“King Solomon loved many foreign women... He had seven hundred wives who were princesses and three hundred who were concubines, and they turned his heart away. When Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away to follow other gods. He was not wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord his God, as his father David had been... Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not remain loyal to the Lord. At that time, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abhorrent idol of Moab, and for Milcom, the abhorrent idol of the Ammonites, on the hill across from Jerusalem. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who were burning incense and offering sacrifices to their gods” (1 Kings 11:1–8).
When Solomon’s reign ended, his son Rehoboam became king in Jerusalem. But decadence and depravity led to division. Soon there were two nations with Rehoboam, king of the Southern Kingdom, and Jeroboam, king of the Northern Kingdom.
“Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there... Then he made two golden calves, and he said to the people, ‘Going to Jerusalem is too difficult for you. Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’ He set up one in Bethel, and put the other in Dan... Jeroboam also made shrines on the high places and made priests from the ranks of the people who were not Levites” (1 Kings 12:25–31). “The length of Jeroboam’s reign was twenty-two years. He rested with his ancestors, and his son Nadab became king in his place” (1 Kings 14:20).
In the short span of only thirty-six years, the Northern Kingdom crowned seven different kings. All were evil! None followed Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Each led the kingdom further into pagan worship. “Nadab son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel two years. Nadab did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and walked in the ways of his father and the sin he had caused Israel to commit” (1 Kings 15:25–26). Baasha took the throne next. “He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and walked in the ways of Jeroboam and the sin he had caused Israel to commit” (1 Kings 15:33–34). Elah was the next evil king (1 Kings 16:8-9), followed by Zimri (1 Kings 16:10-14). Zimri lasted only seven days as king, and was overthrown by Omri (1 Kings 16:15-19). “Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he did more evil than all who were before him” (1 Kings 16:25–26).
Ahab became king after Omri. “Ahab son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight more than all who were before him. Then, as if following the sin of Jeroboam son of Nebat were not enough, he married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and then proceeded to serve Baal and bow in worship to him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he had built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole. Ahab did more to anger the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kings 16:29–33).
Then, without any introduction or fanfare, Elijah bounded on to the pages of Old Testament history. “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from the Gilead settlers, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord God of Israel lives, in whose presence I stand, there will be no dew or rain during these years except by my command!’ ” (1 Kings 17:1).
When the days were dark, God called a common, ordinary man: Elijah, the Tishbite.