I shared this devotional a few months ago, but my Sunday School lesson today is the story of Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal. It is such an awesome story in which God exhibits His power demonstrating without a shadow of a doubt that He is the One true God. Any doubts? Read on…
I Kings 18:26-39 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it. Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.” “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again. “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”
I love the example that Elijah gave us in this scripture exhibiting the true power of God. When we read through the book of Kings we see king after king who “did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Ahab was no exception. In fact, the scripture says that King Ahab did more evil than any of the kings before him. He must have been a pretty rotten scoundrel. God caused a drought that had lasted 3 years. Ahab was seeking the prophet Elijah will ill intent. Elijah showed up, and called all of the people together for a test. He told Ahab we’ll set up alters and all 450 of your prophets can call on your god, and me, one lone prophet, will call on my God, and we will see who the true God is. So they set up their alters, and King Ahab’s men called on Baal, their god, from morning to evening. They did not get a response. I chuckle a little when I read Elijah’s taunting words. He told them that maybe their god was asleep. Maybe they needed to shout louder and wake him up, or perhaps he was busy, or traveling, or in deep thought. So they shouted louder. But still no answer.
Then Elijah got his turn. He prepared the alter, then he poured water all over the alter…lots of water…enough for it to puddle up under the alter. Then he quietly called out to God. God sent fire down from heaven with so much force and heat that it burned the entire altar, the stones, the dust, and even licked up all of the water! The people witnessed the power of the one true God once more, and they turned to Him. And after a 3 year drought, rain came. It’s almost like the rain came down to gently wash and clean up that terrible place.
The people of Israel saw God work first hand on many occasions, but they persistently turned to false gods. We aren’t the biblical time Israealites, but we are just as guilty. We see the power of God on a daily basis, but we worship earthly idols. Perhaps not with intention, as the Israealites did, but we are guilty nonetheless. We focus our minds and energy and waste soooooo much time on TV, computers, cell phones, whatever it may be. We worry about the dollar, our house, and our vehicles. We want this or that. We think if only I could get this _ (fill in the blank), we would be happy, when actually what we are truly craving and in need of is a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior! He is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. He doesn’t sleep, vacation, get too busy for us, and we are always on His mind. He is all we really need. The one true God is still here. The same God Elijah called on is the same God I talk to every day. You don’t have to shout or scream to get His attention. You must simply call out His name! He is the one true God!