*A review of the prophet Elijah. Read 1Kings 17-18.
*Key Take Away: God wants to burn out anything in our lives that is not of Him. He is Holy. Let Him make us more like Him through refining us. Trials are usually His chosen tool. We must go through with a good attitude, and receive the byproduct of increased faith.
The Purpose of Our Trials
When you see the word trial you’ll immediately think…pass. It’s not a fun topic. But whether it’s in a courtroom or a season in your life, trials are a part of life. A trial is one of the primary tools God uses to teach us specific lessons. Trials help to build our faith. And when we share those stories of going through trials and coming out victorious, it allows the faith of others to grow as well.
A trial is a difficult circumstance or a deliberation of a court case before a jury. Here, we discuss examples of the first definition. The funny thing is the difficult circumstance can be a court trial. Other examples of trials are the loss of a loved one, a job loss or bankruptcy, financial struggles, getting passed over for a promotion, or having a handicap or inability. Those are just a few examples but each person goes through different trials when he encounters something that is difficult and requires confronting a problem, or some other means of overcoming the obstacle.
These trials can be physical, mentally, or emotionally taxing (or all of the above). When we grasp that the purpose of trials is meant to grow and develop us in different ways and not to harm us, we can overcome them more quickly and while keeping a good attitude through it all. We will review the trials faced by the Prophet Elijah in the old testament of the Bible. He was used by God to bring judgment on the corrupt leadership of King Ahab in Israel.
Who is Elijah?
Read 1Kings – 17-18
Elijah is a prophet of God. His name means ‘My God is Yahweh.’ He rises to acclaim during a time in Israel when a wicked leader was in power. King Ahab along with his wife Jezebel was considered wicked because they led the Israelites to worship pagan gods such as baal and others. In the decades after King Solomon, the successors grew increasingly wicked and forgot the Lord and his laws. They practiced witchcraft, prayed & gave human sacrifices to carved statues, and led Israel to do the same. These were the practices of the pagan nations and was an abomination in the sight of God.
Elijah confronts King Ahab about his wicked leadership and delivers a message of God’s judgment on him & punishment of Israel for the king’s wicked ways. In 1 Kings chapter 17, Elijah declares that there will be a drought in Israel and it would not end until he said otherwise. This was the first direct challenge that drew a line between the idol god baal (whom they worshiped for fertility and for being the god of the rain) and the Lord God. Elijah partnered with God and prayed that He would carry out His word by preventing rainfall. No rain fell throughout the land of Israel and neighboring nations for 3 years. This was a clear demonstration that the idol god baal really had no power and the Lord was truly God. All of Israel suffered during this time including the leadership. However, King Ahab did not heed this warning but sought to capture and kill Elijah.
By God’s grace, Elijah was able to hide for all that time in various locations escaping persecution from the king. He even escaped the devastating results of the drought in Israel by living with a widow and her son in a city just outside of Israel. While he was there God supernaturally ensured that their food supply did not run out. That widow trusted the prophet of God with her very last meal and because of this action God blessed her resources and kept her house fed during a drought that caused the crops and animals to die and streams to dry up.
Trial By Fire
When the time had come for Elijah to come out of hiding the Lord led him to reveal himself to the authorities. First to the royal guard then to the king himself. Elijah declared, under God’s direction, that an assembly should be called. Elijah as the prophet of God versus the 450 priests of the idol god baal. They would determine who was really God by performing a grand display before all the people of Israel. This would put to rest the great question of who should be worshiped in the land.
The stage was set. The challenge accepted. In 1 Kings chapter 18, Elijah instructed the baal priests to call on your god, make your sacrifices, and I will do the same with my God. The one that sends fire to burn his offering on the altar is God. Now we will see which one answers the call and lights his respective altar.
Can you imagine the pressure? But trust God’s word. He affirms the words of His prophets with signs and wonders. The greater the stage, the greater God’s glory can be seen.
Demonstration of Faith
Read 1 Kings 18
The 450 false prophets of baal lined up before their king and the people of Israel first. They pulled out their best tricks with all the dramatics of a theatrical play. They pleaded and cried. They even cut themselves and drenched their altar with their own blood, as was their custom. They wailed and fell on their faces. The display was such that Elijah couldn’t help but mock them. He was stunned at the ridiculousness of these baal prophets. Their god was a statue. Did they really expect him to do more than being a frozen image? ‘Maybe he can’t hear you cry louder,’ Elijah mocked. He knew as we all do, that a statue is a man-made creation and can neither hear nor speak. Why did they expect him to rise up and answer them? Had he ever done that in the past?
Whatever the reason people follow false idols in life, there often comes a time when we are confronted with the truth. That we were deceived or believed and acted in error. The true character of a person is revealed in what he does after receiving the truth.
The baal prophets were put to shame. After hours of outrageous antics, their god never answered.
Elijah stepped up next and rebuilt the altar of God which was torn down. He also dug trenches around the altar. This was new. I could just imagine the crowd watching intently and murmuring. ‘What is he doing?’ ‘What’s that for?‘ Even those in disbelief would comment, ‘it doesn’t matter what he does if our baal priests couldn’t do it, he can’t do it either. This is all for a show.’ Elijah, under God’s leadership, was setting the stage for the finale. God wanted a grand display of His power so that there would be no contestation. Elijah laid out his sacrifice to God on the altar, then drenched the sacrifice with buckets of water. This would make it even harder to kindle a fire upon it. There was so much water poured on it that the trenches beneath the altar were filled.
Elijah prayed. Just as he had before to prevent the rain for the last three years. He prayed using his authority of being a servant of God and based on the word of God. 1Kings 18:36 (NLT) At the usual time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.
God Gets the Glory
1Kings 18:38 (NLT) Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell faced down on the ground and cried out “The Lord – he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”
Elijah was obedient to all God had directed him to do. Even with his bold display, Elijah made sure to give all credit to God noting that he was just following orders of the true God of Israel. This is where many fall short. We have the pleasure of partnering with God in one of his grand displays of His glory, yet we forget to take our hands off of it. I mean that although we may be the channel God uses to perform the miracle, and to all natural eyes it may look like the person deserves the praise for the noteworthy act, we are not the miracle worker. Really all the praise belongs to God who worked the miracle through us. It is nothing special about any of us that caused any glorious demonstration because we did not create ourselves.
Right now, the world seems to be setting a stage for a long overdue display of God’s power. Even as I researched this article, one publication noted that God doesn’t do grand miraculous displays anymore. And immediately, I thought how would they know? We have to be careful about making definitive statements about God.
Ultimately Elijah showed grand displays of how limitless we really are when we align ourselves with God in true faith and obedience. That is true worship.
How Does This Apply to our Lives?
As the sociopolitical climate is rife with friction, faith is often tossed to the side or ridiculed. But now more than ever we need to align ourselves with the God who answers by fire. He doesn’t lie. When we humble ourselves under His authority and leadership in our lives we partner with God to participate in His miraculous works. We do this by living a life based on the word of God, this demonstrates our faith. Then our lives will be a living testament of God’s glory. And not for the worker but for all those witnesses who would come to believe.
This leads us to some tough self-evaluation. Does your life demonstrate your faith? Are you directing your course through life, or are you trusting God to do so? It also, forces us to question if we are pursuing the ultimate purpose that God created us for, or are we just existing?
These questions cut to the root and force us to make some definitive choices. If we are standing in faith with God, our lives should show it. If it doesn’t then, ask the Lord for forgiveness and for Him to show you how to display your faith going forward.