Most of the time in this chapter we focus on the contest on Mt. Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. But early in the chapter our class paused to take note of the witness of Obadiah.
The chapter starts three years into the famine that Elijah pronounced to the wicked king Ahab:
1 Kings 18.1-6The moral witness of Obadiah is fascinating. Obadiah is the palace administrator for a corrupt and wicked king. But Obadiah is a devout believer in the Lord so he hides a hundred prophets of the Lord and keeps them alive by supplying them with food and water. And we can assume this has been going on for about three years. No small task. And a risky one at that.
After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.
Basically, what Obadiah does is the equivalent of hiding Jews during the Holocaust as a Nazi government official.
And the witness of Obadiah isn't an isolated case. Throughout the Old Testament we find servants of the Lord serving pagan kings.
Joseph. Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Esther.
I find these cases interesting as many of us serve or work in vocations, organizations, institutions or systems that don't seem very just or holy.
And yet, like Obadiah, we can be faithful people within these institutions, doing good and protecting people within our sphere of influence.