“Then Elijah approached all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.’ But the people didn't answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, ‘I am the only remaining prophet of the Lord, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us. They are to choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and place it on the wood but not light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the wood but not light the fire. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh. The God who answers with fire, He is God.’ All the people answered, ‘That [sounds] good.’” (1 Kings 18:21-24 HCSB)
God + 1 = a majority. If God is included in the equation, then all things are possible. 1 Kings 18 provides a powerful illustration of this truth.
God told one man, Elijah, to go on the offensive and take the fight to the enemy. Too often God’s people have a fortress mentality. We see ourselves as outnumbered and outgunned by the world and hope we can just hold out. Yet, Jesus intends for His church to be militant and triumphant, storming the very gates of hell. God back and read Acts again. You will see people who marched out with a mission and turned the world upside down (really putting it right-side up)! We are to confront the values, philosophies, and deceptions of the day.
Maybe you remember the Ali-Frazier fight, “The Thrilla in
” or the Foreman-Ali bout, “The Rumble
in the Jungle.” Well, today, we get a ringside seat for the contest on Manila . Carmel
There was A CHALLENGE TO A DUEL (v.1-19).
“When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, ‘Is that you, you destroyer of Israel?’ He replied, ‘I have not destroyed
I say it is time for us to show the courage of Elijah and throw down the gauntlet. It is time for us to trust God. It is time to say to our world, “The Emperor has no clothes”—that the fashions, fads, and fancies of the world are inadequate to clothe people for eternity. Our families are disintegrating. Our churches are declining. Our nation is degenerating. Our world is deteriorating.
What folly it is to look to the politicians and pundits and professors and professionals to fix with human solutions what human systems have caused. Our idolatry of technology, economy, diplomacy—and the like—is not the cure, it is the cancer! As servants, those things can be helpful tools, but as masters, they are horrible tyrants. Meanwhile, we reject the only source of hope and help—Almighty God.
If change is going to happen, it will not be through legislation or education but through spiritual transformation as we repent and seek God’s face. Obadiah is an example of the godly remnant the Lord has in every generation, even the darkest hour.
“Obadiah was a man who greatly feared the Lord and took 100 prophets and hid them, 50 men to a cave, and provided them with food and water when Jezebel slaughtered the Lord's prophets.” (v.3b-4)
God always has a people. Will you be part of a people zealous for God? Fear Him and you need fear no one or nothing else!
God always has a preacher. It may be a lone voice, like John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness of this wicked world. Elijah was the Old Testament counterpart to that New Testament herald. The voice might be a lone call, but it is a loud one! When things seem the darkest, God can light a torch of truth, and thrust it into the hands of His man—His preacher. If he will stand up and speak up—then God will show up!
There was then, A CALL FOR A DECISION (v.20-40).
“Then Elijah approached all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.’ But the people didn't answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, ‘I am the only remaining prophet of the Lord, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us. They are to choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and place it on the wood but not light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the wood but not light the fire. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh. The God who answers with fire, He is God.’ All the people answered, ‘That [sounds] good.’” (v.21-24)
God’s people cannot straddle the fence. Jesus won’t let us. He says that we are for Him or against Him—there is no middle ground. Neutrality is impossible. He told the church at Laodecia, “You make me sick. I wish you would be cold or hot, but because you are lukewarm you nauseate me.” Someone has well-said that there is nothing in the middle of the road, but a yellow streak and dead possums!
Elijah had no yellow streak up his back! He wasn’t lukewarm, but on fire for God! He would be the one God would use to ignite the fire of revival among His people.
The prophet’s faith in God is vividly displayed. I love the way he pokes fun at the false prophets.
“Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, ‘Since you are so numerous, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first. Then call on the name of your god but don't light the fire.’ So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, ‘Baal, answer us!’ But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, ‘Shout loudly, for he's a god! Maybe he's thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he's on the road. Perhaps he's sleeping and will wake up!’ They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed over them. All afternoon they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound; no one answered, no one paid attention. ” (v.25-28)
That pictures the frenzy of activity we have in our world. But, activity isn’t accomplishment. Our energy is spent on futility. Without God, we are on a treadmill, running hard, but getting nowhere.
He wasn’t intimidated. We do not need to be. We have truth on our side. After the frenzied blood-letting and screaming fails to bring down fire from heaven, Elijah goes to extremes to assure recognition of a miracle, dousing everything with water.
“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come near me.’ So all the people approached him. Then he repaired the Lord's altar that had been torn down: Elijah took 12 stones-according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, ‘
Then in contrast to the false prophets, this true prophet of
prays a short, simple prayer
and gets dramatic results! Israel
“At the time for offering the [evening] sacrifice, Elijah the prophet approached [the altar] and said, ‘Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have done all these things. Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back.’ Then Yahweh's fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.” (v.36-38)
The response of the people to this is the glory of God—as the true God is praised and the false prophets are purged.
“When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, ‘Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!’ Then Elijah ordered them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let even one of them escape.’ So they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon and slaughtered them there.” (v.39-40)
We desperately need this today. We need the fire of heaven to fall. There needs to be a manifestation of spiritual power in the church so that people will turn back to the Lord. May the fire of God be kindled in our hearts!
Next came A CRY FOR A DOWNPOUR (v.41-46).
“Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a rainstorm.’ So Ahab went to eat and drink, but Elijah went up to the summit of
Then Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, “Get [your chariot] ready and go down so the rain doesn't stop you.”’ In a little while, the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and there was a downpour. So Ahab got in [his chariot] and went to Jezreel. The power of the Lord was on Elijah, and he tucked his mantle under his belt and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.” (v.41-46)
Elijah prayed and the heavens were shut. He prays again and the heavens open. James uses this as an example of the power of prayer, and reminds us that Elijah was a man like us (see James 5:16-18). Can you pray like Elijah? Well, of course you can!
But the best thing to remember is that Elijah’s God is still our God. He hasn’t changed. God still answers prayer. The miracle isn’t in the greatness of the prayer being offered, but in the glory of the Person who responds!
The size of the cloud is interesting. I believe there is a message there. When it first appeared it didn’t seem very promising.
I recall a time that my wife was trying to clean the top of the refrigerator. She was standing on a chair and still couldn’t reach the dirt farther back toward the wall. She asked me to help and commented that I had married a short woman. I smiled and said, “Yes, but good things come in small packages!”
That was true of that little cloud.
It can be true of God’s work in your life. Maybe you sense a need to get closer to God but don’t know where to begin.
You need to read your Bible and pray—why not start with 10 minutes of Bible reading and 5 minutes in prayer? Build that discipline in your life and God can take you farther down the path of spiritual maturity as you walk with Him.
Maybe you are convicted about the level of your giving. You know you ought to tithe, but don’t think you can—why not tithe one week a month or start by giving 2% or 5% and see how God works.
Perhaps you’ve thought about reaching the lost and don’t know that you can. Why not call one of your pastors and ask them to go with you to visit that friend or family member. You won’t have to say a thing—just get us in the door. Pray while we share. It probably won’t be many visits before you have something to say also.
We have a little crowd on Wednesday night, compared to Sunday morning, but that’s where God starts a great work. Jesus took five loaves and two fish and fed 5000. You build a fire with kindling wood. If we try to light the “back log” of Sunday morning hundreds, we may never see revival fires burn, but if we begin with the Wednesday evening handfuls, it could be God will send down the fire!
Really, it takes only one. God + 1 = a majority. Will you be that one?