What would you do?
Here you are, the country’s leadership has abandoned God, and in fact, has gone so far as to form an army of religious leaders that not only oppose God, but actually promote a religion that God adamantly forbade. You alone are left standing against them all.
What do you do?
Do you boldly stand up for the Lord? Quietly sit back to see what happens, maybe waiting for someone else to take a stand? Or do you just shrug your shoulders and give in to the culture’s norms?
What if standing up may mean you lose your life?
Here stands Elijah.
The leader of his day, King Ahab, has abandoned God. In fact, consider this description, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”(I Kings 16:33). Given his predecessors’ track records, that was a pretty harsh statement. One of the wrongs in Ahab’s long list of actions straying from God was to establish the idol Baal as the item to worship, and in such, rejecting God.
Within a short time, Ahab had swept through the land cutting off the Lord’s prophets, sending them into hiding in order to preserve their lives. A troupe of 450 false prophets aligning with Ahab in Baal worship stood in their places.
And now Ahab seeks to kill Elijah.
What does Elijah do?
In complete trust of God, Elijah calls for a showdown. Who is the true god: The Lord Jehovah or Baal?
The story unfolds with a simple contest. Atop Mouth Carmel for all to see, Baal’s followers and Elijah each place a bull upon an altar. Here is Elijah’s challenge: “You call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” (I Kings 18:24)
Baal’s prophets step up first. After hours and hours of calling out to Baal, these simple words are recorded, “No one answered; no one paid attention.”
Now Elijah’s turn. To remove any doubt from onlookers, Elijah digs a trench around his altar and invites them to pour gallons and gallons of water over Elijah’s bull, wood and stone altar, until the whole was drenched and the trench overflowed. Then, Elijah offers a simple prayer. “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back.” (I Kings 18:36-37)
And God answers…undeniably. “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The Lord, He is God; the Lord, He is God.’” (I Kings 18:38-39)
Amazing story! One man stands on a mountaintop against the crowd, against the culture, against the leadership, at risk of his life.
And God answers.
So what about you and me? How different is our world from Elijah’s? Do we see leaders abandoning God? Making actions legal or illegal against God’s will? Maybe, more than we care to admit, our worlds are becoming more and more similar.
What will you do? What will I do?
Can we join Elijah on the mountain, standing for the Lord? Can we join him with these words?
May God’s followers always have the trust to stand, even when the odds seem stacked high.
In the end, God prevails.
Praying that we all stand,