After three years of hiding, the timing was finally right for Elijah to do God's work publicly. Influenced by their pagan queen, God's people drifted even further away from Him. The Israelites were at a critical point as they began wavering between God and Baal.
Out of nowhere, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel found themselves confronted by the prophet, Elijah. On the slopes of Mount Carmel, in front of hundreds of pagan prophets and prophetesses, and in front of the ambivalent people of Israel, Elijah set the record straight.
The people of God had one foot in God's camp, and one in Baal's camp. But Elijah challenged them to follow only one: "‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him" (1 Kings 18:21b).
In the New Testament, James warned against this kind of wavering faith: "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:6-8).
Many of us are lukewarm in our faith. We follow God, but we are also influenced by the world. We may believe in God—but not openly. We may seek God's will—but only follow it if it matches our own plans. In Revelation, we see God's disdain for this kind of lukewarm, wishy-washy faith: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (3:15-16).
In the same way, Israel was at a crossroads. They had lost their awe of God. To them, He was a million miles away. They still claimed to follow Jehovah, but He was no longer a part of their daily lives. God knew that only a vivid reminder of His power would awaken these people from their spiritual sleep. So God used Elijah to bring about a turning point in their lives. With the odds stacked against him—one man standing against hundreds of pagan leaders—Elijah showed the strength of God.
In 1 Kings 18:22-29, the people watched a strange competition. Two bull sacrifices on two separate piles of firewood. Who would be able to supernaturally light the fire—Baal or God? Elijah, in full confidence of God's faithfulness, watched as the 450 pagan prophets tried to arouse their false god from his slumber. For hours and hours, the pagans danced around the altar, cried out to Baal and even cut themselves with swords. Then Elijah stepped forward.
Elijah looked at God's altar, which had been neglected by the people, and carefully repaired it with 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Then he drenched the firewood with water to show that what was about to happen would be a miracle from God, and not a trick on his part. As God set that wood ablaze, the people of Israel finally came to their senses. "When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!'" (1 Kings 18:39).
We have the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to build a fire within us, to cleanse and to purify us. When we face a crossroads in our spiritual walk, we can always turn to God for the right direction.
Have you become like the people of Israel who followed the Lord in name only, and are easily led away by the world? Is your own altar to the Lord in disrepair because it has been neglected? Repent today of the times when you have ignored or forgotten God. Seek His forgiveness for the times when you have followed the false gods of this world. Pray for the conviction to put Him first every day of your life.
"…..If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."--Galatians 1:10