Ahab was now king of Israel. His wicked wife, Jezebel, encouraged him in Baal worship and Ahab led the entire nation into Baal worship.
In chapter 17 Elijah suddenly appears in Ahab's court to proclaim that the drought would last another three years. Lack of rain was the punishment for the sins of the people. Following his proclamation, Elijah retires from public ministry for three years. During this time the Lord graciously cared for him. The obedient servant of God can always depend on the Master's faithful care.
In chapter 18 Elijah returns to public ministry. God had been preparing him these three years for the job that was now before him. In verses 1-16 he faces Obadiah; in verses 17-29 he faces the prophets of Baal, mocking them, and later revealing Baal as a false god. In verses 30-34 Elijah is in Israel. He had exposed the foolishness of sin of Baal, but the more important job was now bringing the nation back to the true worship of Jehovah.
What we do with God in private is far more important than what God does for us in public. Our hidden life prepares us for our public life. Unless we are willing to go through the disciples of the dry brook, the depleted barrel, and the dead boy, as Elijah did, we will never have the victories Elijah had at Mt. Carmel.
In chapter 19:1-8 God refreshes Elijah; in verses 9-18 God rebukes him; and finally God replaces him (verses 19-21). Elijah's life should be a good warning to us against despondency and discouragement. Often when we feel we have accomplished nothing, God reveals that He has used us more than we realize. It is a dangerous thing to think we are the only one holding to the truth. Elijah's bitterness and despondency, when he thought he was fighting the battle alone, could have shortened his ministry. The best solution for discouragement is found in Isaiah 40:31.
Index of Daily Devotions