1 Kings 18 makes me think of the James Taylor song Fire and Rain.
Fire and Rain
Just yesterday morning, they let me know that you were gone.
Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song,
I just can’t remember who to send it to.
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,
But I always thought that I’d see you again.
Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus,
You’ve got to help me make a stand.
You’ve just got to see me through another day.
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
And I won’t make it any other way…
Elijah and Ahab also saw fire and rain. In 1 Kings 18, Ahab is king of the northern territory of Israel; Judah is in the south. He’s rich and powerful and has turned his back on God to embrace the worship of Baal together with his evil wife, Jezebel (modern Baal options are power, prestige, fame, social media popularity, money, sex, boyfriend, girlfriend, alcohol, drugs, comfort, … strike a chord?). Elijah is a prophet sent by God to confront this idol worship by His people.
Ahab’s viewpoint: This trouble-maker Elijah caused this drought that is paralyzing my nation.
Elijah’s perspective: This evil king Ahab has led the people into Baal worship so this drought is necessary to get their attention.
Here’s what happens:
- Elijah calls out Ahab for promoting Baal worship. He tells Ahab to gather the people of Israel at Mount Carmel and assemble the 450 Baal prophets and 400 Asherah prophets.
- At Mount Carmel, Elijah challenges the pagan prophets to a “sacrifice duel”. Elijah requests two bulls, one for the Baal sacrifice and one for the God sacrifice. He specifies that the prophets can bring no fire, it must come from Baal or God. Winner takes all.
- The pagan prophets call on the name of Baal from morning till noon. Nothing. Elijah taunts them. They begin to cut themselves and cry out until evening. Nada.
- Elijah calls the people to him. He builds the altar with 12 stones, one for each Israelite tribe. He adds the wood and bull, then commands that four large jugs of water be emptied over the entire sacrifice, three times.
- He prays. Fire falls. The sacrifice is fully consumed.
- The people repent and turn back to God.
- Elijah kills every pagan prophet in the nearby valley.
- Elijah predicts rain to Ahab and climbs to the top of Mount Carmel.
- Verse 45: “…the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.”
God is both fire and rain. He will protect you from your enemies. He will nourish and heal you. He loves you. Whatever your circumstances, God is bigger. You are never outnumbered, even at 450 to one. Call on Him and see how He responds. But… you’ve got to pick a side. God or idol. This is the essence of faith.
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. Praise God!