Obadiah: The Faithful and Fearful
Have you ever been truly afraid? I mean full-on fear, not someone jumping out from behind a corner and scaring you fear. I mean the real-life, heart-stopping, breath taking away, brain stops functioning, high-end fear. Sometimes that results in really rough endings and sometimes in hindsight, can even end up being light-hearted. But in that moment, it’s full-on panic-driven fear.
My wife and I have both, probably more than one time in our life experienced that. But both of us, believe it or not in our 23-4 years of marriage have experienced fear driven by home invasion twice together. First time is Rebecca’s story. I had bought Rebecca, this was before kids, I bought Rebecca a dog for her birthday. That dog needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, so she got up to take the dog out the front door. We lived in a single-wide mobile home in those days, so proximity was very close.
I hear the door open, and then I hear my wife scream. And to protect her testimony, I’m not going to share the language she used. But let’s just say both the vocabulary and volume communicated to me there was an issue. So, I levitated out of bed, went right out into the living room, and she had slammed the door closed by the time I got there. And she said, there’s a man right outside our front door. 3 in the morning. We weren’t expecting visitors. Home invasion. This guy was about to rob us. Weird coincidence, she woke up, went out there. That’s her story.
My home invasion story was before I got married, in college, I actually lived with my brother-in-law and sister. I worked a very weird schedule, so I got home really late at night. I was really tired. I typically only slept about 5 or 6 hours a day in two 3-hour shifts. So, I wasn’t always real cognitively aware. I come home. I come into our home, I close the door. I turn around, and there is a guy in the middle of our living room. I don’t know this person. And I’m not joking, I went full-on fight or flight syndrome. There was no thinking. I just I just rushed the guy. I pull back and I just punch as hard as I can because of fear.
So, let me tell you the ends of the story. Rebecca’s story – the next morning our neighbor comes over, knocks on the door and says to my wife, hey my uncle is really sorry. He was visiting us, and he got in real late, and he went to the wrong trailer. Just a bad coincidence but brought on full panic fear.
The end of my story. As I landed my punch onto this gentleman I didn’t know, I felt it was a very light punch because I was punching a shirt. My brother-in-law had hung a shirt from the ceiling fan, and the moonlight from the window hit it, and my brain filled in everything around it so that was a 6′ 4″ guy trying to kill me. And I attacked that shirt hard. I was ready.
Fear. Out of nowhere these unexpected moments where we go from normal to fear. Today we’re going to continue in this story of Elijah which is contained within the story of 1 Kings. And we’re actually going to focus on a different character today other than Elijah, and it’s a guy named Obadiah. Just like Rebecca and I, Obadiah has to respond in the middle of full-on fear. But before we get to Obadiah, I want to see if I can give us a framework for the whole passage first, and then we’ll focus in on Obadiah. So, I see 1 Kings 18:1-19 with four scenes.
So, imagine a movie, or you went to the theater. There are four scenes.
Scene number 1 is God and Elijah. So as a reminder, maybe you haven’t been here, Elijah in this book of 1 Kings within God’s Word is God’s mouthpiece, so to speak, God’s messenger. He goes and gives God’s people Israel messages and tells them what to do. And God had called Elijah to pronounce a drought over Israel and to condemn the king whose name is Ahab. So, God and Elijah are talking. Once again Elijah receives a word from the Lord.
Scene 2 is Ahab and Obadiah. Ahab is the leader of Israel, and he’s married to a Sidonian woman named Jezebel, and they are not good people. They make some really unkind choices, like murder and bringing about idol worship among God’s people. And Obadiah works for Ahab.
Scene 3 is Elijah and Obadiah. God’s mouthpiece Elijah meets Ahab’s right-hand man Obadiah, and they interact.
And then in Scene 4, it’s Elijah and Ahab, which immediately, if we’ve been part of the story of 1 Kings and Elijah, if we feel the story, that puts us into a little tension. We know that’s probably not going to end well for somebody when Elijah and Ahab meet.
