What a day!
Every Hebrew who could walk was out on the mountain, watching the impossible.
The only prophet of God's, who had slipped through the murderous fingers of Queen Jezebel, was calling for a showdown. Bring the popcorn. What a show!
The exalted prophets of Baal were gonna take on crazy ol' Elijah and they were always good for a show.
Which gods would win? Didn't really matter. Bets were going both ways. Let the best god win!
The Baal staff did not disappoint; dancing, shrieking, cutting themselves from morning till late afternoon. They used their best tricks, their most powerful incantations. Had to cover the kids' ears every now and then, but well worth charging admission.
Every eye in the crowd darted toward Elijah at some point. Was he impressed? Was he ready to call it a day? Would he do something equally spectacular?
He slouched against a rock, cleaning his nails with a piece of straw. "Yell a little louder, guys!" he taunted. "Maybe ol' Baal is on vacation."
The crowd grew restless. After a few hours of this, the thrill wore off. What was wrong? Why wasn't fire coming down to meet Elijah's challenge?
When the bloodied dance recital finally ended and Elijah took the stage, God dropped his H-bomb. Fire engulfed the sacrifice and fear engulfed the masses.
The story in I Kings 18 is familiar, but there is a little tidbit that often goes unnoticed.
In verse 21, Elijah asks the people: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”
Notice that he did NOT say that they had totally rejected the LORD God. They had merely added others alongside him. They were all for leaving a little altar to the God of Israel--right next to the temple of the Asherah and the high places of Baal.
And we do that every day.We think that we can offer the LORD God a portion of our lives and he will be satisfied with that. The rest of life is ours to do with as we please. The other portions of ourselves we can devote to friends, hobbies, jobs, dreams and our pet vices. We fool ourselves into believing that God wants to be "a part of our lives." We even preach and teach it.
The Israelites of Elijah's day would beg to differ. They had thought that too: "As long as we acknowledge God, we can chase other things too. No sense totally ignoring our culture and the customs around us. He won't mind. "
He does mind.
- Your showing up at church on Sunday does not impress him.
- Your reluctant effort toward Bible reading and prayer is just another version of Baal's dance recital.
- The eagerness with which you glance at your watch halfway through the sermon versus the eagerness with which you flip on the football game an hour later does not go unnoticed by God.
- The delight of your heart cannot be masked. God knows when your delight is not Him.
Elijah's challenge still rings in the air:
Who is God in your life?
Who is God in your life?
If Jehovah is God, then worship and serve him. Build your entire life around bringing him honor and glory. Dedicate everything you do to his purposes.
But if that turns you cold, then quit pretending. Go ahead, chase your personal dreams, make your excuses, keep playing the church game and pretending.
But don't be surprised when fire falls from heaven and consumes it all.