Faithful in the Culture
1 Kings 18:17-ff
Elijah is not from anywhere important.
He is not a superhero.
This is OT historical narrative.
We believe it happened exactly as it is recorded here.
This is not a once upon a time story.
This narrative makes a claim.
It is not only meaningful, it happened.
We must own all of it.
We need all of it.
5 movements in this text.
- Ahab confronts Elijah
Verse 16, Obadiah goes to Ahab and tells him Elijah will meet him.
Ahab was wicked, following the ways of Jeroboam.
He married Jezebel.
Jezebel was a priestess of a false god.
Ahab sets up for her all the cultic apparatus.
Ahab was uniting Israel to Baal worship, Canaanite religion.
Baal was a mail deity.
Asherah was female.
This became sexual ritual.
Baal was thought to be a storm god.
Storms cause lightning which cause fire.
Hence the challenge to come.
This was a sexualized worship.
You will either worship God or you will worship sex.
When you deny monotheism, you get to Jezebel.
Biblical monotheism is important.
Monotheism is not henotheism, there is no hierarchy of gods.
There is only one true God.
There is a logic to polytheism.
How can one God be the sole sufficient explanation for everything?
Polytheism makes gods for everything from every angle.
It is incompatible with modern thinking to say that there is only one way of anything.
They think we cannot really mean that there is only one God and one way to God.
And if they believe we mean it, they fear us.
Idols are convenient.
You can see the idol.
Idols are portable, generally.
Idols are tangible.
They are manageable and servable.
If you do not serve the one true and living God, you will serve some other god.
Elijah confronts Ahab.
Ahab calls him the troubler of Israel.
Elijah says Ahab has troubled Israel.
Ahab has abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals.
Ahab believed what he said.
He believed that Elijah, with his monotheism, with his command-based religion, he was a troubler of Israel.
Elijah says that Ahab is the heretic and thus the one who is really troubling Israel.
- Elijah confronts Israel.
The people of Israel have been limping between two opinions.
Obadiah has been squirreling away prophets of God by 50s.
The Lord has 101 prophets, but only one is on this scene.
On the other side, 450 prophets of Baal and 400 of the Asherah.
It is 850 to 1.
Elijah accuses the people of Israel of limping between two opinions.
The people do not answer.
The Baal does not speak.
The people of Israel do not speak.
Elijah lays out his proposal.
Finally the people respond, “It is well spoken.”
They are not saying anything.
They are willing to follow whichever deity wins.
- Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal.
They have plenty of time.
They get first go.
If Baal answers, Israel will follow him.
The prophets of Baal do not resist the challenge.
The Hebrew says that they do what they do.
They cry out from morning to noon.
Limping again, they limped around the altar.
At noon, Elijah mocked them.
Elijah is sarcastic.
Elijah knows their theology.
He knows what to say and how to say it.
The people have had hours.
Does he have ears?
God does not eat, relieve himself, get moody, or sleep.
It sounds like Martin Luther talking about the Pope.
Why be scatological?
If you are going to have an idol, if he has all the stuff on his body, he needs an outhouse too.
I wonder what Israel was thinking.
The prophets raved on.
Biblical worship is never raving.
Three-fold pattern about the emptiness of idolatry.
Verse 25: no voice, no answer, no one paid attention.
The true God is heard, speaking.
In the reformation, Luther said that the church is to be a mouth house.
The true church is about the word of God.
It is about hearing the word of God, not seeing ceremonies or icons to make you think of God.
The church is not about overpowering visuals.
The word of God transforms.
The word of God creates an appetite for the word of God.
Three times watering the offering.
- Elijah preaches to the people
Elijah repairs the altar of the Lord.
This is reformation.
He reestablishes biblical worship for that day.
He reminds the people of the covenant.
- Elijah prays to God.
Regulative principle: Elijah prays at the time of the offering.
He speaks to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
He is specific as to the deity to whom he speaks.
Let it be known
That you are God in Israel.
That I am your servant
That I have done all these things at your word.
Elijah did not come up with this idea.
We do not come up with the plan for the gospel the preaching or worship either.
Let them know that you are God and that you have turned their hearts back.
Elijah is pointing to the sovereignty of God.
Elijah is not looking at this as something that might or might not work.
God is over the hearts of people.
He omnipotently turns the hearts of the people back to himself.
Then the fire fell.
This is a magnificent show of divine power.
The fire consumes everything.
The people fell on their faces, crying, “The Lord, he is God!”
God turned the hearts of the people.
God showed he is sovereign.
Elijah does not let one of those prophets escape.
They are slaughtered at the brook.
This demonstrates the judgment that surely is coming on all those who worship not the one true and living God.
We are not the ones to do the slaughtering.
What do we learn?
Elijah is not a superhero.
IF we are said to trouble our nation, that is not new.
He focuses you on his word, not on visual images.
Pastors, you will not likely have many if any Mount Carmel incidents.
The fire that will fall is the word of God.
We find encouragement from Elijah.
WE learn more in James 5:13-17
God has to gift preachers with the gift of preaching.
Elijah had a nature just like ours, not a superhero.
He was just a prophet.
Today, every gospel preacher will be thought a troubler.
Trotsky: You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.