*OHP Intro*-said before, Elijah appears at time of transition.
He will appear again in the end times.
What happens here is a picture of the way thing will be at the end.
Revelation, particularly Rev17, indicates at the end people will be godless but they will be very religious.
We need to be careful that we don’t confuse Christianity with religion - can you tell the difference?
What are the marks of false religion?
Faith is found in individuals, like the widow & Elijah.
A nation as a whole cannot have faith.
You can have a state religion but it will not be faith.
You cannot impose or decree faith in Christ.
Israel as a nation was religious but it was false religion.
They worshipped, as everyone must, but it was not יהוה, they had rejected Him for another.
The question of this passage is: Who is God?
For there is only one.
*OHP1 Syncretism 1 Kings 18:20* - Ahab had got to desperation point - at one time he would have paid scant attention to their rugged prophet - "Who does he think he is?" - but now he obeys implicitly what Elijah says.
He gathered the whole nation including the prophets - I wonder how they like being dictated to by a prophet of יהוה?
But they came.
Ahab and the nation had been brought low - they couldn’t afford not to listen and comply anymore.
How often it is that it is only when we are brought very low that we begin to listen to what the word of the LORD says.
Now they were ready to listen - it had taken three and a half years.
*1 Kings 18:21 *- Elijah called Israel to mount Carmel along with the idolatrous false prophets for a confrontation.
All were gathered there - this was a show down to demonstrate once and for all who was God.
A contest between impotent Baal and the Living, All Powerful, יהוה.
The people of Israel were thoroughly syncretistic - they had a bit of יהוה worship and a bit of Baal - they covered their bases, kept all options covered.
Insurance policy Christians - have a bit of all religions going, in the world by a bit of Christianity just in case.
Have a bit of everything then you’re sure to have the right one amongst them.
It does not work like that! - because יהוה is a jealous God demanding exclusive allegiance.
You cannot have יהוה and something else as well.
As soon as you have something else, you no longer have יהוה.
You cannot have a foot in both camps [as Eric Dunlop said to me, "You cannot sit on the fence."]
- you have either one or the other.
Here Elijah calls the people to choose - to choose between יהוה and Baal.
Make up your mind, you cannot have it both ways because the two are mutually exclusive - if יהוה is God, then no one else can be.
But the people would not make a decision - they answered him not one word.
After three and a half years of no rain they still were not convinced of the power of יהוה to withhold the rain and of the impotence of Baal to supply it!
Where was Obadiah and the 100 prophets?
Despite the devastating drought they still had not been brought low enough to repent, to turn from their allegiance to Baal and give themselves to following יהוה alone!
What does it take to convince the stubborn human heart?
With all that hard hitting evidence and the desperateness of their plight they would not make a decision, a commitment.
They preferred to continue on in their misery and death.
So too is it with those who reject Jesus today.
To make no decision is to reject יהוה.
The decision had to, of necessity, be followed through with action, total commitment, an allegiance of lifestyle - if יהוה be God /go after / Him, if Baal be God/ go after /him.
Whoever we honour as God, that one we worship, that one we serve, that one we /go after /- our whole life taken up in pursuit and following of him.
But like today, people were unwilling to make a TOTAL COMMITMENT.
*How long will you waver between two opinions?
If **יהוה** be God FOLLOW HIM!* The choice is ours and all consequences are determined by this mother of choices.
*1 Kings 18:22** *- Elijah was ALONE in his allegiance to יהוה.
No one among all Israel would side with him.
They wouldn’t make a choice.
Like sheep they followed the prevailing influence.
It takes character to stand alone in opposition to unanimous contrary opinion - to make a stand for יהוה - the overwhelming majority can be totally wrong!
Elijah was the only one left who heard יהוה’s voice - how tragic! - but how akin to our own situation.
"Everybody" was following Baal - the prophets of Baal vastly outnumbered the true prophet - the people are convinced by this strength of numbers ("so many cannot be wrong").* 1 Kings 18:23 *- Elijah proposed a contest to prove which god was *real*, *true*.
