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denied by nearly all the people of Israel at that time! How fixed her purpose henceforth to trust Him, to love Him more, to serve Him better! and so she seemed to imply when she said to Elijah, “now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth."
O Reader ! is this God your God ? Have you learned, and are you learning to trust Him in every matter, as All-powerful to assist you
every possible want, and to deliver you in every possible danger or trouble! Do
you know the power of prayer? Like Elijah, can you feel confident that whatever you lay before Him He is able to perform ; and that fervent prayers, prayers of faith, prayers in spirit and truth, prayers in the hands of the Righteous Mediator, are certain to be heard and answered abundantly?
Grant me grace
PRAYER. O LORD! give me, I pray Thee, more of that faith which was in Elijah. to trust Thee in all times of want, and in all straits and difficulties. May I call upon Thee in the day of trouble, and being always de livered by Thee, may I see Thy hand both in the trouble and in the help, so that I glorify Thy name, through Jesus Christ. AMEN.
ELIJAH AND THE PROPHETS
“ So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and
gathered the prophets together unto mount
Carmel. “ And Elijah came unto all the people, aud said,
How long halt ye between two opinions ? if the Lord be God, follow him : but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” 1 KINGS XVIII. 20, 21.
HERE is an interesting and wonderful account of how Elijah the prophet convinced a whole nation of the sin of idolatry, and of the duty of serving the one true God.
This was the great thing that Elijah had at heart. For this, as we have seen, “he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of a year and six months.” This was one part of the means adopted to bring the people of Israel to repentance. He knew that “when God's judgments are in the earth,” men are more disposed to learn righteousness. But another means was also adopted by Elijab, doubtless, under the teaching of the Lord.
For so we read, “after many days the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, go, show thyself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” God had made men think of Him by shutting the door of heaven and withholding rain; now He would make them further think of Him by opening heaven and pouring down His blessings.
But neither was this the only means used. God was going to speak to men not only by water, but also by fire from heaven : and this in such a way, as to show on one hand the impotency of Baal, the false god they worshipped, and on the other, His own power and glory.
It was for this purpose that Elijah told Ahab to gather together all Israel unto mount Carmel, and all the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty. For this he asked them how long they halted between two opinions, the service of Baal, and the service of God. And for this he asked them to be guided in the matter by this one thing, “The God that answereth by fire, let him be God.”
But before we attend to the particulars of this wonderful account, our attention is called first to another servant of the Lord, besides Elijah. This was Obadiah, who was
the governor of Ahab's household. This good report he obtained, “Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly." And he himself testified of himself; “I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.” His was, therefore, rather a remarkable case. He was one of the very few faithful in the midst of a perverse nation, and at a time when the children of God were very few in number, and rare to be met with. Look too, at his position : he was governor of the house of the wicked king Ahab, and still worse queen Jezebel. Yet under such circumstances he feared God. And how did he show his fear? For one thing, by“ making much of them that fear the Lord,”—by loving and assisting the Lord's people, -by doing what he could to stop the torrent of wickedness flowing from his master's house. This was the proof of his fearing God. “It was so that when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave and fed them with bread and water." He did this at the risk of his own life, and no doubt under no common difficulties, seeing it was the time of drought and famine. But he loved the brethren. And the love of the brethren is a good proof of a gracious fear of God, as St. John says, “By this we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren."
But now let us turn to this great work of conviction which Elijah wrought upon the people at this time. He did it in this twofold way, first by telling the people to call upon their god Baal, and offer sacrifices to him, and then, when they failed to get any answer, he offered up a sacrifice to God in the manner God had appointed, and called upon God, who answered as He was wont to do, by sending down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice.
Elijah wished to bring disgrace upon Baal, as much as he did glory upon the God of Israel. He made the people see the great difference between this false god they were worshipping and the one true living God. He said, on your side you have four hundred and fifty prophets, whereas on the Lord's side there is but one, and that is myself Elijah. Yet, you shall see that my one prayer to God will be effectual, while the prayers of all your prophets shall be unanswered. He let their prophets pray all the day, while he prayed but one short prayer at the usual time of seeking God, the time of the evening sacrifice.