1 Kings 18, the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, is one of those passages of Scripture that has drawn my attention many times over the years.
On 24th January, I was with my ‘Praying Men’ group and during a powerful time of intercession over our nation, felt drawn to a particular aspect of the passage. The next morning, I reflected upon it some more and wrote this.
How long will you waver between two opinions?
My thoughts were taken to 1 Kings 18, in the context of speaking out for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the lukewarm attitude of not only much of The Church, but people generally to the message of Christianity in the UK
To varying degrees and over a number of years, we have all been ‘seduced’ by the spirit of secularism and pluralism. It has caused us to ‘waver’, be uncertain, not just of Christian values, but of any values – what is true and not true? – people are increasingly calling what has traditionally been held to be right, wrong and conversely, wrong, right! We base our values on our own preferences and desires. No longer on the ‘solid rock I stand’, but increasingly ‘sinking sand’. And we are slowly but surely ‘going under’.
Much of this ‘drift’ is led by the Media, both mainstream and increasingly social media. There is ‘fake’ news, agendas being pushed, those seeking ‘fame’, power and influence and financial gain too is a particular root. But some is a deliberate and ‘spiritual attack’ by Satan and his minions to ‘kill, steal and destroy’, to totally destabilise all things, bring anarchy and strife, destroy families and relationships and to completely turn our hearts from Jesus and His life bringing message of hope and a future.
16 So Obadiah [the prophet] went to meet [King] Ahab and told him [that he had seen Elijah], and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals [a false god of the time].
Elijah wasn’t going along with the ‘status-quo’, he dared to be different, to speak out against the evils in the society in which he lived and for truth – The Lord his God. But because of this, he was regarded as a troublemaker! Sound familiar today?
Where are the men and women who will speak out today for The Lord? Where are those who refuse to ‘bow the knee’ to a lie and to stand up for what is right, for the truths of God’s Word? We have been seduced, we slumber! We have slowly, but surely slipped away from the statutes of Almighty God and bowed to ‘idols’ and followed after ‘false gods’!
A Call to a nation. Return to God!
19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel.
I wonder how many people from Israel there were? Maybe many tens of thousands? And how many of the opposition? Less than one thousand.
I’m sure the ‘prophets’ looked really impressive! Robes, staffs, big hats, the lot! They would have probably looked like ‘the real deal’ – full of themselves and their ‘authority’. It’s the same today – big name media personalities, ‘stars’ politicians, business leaders, academics and so called ‘experts’, in a plethora of fields, all with strong opinions and views and predictions.
But often they carry very much a minority view – often amplified and elevated to sound like the majority! And we are seduced into listening then following them!
21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. [my highlight]
Oh how easy it is to be silent! It uses no energy or brain power, it upsets no-one and leaves you room to manoeuvre when a challenge comes or expediency dictates. You can ‘blow with the wind’, be popular with all… but it can so quickly make you like a sheep, silently led to its slaughter!
(Verses 22- 35) We know the story, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to bring down fire and to light a sacrifice of damp wood and sliced up bull! They failed! They produced much hot air with their frantic prayers and prophesying, but their god remained silent, the wood wet!
36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When challenged to put up or shut up, the false prophets failed to deliver. Their ‘god’ was silent, all they stood for was actually ‘smoke and mirrors’ – no substance, no reality – their total falseness was exposed! Their fate was sealed!
One man dared to stand and confront them, in total faith and confidence that the God he served was true to Himself and His Word and the anticipated fire from heaven fell!
39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
Well that was a dramatic and sudden change of opinion! From saying nothing, hedging their bets, doubting, fearing, maybe through stubbornness and rebellion, all the people, the entire nation of Israel fell to the floor and acknowledged The Lord their God!
God does not cease to be someone’s God while they don’t acknowledge Him. He remains, as from their conception, their loving Heavenly Father, waiting, longing, oh so patiently for his children to see and acknowledge Him, to put Him in the rightful place in their thoughts and deeds. He is constantly ready to welcome them home!
But here we see that to accomplish this ‘nation turning’ something dramatic was required – a move so powerful, so undeniable, that none would doubt or any longer be in fear to stand out from the crowd and be counted. In fact, it was so dramatic, that there was no longer a crowd of ‘un-believers’ to stand out from!
I believe that the ‘fire of God’, the same ‘fire’ that those on Elijah’s mountain saw and the same that fell at the first Pentecost in the book of Acts, the ‘fire of The Holy Spirit’, the ‘fire’ that caused a stumbling, uneducated fisherman called Peter to stand in front of a vast crowd and instantly see three-thousand turn and accept the message of Jesus Christ, is about to fall again and this time it will be on our nation.
God is preparing to send a Holy Spirit Revival to the United Kingdom. It will not be three-thousand who respond, but up and down our nation, countless thousands, millions. Could even our whole nation be changed? Yes, it could.
But it needs ‘a man’, ‘a woman’, to stand and confront! It needs Believers in Jesus Christ to take audacious steps of faith, faith that is spelt R.I.S.K! It needs ordinary people to speak out, boldly step out of the ‘sand’ and onto the ‘rock’ again, time to call out the false and to call down Pentecostal life-changing fire from heaven upon our land.
How long will you waver between two opinions?