The Old Testament is filled with stories about God displaying his magnificent authority and power and this passage is no exception (1 Kings 18:17-40). In fact, it’s one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament because the lessons taught here can easily be applied to us today as well.
Basically this passage is about an entire nation who turned its back on God and instead was worshiping the pagan god, Baal. The prophet Elijah comes along and confronts the nation by challenging the prophets of the false god, Baal, to a showdown — a showdown that will prove God is God alone.
So all day long the prophets chant, rave, and dance as they call on Baal to rain fire down from heaven, but Baal never answers.
Then it’s Elijah’s turn to call on God.
First, Elijah takes 12 stones and builds an altar. Next, he builds a ditch around the stones and puts wood on top of the altar. Then he puts the sacrifice on top of the wood and calls for water to be poured over the sacrifice three times. The ditch around the altar fills with water and the sacrifice, as well as the wood, is drenched.
Elijah then calls on God, and God immediately sends fire down from heaven and burns the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, as well as all the water in the ditch. In an instant God proves that he is more powerful than the false gods.
Believers can take away from this passage many powerful lessons. One clear lesson is that when we take our eyes off God and focus on things of this world, we set ourselves up for disaster and disappointment. But if we listen to God and are faithful and obedient to his word, we find victory and reward.
But it’s Elijah’s faith in God that’s truly amazing. He issued a direct challenge to the prophets of Baal without wavering in his belief that God would respond accordingly. He demonstrated boldness and determination even when surrounded by unbelief and false teachings, firmly standing on the promises of God — something every believer can learn from.
So go ahead and read about the power of God in this passage and really take a look at the actions of Elijah. Because just like Elijah, we too are surrounded by false gods. And just like Elijah, we have the potential of reaching out and helping someone turn away from the false gods of this world and turn them instead towards the one true God who offers forgiveness and eternal salvation.
Remember, sometimes all it takes is boldness and determination. Sometimes all it takes is faith and obedience.
But it always takes someone to stand up and be an Elijah.
Donna Hughey is an award-winning Christian author and columnist. She lives in Crescent City.