Elijah lived at the time when King Ahab and Queen Jezebel ruled the northern part of Israel. Ahab was one of the most evil kings who ever ruled that nation. Jezebel persuaded him to carry out many of his crimes and she also introduced the religion of Baal into Israel.
The word ‘Baal’ means a master or a husband. Baal was the false god of an especially evil religion. That religion emphasised sex. At the house of the false god, men would have sex both with females and with other males (see 2 Kings 23:7). They would also eat great meals and they would drink too much wine (Numbers 25:1-3). They would consider this a kind of prayer. Their religion approved of the fact that they lost control over their own actions. In fact, the priests even cut their own bodies with knives to achieve that effect (1 Kings 18:28). By these methods, the people tried to gain control over spirits.
The purpose of this false religion was to have a kind of power in the spirit world. If a person had power in the spirit world, he would be able to curse people or to bless people. So, power over the spirit world would give power over the natural world too. That was what their false religion taught.
With these powerful attitudes, Ahab and Jezebel fiercely opposed anyone and anything that had a connection to the real God. They destroyed the places where people prayed to God. They killed people who declared God's message. At the time of Elijah’s prayer, Jezebel had just made a serious promise to kill Elijah, too (1 Kings 19:2).
When there are such powerful rulers, ideas and religions, God’s faithful (loyal) people can seem to be in a helpless situation. However, God is much greater than all of these things, and he truly loves his people. Nothing can defeat his plans for them (8:28; 8:31-39).
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© 2017, Keith Simons.