In my last article I talked about how my friend Hector did way more than I expected with my tree trimming. One of the names for God in the Old Testament is El Shaddai and it shows how our God is a God of more than just enough. He overflows in power, forgiveness and love. The story of Elijah and the 450 false prophets in 1 Kings 18 shows us a thrilling example of that.
In this record, we see God’s humor, a funny display of sarcasm and a spectacular show of God as El Shaddai in action.
His people had become apathetic and basically lazy. The Bible says they followed Baalim. Baalim is the plural of Baal, the god of fertility. So the people sought and followed whatever promised some kind of fertility, whether it was a bigger family, more crops, more money, anything that would seem to provide more satisfaction to their lives.
Baal and his female counterpart Asherah required certain sacrifices but overall were much looser than the Hebrew God. Worshipping many different gods (Baalim) promised wealth and power without having to adhere to all the Old Testament rules of the God of Moses.
If we put it in contemporary terms, a person who was following Baalim (many gods), could do some Bible stuff on Sunday, go to the palm reader on Monday, sex it up with whomever whenever, cheat people in business to make more money, and just about anything else they felt like. No wonder the Israelites got sucked in!
Well, Elijah challenged the people and God kicked it into high gear and the overflow came.
“Elijah came unto all the people, and said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21).
The people didn’t want to have to make a definite decision. They’d rather keep their options open, but wishy-washy living gives wishy-washy results. Commitment to the God of the Bible is a strong decision, but the results are sure and strong too.
Then Elijah got an amazing plan from God and “said to the people, ‘I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God” (1 Kings 18:22-24).
The people thought that was a great idea. The prophets of Baal set up their sacrifice and “called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. ‘Baal, answer us!’ they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar” (v.26).
This is the funny part, where Elijah starts egging on the false prophets:
“Elijah began to taunt 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.’ So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice.
“But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
“Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down” (v. 27-30).
The prophets of Baal were working so hard to get their gods to do something, they had totally messed up and destroyed the altar and Elijah had to take time to repair it. But he wasn’t a bit worried.
It was show off time for El Shaddai.
Elijah “arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said, ‘Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood. Do it again,’ he said, and they did it again. ‘Do it a third time,’ he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench” (1 Kings 18:33-35).
This was a wet mess! If you’ve ever tried to start a fire with even damp wood, you know how hard it is.
“At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: ‘Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.’”
“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” (vv.36-38).
There it is! God’s fire not only burned the meat, but burned up the stones, and the soil and disintegrated all the water in the trench! That’s our God, El Shaddai, the God of more than enough!
“And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, Jehovah, he is God; Jehovah, he is God” (v.39).
Let’s drop all the other stuff we’ve been so enamored by, and just follow Jehovah, the Lord. If you need a show of El Shaddai, just ask for it. Matthew 21:22 says, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
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