So anytime we look at narrative or story within the Scriptures, and because we want to try to wrestle through all of it, we kind of isolate this section, we always want to kind of keep stepping back and ask how does this fit into the whole story, even when we look at isolated moments? And so, the story does continue in here, and I think we get story information in Scenes 1 and 4, and this is the information we get about the story continuing. Once more the word of the Lord arrives to Elijah. God has a new message for his people. We discover the time frame of the story. It’s been three years since there’s been rain.
Now around here when we don’t get rain, we typically complain because Keowee and Hartwell are low, and it affects boating and fishing. Imagine going for three years, not a drop. Imagine the mood that puts people in. We receive this information. There is good news, the drought’s going to end. God tells that to Elijah. It’s about over. And then we learn confrontation is on its way because God tells Elijah, you go talk to Ahab. And then in Scene 4 Elijah confronts Ahab and says alright, you bring all of your guys all of your priests, you bring them up to Mount Carmel. And so, as we feel the story again, we know, oh man, something’s going to happen when we hit Mount Carmel. We’ll find out what happens there next week.
The story moves forward. But sandwiched right in the middle of these kinds of high-point story events, as that story moves forward, we get this little moment to interact with this guy named Obadiah and watch how he interacts with Elijah. So, in Scenes 2 and 3 we meet this new character, Obadiah. I find it interesting that for the story to move forward, we don’t really need Obadiah. He’s not key to the whole story moving forward, but it seems like we’re introduced to Obadiah, so we can get to know him a little bit and observe this key moment in his life when he meets Elijah. Like Rebecca at the front door, like me fighting a shirt, Obadiah is going to come face-to-face with Elijah and hit a wall of fear. So, let’s summarize this section real fast. One phrase.
The big idea surrounding Obadiah is the tested faith of a faithful, fearful servant. The tested faith of a faithful, fearful servant. Faithful and fearful are not words that are connected very often in the church world. Some of you right now might even have this feeling of, okay that’s a neat little line, Ryan, but you kind of need to separate out the fear part and tell us how bad that is and how we need to solve that before we get to be back to faithful people. But I think what Obadiah does for us is it lets us see faith and fear converge and come together in one person. So, let’s look at Obadiah. Let’s paint a portrait of him based on the text. What do we learn about him?
First Obadiah’s name means servant of God or worshipper of God, which is very interesting during a time in Israel’s history when neither the leadership nor the people were at all faithful to the covenant that God had made with them. That the strong agreement between Israel and God, no one seemed to really care about it. So, Obadiah’s name in the middle of everything he did was a constant reminder of what Israel was supposed to be doing. We learned that Obadiah was the household manager for Ahab. Obadiah was in a position of authority under Ahab and Jezebel.
Now I think, maybe I’m alone, but perhaps when you read that, that brings you into tension. A worshipper of Yahweh was the right-hand man to Ahab and Jezebel. How in the world? How could he do that? And I think what’s interesting is Obadiah isn’t the only guy in the Scriptures that is like that. We run into other moments where there are people who fear God who are in really rough circumstances. So, let me tell you about a couple of them.
One is a guy whose name is Daniel, and he actually has three friends, and in a way, they’re connected to this story because at the end of 2 Kings, at the end of this big story of Israel, Israel is actually taken captive to another country. Daniel is one of those people. He goes to that other country, he and his three friends, and they become amazing students of Babylonian culture, so much so that Daniel ends up becoming kind of the vice president of Babylon underneath this dude named Nebuchadnezzar. So, you have this guy who fears God, who’s in a pagan nation, second in charge.
Another guy in the Scriptures, this is in Genesis, his name is Joseph. He gets sold as a slave, ends up going to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, gets elevated to being second in charge in Egypt. First in charge is Pharaoh, and culturally Pharaoh is a god. So again, you have one of God’s people working in this very rough place where sometimes we Christians think okay, the only thing you can do as a Christian is leave that. Get out of there. Run. I think there are other examples I could give. But Obadiah, Daniel, and Joseph are all in this moment, and I want us to consider what would it take to be a person in that position?
