- In response to Israel’s disobedience, God gave them three years of famine. Perhaps that was to soften them because after three years of famine, they readily agreed to Elijah’s contest. The contest was simple: they would prepare animal sacrifices, but not set fire to them. Then they would call on their gods – the prophets of Baal would call on Baal and Elijah would call on the Lord. Whichever God set fire to his sacrifice is the real God.
- Elijah had no problem with ridicule. After the prophets of Baal had called to their god for hours to no avail, he began taunting them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
- Eventually, Elijah prayed to his God and he answered by fire. So, the Israelites acknowledged him as God and executed all the prophets of Baal. Then God gave them rain. I would say that was a pretty successful plan.
The Gentle Whisper
- When Queen Jezebel threatened to kill Elijah because he had killed the prophets of Baal, Elijah ran away and in a sudden fit of depression, asked God to kill him.
- Instead, God told him to stand on top of Mount Horeb and wait for him.
- “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (19: 11, 12)
- God didn’t speak to Elijah through the fire or the earthquake or any other show of power. Instead, he did it through a “gentle whisper”. I’ve hear a lot of sermons about this, but I don’t think anyone really knows why God did what he did. When he appeared to the Israelites in a cloud and fire, it was to make a point – to teach them to fear and obey him. Elijah did not need that lesson, but he might have needed to know the less terrifying side of God; the one that’s more like a parent who understands our fears and weaknesses.