This is one of my favorite stories. I love it when the stupidity of idolatry is dramatically pointed out.
“How long will you hesitate between two options? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” (18:21)
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s not entirely skip over chapter 17. As James 5:17 puts it, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, he prayed it would not rain and it did not rain 3 1/2 years.” We are ordinary people who serve no ordinary God.
So here’s the scene: Elijah alone with God (who did not previously agree to a contest) vs. 450 prophets of Baal. Two alters, two piles of wood, two oxen.
“You call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.” (18:24)
The worshippers of Baal yell and wail and cut themselves from morning til evening, “but no one answered, no one paid attention.” (18:29)
Then Elijah soaks his alter with 12 pitchers of water and asks the LORD one time: “‘Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their heart back again’. 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.” (18:37-38)
The LORD is God! He listens to His people and works mightily for His name’s sake. Elijah didn’t have to beg, plead, dance around, injure himself, he just asked for the LORD to represent Himself and He did.
Sometimes we get an idea in our heads and then dance around, praying and pleading that God will bless it. Endeavors, relationships, you name it. When we don’t hear back, we begin to assume this means God is not powerful or does not listen. I dare say, maybe it’s because it is an alter to ourselves or something else.
Elijah had just spent the past 3+ years with the LORD, praying, listening, and hiding from Ahab. He knew the heart of God and that it was for Israel to see Him truly, and give up this worthless devotion to Baal.
Listen to the heart of God. What is important to Him? 1. Truth: there is no God but Him. 2. Provision and protection for the widow and orphan. Follow His lead, join Him in His work, seek His kingdom and His righteousness. Then suddenly you’ll see His power, His fire, going with you, because His dreams have become your dreams.