Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Our God is Real


I Kings 18 records one of my favorite Old Testament stories.

Ahab is king over Israel, and he is evil in the eyes of the Lord, worshiping the Canaanite god Baal. God’s prophet is Elijah, who Ahab despises. A famine has come to the land, and Elijah is the mouthpiece of God, communicating God’s anger towards the sin of Ahab and Israel.

Then Elijah issues a challenge to the priests of Baal. He challenges them to a competition in which they and Elijah would make separate altars, place a slaughtered bulls on each altar, and call to their god/God to light it. They would do this in front of many of the people of Israel.

The drama begins as the priest of Baal, all 450 of them, build their altar, gather the wood, chop up their bull, and place them on their altar. They then spend all morning crying out to Baal to light the wood and take their offering. Nothing happens. They continue. Nothing happens. They begin to cut themselves. Nothing happens.

Then Elijah builds his alter to God. He slaughters his bull and placed it on the altar. He then has his assistants pour four buckets of water onto the wood and bull. And then he calls on the name of the living God, asking him to demonstrate his power and reality and bring fire to the altar. God responds with amazing power, sending fire and consuming the offering.

The people respond in faith in the one and only God. They know he is real and Baal is not. They follow Elijah’s command to seize the 450 priests of Baal, and they kill them all.

There is a lesson in this for us today: God is real, powerful, and desires our worship and devotion, and all other gods are false, without life or power.

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