You might need a little background to this story. We're in the reign of the evil King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. God's prophet, Elijah, had told them that Baal worship must cease or it would not rain again until Elijah prayed for it. (Baal was the god of fertility and rain.) At the time of tonight's story, three years have passed without rain.
Ahab is usually called the most infamous king of Israel! He was a famous builder of this time. His Ivory Hous3e was made of white rock on the outside and paneled on the inside with elephant ivory! His wife, Jezebel was the most infamous queen of Israel. She brought her Baal worship from the northern country of Phoenicia and was a force of incredible evil. Together they were powerful tools of the Enemy. Many Israelites faithful to God lost their lives to the two.
There's a lot we know about this god! He becomes the major god of the Middle East and the most often mentioned pagan god of the Bible. As god of fertility and rain, acts of worship that surrounded him were sexual rites and orgies too despicable to write. The priests and priestesses were known by the Hebrew words "qadesh" and "qadesha" which are words that describe homosexual activity. God judged the Canaanite kingdoms for worshipping Baal and the other gods.
Fire was considered a symbol of judgment in Old Testament times. An interesting fact is that the symbol that is usually found in the hand of Baal is a lightening bolt. The Baal prophets must have jumped for excitement at the contest. After all, fire from heaven was their god's specialty! The fire (or lightening bolt) is a literal, physical sign. (1 Kings 12:38)says the fire consumed "the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and dust, and licked up the water in the trench."
In the script (*and in the Bible), Elijah makes fun of the Baal prophets' efforts. What adds insult to injury is that these were the stories used by these prophets to explain why Baal didn't answer some prayers prayed to him. His use of their excuses brought them to a fever pitch in order to prove him wrong!
One interesting twist in this story is the pouring of large amounts of water on the altar. They're in a drought and water is precious! Elijah leave no doubt about this wasn't a trick or illusion!
According to the Law of Moses, a prophet had to be 100% right 100% of the time or he was killed (stoned to death usually) . When the Baal prophets are proven false, they are killed immediately for their deceit! Close reading of this passage also reveals that 400 prophets of Asherah ( a pagan goddess) were also there on Mt. Carmel. They aren't killed because they don't participate in the contest! (1 Kings 18:18-19)
The race of Ahab and Elijah to Jezreel was about 13 miles from Mt. Carmel!
The last two nights, the emphasis has been on finding where you are in God's authority structure. Tonight and tomorrow night we're looking at how to deal with the issue of standing against human authority that wants to do evil.
Q. Why is it "okay" with God that Elijah defy the authority of the king and his Baal god?
It's pretty clear from Elijah's words and actions that he wasn't acting under his own authority:
(1 Kings 18:21-22) - "If the Lord be God..." and "...a prophet of the Lord..."
(1 Kings 18:36-37) - "...I am your servant... at thy word..." and "...Thou are the Lord God..."
(1 Kings 18:32) - "...he built an altar in the name of the Lord."
Q. So how do you know if you're acting under God's authority?
In Elijah's story both God's reputation and his own are linked together. That's not always the case. I've lied about this fact to myself so I could feel for the cause of Christ! This was even true when I was in Bible College. From that experience I learn ed that I got a better 'hearing' from my unsaved professors by speaking to them class or in their offices.
Q. How can you know when God's reputation is at stake?
This is when God's name or His person is made fun of! I used to work with auto technicians at two different car dealerships and those guys could really cuss. I decided I needed to - about that or stop telling people I was a Christian! I didn't want to come off as a "holier than thou," so I began to pray that God would show me how to take a stand against these guys in a way. Two weeks later God showed me how!
I see this regularly at school! Someone is a Christian and no other stronger brother of sister steps forward. I'm not talking about beating up a bully! I'm talking about showing your world that Christians each other. (John 15:12) If you have people in your church that are hurting or sick, those people should feel your love instead of a cold shoulder (James 5:15). People will go on if good men and women stand by and do nothing!
Q. Do you protect God's reputation as fiercely as your own?
|baptistinfo.org||- The End|