Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1 KINGS 18: Elijah's Power Challenge

1 Kings 18:20-24 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 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." But the people said nothing. Then Elijah said to them, "I am the only one of the Lord's prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire — he is God." Then all the people said, "What you say is good."

1 Kings 18:36-39 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known 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 these 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. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The Lord-he is God! The Lord-he is God!" 

Elijah's challenge to the people was this: "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." The prophet was telling the people they could not continue to sit on the fence, wanting the best of both worlds - that of Baal-worship and Yahweh-worship. They had to decide where their allegiance would be.

So, the epic battle between the 450 prophets of Baal and 1 prophet of the LORD began. The prophets called on Baal to send fire down to consume their sacrifice from morning till evening--and nothing happened. Elijah mocked at their antics of self-mutilation. When it was his turn, Elijah asked for four large jars of water to be poured onto the sacrifice and the wood for burning--to make sure that it's humanly impossible to start a fire. Only a fire from heaven could consume both wood and water at the same time. And so it happened: fire fell from heaven immediately after Elijah prayed and consumed the whole altar--sacrifice, wood, stone, soil and water! Nothing was left and the people fell on their faces and cried, "The Lord--he is God! The Lord--he is God!"

What an amazing challenge to the forces of darkness and what a powerful demonstration of the Lord's supremacy over all other so-called gods. In our days, where there are multiple claims to truth, we need to confront and challenge these claims, not on the level of talk, but of power. As the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:20, "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." What the world wants to see is not more talk but more power--not power to oppress others but power to set people free from demonic strongholds, from mental and emotional bondages, from physical sicknesses and diseases. That is the Gospel of the Kingdom--not just talk only, but a demonstration of power.

Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom with actions rather than words: acts of power motivated by love. Love without power is sentimentality. Love requires power to be real and relevant.

May God grant us boldness to challenge the power of darkness to set people free from sin, sickness and evil spirits through the mighty name of Jesus. Amen

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