After a long time, the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year: “Go and present yourself to Ahab. I will send rain on the surface of the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
The famine was severe in Samaria. Ahab called for Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace. Obadiah was a man who greatly feared the Lord and took a hundred prophets and hid them, fifty men to a cave, and provided them with food and water when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord’s prophets. Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go throughout the land to every spring and to every wadi. Perhaps we’ll find grass so we can keep the horses and mules alive and not have to destroy any cattle.” They divided the land between them in order to cover it. Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went the other way by himself.
While Obadiah was walking along the road, Elijah suddenly met him. When Obadiah recognized him, he fell facedown and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?”
“It is I,” he replied. “Go tell your lord, ‘Elijah is here!’”
But Obadiah said, “What sin have I committed, that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to put me to death? As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent someone to search for you. When they said, ‘He is not here,’ he made that kingdom or nation swear they had not found you.
“Now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Elijah is here!”’ But when I leave you, the Spirit of the Lord may carry you off to some place I don’t know. Then when I go report to Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. But I, your servant, have feared the Lord from my youth. Wasn’t it reported to my lord what I did when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord’s prophets? I hid a hundred of the prophets of the Lord, fifty men to a cave, and I provided them with food and water. Now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Elijah is here!”’ He will kill me!”
Then Elijah said, “As the Lord of Armies lives, in whose presence I stand, today I will present myself to Ahab.”1 Kings 18:1-15
In the midst of great evil, God often raises up ordinary people with the conviction to stand against the tide of evil in whatever way they can. Obadiah (not the same as the prophet whose vision appears among the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament) was one such person. Even his name spoke to his mission. Obadiah was a common Jewish name that meant “servant of Yahweh.” This Obadiah lived up to the meaning of his name.
Obadiah was essentially the Chief of Staff during the rule of Ahab and Jezebel. He was also deeply committed to his faith in Yahweh. When Jezebel was having prophets of Yahweh executed in order to solidify the place of her gods in society, Obadiah took it upon himself to hide one hundred of the prophets of Yahweh. This was done at great personal risk since Jezebel was known as a murderous queen who would stop at nothing to achieve her goals.
In some ways, Obadiah reminds me of the “Righteous Gentiles” who hid European Jews from the Nazis during the Holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s. These ordinary citizens recognized that the genocide of Jewish people of their day was not right and they did what they could in assisting European Jews to escape to a place of greater safety, even though they risked their own lives in the process. Some reports estimate that 20-60,000 European Jews were saved by these brave souls that did what was right in the midst of great evil.
- It what ways is God challenging you to do what is right even when it means great risk to yourself?