Can a husband or wife openly have another lover and it not be a problem? If it’s not a problem, that’s a problem! You can’t have them both. Yet with God people want the best of both worlds. We want God’s blessings and we want the pleasures of our sin. It doesn’t work out that way.
This was Israel’s problem. It wasn’t that they weren’t serving God. They were. It’s just that they were also serving the Baal’s and Asherah’s as those where the gods of lust and sex.
“How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word.” (1 Kings 18:21).
Elijah didn’t call to them to just serve God. He affirmed their free will and provoked them to choose, but to stop bouncing between two gods like a selfish lover. And as was expected, his words didn’t do much.
Not acting on his own volition, but based on Word of the Lord to him and the Lord’s leading to do this (1 Kings 18:1), Elijah threw down the gauntlet. There would be a show of force as to which God had power.
It was simple. Each would sacrifice a bull and not light the sacrifice. The god who came in fire and burned up the sacrifice, he would be god.
The prophets of Baal went first, building the altar and putting upon it the bull. Then the prophets danced, “hobbled around,” cut themselves and did all sorts of wildness to try to get Baal to burn up the sacrifice.
Elijah just taunted them (read it in your Bible in the footnotes in the un-smoothed our version). “Maybe he’s gone to relieve himself!” Is your God’s throne a toilet?
That irritated them more so the more they danced and gyrated to get Baal to act. Nothing. Elijah stood aside and shook his head.
When it was his turn he didn’t just build an altar and put the bull on it. He went over the top and three times poured copious amounts of water on the sacrifice. This was audacious as they were in a season of severe famine and severe drought. That water was literally worth more than gold, and here Elijah was pouring it out on the sacrifice. Just to make to a statement that if caught fire, it was the LORD their God.
He then prayed.
“Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. today let it be known that You are God in israel and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have done all these things. Answer me, LORD! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back” (1 Kings 18:36-37).
With that extraordinarily courageous prayer, confident in the leading of God, the fire fell. The sacrifice burned up not only the bull and the wood but also the water. When the people saw this they fell down and worshiped God.
Then Elijah told them this: “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a rainstorm” (1 Kings 18:41). It had been three and a half years since a drop of rain had fallen. And when Elijah said this, there was not a single cloud in the sky. Just another parched, desert day.
Listen to the sound of the rain.
“In a little while, the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and there was a downpour.” (1 Kings 18:45)
The drought of the last three and a half years ended.
It was a shocking reality check for the people of Israel. Would they turn? Would they fully follow the LORD? Only time would tell.
The question is what will it take to wake up the people of God today? To follow him wholeheartedly? To not have one foot in the world and one in the Lord?
Where in my life am I doing that?