Elijah Made A Difference: What About You, Though?

1 Kings 18 is a fascinating Chapter to read, full of tension, drama and great dialog. It features Elijah the prophet, whose life would make a pretty interesting mini-series, as he confronted the evil minions of Ahab and Jezebel on Mount Carmel. The god Baal was a Mesopotamian pagan deity whose name was a form of the word “Lord”, closely associated with fertility and storms. Anytime you combine being pagan with fertility, your PG worship rating goes right out the window– as do morality, decency, and true godliness. Under King Ahab’s corrupt leadership Israel had begun to worship Baal, and the Lord sent Elijah to do something about it.

“So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.” (1 Kings 18:20-21, NIV)

A Dramatic Confrontation

The full chapter of 1 Kings 18 contains one of the great stories in the Bible. While Ahab was King of Israel, he and his evil wife Jezebel reinstituted Baal worship with its corrupt high places and pagan practices. Ahab was a bad king, but his wife was even worse. Jezebel was killing the Lord’s prophets wherever she found them according to verse four, so it took great courage for Elijah even to appear before the king, much less challenge his authority. But challenge it he did, and Ahab gathered his 450 prophets of Baal to stand against this one man.

Picture the scene: a evil King surrounded by corrupt priests wielding power over a confused people. They gathered on Mount Carmel for an epic confrontation between God and evil. (If you think about it, it’s never “good versus evil” it’s really always about God versus evil!) It was a dark chapter in Israel’s history, and the nation stood at a crossroads between the Lord and 450 prophets of Baal. What a moment! What a story!

Elijah won

God Versus Evil

Elijah confronted them with a challenge: each of us will prepare a sacrifice, and then call upon God to consume it with fire. The prophets of Baal went first, to no avail. They danced, threw fits, and cut themselves. Nothing happened. No fire—no testimony. Their story ended in futile pursuit of a false, vain god whose only power existed in temporary pagan pleasures. (Not so different than most pursuits today, is it?)

Elijah then poured water over his sacrifice until it was soaked. Then he did it AGAIN. Then he had them soak it with water a THIRD TIME. When he finally called upon the Lord, the Bible says, “Then 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.” (18:38) What a finish!

The prophets of Baal were proved to be charlatans and deceivers. And after watching the Lord’s fire rain down from heaven, the Israelites acknowledged and followed God. The prophets of Baal were pursued and struck down, to a man.

One Life

There are a couple of things important here: One, never underestimate the power and influence one person can have. James 5:17 says, “Elijah was a man just like us”. Is that true? Perhaps one person like you can help someone turn their life around. (To paraphrase Chris Farley’s motivational speaker Matt Foley: “Even if that person is YOU.”) Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” So, then, DO SOMETHING. Even if you don’t change the world, you may change YOURSELF.

Second, Elijah confronted evil by calling down the fire of God. When is the last time you asked for God’s fire to come down and consume you? Ever? (No story, no testimony…) Like Elijah, we live in a world where leaders support shaky beliefs, people follow false gods, and evil seems to be gaining… And a lot of folks are on the fence like the crowd watching Elijah, interested on seeing whether God will work, but saying nothing. They are waiting to see whether a new chapter of Acts will be written… I’m thinking this world could use a few more fired-up Christians, and the world could change, one heart at a time. Could it happen?

Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Give it a shot, you might be surprised. And think of the story they might write about YOU someday!

Fire on the Mountain

Ahab ruled with evil lust.
He worshipped Baal, he screamed and cussed,
He broke the covenant’s sacred trust
And woke the Lord’s divine disgust.
Jezebel was his evil Queen.
She did some things that were obscene–
More evil than Ahab had been,
Hateful, powerful, cold and mean.
Their pagan prophets made the scene,
(Just read it in First Kings Eighteen)
But it was all corrupt, unclean,
The worst stuff you have ever seen…

Against them, just one prophet came:
(Elijah was his given name),
A man who prayed, and stopped the rain,
A man of faith. He changed the game
When he alone on Carmel stood
And challenged Israel to do good.
Elijah, see, he understood,
In an hour of need, that Yahweh COULD
Display His power against great odds:
If you need help, then ask for God’s.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

How Would You Like A Double Portion of Passion?

Elijah was perhaps the most dynamic of the prophets of Israel. He was seasoned veteran, a prophet who had confronted Baal and defied the evil Queen Jezebel. He was full of power and passion. Elisha was his protégé, a younger man who was doing his internship with arguably the greatest prophet in Israel’s history. As Elijah’s time on earth drew to a close, he asked Elisha a question. (And when you stop and think about it, perhaps he asked ALL of us a question…)

“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” (2 Kings 2:9-10, NIV).

Visible Passion

Elijah was a powerful man of God who prophesied during the evil reign of Ahab and Jezebel (around the Ninth Century, BC). Elisha was his protégé and heir apparent. As he followed and served under Elijah’s ministry, he saw amazing things. Elisha had seen his mentor rain fire upon the prophets of Baal and challenge a corrupt kingdom. Elijah’s passion for the Lord literally drove him into precarious situations, and he represented God in the midst of one of the most corrupt monarchies in Hebrew history.

passion

Elisha saw miracles and confrontations, but he also saw Elijah’s heart. He saw him when he was exhausted and vulnerable, subject to the pressures of being God’s prophet. When they knew that Elijah’s time on earth was nearing an end, Elijah asked his student what he could do for him. In return, Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. It was an unusual request, but one that deserves a closer look.

A Difficult Request

I think it speaks volumes to us, and here’s why: 1) Elijah conducted himself in such a way that his follower wanted to emulate the spirit and passion with which he lived. That’s a pretty good legacy. Who is watching YOU, and what will you pass on to them?

2) Elisha demonstrated wisdom in asking not for advice, or material things, but for spirit. He wanted to inherit, not Elijah’s possessions, but his passion and his power. The stuff we leave behind is not important, but the spirit we leave behind will resonate far more in God’s economy.

3) Apparently, in order to inherit Elijah’s spirit, Elijah had to be with him and see him depart. You can imagine that he stayed close no matter what kind of pace the rugged Elijah set, or what kind of danger he might face. In fact, Elijah told Elisha three times to leave him, and Elisha refused. He was stubborn and persistent as he pursued God’s blessing. Are YOU?

4) If somebody got a double portion of YOUR spirit, how much would that benefit them? 5) Someone, today, whether you like it or not, is following you. What do they see? As you near the end of your time on earth, will they find your lifestyle so compelling that they ask to have it replicated in themselves?

Finally, 6) who do you know that exhibits passion and Spiritual wisdom? It might be worth your time to discover how they got to be that way. Be passionate. Pursue. Persist.

Passion Worth Pursuing

Life is important. It’s not about fashion,
It’s not about bank accounts you put your cash in,
But it’s about seeking God’s favor with passion.
Elisha was learning; Elijah was leading,
And knew that their moments together were fleeting,
So he asked Elisha, “Before I must go,
What thing would you ask me that you’d like to know?
Elisha said, “There is one thing I would ask:
No matter my role and no matter my task,
I need to climb up to your greatness- or near it,
So please make me full of your passion and spirit!
And please, if you can, and it’s not too much trouble,
I need lots of help, so please make that a double.”

So, clearly, Elisha was very inspired
And he made that request from a man he admired!
But my question is this: Friend, in all that you do,
Whose passion would you like invested in YOU?
Consider your future. Consider your task,
And who has the spirit for which you would ask?
Spend time with your friends who are loving and wise,
And you’ll find that their attitude helps you to rise!
And while you are at it, consider this, too:
Who’d ask for the spirit that they see in YOU?

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread