1 Kings 18:25-29
And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
Well, here we are! The time for the great “showdown: is here! I hope readers notice that every time I type that word, “showdown,” it has been in quotation marks; that has not been an accident. We often refer to this as the contest on mount Carmen between the Prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Two points are critical to assess at this point: It was NOT a contest, and it was NOT between Elijah and anybody. The result of this confrontation was predetermined, preordained, and there was never any question of just who would prevail here. Elijah was simply God’s chosen tool and representative; he was simply the man God had picked to show His might and power to the idolatrous Israelites, Ahab, and the prophets of Baal.
Before we move on, let’s recap quickly where we have been. Three long years ago, Elijah had pronounced God’s judgement via drought on the nation of Israel for turning their backs on God under the leadership of King Ahab and the evil, idol worshiping Queen Jezebel. Elijah then took off into the desert to escape the wrath of the angry Jezebel, who we find out later began a systematic pogrom and purge of the men of God in the Kingdom. Elijah basically hid himself out for three years first by a brook where he was fed by a raven daily, then with a widow woman and her child, where God provided for the three of them. Elijah was doing much more than just hanging out; God was working a purpose in The Prophet. Elijah was being taught, groomed, and strengthened for a great work
What are some of the things Elijah learned over the course of three years?
Elijah learned that, if God called him to do something even though seemingly dangerous, that He would protect and provide for him. We see that as he sat by the brook Kidron for a year drinking its waters and being fed by a raven. We see that as God provided for Elijah for two more years while dwelling with the widow woman and her son, who just before Elijah’s arrival were preparing to eat their last meal and die.
Elijah learned that God would provide physical safety for His people if He puts them at risk. No doubt while Elijah was sitting hidden by that brook, Ahab and his soldiers were desperately seeking to kill this prophet who had spoken so brashly against him. Then God sends Elijah to abide with the widow, practically in the evil Queen Jezebel’s very back yard!
Elijah learned that his God can do anything, even seemingly the impossible. Remember that the raising of the widow woman’s son was the first instance in The Bible of that occurring. It must have been an amazing and awesome thing for Elijah to be a part of, and must have forever cemented in The Prophet’s mind the power of God.
Elijah learned that sometimes we just have to be where God puts us, and that every mission counts. He spent likely two years in the widow’s home, very likely sharing his God with her. As we see, she did become a believer in the One True God. Than may have seemed like an insignificant little mission, but Elijah was willing, and he simply did it.
Now it’s time. Elijah has invited the people of Israel, Ahab, Jezebel, and the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a confrontation on mount Carmel. We would find out soon, just who the real God was, and who the fake gods were as well. The challenge was straightforward. Each side would take a sacrificial bullock, lay it on the altar, and the God who consumed the sacrifice with fire from heaven would prove the be the true God.
Right from the beginning, we see Elijah striking right at the heart of the believers of Baal. After all, Baal was the god of storms and lighthing(fire from heaven.) Surely such a god could perform his mission, right? Not only that, but Elijah said they could go first, and take all of the time they needed to call their god and watch him work.
Call they did! They called, and called, and called some more. There was silence. Where was Baal? They danced, shouted some more, and even cut themselves. Still, there was silence. Where was Baal?
It seems Elijah had the same question, and his reaction may seem odd to us. Elijah shouted at the dancing prophets of Baal and mocked them! Is Baal sleeping? Is he travelling? Perhaps he cannot hear so well? There is even writing that suggests Elijah asked the frantic prophets of Baal if perhaps their god was out relieving himself. Honestly, this is smack talking at its best!
So, what can we learn here? Are we to mock and deride those who have opposing views from us? Are we to mock and deride those who may mock and deride God and thumb their nose in His face? Probably not. We are called to:
I Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
That doesn’t really sound like mockery now does it? Perhaps we should take a quick more in depth look at the term “meek.” Meek as described in the Bible does not mean a retiring weakness, but rather a state of strength under control. In its every day usage it was commonly used to describe the training of a horse. A horse would be “meeked.” That stallion would not lose one ounce of it’s vast strength and power, but that power would simply be controlled and in a submissive state to the desires of its master. That is how meekness applies to us, Great power, from the Holy Spirit, under control and submissive to the desires of our master, Jesus Christ.
So, are we to mock our “opponents?” Very likely the answer to that is simply: no. On the other hand, when faced with open challenges to our God, mockery of Him, and open mistreatment of His people, are we to turn the other cheek and head for the hills? Maybe. There is a time for heading for the hills, but the when is not our decision; that timing and that decision belongs to God. Our job is to listen to Him and execute that timing according to His will. On the other hand, God may not be telling us to head for the hills.
It may be our time, just as it was Elijah’s time. Perhaps we have been taught, tested, provided for and molded, and it is time for God to use us in a great way. So, while maybe mockery is not the way we should deal with those who oppose or mock God, standing in an unequivocal way against them is just fine and dandy.
When told that “truth is relative,” and that it’s not what we believe that matters but how sincerely we believe it, are we willing to look a person in the eye and say: “That is untrue!”?
When the people we are with mock God, Jesus, and those who believe in Him, do we speak up or remain silent?
Are we willing to speak out against things God clearly considers sin, even when the tide of the world says otherwise?
When God asks us to go to our mount Carmel, will we be willing?