26th November 2022 – 1 Kings 18:36-40

1 Kings 18:36-40

"36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.” 40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there."


These brief verses are tremendous in their import. In the first place, notice how simple, - and how brief - Elijah's prayer was. Two sentences were sufficient to call down the fire of God from heaven: Ah yes, but look at the man who spoke them: It is not the prayer, but the 'prayer' that is important. His life of patent surrender and one-ness with the will of God was the real power behind his intercession. It is what we are when we pray our prayers that counts with God. The real battle and wrestling of prayer come beforehand in the battle and wrestling for holiness of life and integrity of character, and where this battle has not been fought and won, not even the tongues of man and of angels will make prayer prevail.

We should notice in the second place the reaction of the people. They said (39), 'The Lord, He is the God' - not 'What a mighty prophet is Elijah'. God had all the glory in this man's life and ministry, and his work directed men to Him. O for grace to live like this, that our testimony might exalt the Lord and Him alone!

Finally a word about 40. Elijah has often been castigated for what seemed to be a needless act of barbarity in slaying the prophets. Two things may be said concerning this, first, that in this tremendous time of crisis there could be no half-measures. These men had blasphemously challenged God Himself, and were ripe for destruction; second, it was a time of anarchy, when normal justice had gone by the board, and for the time being Elijah was surely God's minister, the revenger to execute wrath on them that did evil (see Romans 14:4). How else was justice going to be enforced, when Ahab and his court had forfeited the right to be regarded as the lawfully appointed rulers of the nation. Elijah stood alone, and the mantle of authority from God had fallen upon him. This was not a personal, but a judicial, act of execution.