For those of you have heard me preach before, you know one of my big favorite people is a guy named Charles Haddon Spurgeon who often loved to creatively describe what happens in certain parts of the Scriptures. And this is how he describes Obadiah.
“[Obadiah] came to be extremely prudent and looked on things roundabout so as to neither compromise his conscience nor jeopardize his position. It wants an uncommonly wise man to do that, but he who can accomplish it accomplish it is to be commended. He did not run away from his position, nor retreat from his religion. As it is horrible to find a Judas among the apostles, so it is grand to discover an Obadiah among Ahab’s courtiers. What grace must have been at work to maintain such a fire in the midst of the sea, such godliness in the midst of the vilest iniquity! Never be surprised to meet with a believer anywhere. Grace can live where you would never expect to see it survive for an hour.”
Obadiah was in a unique place, a unique calling that he had.
And we discovered next that Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. So, the guy in charge of Ahab’s household feared the Lord greatly. He had fear and love for God in abundance. He was a standout because of his continued fear of God. And I think again Spurgeon helps us think this through. He said,
“It was a great thing for Obadiah that he could manage Ahab’s household with Jezebel in it, and yet, for all that, win this commendation from the Spirit of God, that he feared the Lord greatly.”
So, I’m not going to develop this later. I just want to put into our minds one thought about Obadiah, Daniel, and Joseph. Let’s not assume the posture and believe the lie that there are corners of the globe where God’s people are absent. Even in the roughest of situations, God places his servants.
Next, we learn of Obadiah. He took private risk to save lives during persecution. Obadiah feared the Lord enough that he took some private risk to save lives during persecution. So apparently this is what happens. Jezebel the queen goes postal, in kind of modern American language. She decides she’s going to kill all the prophets of God. Obadiah, more than likely because of his position, hears about it and decides he’s going to step in and secretly grab about a hundred of those prophets, divide them into companies of fifties, find caves, throw them in caves, and keep them alive with bread and water.
Obadiah in his way fears the Lord and obeys and saves people’s lives right in the middle of this terrible place of the home of Ahab and Jezebel. He’s working behind the scenes, making things happen. And we can already see, for those of us who’ve been through 1 Kings here and have seen Elijah, we can start seeing some differences between the way Elijah operates and the way Obadiah operates. So far Elijah is this brash, more than likely loud, rough prophet of God who just lays things out face to face, doesn’t care, just throws out the truth.
And then you have Obadiah. Faithful Obadiah. Fears the Lord, and behind the scenes, he’s saving lives. He’s fearing the Lord in a really rough scenario. As Spurgeon says he’s become very prudent, how I live my life. Dale Davis writes this comparing Elijah and Obadiah.
“Sometimes Yahweh,” [which is God’s name,]” Sometimes Yahweh attacks evil with the in-your-face style of an Elijah, and sometimes he frustrates it by the simple subversion of an unobtrusive agent. You find faithful servants of God even where Satan’s throne is. If you have a kingdom view of thingsthis textual parenthesis fairly explodes with hope.”
And what Dale means by textual parenthesis is, this whole story of Obadiah saving these lives is just a parenthesis in the text. It’s this little add-on thought. And if we have a kingdom view of how God works around the world, Dale is arguing when you see that in the middle, you see this guy in the middle of such a wretched circumstance, working for the good of God’s people, your heart just explodes with hope.
God’s still, he’s still working. He’s got an Obadiah. He’s still working. Finally, we see that Obadiah knew and respected Elijah. He knew and respected him. Now we don’t know how Obadiah knew Elijah. I mean, there are some good guesses. Did Elijah come to court? Did Obadiah go out and hear some thundering rebuke from Elijah to Israel? I even thought as silly as it sounds, does Obadiah know of Elijah’s odd fashion sense, because Elijah wears camel hair and leather? More than likely you see that guy. That’s Elijah. But no matter what, we know Obadiah knows who Elijah is, and we know he respects him. Obadiah’s first action to Elijah is to bow himself. He shows honor immediately. And then Elijah speaks to Obadiah, and things start to change. Elijah places a call on Obadiah’s life.
