You can read the account of Elijah's life in 1 Kings and going into the beginning of 2 Kings. I love to teach it. The amazing stories of his life are many. I spent a week telling of it to my sixth grade class, and could have gone on much longer.
The story that I tell you today is definitive of Elijah's life and is one of my favorites ever to tell to children. I know, I know. I have lots of favorites. :)
Ahab was the King of Israel, which was divided at the time of his reign. Ahab was wicked beyond being wicked. That is, he was a wicked man of his own right. But in addition to the evil of his own heart was the influence of his wife, Jezebel. Even in the world and among people who have very little knowledge of the Bible her name is synonymous with "a wicked woman".
She influenced her husband to do wrong on many levels, including in the worship of baal and other false gods. And together, they had lead the people of God to do the same. Sadness.
But not Elijah. He was the prophet of God and his faith and trust in the true and living God was firm and steadfast and true. He was the man of God.
Now I don't so much marvel at Elijah's faithfulness as I do at God's people being so soon removed from living for the Lord.
Rule #1- I will live for God. Rule #2- Even if NO ONE else does, I WILL live for God! :) But I think you've heard that a time or two before.
Okay, let's get right to the story. Elijah was grieved about the condition of Israel. Very. So he and Ahab had an exchange of words. And Ahab accused Elijah of being the one who was troubling Israel.
Ha! It's not like I haven't heard that one before.
So Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest, and all of the people were called upon to come watch. There were eight hundred and fifty prophets of the false gods front and center, putting on their show of shows.
And then there was Elijah. The cheese stands alone.
Guess who's side the people were on. God's people!!! When the majority says that something is right, people believe it, even if it is wrong. We see that in today's society. Be careful.
When the people of God were gathered together, Elijah said this to them (found in 1 Kings 18:21):
"And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word."
Notice the impressive response of God's people. Shameful!
So the challenge was a simple one. Two altars were to be built; one for Baal and one for God. Wood was then to be laid upon the altars. Two oxen were to be killed and cut into pieces, and the pieces were to be laid on the wood. Elijah then invited the priests of the false gods to pray down fire from heaven to burn up their sacrifice.
The prophets prayed to baal from early morning until noon, but nothing happened. They prayed some more, and then cried and danced and begged. They then threw themselves on the altar.
At noon, Elijah spoke again, kindly giving the prophets this advice:
"Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked." (1 Kings 18:27)
Preachers can be funny. It's okay. I believe that God has a sense of humor.
Then those ungodly prophets cut themselves after the manner of idol worship "till the blood gushed out upon them." (verse 28) Still nothing.
Okay, now it was Elijah's turn. It is interesting to read all of the things that Elijah did. You can see them for yourself in verses 31-36. The coolest thing was the water. Lots and lots of water. And then He prayed this:
"Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again." (verses 36 and 37)
Then this happened:
"Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." (verse 38)
Now, everybody knows that water puts out fire. Fire doesn't lick up water. Even little kids know that. Hmmm. Interesting.
And all of that resulted in this:
"And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there." (verses 39 and 40)
"And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain." (verse 41) And with that, the drought was over.
What a mighty God we serve! Even if no one else does, by God's grace, I will live for Him!
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