U Got Served

1 Kings 18:26

In the days leading up to Easter, my church has arranged for the entire Bible – all 31,103 verses – to be read aloud from the pulpit. While the Word is being read, someone is down in the pews praying. People have signed up for one-hour shifts (sometimes switching so one person reads for 30 min, then prays for 30), and mine was 10-11 last night.

I prayed for 30 minutes and when it came my time to read, I got a juicy part: 1 Kings chapters 17 through 22 (they’re long chapters). Most of the Old Testament deals with the people of Israel’s rebellion against God, and this selection is no different. They chose earthly idols and gods, even though the one true God was constantly bringing them back and showing that He was indeed who He said He was. Specifically, the wicked King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, had led the people astray and led them to worship Baal.

The passage below recounts Elijah’s efforts to bring the people back into the fold, courtesy of a fiery display from God on Mt. Carmel. Not only did God prove His divinity to the people, He did it in awesome way in the midst of a hilarious situation. Elijah was, without a doubt, a smartypants. Every verse of the Bible is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training for righteousness, but when the Holy Scriptures use a sarcastic prophet AND call out a wayward people for their bad dancing? Well that’s just flat out fun. I wonder what dance they were doing. The Mashed Potato? Maybe a waltz? Ooh, The Electric Slide! Decide for yourself:

1 Kings 18:20-39

20 So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and gathered the prophets at Mount Carmel. 21 Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word.

22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I am the only remaining prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us. They are to choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and place it on the wood but not light the fire. I will prepare the other bull and place it on the wood but not light the fire. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Yahweh. The God who answers with fire, He is God.”

All the people answered, “That [sounds] good.”

25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Since you are so numerous, choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first. Then call on the name of your god but don’t light the fire.”

26 So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they did their lame dance around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up!” 28 They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed out on them. 29 All afternoon, they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice, but there was no sound, no one answered, no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near me.” So all the people approached him. Then he repaired the LORD’s altar that had been torn down: 31 Elijah took 12 stones—according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Israel will be your name” — 32 and he built an altar with the stones in the name of Yahweh. Then he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold about four gallons. 33 Next, he arranged the wood, cut up the bull, and placed it on the wood. He said, “Fill four water pots with water and pour it on the offering to be burned and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “A second time!” and they did it a second time. And then he said, “A third time!” and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; he even filled the trench with water.

36 At the time for offering the [evening] sacrifice, Elijah the prophet approached [the altar] and said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,  today let it be known that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that at Your word I have done all these things. 37 Answer me, LORD! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back.”

38 Then Yahweh’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell facedown and said, “Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God!”

Baal, you just got served.

I wanted to work in “They’re break dance fighting” but couldn’t figure out a way to do it smoothly. Instead I’ll just post the trailer for Zoolander. You’re welcome.

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