Now remember the word of the Lord came to Elijah, hey you go see Ahab. So that’s the action that Elijah’s in. And now it seems like he enlists Obadiah’s help to do that. Elijah asks Obadiah to deliver a message. You go to Ahab and tell him I’m here. Something happens here with Obadiah. Apparently, Obadiah is a verbal processor. Do you know what I mean by that? You might know, be married to, be friends with that person who has to talk out everything to figure out a decision. That seems to be Obadiah, because man he lays out a monologue right back to Elijah about this whole idea of carrying messages. And we can start to feel his response of fear. But why is he afraid?
Because in one sense the message that Elijah is asking Obadiah to deliver is a message Ahab wants to hear. Ahab wants to know where Elijah is because Ahab wants to kill Elijah. So why is Obadiah afraid? Is he freaking out because he’s an introvert and doesn’t want to talk to anybody? Is it because he knows that Ahab and Jezebel are just whackadoo and at any moment they could kill anybody because they’re just bad people?
I think there’s more. I think we can see the calling that Elijah gives Obadiah was to go public and deliver a prophetic message. It would appear this is more than just delivering information. This is more than courier service. This was Elijah’s request on Obadiah’s life to go public and be prophetic.
Obadiah is afraid because now he has to be the mouthpiece for Yahweh instead of the mouthpiece for Ahab. He’s lining himself up. If he delivers this message from Elijah, it seems the fear is, I’m now speaking to you on behalf of God’s prophet. I’ve changed lords, and I’m going public. I speak on behalf of Elijah and Yahweh, Ahab, not you. And Obadiah was afraid. So, what did he do when that fear hit him? Obadiah’s response reveals two things.
He defends, and he assumes. Obadiah defends in that he begins listing out these reasons why this request doesn’t really work for him. I’m not sure I can do this, Elijah. He seems to be making a case that would allow him to not deliver the message. And as he gives his reasons, those reasons as we look at them, end up becoming assumptions.
So, I know Steve read for us this section right before I came up here, but I want us to hear it again. Now that we know Obadiah a little bit, now that we kind of feel what he’s going through, I want you to listen to his monologue and see if you can feel him and see if you can think about the assumptions that he’s making with the reasons that he gives back to Elijah.
So, this is his response in 1 Kings 18. Elijah says, Hey deliver the message to Ahab.
“How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my Lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say ‘he is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you.
And now you say, ‘Go tell your Lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.” And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the Lord from my youth. Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water?
And now you say, ‘Go tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”‘; and he will kill me.”
So, let’s pause for a moment here and remind ourselves, that’s a man who fears God greatly. It’s not a new guy. It’s not a different guy. Obadiah is a guy who the Bible says, Obadiah, do you want to know about him? He feared the Lord greatly. And then when hit with this new calling, he starts wrestling and backpedaling. So, we’re not going to judge or mock Obadiah. We’re going to look at him and see if Obadiah mirrors our responses. What do we do when faced with a real request of God or God’s people that brings about fear? What do we see in his assumptions?
First Obadiah assumed the call of God was because of his sin. First words out of Obadiah’s mouth. How have I sinned? This request comes, and the first thing, the first thing that Obadiah is going to run to is, God you’re punishing me. I knew it. Whatever it was I just did yesterday. Now here it comes. I’ve got to go do this thing for you because of the bad thing that I did. Interestingly in our passage last week that Allan preached through, the widow that Elijah stayed with, she did the exact same thing. Her son passed away and, she looks at Elijah and says, did this happen so that you could bring my sin back to my remembrance? In times of fear it is amazing how quickly we begin to identify ourselves by our sin rather than God’s mercy.
