The text for this lesson is 1 Kings 18:20–46
- The one and only God pours out His caring love for me by hearing and answering my prayers.
- Law: False gods cannot and will not save because they do not exist. Those who put their trust in these false gods will always be disappointed.
- Gospel: The one true God answers the prayers of His people and acts on their behalf. He makes Himself known through His Son, Jesus, so that I will trust Him for all good things.
- After Elijah predicts the drought and lives by the brook Cherith, he moves on to the house of a widow at Zarephath. While staying with her, Elijah provides for her needs and those of her son. He also raises her son from the dead! Meanwhile, persecution of the faithful is increasing in
Israel. Obadiah hides a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in a cave, while Jezebel slaughters as many of the Lord’s prophets as she can find..
- After the slaughter of the Lord’s prophets, Elijah summons Ahab and the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah to a showdown on Mount Carmel. The plan is simple. Elijah knows that Baal and Asherah are false gods. Because they do not exist, they have no power to do anything. The fact is that many of the false prophets probably know or suspect this. Even so, they can’t admit it.
When Elijah challenges the false prophets of Baal, they have to agree. To decline would be a show of weakness, suggesting that their god is not real. It would give the impression that they were afraid of losing.
Elijah is magnanimous in the way he sets this up. The prophets of Baal go first. They pick the first bull, and Elijah gets the leftover. In fact, if Baal does answer with fire, Elijah won’t have a chance to do anything.
But Elijah knows there is no danger in this offer. Baal does not exist. Because Baal is nothing, his prophets can do
nothing. The next scene demonstrates how evil this false religion is. Baal does not answer, even when his prophets slash themselves with swords to try to get his attention. The false religion of Baal is one that loves pain, blood, and suffering. There is no mercy or compassion to be found among Jezebel’s prophets.
Elijah uses the silence of this false god as an opportunity to make the point even more clearly than he had before. He mocks Baal and suggests that the prophets might need to do more to get his attention. All the while, it becomes more and more obvious that Baal is a sham.
Now itts Elijah’s turn. He is slow and methodical. He rebuilds the altar that had fallen into disrepair because of Israel’s apostasy. He slaughters the bull and places it on the altar. He orders that the entire area be soaked with water three times. He makes it absolutely clear that if this bull burns, it will be because God made it burn.
Elijah’s prayer is short, straightforward, and rich in confidence that God will grant exactly what He is being asked for. He answers Elijah’s prayer so that the people will know that Elijah,hs God is the one true God.
There is no need for us to slash ourselves, as the prophets of Baal did, to get an answer from God to our prayers. In fact, it is very much the opposite. Jesus Himself was willing to be pierced for us so that by the blood He shed, we might receive eternal life and the forgiveness of all our sins. Through Him, we are God’s children, and for Jesus’ sake, God hears and answers all our prayers.