Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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This is perhaps one of the most action packed chapters in the entire Bible.  Continuing to heed the voice of God, Elijah courageously summons Ahab, the King of Israel, and the Bible says, “Ahab went to meet Elijah” whom he called the “Troubler of Israel.”  Sadly, Ahab’s name highlights the tragic reality that after three and a half years of drought, and three and a half years of Baal’s proven inability to do anything for Israel, Ahab’s heart remained unchanged and unrepentant.  


Perhaps the most salient moment in this chapter is the contest of Carmel.  Elijah’s compelling appeal to the people echoes down to our time today.  “How long will you limp between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow Him!  But if Baal, then follow him.”  This incisive question reminds us that we cannot serve two masters.  There is no room for complacency in our discipleship to Jesus Christ.  We either love Jesus – or we don’t.  For too long, many have lived under the mistaken impression that God accepts our partial surrender as complete surrender to Him.  Elijah’s story reminds us that this is not true.  In each heart, there is only one throne.  May we all choose as did Joshua to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 


How wonderful it is to know that our God is not like Baal!  Our God lives.  He is real.  He is never too busy to answer our calls for help.  “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4).  In stark contrast to chants and frantic antics of the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal, stands the record of Elijah’s sincere, earnest and humble prayer.  And we know that God approved of his prayer – for heaven responded with fire. 


After fire fell from heaven and illuminated the mountain top, the Bible records that Elijah prays for rain, not once or twice, but seven times.  Only after the seventh time did God answer with a small cloud in the east the size of a man’s hand.  Why didn’t God answer Elijah’s prayer after he prayed the first time?  I suspect that God wanted to remind Elijah, that this was not about him.  Think of what his prayer must have been?  The more Elijah prayed – the more he emptied himself of self, until at last he cries out, “Lord, this is not about me!  This is all about You!”  And as soon as Elijah came to that point, he saw a cloud and his faith said that it was enough; God had answered his prayer.  May we too be ever mindful of keeping self out of the way.  If we love Jesus – it’s all about Him.

 

Charissa Fong
Graduate Student
Sydney, Australia