Scripture: And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 1 Kings 18:36 ESV
Observation: As the story continues, Elijah meets Ahab as promised. It is a brief encounter where Ahab accuses Elijah of being a troublemaker of Israel, and Elijah argues that Ahab is their true adversary. For it is Ahab who turned the hearts of God’s people away from him to Baal worship (18:17-18). Then, with a tone of authority, Elijah tells Ahab to assemble the people of Israel and the pagan priests who sup at Jezebel’s table at Mount Carmel for a showdown (18:18).
Once assembled, Elijah commands the priests of Baal to erect an altar and place a bull on it to sacrifice to Baal. (Elijah will do the same.) He then invites them to go first and call out to their god to strike their altar with fire and complete the offering of a sacrifice. After hours of incantations and self-mutilation, the altar remains untouched. Then Elijah constructs his altar with twelve stones representing the tribes of Israel and then lays wood and a bull on top. As a show of the Lord’s supernatural power, Elijah directs volunteers to douse the altar in water three times. Finally, praying aloud for all to hear, he petitions the Lord to reveal his glory and affirm Elijah as his chosen profit (above verses). Then, boom! Lightning strikes, a conflagration results, and all that remains is now dust (18:38). The people fall prostrate to the ground in fear and declare: “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God” (18:39). Elijah then instructs the crowd to seize the prophets of Baal, and he devotes them to the Lord for destruction, slaughtering the pagan priests at the brook Kishon (18:40).
Takeaway: Fervent for the Lord’s honor and glory and the wellbeing of God’s people, Elijah exercises triumphant faith. Elijah and the crowd witness the Lord’s magnificent display of power that spurs a renewal of faith among God’s people. In contrast, Baal’s prophets’ misguided trust in a human-conceived deity leads to their demise.
It is no different for us today. If the object of our faith is anything other than our Creator and Savior, we will eventually face defeat. Pension funds and medical advances provide a better way of life, but if they are the objects of our faith, if we place our hope for the future in these gifts from God rather than in him, eventually, we will be sorely disappointed. Conversely, if we entrust ourselves to the Lord and avail his provisions through human advancements, we will not go down in defeat when the chemo fails to cure our cancer or a recession halves our retirement plan. Instead, we will triumph over adversity with an immovable faith centered on our good God.
Prayer: Father God, in your mercy, forgive us when we bow down to the pagan gods of secular humanism and materialism. Would you please help us to entrust ourselves to you alone that we might rise above the adversities of this fallen world with triumphant faith? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling