From the very beginning of His calling of Abraham, God instructed His followers to separate themselves from the allure of worshiping other gods and to draw close to His life-giving presence and goodness. The Lord intentionally drew Abraham away from his idol-worshiping family, and led him down into the land of Canaan, the future site of Israel.
2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River (Euphrates) in old times; and they served other gods. Joshua 24:2 NKJV
Under King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had gotten far away from what He had intended for His nation. They had almost completely abandoned Him and instead worshiped the gods of Baal and Asherah.
As a result, God had used the prophet Elijah to pray for and bring about a three-and-a-half-year drought, which led to a severe famine in the land. At the appropriate time, God then called upon Elijah to pray again for an end to the drought, after first confronting King Ahab and the prophets of Jezebel to show them the error of their idolatrous ways.
2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria. 3 And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly. 4 For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.) 1 Kings 18:2-4 NKJV
While Elijah was in the home of the widow in Sidon, getting daily bread from her never-emptying flour bin and oil jar, the brave Obadiah was also doing his part keeping faith with God. In actions concealed from Jezebel and Ahab, he kept 100 prophets of the Lord alive by sneaking them food from the King’s provisions and table. One can only imagine what Jezebel would have done to him if she had found this out. Each trip to the caves must have been quite stressful for Obadiah, and he must surely have suffered through many sleepless nights over his years of secret faithfulness to God.
There have been many cases throughout history where large numbers of people have been killed for worshiping the Lord. In many nations today, Christian believers must worship clandestinely while their villages, families, and governments worship other gods. Often, that god is the government, and many worshipers and their leaders have been imprisoned or martyred for proclaiming a living God Who loves them.
If many of these brave individuals and their churches were to be discovered worshiping Jesus, they would suffer a fate similar to that of the prophets of the Lord under Jezebel. Indeed, the spirit of Jezebel has never been far away, always offering a demonic appeal to seduce hearts towards evil and violence against the faithful.
The best defense against these forces of evil is prayer. We can lift up our brothers and sisters in Christ wherever they may be, and call upon the Lord for their protection and safety.
Organizations such as Voice of the Martyrs (persecution.com) have up-to-date information on groups of believers that are in the greatest need of our prayer cover.
Lord, thank you for the brave men and women who worship and serve You under the threat of persecution and violence from their neighbors and imprisonment or death by their government. May You keep them safe, just as you kept Elijah, Obadiah, and the 100 prophets safe in their perilous time under Queen Jezebel. Amen