The house of Israel was in disarray. The unity and prosperity achieved under David and Solomon were long past, and the nation’s covenant relationship with the Lord was, for many people, a distant memory. The Kingdom of Israel had divided, with ten tribes forming the Northern Kingdom of Israel and two tribes forming the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Both kingdoms were unstable spiritually, led by kings who violated their covenants with the Lord and influenced others to do likewise (see 1 Kings 11–16). But the apostasy was especially severe in the Northern Kingdom, where King Ahab encouraged Israel to worship the false god Baal.
It was in this setting that the prophet Elijah was called to preach. The account of his ministry makes clear that personal faith in the Lord can thrive among the righteous even in a wicked environment. Sometimes the Lord responds to such faith with impressive, public miracles, like fire falling from heaven. But He also works quiet, private miracles, like meeting the personal needs of a faithful widow and her son. And most often His miracles are so individual that they are known only to you—for example, when the Lord reveals Himself and His will through “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12).