Both would do the same: the people would provide two bullocks and one would go to each, each would prepare them, cut them up and lay them on the wood ready to sacrifice and neither would set fire to the wood.
*Love show 1 Kings 18:24 *- Then both groups were to pray to their god.
The priests of Baal would call on the name of their god.
But Elijah would call on the name of יהוה!
The one which answered, answered by sending fire to ignite the sacrifice, that one was to be recognised as God If God is real, is true, then He must be able to hear and answer.
Everyone thought that this was a great idea.
Yes, the people love a show, a spectacle, something dramatic, supernatural.
They love a show down.
People long to see evidence that God is real - to see something convincing.
To them this was a good idea.
Man always wants to see - he prefers to walk by sight and not by faith.
The people really believed their idol had power - they actually were convinced that it could bring fire down - how deluded!
And because of the overwhelming support for the idea, the man serving religionists had to go along with it because they are dictated to by public opinion.
There was no way for them to back down without Baal seeming impotent.
They were trapped into going along with the idea.
But there was overwhelming evidence of the convincing and supernatural kind if the people wanted to see it - what better showed the impotence of Baal to produce rain and of יהוה’s power to withhold it at His word than a three and a half year period with no rain?
But people don’t see (nor want to see) the overwhelming witness all around them every day.
No, they want the spectacular show and refuse the daily consistent evidence such as each sunrise, each breath etc.
*No response 1 Kings 18:25,26 *- So the prophets of Baal set to and called upon the name of Baal: "Oh Baal! Answer us!".
They were at it all morning but there was no response: "No voice, no answer."
They limped around the altar - but it was futile, it achieved nothing, nothing happened.
It never will when we call on an idol, a god that is no god - yet still we rely upon that which is not God!
There is no voice, no answer.
How pathetic and tragic when people earnestly call on someone who isn’t there, who doesn’t have any existence except in the imaginations of men.
*1 Kings 18:27 *- Elijah sat back and watched the spectacle - it was a ridiculous carry on and he made fun of them, mocking them and their so called god.
He taunted them: perhaps their god was asleep, or meditating, or on a journey, or temporarily slipped out for something - pray louder!
Attract his attention.
What type of god is it that is not omnipotent, knowing all things, who doesn’t hear, who is of human similitude, getting busy and tied up with his own business?
The concept of god was very little different to a man - he was weak and impotent, small and puny even in their own minds, let alone in reality.
The tragedy was they took it all so seriously, they took Elijah’s mocking seriously, not realising what an indictment it was on Baal.
They took his advice and prayed all the louder in order to gain his attention.
We today make a lot of noise and fuss calling upon God - perhaps the volume and performance indicate how impotent our god really is - it is not the God of Elijah!
The multiplication of noise is a substitute for the lack of evident power and response (cf. 1 Kings 19:12).
*Sincere 1 Kings 18:28 *- They cried out louder and louder - they were desperate to be heard.
They cannot be accused of being insincere or uncommitted.
They were absolutely sincere and genuine in their belief of Baal - utterly devoted with a dedication which went beyond personal regard - they cut themselves until their blood flowed as their cruel and barbaric cult demanded.
So much for those who say that as long as you have faith, that you are sincere, genuine in your seeking, full of zeal, passion and dedication it doesn’t matter what you call your god.
Oh yes it does matter!
Despite their undeniable sincerity and devotion it was to a block of wood not to the Living God.
Their zeal was utterly misplaced and the results are tragic.
Sincere, but sincerely wrong.
There is no reward for genuineness of motive.
There is only one God and only one way to Him (John 14:6; Rom 10:1-3; Hos 4:6).
People can be utterly convinced they are right and be devoted to their beliefs but when they are in fact in error it is tragic indeed and there is little you can do to persuade them otherwise despite the patent futility of the results.
It doesn’t work despite all the shouting and harsh self treatment.