Most of us will have bosses who do not share our faith or our lifestyle. Some will work or study in places that are openly hostile to things we hold dear. Don’t despair. There are many, like Obadiah, who have done this before.
Obadiah is a little-known figure from the Old Testament, but he gives us a useful template for serving God in ungodly times. We meet Obadiah in 1 Kings 18, when the prophet Elijah returned from three years away from the kingdom of Israel. We are told that Obadiah was “over the household” of Ahab (v3), which means he was kind of like Ahab’s chief of staff. He was a senior public servant and a trusted man. What strikes us as unusual is that Obadiah, who is described as a man who “feared the LORD greatly”, works in such a role. Ahab is a terribly ungodly king. He has shown no interest in serving the true God and has actively encouraged the people to worship Baal. He has shown no repentance at any point. Yet, in the middle of such an ungodly administration, we find a man like Obadiah.
Obadiah wasn’t someone who just secretly trusted God. He acted in line with his convictions. When his boss tried to kill all of the prophets of the LORD, he saved one hundred of them by hiding them in caves and providing food and water for them. This was done at great personal risk. Obadiah was using his influence for the service of God.
This raises a question for us: was Obadiah wrong to work for a man like Ahab? Ahab was a tyrant and an evil man. All Ahab stood for was opposed to God’s purposes, and here is a faithful man who worked in his administration. I think we must be careful about criticising Obadiah here. Elijah never condemns him, and the text is very positive about his actions to save the prophets. Obadiah was not wrong in principle to work where he did. I am sure his role meant a great deal of temptation to turn from God, and a great deal of risk that his faithfulness might be discovered, but that doesn’t mean he was wrong to work there.