➤ by Isabel Jennings
In the chapter before, the prophet Elijah showed up to confront King Ahab. It had been 3 years since Elijah had declared that it would not rain in Israel. There was famine in the land. King Ahab was out looking for a small patch of grass to feed horses when Elijah appeared.
King Ahab had hunted Elijah in every surrounding nation for those 3 years, certainly with the intent on forcing him to pray that he would change God’s mind and make it would rain, or to kill him for the drought. For 3 years, Ahab hunted, but he did not find Elijah.
Then one day, Elijah appeared, and he was ready for a showdown: God vs Baal. It was to be an epic battle. The god who answered by fire, would be the true god that all the people of Israel would worship.
That was a fight Ahab could get behind. His wife would be happy, and he wouldn’t need to fight this prophet anymore! So, Ahab sent word through Israel and brought all of Israel to the battle.
The nation agreed to the terms: whoever answered by fire was the true God.
Read the whole story, in 1 Kings 18. Baal’s prophets worshiped all day, and yet “there was no reply of any kind”. Nothing happened. Elijah even taunted them a little: “Maybe your god is daydreaming, or maybe he is in the bathroom. Is your God asleep? Shout louder and wake him up”!
Still, there was silence from Baal.
Then it was Elijah’s turn. Everything he did was purposeful. He rebuilt an old alter that was there to the Lord Jehovah. Altars were where the people met with God, bringing their sacrifices for sin, and peace.
God had Elijah bring the people back to the altar, from where they had wandered away. He was faithful. He had not left the relationship, yet He was the One rebuilding it. He was there to bring Israel back to Himself.
And so, Elijah took 12 stones, each representing a tribe God wanted to redeem, and set them up as the altar stones. He dug a trench around the altar and then doused the sacrifice three times with water.
Water in the Bible represents the cleansing of the sinner by washing of the Word of God, and the number three signifies completeness. Even in this battle of god vs. God, there was a thread of salvation weaved through.
This wasn’t about God defending His reputation or proving His deity. He was God regardless, if they believed it or not. This was about God redeeming Israel from their sin. Prove that I have done all of this at your command. …Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself, 1 Kings 18:36-37 NLT.
With the altar and sacrifice sopping wet, there was no room for anyone to say Elijah had started the fire by trickery. Everyone there would know undoubtedly Who was God that day.
Baal’s prophets had prayed, screamed, and cut themselves all day long. Elijah prayed once and God answered immediately, obliterating the sacrifice and even the rocks of the altar. Everything was ashes and destroyed.
The past had been obliterated, just as it is in every person's salvation story. There was no doubt Who was God that day. And then Elijah killed all the false prophets of Baal, all 850 of them. There would be no return to that old way of living.
Then we arrive at chapter 19. We find Elijah coming off this massive victory over the evil regime of the day.
God had shown up when Elijah prayed and had consumed the sacrifice and all the water poured over it. God had shown up to declare to Israel that He was God. God has proven that Baal was an idol made of wood.
And Elijah had slaughtered all of Jezebel’s false prophets. The next morning, everything should have been right again in Elijah’s world. But then he received a message from Queen Jezebel: “tomorrow I’ll kill you”, and Elijah ran for his life, even leaving his servant at a nearby town, so he was harder to follow.
If Jezebel had had the power to do it, would she have sent a messenger saying tomorrow I’ll kill you? Wouldn’t she have sent an assassin with the message? No, she couldn’t do it, but she wanted Elijah to believe that she could. She wanted to scare Elijah from what God had called him to do.
How often does one day end in glorious victory only for the next day to start with an attack, and like Elijah, we run? How often do we forget what God just did for us, in the face of the next giant?
In chapter 19 we find Elijah ran all the way to the desert and was praying that he would die. Jezebel’s empty threats caused him to fear and just like that, he gave up. He considered himself as good as dead, once Jezebel found him.
But even in his despair, the Lord sent an angel to strengthen him. But, instead of turning back, Elijah carried on further in the opposite direction, going to Mt. Sinai.
God asks him why he’s there and Elijah details for God all that he thinks has happened: Israel has broken their covenant; they’ve torn down every altar; killed all the prophets and he was the only one left, and now they were trying to kill him too.
Elijah was certain that he was the only one left serving God.
What happens next?
A tornado, an earthquake, and a fire. But God wasn’t in the tornado, earthquake, or in the fire. How often does our life mirror that? We call on God, and it feels like more trouble arrives. Or we call on God and expect Him to obliterate everything in a big show of His power, and instead, God appears in a whisper.
Don’t underestimate the God in the whisper.
The God of the whisper created the universe out of nothing, just by speaking. God doesn’t need to shout. God doesn’t need to demonstrate that He is God with a show of His power. He IS power.
When God speaks, His words are more powerful than any tornado, or earthquake. God’s words matter. God keeps His promises.
Where are you today?
You are not alone in your battle.
Elijah thought he was the only one left, but God had reserved 7,000 people who had not followed the false gods. You aren’t alone, either.
Unless stated otherwise, all Bible passages quoted in blue are from the KJV translation.