Saturday, February 9, 2008

1 Kings 18

What is this passage all about?
After three years of drought, at God's instruction, Elijah presented himself to Ahab and challenged the priests of Baal, then God brought rain to the land of Israel.

What can I learn from this passage?
Ahab had searched for Elijah and been unable to find him (v10), but it took the word of the LORD to bring Elijah out of his safe residence with the widow of Zarephath. Again, when the LORD commanded Elijah (v1) he went (v2). Elijah first found Obadiah, a devout believer (v3)who had taken advantage of his position of power within the court of Ahab to protect a number of the LORD's priests from harm at the hands of Ahab's pagan wife, Jezebel (V4). Despite being well-known for having done this, Obadiah was still afraid of Ahab (v14), but Elijah convinced him to take word of his return. When Elijah confronted Ahab, Ahab called him a troublemaker but Elijah told Ahab he had brought the trouble on himself (v17-18).
Then Elijah accused the people of Israel of wavering in their religious devotionto both the LORD and Baal, and he challenged the priests of Baal and Asherah to a duel of sorts, to prove whose god really was God (v24). The priess of Baal built bn altar and prepared the sacrifice, but Baal was unable to respond to their prayers for fire. Full of bravado (vv27-28a,29b), "At noon, Elijah began to taunt them. 'Shout louder!' he said. 'Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.' So they shouted louder... But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention." So Elijah repaired the altar of the LORD that was there at Mt Carmel (v30) and prepared upon it a sacrifice. He had people soak the sacrifice, the altar and a trench he had dug around the altar in water. And then he prayed (vv36-38): " 'O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be know today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so that the people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.' Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench." This demonstration of God's power had the desired effect (v39). "When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, 'The LORD - he is God! The LORD, - he is God!' " There's no doubt that Elijah over-stepped the bounds of his prophetic authority in his religious duel with the priest of Baal. Yet God honoured His own name, and brought glory to himself through Elijah's actions.
Elijah organised the slaughter of the priests of Baal, then announced that rain would fall on the land once more. He knelt down and prayed, and the first rain cloud appeared on the horizon. Soon, the sky grew black with clouds and a heavy rain began to fall.

How does it help me worship God?
Many people might argue over whether miracles such as this occur today, or are even needful today. The reality is that I can choose to respond to the story of this event wiht the same fervent recognition of God's god-hood as the people of Israel who were there at the time. God has shown Himself mighty with His many deeds throughout history, and I can choose to acknowledge what He has done in all of this. Most especially, I can acknowledge God because He has already done the most magnificent thing in all of history when He sent His Son to earth to die on the cross. I give you praise, O LORD, for You alone are God, the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.

No comments: