Elijah was a man whose character pleased the Lord so much that he was given Divine Power for ministry. Although sin was rife before and after Elijah, the present time was extraordinary. It was unprecedented regarding the amount of idol veneration. We have already seen the volume of this largely due to the wickedness of Ahab’s wife Jezebel. He might have been king of the Northern Province, who had broken away from the United Israel under Jeroboam years before and known as Israel … but they were still under the Lordship of Almighty God. God uses Elijah in an amazing manner to show this wicked king and queen who the true God is. Should you not know the story well, please read 1 Kings chapter 18. The stage is set … Obadiah the palace manager informs Ahab what Elijah has to say. Soon thereafter Ahab goes to meet Elijah.
1Ki 18:16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’S commands and have followed the Baals.”
Bold and Divinely Empowered Elijah responds to the king’s accusation in verse 17 by telling the king that he and his father’s family are the real trouble makers because they left the worship of the True God and worshipped (meaning of “followed”) the Baals (Plural for various pagan deities). The singular (Baal) is interesting. This was the god worshipped across the Middle Eastern Communities, particularly in Canaan. He was considered to be the fertility god and one of the most important amongst the “pantheon of gods”. He was also known as the Lord of Rain and Dew … both being forms of nourishment, indispensable for fertile soil in Canaan. Now we need to see Elijah as a man of faith!
Elijah’s Faith Was Sufficient to Challenge the Wicked “Royalty”.
1Ki 18:19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing.
22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’S prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
One would assume the odds are stacked against Elijah. In the face of the question of verse 21 and his statement about them following the true God … “But the people said nothing”. They were so spiritually deceived that they did not recognize the Real God nor His prophet Elijah. Now look at the challenge of faith … He says he is one against 450 prophets of Baal. The people were to obtain two bulls for a sacrifice. The evil prophets could chose theirs first, cut it into pieces and place it on an altar with dry wood but were not to set fire to it. Elijah would do the exact same. Then each side would call on their “god” to send fire from heaven. Remember, 450 evil prophets calling on their pagan god with Elijah calling on the true God. The people agreed with Elijah. They thought this a fair plan saying … “What you say is good.” There are two things to note before we move on.
First, Elijah told Ahab that the venue for this challenge would be on Mount Carmel, a fruitful place due to much rain and dew. Remember what Baal was known for? The Lord of Rain and Dew! What an ideal place to gain a victory over Baal! This would have been seen as his domain … his territory … the place of much fruit because of whom he was supposed to be.
Second, what Elijah is doing is sanctioned by God. He was not seeking personal revenge against a wicked king and queen for all the deaths of his fellow prophets at their hand. He was God’s servant doing His bidding. As the people of God we need to be extremely careful dishing out challenges to non-Christian people or non-Christian religious leaders. We are not Elijah and the way God gifted and empowered him is not the way God gifts and empowers today. I will suggest it is foolish to engage other religions, atheists, agnostics or whatever they might be with a challenge like Elijah. Today we understand our battle must be fought according to God’s prescribed ways that we may find in Ephesians 6:10-18. Far too many say, predict or prophecy about things that God has not told them to say … yet it is said under the name of Gospel Christianity. When what was said does not materialize, the skeptic world looks on laughing. They then make a mockery of the Lord Jesus and the Bible because what was promised to happen did not. Many splinter groups (breakaways from main line Christianity) have predicted and prophesied things like the world will end on a certain day … only to revise it over and over again without the world ending. Others make promises in the name of Christianity that never materialize. We who are born again need to stand and defend our Lord and His Cause as well as His Word and His Gospel. We are not Elijahs but we are following Jesus and called to be people defending the Truth of God and in doing that we are challenging a lost world.
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for revealing Yourself to us through Your Spirit in our inner being. We are totally convinced that You are the True God because You rose from the dead granting us a great salvation. Help us to stand firm and steadfast for You in a world where the many do not follow You. Help us to protect Your Cause by not spreading false teaching. Amen.