And then this happened: Elijah the Tishbite, from among the settlers of Gilead, confronted Ahab: “As surely as God lives, the God of Israel before whom I stand in obedient service, the next years are going to see a total drought—not a drop of dew or rain unless I say otherwise.”
God then told Elijah, “Get out of here, and fast. Head east and hide out at the Kerith Ravine on the other side of the Jordan River. You can drink fresh water from the brook; I’ve ordered the ravens to feed you.”
Elijah obeyed God’s orders. He went and camped in the Kerith canyon on the other side of the Jordan. And sure enough, ravens brought him his meals, both breakfast and supper, and he drank from the brook.(1 Kings 17:1-6)
Elijah was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. There was nothing special about him. His faith was no greater than anyone else’s. He simply believed whatever it was God told him.
Ahab was the king of Israel. He had married Jezebel, a non-Israelite. Ahab and his wife encouraged the people to worship gods other than just Yahweh. So Elijah delivered God’s message to Ahab: because of your sin, no more rain.
When God told him to run away from Ahab, Elijah obeyed that command just as quick as he’d obeyed the previous. God’s message to Ahab included the line that the rain would stay away until Elijah said otherwise. Elijah understood what Ahab might do to him if he stayed.
Ahab’s response to Elijah tells us something unexpected about Ahab. Although he was ruthless and despicable, he believed God, and believed what Elijah had told him. Ahab wouldn’t have waited for drought before arresting poor Elijah. He knew already that Elijah was a prophet. He knew already what God could and would do. Which also tells us something about faith: it doesn’t necessarily make people behave well or choose wisely. But then the sin in our own lives already tells us that.