Christian Devotionals

"Gotta Love This Guy"

I love to read the Bible every day. Besides being God’s love letter to humanity and a guidebook to salvation and spiritual prosperity, it’s also about regular, ordinary people who God uses to accomplish the impossible. This is particularly true in the Old Testament. We’ve got Abraham, Joseph, Moses and prophets like Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah. If you’re only reading the New Testament, you’re missing out on a great deal of history and our Lord’s stellar track record of accomplishing the miraculous through His people. What a wonderful source of encouragement it can be to those of us who are out there serving Him in the trenches (that’s all believers). For example, go to 1 Kings 18 where the prophet Elijah does battle with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. This occurred approximately 850 BC, after Ahab - the wicked king of Israel’s Northern Kingdom – married the evil Jezebel. This unlawful marriage to a pagan woman led to the introduction of Baal worship (Phoenician-style) into the Northern Kingdom. The sixteenth chapter of 1 Kings tells us that King Ahab did more to provoke the LORD to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.

So now it’s time for the showdown. Did the LORD command legions of angels to wipe out this abomination of a king and his armies? No. Did God unleash His wrath through human armies from Judah, Egypt or Babylon? Not this time. For this showdown the LORD sent a lone prophet, one whose knee had not bowed down to Baal. God sent Elijah. Here is a classic case where God plus one equals a majority. In this knockdown drag out contest to prove that my God (capital G) is greater than your gods, one godly man – Elijah – takes on 450 prophets of Baal. In a nutshell, “You call on your gods and I’ll call on the name of the Living God and let’s see who shows up. The God who answers by raining down fire on the sacrifice takes home all the marbles” (my paraphrase). Of course these Baal guys are totally outmatched and try anything and everything to no avail. Here’s where it gets interesting and even humorous. Elijah starts taunting them big time. We’re talking world class taunting beyond what we’ve seen professional athletes do at sporting events or politicians engage in come election time:

”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."
1 Kings 18:27

Don’t you love it? I especially love Elijah’s implication that their gods may be away on business. Well this gets the Baal boys all worked up and they launch into self-mutilation mode.

28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.

Like that’s going to do anything. Elijah cranks up the taunting a notch by having his own sacrifice saturated with water three times until the water overflows and inundates the trenches. He then calls upon the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel and pleads, “let it be known that You are God … let this people know that You are the LORD and turn their hearts back to You again.” Well, the rest is history. God rains down fire and consumes Elijah’s sacrifice plus all the wood, stones and even the water in the trenches. The people of Israel cheer – “the LORD, He is God” and then Elijah has all 450 of the Baal prophets whacked. Wow, talk about faith and courage. Elijah took an unpopular and dangerous stand for the truth and God honored him for it. Let Elijah’s example inspire us to take a stand for Christ when popular opinion is dead set against us. The Gospel message is often met with hostility, but the truth of God’s love and forgiveness through Christ still needs to be shared. It won’t be an easy task, but whether God calls you to a Mount Carmel-sized mission or simply urges you to witness to your neighbor, remember this:

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
(Romans 8:31)

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