After many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria…
So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word…
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. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. (1 Kings 18:1, 2, 20, 21, 36-40 ESV)
Elijah is such a great story. In the third year of a drought that Elijah foretold, King Ahab is furious and desperate to find him when Elijah appears to him. Elijah issues a challenge for the people to know ho is God by seeing which god answers by fire. The reader might ask at this point, what is God doing with this event? Baal was a god of the Canaanites, the people that Israel pushed out, and he was believed to be the god of the storm. Rain was his thing and yet it was The Lord’s prophet that nixed his rain for three years. Now the god of the storm is asked to send fire (or lightning perhaps) down from the sky and it doesn’t happen. The prophet of Baal are invited to go first call on their god all morning and through midday. Elijah mocks them, suggesting they call louder just in case he is in the bathroom, on vacation, or asleep. When it is Elijah’s turn, he repairs the alter of the Lord, prepares the bull and soaked the offering with water. Then he prays and fire dramatically falls from heaven. The whole purpose is to expose the falseness of Baal and the complete superiority of the Lord.
What lessons can we draw from this? Number 1, we learn that God is God and there is no other. He demonstrated his superiority also over the Egyptian gods with the 10 plagues. 2) God communicates his superiority in ways that the people understand. When Jesus came he spoke Aramaic rather than Hebrew and used illustrations about agriculture and sheep, something that the people would have related to. The New Testament writers wrote in Greek. In Acts 2 the apostles spoke in the tribal languages familiar to those who had come from far away to the feast. 3) God exposes the inability of our idols to give us what we’re looking for. Baal could not deliver on rain. God did. Christians often come to faith in Christ because their idols have been exposed as frauds. Relationships end up in the gutter and a person turns to the Lord. Jobs are lost and people look for hope in the Lord, etc. In every case, God shows himself to be the real joy that these people are looking for in other ways.
What idols has God exposed in our life?
In prayer, recommit yourself to the Lord as your only God and source of life.
McCheyne’s Bible Reading Plan: 1 Kings 18, 1 Thes 1, Ez 48, Ps 39