I have a couple of more thoughts about Elijah. Hopefully they will hit you like they hit me. There are four parts to his story that sound a lot like yours and mine. I call them: The Showdown, Running on Empty, The Cave, The Helper. We’ll be looking at these over the next few days.
Last week we talked about God teaching Elijah (and us) to focus on His daily care and provision. And we noted that the private encounters with God prepare, equip, and deposit truth BEFORE the public encounters. We often get that out of order. We go out into the world and ask questions: How am I doing? Does anyone like me? Am I succeeding?
But those questions for Elijah were answered before he went out. At the brook it was just Elijah and God. Then it was Elijah at the widow’s home. Then it was the showdown of taking on the 400 prophets serving Baal. Elijah may have been scared, but he moved in the power of the Spirit – in the faith that God had poured in, refined and tested in much quieter settings.
I know that God is up to something big when He hems me in for sitting, resting, hearing. I know that He wants me to “get” something about Him. He wants me to discover a facet of Him I didn’t know before. But as we go to new places, He always reviews core issues. He alone is God, He alone is truth. I can do nothing apart from Him. And my heart must be connected to His heart before I DO one thing. They don’t call him a “jealous God” for nothing.
God knows how to keep the main thing, the main thing. And it ain’t working for Him. It is loving Him and being loved by Him.
Have you got a showdown coming? Then get quiet. Allow God to speak His truth over you and in you. Let Him remind you that whomever, whatever you’re facing, that Thing has to face You and God as a team. Wow. Talk about offense.
Here is another thing about Elijah’s Showdown. The prophets and Elijah were to both build an altar and sacrifice a bull. They were to call on their respective god, Baal or Jehovah. And the god that answered by fire was the one true living God.
The prophets of Baal shouted and danced around for hours. Then they began to slash their bodies so that blood flowed. To no avail. Don’t miss this picture. You can shed your own blood before a deaf and mute god (read: addiction, habit, fear, false god) but nothing will change. Nothing will burn up that offering.
Or you can follow Elijah. Elijah poured water, and more water on the altar. Twelve jars of water. One for each tribe. Elijah stacked the deck and made it so clear that God and only God could receive any glory for the fire. But I also love the picture of “washing.” The way we enter into the power of God is not by our own fleshly expressions of sacrifice. We enter by letting God wash us.
Our false gods (addictions, past, fears, etc.) will demand more and more of our very lives, our blood, but they have no power. We need the water and fire to be in the presence of the living God. And why did Elijah ask God to show up in this crazy way? “Answer me, O Lord answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” Not your effort, but His effort to restore, heal and renew.
May the Lord speak truth in your secret places today. May He wash you. And may He pour down fire from heaven for His glory and your faith.