Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“If you will continue to obey My instructions, you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love. I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and flowing.”
John 15: 10, 11
“There is a joy that springs spontaneously in the heart without any external or even rational cause. It is an artesian fountain. It rejoices because it cannot help it…(she) who possesses this fountain is not discouraged by surrounding circumstances, but is often surprised at the deep, sweet gladness that comes without apparent cause, and even comes most strongly when everything in our condition and circumstances is fitted to fill us with sorrow and depression.
It is the nightingale in the heart, which sings at night and sings because it is its nature to sing.”
A. B. Simpson
Today’s Study Text:
“And Ahab called Obadiah, who was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly; for when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water). And Ahab said to Obadiah, ‘Go into the land of all the fountains of water and to all the brooks, perhaps we may find grass to keep the horses and mules alive, that we lose none of the beasts’…As Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. He recognized him and fell on his face and said, ‘Are you my lord Elijah?’ And he answered him, ‘It is I. Go tell your lord, Behold Elijah is here.’”
1 Kings 18: 3-8
“God’s Man In The Devil’s Palace”
“We are but the instruments or assistants, by whom God works.”
Have I ever been in a position where I felt like the “work” I was doing was in the Devil’s palace?
How can I reflect Christ’s love in an environment which is called the “secular workplace”?
“Work is not primarily a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which (she) finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which (she) offers (herself) to God.”
Dorothy Leigh Sayers
“If Christ glorified God in the workshop, we also may live for God in any sphere in which He has in His providence been pleased to place us -- a lesson this, which not a few of us need to have impressed upon our mind.”
The Saviour In The Workshop
Having received a word from God that he was to inform Ahab that the severe drought in Israel was going to come to an end, Elijah left the town of Zarephath, as well as the home of the widow and her son, whom by this time, I’m certain Elijah had grown very fond of.
His footsteps covered familiar territory as he headed toward the king’s palace. But as we are told in our study text for today, Elijah ran into someone he knew on his way to deliver God’s word to the king.
It seems that Obadiah, the governor of Ahab’s house was out on a search mission. First of all, as Phillip Keller explains, Obadiah’s position within the king’s household was one of great responsibility. Obadiah was in charge of, “governing and administering all the affairs of the royal household.” And as the Bible explains, this meant that when the king said, “jump,” Obadiah jumped.
On this particular day, King Ahab wanted to find out if and where there were any “fountains of water” or running brooks in the land. Seems the pinch of the drought was affecting the palace. But this wasn’t all Ahab wanted to find out. He also told Obadiah to hunt for grass “to keep the horses and mules alive, that we lose none of the beasts” (1 Kings 18: 5).
At first reading, this may sound like Ahab had a heart for the “beasts” as he called them. However, there are several critical points which come to light in this passage. One would expect that King Ahab might at least be concerned for the welfare of his subjects by asking Obadiah to find water and food for the people of the nation. No! This wasn’t what Ahab was on an expedition to find. What he really wanted was food for his horses and mules. And I asked myself, “Why was food and water for the “beasts” so high up on Ahab’s wish list?”
If we remember, during the reign of King Solomon, one of the ways in which we find God’s leaders veering off His path was when the kings, just like Solomon did, hoarded large numbers of horses and chariots. In 1 Kings 10: 28, the Bible records, “Solomon’s horses were brought out of Egypt.” But then there is this informative phrase: “And the king’s merchants received them in droves, each at a price.” The sad thing is that God had warned His children that trusting in possessions does not yield power. As David reminds us in Psalm 20: 7, “Some trust in and boast of chariots and some of horses, but we will trust in and boast of the name of the Lord our God.” While this was what David believed, as evidenced by Ahab’s behavior, he still had not learned, even when his nation was in the midst of a devastating drought, that trust in God was what gave power, not a greedy trust in how many horses one has to hook-up to their chariots. Since Ahab’s desire appeared to be one which would give the impression to the countries that surrounded Israel that they were bigger and stronger than their foes, Ahab’s foremost consideration was food for his “beasts” not for the poor, hungry people of the nation. And this becomes the point at which Elijah collided with Obadiah, the governor of Ahab’s domain. When they met, Obadiah obviously knew exactly who Elijah was for he “recognized him and fell on his face and said, ‘Are you my lord Elijah’” (1 Kings 18: 7). Elijah quickly identified himself but then he made this very interesting point to Obadiah, “It is I. Go tell your lord, behold, Elijah is here” (1 Kings 18: 8). Interestingly, Elijah made a clear distinction. Obadiah might call Elijah, “my lord,” but his true lord was King Ahab. Make no mistake about it. This was who commanded Obadiah’s daily activities. This was who Obadiah reported to. And this was who paid Obadiah’s wages. It is an important point for each of us to consider -- especially in our own lives. Who owns us is the question?
