I’m reading through the book of 1 Kings, and as I came across the familiar story of Elijah versus the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal (which is really about the one true God versus a false one), I was struck by the similarities of our culture today.
“Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, ‘Is that you, O troubler of Israel?’ ” ~ 1 Kings 18:17
Because of the wickedness of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, and because the nation had turned away from following their God, there had been a drought in the land of Israel for over three years, “and there was a severe famine in Samaria” (1 Kings 18:2). Yet, though God had made it quite clear why there was a drought, Ahab blamed the messenger, Elijah.
I look around me today, and I see unspeakable evil being done. Many are shaking their fists at God and denying His existence. And I hear countless people blaming the Christians for what is wrong in our nation…
“And he answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals.’ ” ~ 1 Kings 18:18
Elijah spoke the truth to the King, though it could cost him his life.
Am I willing to stand up and speak truth to the broken world around me, though it may cost me?
“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word.” ~ 1 Kings 18:21
Elijah challenged the people to “pick a side”. It was time to stand up for what they believed in. And who would they choose? Yet the people remained silent.
Oh Christians, it is time for you and me to “pick a side”. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) We must stand up for the one true God. Or we shall surely fall. Silence is no longer an option…
” ‘Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.’ So all the people answered and said, ‘It is well spoken.’ ” ~ 1 Kings 18:24
Elijah issued an ultimatum: whoever’s God sent fire from heaven to ignite the offering would be THE God. And the people agreed.
[An aside here: I love that Elijah instructs the prophets of Baal to call upon the name of their gods. The Hebrew word for ‘the name’ is shem, meaning “fame, glory, reputation”. Remember, your name is not just something you are called by. It is who you are, your nature and soul. The gods did not have an identity or a soul. They were nothing.]
I think so many people today are confused, willing to believe whichever “false gospel” makes them feel good. They believe what they have been told is the truth, yet they do not question it. The blinders are on their hearts until the Holy Spirit removes them. If they only knew the true NAME to call upon! Jesus, name above all names…
“So they…called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon…But there was no voice; no one answered…at noon, Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.’ So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom…But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.” ~ 1 Kings 18:26, 27-28a, 29b
These prophets of Baal truly believed that he would answer them. “But there was no voice; no one answered.” Elijah poked fun at Baal, suggesting he was busy (i.e. in the bathroom)! The men cut themselves tilll “the blood gushed out on them” (1 Kings 18:28b). “But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.” Satan, the ultimate deceiver, had sold them a lie.
Isn’t this like the dear lost ones around us today? They cry out, looking for answers, looking for peace and happiness and truth. And instead, they are wounded, broken, dying. “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.” ~ Ecclesiastes 2:11
Satan says this, that, or the other thing, will make you feel better, will make you happy. He is the father of lies. Nothing and no one can fill those deep heart and soul needs except for God. Period. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ~ Acts 4:12
” ‘Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.’ Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’ “~ 1 Kings 18:37-39
Elijah didn’t have to cry out or hurt himself to be heard. He was obeying the word of God and knew that God would hear him. This was for God’s glory, to turn the hearts of His people back to Him. And wow, what a way to do it! The fire consumed not only the sacrifice and the wood, but also the rocks and the dirt and the water. There was no doubt that God is THE one true God.
Do we remember God’s promises that He will always hear our prayers? Throughout the Bible we are told time and again that He hears us. Sometimes He may not answer right away, or the way we had hoped, but it is always for our good and for His glory. Jesus Himself told us ” ‘And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.’ ” ~ John 14:13-14
When we ask in Jesus’ name, after His own heart and nature, for God’s glory, it will be done.
Note: I have been working on this blog each morning this past week. And then, the other night, I was privileged to attend an advance screening of the upcoming movie from the Kendrick brothers, “War Room”, which will be opening in theaters August 28th. (I highly recommend this movie to everyone!) And it struck me as perfect timing for this little message God gave me to write this week. For you see, without the power of prayer, without God on our side, fighting our battles for us, we lose. Every. Single. Time. Oh, we may “armor up” (Ephesians 6) but if we forget verse 18 – “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” – we cannot win against our enemy. We must engage, but with God. And then HE will fight the battle for us, and win it, for His glory.
“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” ” ~ Romans 10:13-15
Pray. Share. Disciple. Love.