By Gail Peo
Do you ever wonder how people can hear or see the same things and come to radically different conclusions? Elijah knew that the Israelites were torn between two opinions: following the LORD or following Baal. He proposed a challenge to the people to determine who was the superior god.
“Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it. ‘Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God.’ And all the people said, ‘That is a good idea.’”1 Kings 18: 23-24
The Baal prophets prepared their sacrifice and called upon the name of Baal. They leaped about the altar and cut themselves. After a full day of pleading, the prophets received no response from their gods. Elijah then repaired the altar of the LORD. He took 12 stones according to the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” and he built an altar to the LORD. He made a trench around the altar, arranged the wood, and cut the ox in pieces and laid them on the wood. Finally, he poured 12 pitchers of water over the sacrifice.
“The fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”1 Kings 18: 38
After seeing the LORD light the fire of Elijah’s sacrifice, and burn up everything, the Israelites declared, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God.” Their hearts were turned back to Yahweh. To seal the victory, Elijah then killed the prophets of Baal.
Ahab told Jezebel about all that Elijah had done, including the slaughter of the prophets of Baal. She was not swayed by her husband’s eyewitness account of the victory for Elijah’s God. She replied with threats of her own against the man she blamed for causing all this disruption:
“So may the gods do to me and even more, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow at this time.”1 Kings 19:2
Frightened by her blatant disregard for God, Elijah had an emotional collapse. But it didn’t change what God was going to do. God nurtured Elijah back to physical and emotional stability and gave him orders for the future. Jezebel continued in her unbelief. She was unable to fulfill her threat to kill Elijah within 24 hours. If you want to read about her death, read 2 Kings 9:29-37. WARNING: this story is not for the faint of heart.
Sometimes we crave miracles to prove God’s sovereignty in the affairs of man. We think if only others could see God’s almighty power at work, victorious over the powers of idols, they would be convinced. But we must realize there are some people who won’t bow to God, no matter what He shows them. That should not surprise us, nor threaten us.