1 Kgs 18: 1-46
Today’s chapter is a very popular and renowned one, and two elements made it so common with so many preachers: fire and rain or water. It was three years into the drought and the word of God came to Elijah again. This time around, he was to go and show himself before Ahab, then God would send rain on the ground.
Ahab and one of his servants, the governor of his house, Obadiah, were setting out to look for grass for his horses before they all died. Obadiah was described as a man that was god-fearing. This was shown by his hiding and feeding one hundred of God’s prophets when Jezebel cut off the rest of them. Obadiah was first to meet with Elijah, and he wanted to be sure God’s Spirit would not make him disappear before he went and told Ahab. The king we learnt had been searching for Elijah in every nation all the while.
When Ahab finally met Elijah, they needed to clarify who was it that was troubling Israel – Elijah or Himself. Elijah made him know that his sin of idolatry was responsible for the trouble Israel was in. He then told Ahab to gather together all the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal with all Israel at Mount Carmel. It was here that the challenge was set – the Baal prophets were provided a bullock and likewise Elijah, each side was to pray to their God, and the God that answers with fire would be the true God.
One thing that struck me with the prophets of Baal was that they went through all their religious rites from morning till late, even jumping on the altar and cutting themselves till blood gushed out, but nothing happened. This means that the fact that a religious rite is long, dramatic or rigorous does not mean it holds any power, without God all religious practices are futile, they are false.
It was then Elijah’s turn! We learnt that he first rebuilt the altar of God, setting the stones in place. He then requested that the trenches be filled with water and also that water be poured on the burnt offering, so it was clear that no fire was hidden anywhere. Elijah then prayed unto God before all the people and fire from heaven consumed the offering, the stones, dust and even licked up the water in the trenches. The purpose of the prayer was clear, it was to turn the people’s heart to God, and when the people saw what happened, they bowed down and worshipped God as the true God. So Elijah ordered that all the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal be captured, and he slew them at the brook of Kishon.
The final part of this powerful chapter was Elijah’s prayer for rain. He told Ahab to proceed to eat and drink for there would soon be an abundance of rain. Elijah then prayed, and though his servant went to check seven times at the sea for a sign, the rain did come powerfully after three years of drought. The prayer of a single man defeated four hundred and fifty false prophets and restored rain in a whole nation.
As much as we might say that Elijah was special, we learnt that he was a man of like passions like ourselves, and if we also pray fervently as he did, our prayers would avail as his did (1 Pet 5:17-18). Will you?
Some verses to remember
vs 21: And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
vs 37: Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
vs 38-39: Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
vs 45: And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.