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1 Kings 18:20-40, Elijah’s Triumph over the Priests of Baal

Friday, November 3

Raining Fire

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

God's people had been lured into worshiping Baal by Ahab and Jezebel. They waffled between God and Baal, showing allegiance to both; in essence showing allegiance to none.

Elijah had remained faithful to God. Elijah put Baal to the test. Baal's prophets did everything they could during a ceremony of offering and sacrifice to prove that Baal was all powerful. They failed. Elijah did everything he could to make his offering difficult to receive. He succeeded. God rained fire down upon a water-soaked bull, proving that God was the one true God. The people were shocked, and the prophets of Baal were put to death.

When I think about God's people wandering aimlessly between God and Baal, they seem so meek and aimless. They don't take a side or a stand. They simply go where they are told and follow the loudest (or most dangerous) voice. God literally has to rain fire down from the sky to get their attention and turn them back toward God.

Yeah, I've been there. Wandering aimlessly until God rains fire from the sky to get my attention. I've spent a lot of my years uncommitted and directionless. As I've grown up, though, I've started to become far more aware of God's quieter messages. I rarely need God to rain fire anymore to get my attention. I hear God's voice in the whispers, cries, and laughter of others. I see God's power in nature, and in the miracles of medicine and tech that are only possible because God gave people resources and wisdom to make them happen. I enjoy the little moments and I live as much in the present as I can. I have cultivated an awareness of the world around me and of myself that gives me peace and groundedness. But I remain alert for the possibility that God might need to rain fire to get my attention again. And when God does, it'll be for something awesome, I'm quite sure. Bring it on, God!

Narrative Lectionary Text: 1 Kings 18:20-40

So Ahab sent to all the Israelites, and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel.

Elijah then came near to all the people, and said, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” The people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord; but Baal’s prophets number four hundred fifty. Let two bulls be given to us; let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it; I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god and I will call on the name of the Lord; the god who answers by fire is indeed God.” All the people answered, “Well spoken!” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” Then they cried aloud and, as was their custom, they cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out over them. As midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice, no answer, and no response. Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down; Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water. At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord indeed is God; the Lord indeed is God.” Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” Then they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and killed them there.