1Kings 17:1-9, 18
Elijah said, “As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!” This is quite a bold statement to proclaim in the face of the king of the land…especially a Baal worshiping King, with a strong military. King Ahab, along with his predecessors as we read yesterday with Holly, had been leading God’s people away from God and replacing Him with other gods. Elijah was the first in a long line of prophets that God used to try to get His people’s attention. Ahab had built a sense of security around himself and his kingdom with his powerful military so God used something that Ahab’s military couldn’t muscle their way around, and Ahab’s god was completely powerless against. Nature.
Three years into the drought, God sends Elijah back to King Ahab with another message. Elijah says, “You have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped Baal instead. Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah.” When everyone was gathered Elijah said to all, “ How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal is god, then follow him!” …and the people were completely silent. So Elijah had the people bring two bulls to be prepared for sacrifice, team Baal against God to see who could prove their power to the people by producing fire. Each alter of wood was prepared, a bull placed on top of each alter and then each team was to call out to their god/God to ask for fire. The god who answered with fire would be the one true God…and all the people agreed.
Team Baal prepped their alter and began calling out to Baal from morning to noon time, but there was no reply. So the people shouted louder and cut themselves with knives until the blood gushed out. They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice but there was still no response. So Elijah gathered twelve stones to represent the twelve tribes of Israel and rebuilt the alter in the Lords name. Then he dug a trench around the alter and asked for four jars of water to be brought to him. He dowsed the alter and sacrifice with water from the four jars and asked for the jars to be refilled two more times. By the third watering, the trench was full of standing water. Elijah stood next to the drenched alter and prayed, “O Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, answer me so these people will know that you are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, the dust and it even licked up all the water in the trench! When the people saw it they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord-he is God!” God had Elijah, kill all of the prophets of Baal, and then He brought the rain! “The sky was black with clouds and a heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm!” Then the Lord gave special strength to Elijah and he ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot all the way to Jezreel.”
A few things I learned studying this story:
1-God’s power is astounding! That He can stop the dew and rain for 3 years, call fire from heaven to burn up stones and water, deliver a thunderstorm on a given afternoon, and give a man superhuman strength to run faster than horses is all beyond what my human mind can comprehend. This One is who I get to call Father and who I can speak to any second of any day or night about what ever is on my mind.
2-I don’t ever want to be a part of a group of people who are completely silent when asked who their God is. I can’t really say that I have been in this exact situation, but we can all think of conversations we have been in where we could have said more to support God’s character or align ourselves with Him and we chose not to. The truth is that I have, and probably will again, smile and sit quiet when I know I should speak. I so quickly justify in my mind that it isn’t the proper setting, or this is not the hill to die on, or a private conversation would be so much more effective,,,the list goes on and on. I want to live more in God’s power and less in human fear while still being gentle, kind and truthful.
3-I have a lot to learn from Elijah! He was more bold and brave than I have ever dreamt of being. (I do realize that 4 verses later in chapter 19, he tells God that he has had enough and wants God to take his life. But he did the crazy hard jobs required of him in chapters17 and 18. He actually did them!) He heard God’s voice and obeyed God’s commands no matter how difficult the task.
4-God will always win! He is the ultimate power, the only one true God, the One who controls nature and the One who has a plan to make a way for every person on this earth able to have relationship with Him!