Something comes up, something that even is from God, I get afraid, and now I just beat myself up as the big sinner. Both of these people, the widow and Obadiah knew God was faithful. The widow had endured the drought. Flour and oil miracle. Obadiah existed in Ahab’s household. Yet in these moments they assumed what God was calling them to do was punishment rather than opportunity.
Secondly, we see that Obadiah assumed God would tease him. So, Obadiah takes a moment here to set the stage for Elijah. And it appears to me he does that because he doesn’t think Elijah really understands how much Ahab hates him. So, Obadiah has to kind of clarify things, so he tells this story of how Ahab and he have traveled to every country, all around the area. And every time they go there Ahab is like, hey is Elijah here? And when that country says, no we don’t have Elijah here, he takes an oath from that country, which is probably more than a pinky swear.
I mean there’s probably some threats in there, some economic, political sanctions. Ahab wants to guarantee, you don’t have Elijah. So, he’s explaining this to Elijah. This is how bad Ahab is. And right in the middle of that, Obadiah lets slip his view of God in that moment. He says this, “And as soon as I have gone from you,” so now he’s playing a hypothetical game, “If I do what you say Elijah, as soon as I take off to deliver your message, here’s what’s going to happen. And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the Lord will carry you I know not where.
And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me. Obadiah believed God was going to pull a big old bait and switch. Obadiah go deliver that message… and he’s gone. Elijah is out of there. Obadiah comes back with Ahab and is left just… He was here. He was here. He assumed God was going to tease him, play with him in the middle of his obedience.
He also assumed he deserved a better call because of years of service. Or maybe a different call than the one he was given. Because he has evidence that he would obey, he wants a different call from his years of service. Obadiah ends his last point by highlighting how long he had feared God. “I have feared the Lord from my youth.” We don’t know how old Obadiah is from the text. More than likely he’s more of a mature age, he’s running a household, really solid job. And yet he makes sure, he wants Elijah to hear, hey I’m not a rookie. I’ve been fearing the Lord for a really long time. This probably isn’t for me.
In the middle of his fear, he loses sight of God’s faithfulness to him. It’s as though he doesn’t believe this time in this service God’s going to come through for him. He assumed that other obedience was enough. This new call of God came to him, and he assumed other obedience was enough. Where do I get that? I think it’s really weird timing for Obadiah to tell Elijah his “I rescued the priests” story.
So, you’ve got Elijah saying, hey will you do me this favor? Go tell Ahab something. And then right in the middle of it Obadiah is looking at him going, yeah, Hey, do you know what I’ve done? Remember I’m the “save the priests” guy. I’m the behind-the-scenes guy. I saved a hundred of them. I even fed them. He starts raising up what he’s already done in light of the call that’s coming at him. He’s afraid. He believes subtly that his movement to save priests was enough to excuse him from the call he’s being given now.
And finally, Obadiah assumed the worst. And I think this is big for us. He assumed the worst in the face of a call, in the face of fear. So, say it out loud. You probably know it by now. What does Obadiah keep repeating to Elijah? He’s going to kill me. The worst possible outcome. That’s what’s going to happen.
Now here’s where we love Obadiah, because he’s not irrational. This fear in this moment, that’s not a crazy thought to think that Ahab and Jezebel could do that to him. It’s within the sphere of what might happen. But what he does is he doesn’t leave room for any other variable, any other path. Repeatedly, I know what’s going to happen no matter what I do. I end up dead, and God’s not going to come through.
I’m afraid. He’s being fearful in a moment where obedience is high risk. So, what does Elijah do after the monologue of fear? How does the blustering, thundering Elijah respond? I love it. Elijah switches from his request to God’s character, from his request to God’s character.
Now God had already told Elijah, “Hey go show yourself to Ahab.” He feels and hears all of this coming from Obadiah, and now Elijah invokes God into this conversation. He brings God to bear.
