One of the most powerful stories in the Bible is the story of Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal. Elijah, the only remaining prophet of God, is so tired of Israel’s rebellion and disobedience to the commandments of God, he challenges all the prophets of Baal to a final showdown in order to demonstrate to Israel, once and for all, whose God, is God. It is a terrific story of God proving His awesome power.
During the showdown, all the prophets of Baal call on their god to consume their altar’s sacrifice by fire. From morning until night they try everything to rouse their god; cutting themselves, bloodletting, worshiping, and yelling. They even resort to jumping up and down on the altar, but nothing works. Elijah, witnessing their exhaustion, is even a little comical, teasing them saying, “Scream louder, maybe he’s asleep, or traveling, or pursuing; after all, he’s a god.” (1 Kings 18:27) The prophets attempt to reach their god until they are completely exhausted.
When it is Elijah’s turn, he erects an altar to God; dousing it and the sacrifice with enough water to fill a great trench surrounding the altar. He prays, petitioning God to appear; and, the Fire of God comes down from heaven, consumes the sacrificial bull, all the wood under the bull, all the stones that created the altar, and even the dust around the altar. And, just to make certain that the people truly understood the power of God, the Bible says, The Fire “licked up all the water that was in the trench.” After the showdown, as Mosaic Law commands, the people killed all 450 prophets of Baal.
Right after this, Elijah prophesied that rain, which has not occurred in the land of Israel for three years, will now fall. Then Jezebel, the queen of the region, and the primary worshiper of Baal, sends out a decree swearing to Elijah that he will die the next day in similar fashion to her prophets. Here is the part that I have always found perplexing. --Elijah runs! In an effort to save his own life, he runs into the wilderness to hide from Jezebel!
Elijah had just witnessed the awesome power of God, yet he ran away! This story used to bother me until I realized that, we do the very same thing! God proves Himself time and time again. We pray, petition, and plead with God to do something that only He can do, and then it happens—we are saved and victorious through our trial or tribulation. Then, a few hours later, something else happens, and we run; cowering and hiding as if we are all alone in the process against the enemy.
Somehow we can pray for others in faith and hope, believing the outcome will work in their favor. Yet, when it comes to ourselves we cower in fear, losing faith that the presence of God will manifest in our problem; simply because, our rival is as bold as Jezebel. Let’s be honest, we have to give Jezebel some credit. She had the audacity to threaten Elijah with death, even after hearing that all her prophets were killed, and that her god didn’t even show up for the fight. So there it is! The opposition seems to always have more bravado—a bigger mouth, and a lot more nerve; while we cower in fear, believing our God will not come through when we need Him. It is the same bravado Goliath used while mocking Saul’s army for 40 days in the valley of Elah. He stood in strength until David showed up; the one person who did not doubt that God would vanquish the enemy.
Like Jezebel and Goliath, the evil situations in our lives always appear larger and more looming than the goodness in our lives. And so, we find ourselves running from an enemy that really should be running from us! By the time God asks Elijah the question in today’s verse, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Elijah had been hiding in a cave from Jezebel for more than 40 days.
Sometimes we find ourselves in the same situation. Although we call Jesus, Savior, we somehow keep running from an enemy that God has already proven He can handle. So, like Elijah, do we continue to run for days in the wilderness, where God has to ask us, “What doest thou here?” Or, do we stand and face the enemy; knowing that, no matter what happens, God has our back? L.
Study Reference: 1 Kings 18:1-46, 19:1-10
From: "What Doest Thou Here?" In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions for Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell