Take Your Soul To Work: A Lesson From Obadiah & Elijah
Obadiah is a character in 1 Kings in the Hebrew Bible. Obadiah was the chamberlain in the palace of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. In Hebrew, the name Obadiah means “servant of God.”
“Let’s imagine that God gave you your dream job as chamberlain in a luxurious palace. As ‘Lord Chamberlain’ your duty is to run the affairs of the royal household. Imagine that God placed you in that palace to serve as His witness.
Now, imagine that your assignment involves serving one of the most wicked women in recorded history; Queen Jezebel. Imagine having to show up to work every day, and say to Queen Jezebel, ‘Your Majesty you look splendid today. How may I serve you?’
In jest, sometimes we may think we work for Jezebel or Ahab. However, God’s servant Obadiah worked face-to-face with the ‘real deal’ Jezebel herself. Let’s see what we can glean from this scenario.”
In 1 Kings Chapter 18, it is written that Obadiah “feared the Lord greatly.” As Believers and workplace professionals, it is no coincidence that our spiritual lives will intersect and influence our professional lives. Obadiah was not a man of compromise.
The worship of Baal (the god of Sidon) had become a familiar practice throughout Judah. King Ahab worshiped Baal. Queen Jezebel worshiped Baal. Perhaps, all the court walked after Baal, and all the courtiers went in the same way. I remind you that these worshipers of Baal were not foreign idolaters. These worshipers of Baal were children of Israel, whose hearts had fallen away from the worship of Yahweh, the one true and living God.
“How will we measure up in times of moral and spiritual decay?”
The Levites had fled Judah. Many of the prophets had been killed. The Temple was far away at Jerusalem. There was no public worship service in Judah. Jezebel hated the worship of the God of Israel intensely. Obadiah had little opportunity to hear an edifying word that would strengthen him. Yet, Obadiah remained faithful to God, even in the absence of familiar graces.
Perhaps, Obadiah made a resolve that he would make a difference for God while serving in his advantageous position; and he did. One day while in the palace, Obadiah must have overhead Jezebel’s plan to kill the remaining prophets of God, so he hid the prophets in caves and sustained them with food and water risking his own life (1 Kings 18:3–4).
“Brave is the person who does the right thing; because the right thing is the right thing to do.”
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick by one and look down on the other…”
The Bible tells us that “no one can serve two masters…” Obadiah’s faith in God and career profession, put him in a very complicated predicament. Yet, Obadiah was very successful in maintaining his integrity. It is obvious that Obadiah walked very delicately, and watched his words most carefully. One impudent word could have led to his destruction. Obadiah must have also been an extremely prudent servant. It is obvious that Obadiah reserved his opinions, so as neither to compromise his conscience nor jeopardize his position. It takes a very wise person to walk in as much prudence as Obadiah; he who can accomplish this must be commended.
“Being prudent is a grace that we must learn well.”
I believe, that God strategically places his servants where He can best use us. Obadiah’s righteousness is remarkable considering where he worked and who he worked for. This was a wonder of grace indeed.
“God will never leave himself without a witnesses in this world; even in the worst places of the world. Grace can thrive where we would never expect to find it.”
Obadiah’s spiritual resolve must have been intense. What a horrible assignment Jezebel’s court must have been. However, Obadiah was not compromised by his surroundings. He did not retreat from his morality; although it would have been easy for him to do so.
I admire a person who walks in prudence. As an intercessor, I don’t know if I would have done so well serving in Jezebel’s court. Perhaps, I would have been too vocal with righteous indignation. However, that is why God uses some like Obadiah and others like Elijah. I would not have wanted Obadiah’s position.
“It is praiseworthy that Obadiah could manage Ahab’s household with Jezebel in it, and yet, for all that, win the commendation, that ‘he feared the Lord greatly.”
Elijah and Obadiah
The great theologian, Charles Spurgeon wrote, God send us men of the stuff of John Knox!”
The prophet Elijah was the contemporary of Obadiah. It appears that Elijah’s assignment was much different from Obadiah’s. Elijah didn’t have to appease Ahab or Jezebel with soothing words; instead he came to reprove. While, Obadiah, was the prophet assigned to work within the confines of a harsh system, Elijah was the bold-outspoken prophet of the God of Israel.
“Sometimes our strength is best served in grace and humility.”
Elijah had nothing to conceal; however Obadiah was in a very difficult position; therefore he had to perform his duties in a less open manner. Elijah did not walk in much stealth. Elijah spoke boldly and passionately for God. Jezebel knew it and hated him for it.
“Now at last the word of the Lord came to Elijah again. “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.”
In (1 Kings 18:7-8), Elijah tells Obadiah, “Go and tell your master, that I am here. Obadiah, perhaps a bit reluctant of Elijah’s charge, (knowing that it could cost his life), fell on his face and said, “My lord Elijah…”
Like a thunderbolt from the hand of God, Elijah walked in power, strength, and authority. Elijah confronted Ahab, called fire down from heaven, and slew three hundred prophets of Baal. Yet; when it came to Jezebel, Elijah feared for his life, and allowed one disgruntled woman to put him on the run.
Boy, did Elijah run! (1 Kings Chapter 19), tells us that Elijah ran 120 miles all the way to Beersheba. And notice what happened next. Finally, out of exhaustion, “he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.’”
This is what happens when we take your eyes off God and put them on our abilities, charisma, power, strength, gifts, fears, and circumstances. Elijah, discouraged and fearful, threw in the towel and forfeited his ministry. Elijah even asked God to “take him out of the game.” Interesting enough, God obliged Elijah by commanding him to anoint a successor before taking Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire.
“Sometimes, after we have faced tremendous spiritual battles, we become physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. It was only natural that Elijah would feel a deficiency as a result of exerting such great spiritual strength on Mount Camel (1 Kings Chapter 18). However, instead of praying for death, Elijah should have asked God to replenish his strength and spend time being restored in God’s presence.
Often times, when we have experienced a great spiritual victory, we are prone to let down our guard; opening ourselves up for retaliation of the enemy. When we have won a victorious battle; we must put our shields up!”
In conclusion, brilliant stars like Elijah seem to get all the attention. We often underestimate the value of the servants of God (like Obadiah), who do their best work under great disadvantages, against fierce opposition, and in complete obscurity.
Elijah ran from the same evil woman (Jezebel) that Obadiah had the courage to face day after day. There’s no doubt Obadiah was man of prayer. Perhaps Obadiah’s faithful intercession as chamberlain in the royal house, was the spiritual catalyst used to take down the reign of Ahab and Jezebel (2 Kings 9). Many scholars agree that this Obadiah is the same Obadiah who prophesied the destruction of Edom in the book of Obadiah.
I pray that this message has encouraged you to look at your workplace or ministry assignment from God’s perspective. Beloveds, some strong spiritual warriors would faint if they had to face what you must face day after day. You can deal with people that no one else can tolerate.
God has anointed you for your assignment. God has anointed you to serve your workplace, your ministry, your school, your office, your organization; for such a time as this. Like Obadiah let us be discreet, delicate, careful, and prudent in all manners of business as servants of God.
“Dismiss me not from thy service, Lord, But train me for thy will; For even I, in fields so broad, some duties may fulfill; And I will ask for no reward, except to serve thee still.”