1 Kings 9:1-18 • God's Definition of Victory


It’s important to understand exactly who Jezebel is and what she represents both at this time in history and as a prophetic symbol in future Scripture.

How does a Believer deal with false prophets/false teachers? What is God’s role for Believers in the political and spiritual battles that ensue?

Read verse 1

Q: What had Elijah accomplished in the previous chapter? Was it limited only to killing the false prophets?

A: Everyone was gathered on Mount Carmel to choose between the Lord or Baal. (1 Kings 18:21). This was demonstrated first by 450 prophets of Baal calling out for hours for him to supernaturally provide the fire for their sacrifice to him. When it didn’t happen, Elijah called on the Lord Who immediately responded. Everyone witnessed the power of the Lord through His lone prophet Elijah and the colossal failure of the false god Baal through his 450 prophets. The false prophets were seized and killed, which would be in keeping with the Old Testament Law. Elijah followed up by ending the long draught, further demonstrating God’s love for those that turn to Him.

Q: How would you characterize Ahab’s report to Jezebel?

A: Hede-emphasized the things that God had demonstrated through Elijah and focused on the one thing that would greatly anger Jezebel, the leader of Baal worship, that her prophets had been killed. Ahab makes just passing mention of God sending the fire or rain and that Jezebel’s prophets had failed.

Q: What does this reveal about the character of Ahab and Jezebel?

A: They were impervious to signs from God because they never had any intention of following Him regardless. Unlike those that witnessed the event and returned to God by destroying the false prophets – therefore choosing God over Baal – Ahab and Jezebel were never going to be swayed by prophecy, signs, or miracles; they were on Satan’s side.

Read verse 2

Q: What does Jezebel reveal about her spiritual condition in her personal threat against Elijah?

A: She believes Elijah to be a mere man with no power or support of the One True God. She is unaffected by God’s signs through Elijah and displays no fear of God whatsoever.

Read verse 3

Q: Does God sometimes tell us to run? Are there biblical examples of such?

A: Yes. Two prominent examples are David and Paul.

Q: In this instance, did the Lord tell Elijah to run?

A: No. This is a contrtast to His previous pattern of telling Elijah where to go.

Q: In looking at Elijah’s life to this point and the decisions and actions that resulted, what is different in this situation from the rest?

A: Elijah did not inquire of the Lord. The implication is that Elijah was not afraid previously when outnumbered or in hostile territory as he was acting on the authority and instructions of God. In this case Elijah may be acting on his own.

Q: Why is it significant that v.3 specifically mentions that Beersheba, the place to which Elijah fled, is in Judah?

A: Jezebel and all that took place was in the northern kingdom of Israel. Running to Beersheba in Judah equates to fleeing to another country altogether in order to feel safe from the threat. She can’t reach him there. This actually should have been far enough.

Q: What might be inappropriate about Elijah fleeing to Judah?

A: Elijah’s ministry was to Israel. And just as Jezebel shows no fear of God even though great works have been accomplished through Elijah, so Elijah is showing no faith in God’s power to continue to work through him even though he has always been alone.

Read verse 4

Q: There are two parts to Elijah’s statement that reveal his thoughts. What can be discerned from his statement, “It is enough…”?

A: He seems to have reached his personal limit. It’s an expression of the way he feels emotionally, that he can no longer continue in his current state. He can continue no further on his own power.

Q: What about the 2nd part, “…I am not better than my fathers.”?

A: It’s an admission of spiritual exhaustion and failure, that he consciously acknowledges he has been disobedient and come up short obeying God’s will and command.

Q: Given what has happened to this point, what might be the cause of Elijah’s actions?

A: Perhaps after years of being on the run (he’d just spent the previous 3 years hiding out with a widow in Sidon), and finally experiencing the tremendous victory on Mount Carmel, Elijah thought the battle was over, only to learn it had really just begun. Perhaps Elijah assumed the signs on Mount Carmel would change even Jezebel’s heart and so he experienced a crisis of faith when they did not.

Point: The source of the conflict was Jezebel. Eliminating her prophets was but a first step, not the end. Victory entails eliminating the source, not just the messengers, and leading the people in repentance so that they don’t fill the “vacuum” with yet ANOTHER false god.

"When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."

— Luke 11:24-26

Consider: How does this apply to us when we feel unappreciated for our hard work in a ministry that appears to yield minimal results? What is our “volunteer” mentality – is it just for the emotional peaks or is it for the long haul? Do we continually go back to God at EVERY turn – victory AND difficulty – to seek His guidance?

Q: Elijah ran to Beersheba, but what is the significance at the beginning of v.4 that he “…went a day’s journey into the wilderness…”?

A: For one thing, Elijah would not be held personally accountable by anyone observing his behavior. He was already physically “safe” by being in a whole other country from Jezebel’s reach. Going further into the wilderness by himself insured that no one could argue with the way he felt or saw things.

Read verses 5-8

Q: Is the Lord’s initial response to Elijah surprising? Would this be our first response to someone we felt was “running the wrong way” or “running away” from something?

A: It’s a wonderful testimony to God’s character that He desires a relationship with us. God recognizes that Elijah’s first words concerned physical exhaustion followed by spiritual exhaustion. God first takes care of the first in order to address the latter.

Q: Is there a significance to Elijah’s decision to go to Horeb?

A: Nothing is specifically stated, but we might infer that since Horeb is where the Law was given through Moses and a place where God was known to have spoken to man, that perhaps Elijah is “going to the source”, seeking direct communication with God. His faith, once in no need of anything more than inquiring of and obedience to the Lord now requires something more.

Read verses 9-14

Q: Why does a cave on Horeb sound familiar? What past event does this bear a close resemblance to?

A: The cleft in the rock on this very mountain where Moses saw the Lord pass by. “Horeb” is another name for Mount Sinai.

Q: What is the error in Elijah’s thinking in both v.10 and 14? (Hint: Read ahead v.18)

A: Elijah’s assertion, “…I alone am left…”. There were still 7,000 Believers in Israel who did not flee from Jezebel’s jurisdiction and were far less safe than Elijah. Also, he was aware that Obadiah safely hid 100 prophets from Ahab and Jezebel. (1 Kings 18:13)

Q: What is the lesson being communicated by the Lord to Elijah through the various manifestations of v.11-13?

A: All of these signs had at one time or another accompanied God’s voice. For instance, the earth quaked when He gave the Law to Israel at Mt. Sinai, the burning bush for Moses, and out of the whirlwind to Job. The fact that God was not found in these things for Elijah is probably a teaching that Elijah already had what he needed, the Word of God, which alone was powerful enough to accomplish the mission.

Q: To Elijah’s credit, what did he recognize concerning the wind, earthquake and fire?

A: That God was not in them. Elijah did not respond to grand signs that some might believe represented God’s mighty presence, but responded to God’s actual presence. God first addressed his physical and emotional needs so that Elijah was prepared to respond to God’s spiritual treatment.

Read verses 15-18

Q: At the end of Elijah’s flight, wherein he purportedly goes all the way to Horeb – a place equated with the very Person of God – in order to save himself as the alleged last prophet/Believer left alive, what does Elijah find out?

A: Not only that there are 7,000 faithful still remaining in Israel, but that God has had a plan all along to deal with the situation. It’s very possible that if Elijah had inquired of the Lord from the outset that instead of fleeing on his own first to Judah and then all the way to Horeb, that God might have conveyed the same instructions as in these verses and sent Elijah to Hazael, Jehu and Elisha then as He is doing now.

Q: Was it God’s plan that Elijah would have to carry on and win the battle by himself?

A: Elijah was a key component in God’s plan, to be sure, but what began on Mount Carmel through the one man Elijah was to be continued on to victory through many others. Just as the small whisper of air revealed God’s presence and great power to overcome all things, so Elijah was but a small witness to God beginning to accomplish a greater work through more and more people.

Overall Application