For nearly all of us, we don’t have many choices for whom we work or where we work. When I was a young nurse and sought out gainful employment, in some of the small towns where I lived there was only one hospital. I was truly thankful to get a job. It didn’t matter to me who happened to own the hospital. If I wanted food to eat, I had to take the job I could find. I know many of you have found this to be the case in your own lives, too. But what did happen in one place of my employment was that the work environment became so intolerable and the owner of the hospital so demanding and unkind, that finally, many of us took the giant step of moving from the city to other areas because our personal principles were being broken down by someone who demanded that we dishonor our own conscience.
This brings us to a question many noted Christian authors bring up when studying the life of Elijah and in particular, the employment of Obadiah by the wicked King Ahab.
Obadiah was a man of God. In fact, the Bible makes this point by stating that Obadiah, “feared the Lord greatly.” What’s more, the actual meaning of Obadiah’s name was: “servant of God.” Who knows how he found employment in the house of Ahab. But this wouldn’t be the first and only time one of God’s servants was providentially placed within the walls of power and asked to serve the Most High. As William Petersen asks: “How could anyone serve Ahab and still be God’s man? Well, How could anyone serve King Nebuchadnezzar and still be God’s man? Daniel did. How could anyone serve Pharaoh and still be God’s man? Joseph did. How could anyone serve Nero and still be God’s man? There were Christians in Nero’s household (Philippians 4: 22), and Paul never told them to change jobs.”
The fact is that Obadiah, in my mind, found himself doing God’s work in the devil’s palace. I like what author M. B. Van’t Veer writes about Obadiah’s employment: “Obadiah is made a shining example to all of us: wherever we may serve, even if it is a place where the name of the Lord is denied and reviled, we must be faithful and testify about what we believe. In this way those who fear God often win the trust, respect and honor of all who are in authority.”
But I’ll add an insight gleaned from F. B. Meyer in his tremendous volume entitled, Elijah And The Secret of His Power. Obadiah was able, while working for Ahab, to hide-away 100 of God’s prophets from the king’s wicked wife Jezebel. Their lives were not only saved, but they were given food and water, most likely from the king’s storehouse, by Obadiah. The governor was able to prevent a great tragedy by finding a place of seclusion where God’s prophets were protected. From a non-confrontational position, Obadiah did what he could to further God’s cause. But God needed more than just an Obadiah in the shadows. He also needed the fearlessness of an Elijah whose boldness in the face of rebellion called the nation of Israel to repentance. And as Meyer points out, what a blessing that there are Elijah’s who stand up for God in the face of adversity.
William Petersen sums up God’s need for both Obadiah’s and Elijah’s in the workplace when he asks this question: “Can a Christian bear witness most effectively by ministering within the system as Obadiah sought to do, or by testifying without, as Elijah did? God has used His servants in both ways…The problem is that sometimes the system corrupted the (individual), instead of the (individual) purifying the system…(Elijah) spoke to the system from without…Obadiah was a layman whom God had placed in a crucial position. A.W. Pink stated, ‘There is nothing wrong in a child of God holding a position of influence if he (she) can do so without the sacrifice of principle. And indeed, it may enable him (her) to render valuable service to the cause of God.’”
In a time when God needs each of us in our sphere of influence to stand tall for Him, what better way to show those around us what true Christians are like than to do our daily work, no matter what it is, as unto God. In the words of the great reformer, Martin Luther, “A dairy maid can milk cows to the glory of God.”
“God give me work
Till my life shall end
Till my work is done.”
On the Grave of
“Lord, as we go to our work this day help us to take pleasure therein. Show us clearly what our duty is, help us to be faithful in doing it. May all we do be well done, fit for Thine eyes to see. Give us enthusiasm to attempt, patience to perform. When we cannot love our work, may we think of it as Thy task, and make what is unlovely beautiful through loving service, for Thy name’s sake.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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