A reflection on 1 Kings 18:20-46
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.” (v. 21)
You’re there on Mount Carmel. Do you see the 450 priests of Baal? Opposite them is Elijah, that “trouble maker” who had caused this drought. The prophet, whom King Ahab has been hunting down, is vastly outnumbered. But look who’s taunting who!
“Shout louder! Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
Baal’s priests look exhausted (and more than a little embarrassed). After hours of calling on Baal, even wounding themselves, not a flicker of fire has been conjured. Could it be that the god we have been sacrificing to is deaf? Or, worse, dead?
Elijah’s words earlier ring in your ear: “How long will you waver between two options?” It sounds like a dare addressed to you. Have I really thought long and hard about my beliefs?
You stare at Elijah’s water-drenched altar glistening in the sunlight. Your eyebrows furrow. This man is crazy! Surely no fire could burn this altar. Then Elijah’s prayer silences the murmuring throng. Suddenly fire streaks the sky and hits the altar. The altar sizzles and crackles so violently you feel heat on your face. There is a collective gasp from the crowd, followed by chanting that rises in a crescendo: “Yahweh! He is God!”
Be sure, be very sure you follow the All-Consuming Fire and not some counterfeit, impotent god.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!
(Henry J. van Dyke)