Elijah appeared on the stage of public action during one of the darkest hours of Israel's sad history. He is introduced to us at the beginning of 1 Kings 17, and we have but to read through the previous chapters to discover what a deplorable state God's people were in. Israel had grievously and flagrantly departed from Jehovah, and that which directly opposed Him had been publicly set up. Never before had the favored nation sunk so low. Fifty-eight years had passed since the kingdom had been rent in twain following the death of Solomon. During that brief period no less than seven kings had reigned over the ten tribes, and all of them without exception were wicked men. Painful indeed is it to trace their sad course, and still more tragic to behold how there has been a repetition of the same in the history of Christendom.
The first of those seven kings was Jeroboam. Concerning him we read that he "made two calves of gold," and said unto the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made ..." (1 Kings 12:28-32). Let it be duly and carefully noted that the apostasy began with the corrupting of the priesthood, by installing into the Divine service men who were never called and equipped by God!
Of the next king, Nadab, it is said, "And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin," (1 Kings 15:26). He was succeeded on the throne by the very man who murdered him, Baasha, (1 Kings 15:27). Next came Elah, a drunkard, who in turn was a murderer (1 Kings 16:8, 9). His successor, Zimri, was guilty of treason (1 Kings 16:20). He was followed by a military adventurer of the name of Omri, and of him we are told, "but Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jerobaom, the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel o sin, to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities" (1 Kings 16:25 26). The evil cycle was completed by Omri's son, for he was even more vile than those who had preceded him.
"And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him" (1 Kings 16:30, 31). This marriage of Ahab to a heathen princess was, as might fully be expected (for we cannot trample God's Law beneath out feet with impunity), fraught with the most frightful consequences. In a short time all trace of the pure worship of Jehovah vanished from the land and gross idolatry became rampant. The golden calves were worshiped at Dan and Bethel, a temple had been erected to Baal in Samaria, the "groves" of Baal appeared on every side, and the priests of Baal took full charge of the religious life of Israel.
~A. W. Pink~
(continued with # 2)