Feb 22, 2011, 11:41 AM
Has idol worship ever upset you; how that people could bow down before objects they call gods that they created with their own hands? The sad part is that such practices have entrapped the minds of innocent people leading them eventually to their doom. Israel in the days of prophet Elijah was littered with idols that were worshipped by the nations the Children of Israel had conquered on their way to the Promised Land. Their interactions with these pagan nations corrupted their form of worship and they turned their backs on the God Almighty. These hosts of idol-gods negatively influenced the people in their spiritual walk with God. However, rather than keep quiet about it, prophet Elijah took his stand; as if to say, ‘enough is enough.’
God had conveyed through his servant Moses to the Children of Israel, these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” (Deuteronomy 5:6-7) Over the years nevertheless the god Baal, a Canaanite god, had won the hearts of the Children of Israel. This idol in the form of a bull, represented strength and fertility, ‘reflecting lust for power and sexual pleasure.’ With the emergence of these idols arose a crop of false prophets who preached only what the people wanted to hear. The people of God had become far removed from Jehovah - the One who had liberated them from the hands of Pharaoh.
The situation had deteriorated to a point that prophet Elijah took upon himself to do something about it. First, he challenged the people of Israel with “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21) Second, he required of Ahab the king, to assemble the prophets of Baal and provide two bulls for sacrifice. Then he outlined the rules of the contest; “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire – he is God.” (1 Kings 18:24) Prophet Elijah was poised for a showdown.
How strong is your faith to challenge those who are misleading simpletons into espousing wrong doctrines and practices that would lead them headlong into hell? How bold can you be to stand for the truth and for your beliefs if you come across false prophets leading God’s people the wrong way? Few would be ready to speak out and would rather live with it. God has put us in positions where we should speak out and speak up against idol worship particularly in its present day form. Worshipping idols (our cars, homes and properties made by human hands) our children, husbands and wives (God-created things) is a clear sign that those people are lost and they need a saviour, a redeemer.
The Lord’s desire is that not one of his sheep should go astray; that we shall come to the knowledge of the truth in order to be liberated. (John 8:32) Prophet Elijah sought the truth for his people and this confrontation with the prophets of Baal was intended to draw the line with regard to which God to worship.
The contest proved fatal for the 450 prophets of Baal after they failed to summon their God to intervene on their behalf by sending fire to burn the sacrifice of a bull they had prepared. From morning to noon, amidst ‘frantic prophesying,’ god Baal did not respond despite the wailings and slashing of their bodies with swords and spears. (1 Kings 18:27-29) When the push comes to shove, stone or wooden gods will give way under the heat. The prophets of Baal called on their god relentlessly but he was nowhere to be found. The problem is Baal was never a true god. People lifted him to that position. There is only one God. Moses wrote; “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Have you made boast of your God lately? That he is able to heal you and provide for you in all circumstances – basing it on his word and having him glorify his name. At Lazarus’ grave where he had been buried four days, our Lord Jesus looked to the heavens and cried; “Father I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said it for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41) Then he commanded Lazarus to come out of the grave. The dead man came out. Jesus proved his relationship with the Father by raising the dead. His authority extended even to the grave. In like circumstances, Elijah before the 450 prophets of Baal and ‘the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table,’ demonstrated that he served a living God.
Prophet Elijah knew that the One in whom he believed ‘… is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20) He built an altar and dug a trench around it; then after arranging the wood, he cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the altar. Then he did something that would have stunned his audience. He asked his helpers to ‘fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.’ This they did three times such that ‘the water ran down the altar and even filled the trench.” (verse 35)
Elijah than stepped forward and prayed: “O Lord, 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. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you O Lord are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” (verse 36-37) Then God showed himself strong. “… 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.” (verse 38
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord - he is God! The Lord - he is God.” That day all the 450 false prophets of Baal were slaughtered. The Lord he is God and always will be. He will triumph over all his enemies. Call upon his holy name today and he will answer. The idol you worship cannot save you, turn to the Lord for he is God.