The God that Answers
“Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table. So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And 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. Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answers by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. (1 Kings 18:19-24)”
One of the greatest things you can take away from this story about Elijah is, God is the God who answers; while all other god’s (or their priests) only make a claim to answer or respond, but delivers nothing. There is a certainty or a confidence a Christian can have, which allows us to stand before other people and say God not only hears us, but he will also answer us.
Earlier in the story it is revealed that there are other prophets of the Lord, however they are in hiding; making Elijah the only prophet willing to take a stand out in the open. Eight-hundred and fifty prophets against one prophet would possibly intimidate the single prophet or cause many people to think that Baal may be the true or greater God; unless you know how useless it is to call on this god called Baal.
I like how Elijah used the authority of the King to gather everyone, knowing everyone would have to respond, and then he didn’t go straight to the priests to have this showdown, because they probably would have declined the offer. But instead spoke to the people about his challenge and then gave the priest the best or first choice among the bullocks to make their offering; by giving them first place, he takes away their excuse as to why Baal won’t respond to their cries.
If only Christians today would understand that we don’t serve an inferior God, that he can stand the test or the challenges as we trust in him. That our Lord is the only one that dares to say, “Call upon me and I will answer.” (Psalms 91:15 & John 16:23)
“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 11:41-42)”
Many people tend to forget that Jesus came as a man, (yes he is God, but he came as a man), meaning he was like us in every way except he didn’t sin. The things he did was as a man who trusted God as his Father, he didn’t do them through his own deity, but as a man dependent upon his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Like Elijah, Jesus knows that not only does the Father always hears him, but he always answers too!
“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:14-15)”
The only way James can make this claim about the Elders, is that he knows that the Elders can pray knowing that God will answer them as they make their “prayer of faith”. The story of Elijah and the statements made by Jesus and James are there to let us know that God is the God who not only hears us as we call upon his name, but he also answers us. No one else can make that claim, our God is truly active in our lives. There were a hundred other prophets of the Lord, but only one would dare to believe that God would answer back!