Zev Porat

Monday, November 23, 2015

One vs. The Masses: 1 Kings 18:16-39

How many of you watch superhero movies? The typical story line in a superhero movie is that there is a catastrophe waiting to happen and the only way to avoid this horrible event is that the superhero must take on insurmountable odds, armies, and events to save the land from destruction. Take Iron Man for example. A terrorist organization wants to use Tony Stark's innovation to take over the world for evil. The only way for this takeover to be avoided is for Tony Stark to take on all the "bad guys" by himself. At the end of the movie, disaster is avoided because Iron Man has defeated this large, complex, and powerful army.


The reason we like these movies is because an individual with supernatural abilities overcomes significant forces. These superheroes stand alone to battle for humanity even though they are viewed as the underdog. At the end, the "underdog" comes out successful and victorious. We like the "one v. the world" movies. With that in mind, let us shift into the spiritual realm. How many times are believers faced with a situation where it seems as though it is one believer faced with an insurmountable force of evil armies? How many times are Christians in situations where he/she is the only person living for the Lord in a particular setting? Let's discover what God's Word has to say about a man who stood for the Lord in 1 Kings 18:16-39.


We discover, by the time we arrive in 1 Kings 18:16-39, that many things have transpired in the life of Israel. There was a famine in the land because the Lord spoke through Elijah and said there would not be rain until Elijah said so. By the time we make it to 1 Kings 18, the land of Israel had been without rain for 3 years. King Ahab blamed God and the prophets of God for this event. Moreover, during this time, Jezebel (the queen; Ahab's wife) began killing the prophets of God while exalting the prophets of Baal and Asherah. To protect God's people, the keeper of Ahab's palace, a believer named Obadiah, hid 100 prophets of God in a cave. In order to save some of the livestock in Israel, Ahab and Obadiah go out in search of a spring or stream to feed and water the animals. Elijah meets Obadiah and tells him that King Ahab is to meet him [Elijah] at Mt. Carmel. Once gathered at Mt. Carmel, Elijah challenges the nation to stop running after false idols; to stop wavering between God and evil. Pick the true God and serve him. If these idols are god, serve them. However, if God is God, serve Him. A test is set up to determine for the people who is the one true God. Each group will get a bull, but the deity that lights the sacrifice with fire from heaven is the true God. The false prophets are given the first selection of the two bulls and the first opportunity to call upon their god. However, their god does not answer. They cut themselves, they cry out for hours, but he does not answer. Then, Elijah repaired the altar of God, put the bull on it, and saturated the whole thing with water. Then he 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" (1 Kings 18:36b-37). When Elijah finished praying, the Lord sent fire from heaven. That fire burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stone, the water, and the soil around the sacrifice.

There are several application points or teaching points from this passage, but the most poignant one is the fact that God is a powerful and mighty God who is able to make His name known. Think about this in practical terms. Elijah soaked wood on the altar with enough water to not only saturate the wood, but to fill a trench around the altar. Lighting wet wood is no small feat, but consuming the wood, the sacrifice, and all the water at the same time is an incredible accomplishment. This just goes to show the awe-inspiring nature of God Almighty. This passage also goes to explain how God can use one person who is willing to stand as a witness for His name. Elijah was willing to be the witness for God when it seemed as though there was no one else. There were close to 500 false prophets, 100 prophets for God who were in hiding, and then there was Elijah making a very open stand for God. Now, I am not trying to say anything negative about those prophets who were in hiding, but I am pointing out the witness of Elijah. Therefore, let those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior never forget the powerful nature of the God we serve and let us be a willing witness for God even when it seems as though no one is standing with us.

James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years. 
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.  

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