“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.” (I Kings 18:24a)
One person + God = a majority. God told one man, Elijah, to go on the offensive and challenge the devil to a duel. Too often God’s people have a fortress mentality. We see ourselves as outnumbered and outgunned by the enemy and hope we can just hold out. Yet Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The church is to be militant, storming the very gates of hell. Maybe you remember the Ali-Frazier fight, “The Thrilla in Manila” or the Foreman-Ali bout, “The Rumble in the Jungle.” We have a ringside seat for "The Contest on Carmel!"
We find Israel in a sad state brought on by sin (1 Kings 18:1-19). It was time for the evil to be confronted and God calls Elijah to do it. 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. 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. Will you be part of a people zealous for God?
God’s people cannot straddle the fence (1 Kings 18:20-40). Jesus won’t let us. He says that we are for Him or against Him--there is no middle ground. Christ 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.” Elijah's faith is on display here. I love the way he pokes fun at the false prophets. 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 in contrast to the false prophets, this true prophet of Israel prays a short, simple prayer and gets dramatic results! The response of the people to this is worship. We desperately need the fire of heaven to fall once more!
Elijah prayed and the heavens were shut. He prays again and the heavens open (1 Kings 18:41-46). James 5:16-18 uses this as an example of the power of prayer and reminds us that Elijah was a man like us. Can you pray like Elijah? Well, of course you can! But the best thing to remember is that Elijah's God is our God! He hasn’t changed. The size of the cloud is interesting. When it first appeared it didn’t seem very promising. It can be true of God's work in our 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. One man yielded, one woman praying, one step of faith taken can bring a downpour! Open the heavens, Lord! We need You!