And in a sense, you could actually say that Elijah is reminding Obadiah of his own name. Hey Obadiah, servant of Yahweh, worshipper of Yahweh, do you remember who he is? Your name means something, Obadiah. And Elijah adds some encouraging weight to his word.
He says this, “As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” Elijah seizes the moment to remind Obadiah of the God he serves. Yahweh. I think it’s Sabaoth, Lord of hosts, God of the armies, God of the multitudes, God of all power. Obadiah needed to be filled with a picture of God that was bigger than his fear. And I wish we could spend a ton of time looking at the references to Lord of hosts because there are multiple that come right in moments like this, moments of fear where God’s people open up and get to see the Lord of hosts.
There is a servant in the Scriptures who is really afraid, and in that moment, someone prays to God and says open his eyes, let him see, and he sees angels all over the place.
The Lord of hosts, the God of the armies, that’s who you serve, Obadiah. That’s the God we serve, North Hills. The God who has all the power. This God of the armies, the Lord of hosts, Elijah tells us he lives. The Lord of hosts who lives. He’s not wood, he’s not stone, he’s not an idea, he’s not something we drum up to handle the world.
The Lord of hosts, the God of the armies is a living being. As the Lord of hosts lives before whom I stand, which is fascinating to me. Elijah and Elisha both use that little phrase. The Lord of hosts is one who I stand in front of. So, you get a really interesting picture right beforehand where Obadiah comes and bows down to Elijah, and Elijah is saying now, hey when it comes to the Lord of hosts, that’s One who I stand in front of.
He’s a personal God. He interacts with his people. Even the big God of all the power. I stand before him. He’s a personal God who has a name, who allows the presence of his people and has not just a little bit of power, but all of it. And then Elijah I think kindly adds a little personal weight. I will surely show myself to him today. God will come through, Obadiah, and I will too.
So, I want us to hear this. When fear threatens obedience, the God of the armies comforts and encourages. When a call comes at your life to obey, and that oh… rises up, the God of the armies is the One who comforts and encourages. The God with a lot of power. The way we view God matters. How we see him. If God has little to no power, then my fears will rule every time. They’ll win. Because some of them just like Obadiah are real. They’re legit.
It’s not irrational, it’s not it’s not stupidity, it’s not even foolishness. This is a very real thing. So, for me to be comforted and encouraged in doing that thing, I’d better have a God that has a huge army behind me. Because then when I see him, I’m like oh, you! I can do that. Even in the middle of it, I can do that. Why? Because I’ve got it all of the sudden? No, because you’re going to walk with me. So, I can like Obadiah, I can fear in faith.
Does that make sense? I’m going to go at that. I’m going to do that. Why? The God of the armies is with me. Please be with me. I’m going to do that. Why? God of the armies. Come on. Make sure you’re there.
So, what does fearful, faithful Obadiah do now? Do we get another monologue? I love this. The text reads this. “So, Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him.” The God of the armies changes everything. He obeyed. He went public, and he went prophetic.
And there is no reason whatsoever to assume that as he did that, that every little feeling and sense of fear was gone. Now he was untouchable and fine with everything. There’s no reason to believe that. There’s every reason to believe that his behavior changed because he lodged himself in the God of the armies, and he went with the God of the armies before him and has fear in here, but that was going to the God of the armies. He went forward fearfully and faithfully.
Could it be at times that we as God’s people encounter a request from God’s people or a call from God himself, and we experience fear? By and large the people I interact with at North Hills, and I’ve been here a long time, seem to love God, love Jesus, want other people to know about Jesus, want to follow God’s Word. Yeah, we’ve got our bumps and bruises. But it seems like the trajectory of us is Obadiah-like. We fear the Lord. So, when these calls come in, God calls you to step out and launch a ministry to hurting people, and that’s going to cost you, there might be fear. God calls you as a 17-year-old high school student to go into school. As someone who loves God and talk about Jesus. That can be fearful. God calls you to open your home, to be with people that are different than you are and that actually you disagree with on many topics. That could be fearful. God calls you to pursue church leadership, and you might be afraid. God calls you to give away your money to someone in need, and you’re afraid of what that will do to you. God calls some of you who are in elementary school to go to elementary school as a follower of Jesus and make different choices than some of your friends because you want to follow Jesus. And sometimes when you get into a school, you’re like oh man, I really want to be with everybody else and I want to follow Jesus. What do I do? You might be afraid. Guess what.
