Ever have your phone misbehave when you are expecting an important call?
Several years ago, I got an odd text message. You see, I was expecting a call, and my cell had been silent all day. Well, the text was from the person I thought was going to call. Apparently, when they dialed my phone it rang the 800 number for the Trinity Broadcasting Network! And I couldn’t call out at all.
It took a couple of hours and a call from a landline, but it eventually got worked out.
A Divine Call
In 1 Kings 18, we see god call Elijah to go before King Ahab. The drought we looked at HERE had been going on 3 years, and now God promised Eli He would end it. So the prophet went — obediently, walking into the presence of the king who wanted him dead.
Elijah arrives at Mt. Carmel (a chief site in Baal worship). Verse 17, “When Ahab saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’” You see, the last time they were face-to-face 3 years ago, Elijah said there would be a 3 year drought. So the king was aware that Elijah taps into great power with major results.
Eli puts the blame for the drought right back on the king with a succinct explanation in verse 18, “You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals.” Then he set a challenge:
- Call the people from all over Israel to join Elijah on Mt. Carmel
- Bring all 450 Baal prophets AND all 400 Asherah prophets.
And the king agrees.
Hello? Is Anybody There?
So Elijah stands before all the people of Israel and all the prophets of Baal and Asherah with a single question: “How long will you not decide between 2 choices? If the LORD is the true God, follow Him, but if Baal is the true God, follow him!” But the people said nothing.” (v. 21)
Did you catch that? The people of Israel were se wrapped up the the worship of a man-made idol that they wouldn’t speak up for God! Sometimes our silence speaks volumes.
The challenge: prep a sacrifice and see if God or Baal sends the fire to consume it. And NOW the people speak up. Verse 24 says, “All the people agreed that this was a good idea.” Makes you wonder who they were rooting for…
The 450 Baal guys got to go first. Verse 26, “So they took the bull that was given to them and prepared it. They prayed to Baal from morning until noon, shouting, ‘Baal, answer us!’”
But there was no answer. They danced around the altar they had built. Nothing happened.
At noon Eli started mocking them. I guess he figured a “real god” would show up to prove himself. He suggested maybe Baal was distracted, or busy. Could be he was traveling or even asleep.
So the 450 shouted louder. They cut themselves with swords and spears until they were bleeding. Imagine the spectacle! And all of Israel watched them call Baal without an answer.
All this continued until evening. All day. Shouting. Dancing. Bleeding. All 450 prophets — more than you’d find in an average church sanctuary on any given Sunday.
The Right Call
That evening, Stanton alone, Eli rebuilt the LORD’s altar that had been destroyed as the people and the exhausted, bloody prophets watched. He used 12 stones to honor the 12 tribes of Israel, and he dug a trench all around it, removing about 1200 square feet of dirt.
After prepping his bull and the wood for the sacrifice, he made an unexpected call: Fill 4 jars with water and dump it on the altar. Then 4 more. And 4 more. Of course, the water soaked the sacrifice and the wood, and it filled the trench. I’m also certain the people noticed 4×3=12 — again honoring God’s 12 tribes of Israel.
Then Elijah prayed. And the key to his success lies in verse 37:
Elijah’s request: “LORD, answer my prayer so these people will know that You, LORD, are God and that You will change their minds.”
God’s reply: (v.38) Fire came from heaven. It consumed the bull, wood, rocks, ground and water in the trench!
Israel’s response: (v.39) They fell to the ground, crying, “The LORD is God!”
Elijah’s reaction: (v. 40) Capture and kill all the prophets down in the valley.
His recommendation: (v.41) Elijah told the king to go eat because a heavy rain was coming.
Elijah’s return: (v.42-45) He goes back to Mt. Carmel and bows low before God. He sends his servant to look for rain. Clouds. Nothing. He sends him again. Nothing! Until the 7th time. There was a small cloud the size of a “man’s hand rising from the sea.” So he tells the servant to convince King Ahab to use his chariot to get down the mountain before the rain stops him. Then the sky fills with clouds, and Ahab leaves during the heavy rain — the first in 3 years.
Elijah reinvigorated: (v.46) God empowers His prophet, and Eli tucks his cloak into his belt and runs “ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.” Mt. Carmel is just over 31 MILES from Jezreel. And Eli ran. Ahead of a chariot. In a downpour. Over 31 miles. After 3 years of limited nourishment in a famine. A definite miracle for a man of advanced years. Yet another day stacked with miracles!
What it means for me:
- Obedience: Eli approached the king because God told him to — in the face of threats to his life. He relied on God’s divine protection, and so can I — when I’m obedient.
- Insults: Eli wasn’t fazed at being the “troubler of Israel” because the insult was based on his earlier obedient act. I can ignore my nay-sayers when I speak the words God give me.
- Truth to power: Eli place responsibility for the drought right where it belonged: on the sins of King Ahab. When God leads, I can be bold and point out the sins of those in authority over me.
- Silence speaks: The people of Israel didn’t answer when Eli asked them to choose. When someone points out MY sin, I need to respond under conviction and CHOOSE GOD.
- Misplaced call: Unlike the 450 Baal dudes, I must never put my confidence in anything above God.
- Sacrifice: Like Eli, I can make visible sacrifices to God – giving time, money, etc. in public – if my goal is that others come to know who God is.
- Destruction: I can destroy anything that steals my focus from God: TV shows, phone apps – whatever!
- Promises: God kept His promis to His prophet. And He will keep His promises to me. Am I studying Scripture so I will recognize them when the answers come?
- Empowered: After his showdown with Baal, Eli was rejuvenated – by God. When I complete a big God-task, I can expect a burst of energy, too.
Whew! That’s a lot! And it all started with God’s call. Are you listening for when He calls you?
Recently, God called me to study PRAISE. And to share what I learned with you! Check out my new digital mini course here: