During the reign of King Ahab, we see many extreme characters. King Ahab himself was a person who exceeded all other Israelite kings before him in selling himself out to do evil. His wife Jezebel, who was the very personification of evil, urged him on. Appropriate for such desperate times was the ministry of perhaps the greatest prophet ever, Elijah, who roamed the wilderness, appeared and disappeared at will and never minced words in condemning the evil he came face to face with. He was also the author of one of the greatest spiritual battles mentioned in the Bible- when he stood alone on Mt Carmel against the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah and triumphed. Yet while Elijah was the wilderness prophet, we also see during this tumultuous time, the ministry of Obadiah, the palace prophet.

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.) 1Kings 18:3,4

Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. He had chosen to serve in the palace and no doubt because of his faithful service and had reached the position of being in charge of the palace. In contemporary terms, he was a believer serving in a secular position. He would undoubtedly have had the difficult task of dealing with Ahab and Jezebel in the palace and it is not difficult to imagine how uncomfortable he would have been working under a couple who were sold out to do evil. Yet that was the calling for Obadiah and he no doubt served as doing it for the Lord and would have been a witness to the Light in the midst of the darkness that enveloped Israel during that time. Every person serving in a secular position faces similar struggles.

As Paul reminds us, such a person, wholeheartedly devotes himself toward his work as he finds the motivation therein to serve the Lord for an eternal reward.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23,24

 While he reminds himself to submit to authority, he also opposes that which is evil and uses his resources to serve the Lord. This balancing act requires great wisdom and grace and is anything but easy. If Obadiah had refused to accept the Lord’s calling because of the wickedness that ruled in the palace, he would not have been able to fulfill the extremely important role that he carried out, albeit secretly, of preserving the lives of the Lord’s prophets during the deadly reign of Ahab and Jezebel. The Lord has a sense of humor and humbles the greatest of people- here was Jezebel who was running amok and killing off the Lord’s prophets, yet right under her nose was a thriving Obadiah, a palace prophet in disguise, protecting the lives of the very people she sought to kill.

The lives and ministries of Elijah, the wilderness prophet and Obadiah the palace prophet could not have been more dissimilar. Yet both served an important role in fulfilling the Lord’s work and as their divergent paths intersected, it also set up the grand battle and triumph at Carmel.

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