1 Kings 17:8-20:22
1 Kings 18:20-24, "So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.' But the people said nothing. Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the Lord's prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal's prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire - he is God.'Then all the people said, ‘What you say is good.'"
People are intrigued by exciting showdowns. From the classic western shootout to courtroom dramas to action-packed thrillers, we love watching the protagonist outwit and overpower their dastardly opponent. Well, in today's reading, we get a sneak peek of one of the greatest showdowns of all time.
Yesterday, we read about God's judgment on Israel's king for leading the nation into estrangement from God and pagan worship. God sent a three-year drought causing major devastation and famine. So, Elijah once again approached the wayward king, who accused him of being a troublemaker. Elijah wasn't having it! It was on. He summoned all Israel to join him on Mount Carmel for a showdown between him and 850 false pagan prophets. His words speak for themselves in the passage above. So, imagine his amusement, likely disgust, and absolute disillusionment with what he witnessed during round 1 as the false prophets tried all day long to make their god rain down fire. Elijah even did some trash-talking of his own. He taunted them, saying, "Maybe your god is too busy, on vacation, or asleep. Perhaps shout louder to awaken him." But, spoiler alert: Nothing happened. Finally, worn out and dismayed, the opponents watched as Elijah stepped up to the plate.
In a great display of God's power - not his own, and don't forget, during a major drought - he poured out water, a precious resource at the time, three times all over the wood to make it even more difficult to catch fire. Then prayed to the Lord, who responded in a major way by flashing fire down from heaven upon the bull and altar. The people were so amazed that they fell facedown immediately and called out that God is the one true God. They needed this major reminder to get them back on track and away from the debauchery that went hand in hand with pagan worship.
What do we glean from all this? We cannot waver when it comes to God. He is either the God of our lives or not. We can either live out His best for our lives or in a spiritual drought. Choose God. His way is best, purpose-filled, and in the end, we win!
Heavenly Father, I choose YOU! Help me stay on track when I begin to stray. Amen.