
  6. And when God graciously reveals Himself to us, we need to respond.  We must not “halt between two opinions.”

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