Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal. It was a decisive blow. You’ll recall that Elijah directs Ahab to gather the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah on Mt. Carmel. Elijah challenges them to a duel, inviting their gods to call down fire on an altar. The prophets called on Baal all day, pleading, even cutting themselves. No one answered; no one paid any attention.
Elijah repaired the altar and drenched it with water. He prayed a simple prayer, and the fire of God fell and burned up the offering, even all the water. When the people saw it, they exclaimed, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” Not only were the prophets of Baal defeated, but they were also executed. The scripture says that the hand of the Lord was on Elijah.
Ahab tells Jezebel all that happened, and Jezebel threatens Elijah, so much so that Elijah is seriously afraid and runs away.
So where’s the mercy?
In the next verses in this story, the repetitive word, “Behold,” calls attention to the mercy of God.
- And [Elijah] lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said, “Arise and eat.” …
- And [Elijah] looked; behold, a cake was baked on hot stones and a jar of water at his head. And he ate and drank and lay down again. …
- There [Elijah] came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” …
- And [God] said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, the sound of a low whisper. …
- And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and stood at the cave entrance. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19: 5, 6, 9, 11, 13 ESV)
Elijah had a mountaintop experience but then fell apart. God, in His mercy, meets Elijah where he is. He reminds Elijah of these truths:
- God sees him even when Elijah feels most alienated from God
- He is powerful, sustaining Elijah with nourishment and rest.
- God uses probing questions and specific directions to guide and instruct him.
- He reminds Elijah of an important truth – not all of God’s work is done in spectacular ways; some of His work is done quietly, calmly, and through divine whispers.
- God doesn’t give up – He sends him back to work!
May we experience the mercies of God even when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances, afraid, unsure, and feeling all alone.
Prayer of Gratitude
Father, we’ve been present at spiritual mountain-top experiences only to face the reality of our broken world the next morning. Teach us to lean on You in our highs and lows and remember Your promise that You are always with us. May we allow Your Spirit to replace our fear with peace, knowing that in Your sovereignty, You are at work in our lives, bringing us to Your final goal for Your glory. And may we continue to pursue those good works You have called us to through the power of the Spirit. Amen.
*This story is found in 1 Kings 18 and 19.
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