You can go to elementary school with the God of the armies. God calls you to work on your marriage instead of leaving it. You might be afraid. God calls you to pursue his Word with everything in you and to pursue his miraculous gifts with a big group of messed up people called North Hills Church, and you might be afraid. What’s that going to look like? What are they doing over there? Where are we headed?
We might be afraid. God calls you to leave this country, go somewhere else and share the story of the kingdom of Jesus with people. You’re afraid. What do we do? I think we look at Obadiah. We look at his assumptions and we see if they’re ours as well. So, let’s speak back his assumptions in a different way. So, let me say this. God’s calling to obey on your life is never judgment for your sin. God’s calling on your life is never judgment for your sin. How do I know that?
Because that’s why God sent Jesus. That’s why Jesus died, so we wouldn’t be under judgment anymore. We don’t have that anymore. So, it can’t be that. When I’m in the middle of, God you’re calling me to do this and I’m like oh, that’s because you don’t like me or because of what I did when I was in college. No. God’s calling is never to tease you. God’s call to obedience is to never tease you.
If you’ve been through Connections, which is many of you, you’ve heard me teach on this. Matthew 7:7-11. I cry every time I teach it. It’s been 12 years, 13 almost that I’ve taught that. The character of God is everything. God only gives good gifts. God never teases his people. God’s calling doesn’t come with an expiration date.
God energizes his kids for service their entire lives. So just because you’ve been following the Lord from your youth doesn’t mean God isn’t going to present you with new callings in your life even today that might stretch you a little bit. God’s calling isn’t based upon our previous service. God calls his kids to new things. You might be really comfortable in the service that you’ve done just like Obadiah. He was good behind the scenes, even risky behind-the-scenes stuff. He’s got that I can do the priest rescue system. Public and prophetic. Fear. Hey, God isn’t always going to keep you in the exact same thing forever. Maybe, but he might call you into something new. God’s calling is not a worst-case scenario event. God informs our view of worst case and transforms it to best case.
Paul says it this way. Obadiah’s great fear is, he’s going to kill me. Paul says it this way. “For me to live, Christ.” For me to live right now on this earth right now, Jesus. “And to die, gain.” Obadiah would look at that and go, and to die, terrible. But think of that. Whatever God calls you into, for Christians in one way the worst thing that everybody in the world fears – death, it’s not really a biggie deal. Worst, the absolute worst, best case. I’m with him. Dale Davis encourages us in the way we view our callings. He says this, “How helpful then that Elijah is not Yahweh’s only faithful servant. Faithfulness is not so dull that it comes only in one flavor.
Moreover, your own pride requires the correction this narrative can give: you are not called to great works but to good works, not to flamboyant ministry but to faithful ministry, not to be a dashing but only a devoted servant. Elijah and Obadiah – two faithful and different servants.
The service of the real God is so diverse.” So, we’re going to respond this morning with a couple of songs, and my hope is this. This has been my prayer. Whatever is facing you in this whole, if we, like Obadiah, are facing this call, to public call, to prophetic call to new call, to obedience, and you’ve got that fear vibe going on, my hope is this passage will lend you freedom.
So, we’re going to sing, and you can respond in singing. If you want somebody to pray with you, if you’re literally paralyzed by fear of what’s before you, don’t leave alone. We can pray over that. I will be down in front. I think Peter’s here. There are several others down front who I know would actually look for an opportunity to pray with people as well. So, let’s just respond as the Spirit moves.