Page images
PDF
EPUB

left in him." Her words to the Prophet Elijah show that she had been learning yet another lesson, a deeper knowledge of the fearfulness of sin, and its consequences; that “of sin, comes death.” Her only child was taken from her, and she seems to have looked upon his loss as a punishment for her own past sins. " What have I to do with thee, O thou man of GOD!" she cried, “ Art thou come to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son ?”

Doubtless Elijah himself was grieved at what seemed on first sight to be trouble and sorrow unmixed, brought upon her who had dealt so kindly with him. But he knew his God was powerful to save, and his only answer to the weeping mother was, “ Give me thy son.” Then he took the dead child out of her bosom, and carried him up into the loft where he dwelt, and laid the body on his own bed. Then he cried unto the LORD, and said, “O LORD my God, hast Thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son ?” Strengthened by prayer, and full of faith, he then stretched himself three times upon the dead body, crying, “O LORD my God, I pray Thee, let this child's soul come into him again.”

And the Lord heard Elijah's prayer, the child's soul came into him again, and he revived. Then Elijah took the child, and brought him down to his inother, and gave him to her, saying, “See, thy son liveth.” Holy men have seen in this a touching type of Baptism, wherein, as S. Paul tells us, we are buried with CHRIST unto death, and raised again in the likeness of His Resurrection.

The widow receiving her son, thus restored to life again, made to Elijah a fuller declaration of her faith than she had yet done. “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the Word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth."

Elijah probably remained in the widow's house during the remainder of the famine, which, according to the Lord's Word, lasted three years. In the third year God told the Prophet that He would send rain upon the earth again, and bade him go with a message to King Ahab. It was a work of danger to do this, as the heathen Queen Jezebel put to death every prophet of the Lord whom she could seize. Nevertheless Elijah went boldly where his God sent him. As he was setting forth King Ahab called the governor of his house,

[ocr errors]

Obadiah, and bade him go through the land, and see if there were no brooks or fountains yet flowing, in hopes of finding some grass, as otherwise all the horses and mules were likely to be lost. Now Obadiah was a good man, and a sincere worshipper of the Lord. He had saved as many as a hundred prophets from the wrath of his mistress Jezebel, hiding them in caves, and feeding them there.

As Obadiah went on his errand, he met Elijah, and knew him, and did reverence to him. The prophet bade him go and tell Ahab that he was there. Then Obadiah was afraid, and told Elijah that Ahab sent everywhere to try and find him; and now he feared that while he should go and tell the king that he had found Elijah, the Spirit of God would carry His prophet away, and Ahab, disappointed again, would slay the messenger.

But Elijah promised to show himself that same day to Ahab, and then Obadiah went back to the king.

When they met, Ahab was probably somewhat afraid of the prophet; for instead of trying to harm him, he asked, “ Art thou he that troubleth Israel ?” And Elijah boldly answered, “I have not troubled Israel ; but thou and thy father's house, in that ye

have forsaken

[ocr errors]

the commandments of the LORD, and thou-hast followed Baal.”

Elijah then proposed that there should be a trial between himself as the prophet of God and the false prophets of Baal. Ahab agreed, and called all the people of Israel together to Mount Carmel to witness the contest between Elijah and the priests of Baal. Of these last there were four hundred and fifty-many of whom ate at the queen's table.

When all were assembled, Elijah came before the people, and said to them, “How long halt ye between two opinions ? if the LORD be God, follow Him ; but if Baal, then follow him.”

The people answered not; many of them must have felt how wicked they were in following strange idols, and yet they were probably afraid to turn against the king and queen

and their powerful party.

Elijah spake again to them. I, even I only,” he said, “remain a prophet of the LORD, but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty

Let them therefore give us two bullocks, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire

men.

[ocr errors]

under. And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the Name of the LORD, and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.”

The people agreed to this, saying, “ It is well spoken.” Then the priests of Baal took a bullock, and prepared it for sacrifice, and for hours—even from morning until noon, they went on calling to Baal, saying, “O Baal, hear us !” But there was no answer, no voice was heard; and the priests in their eagerness leaped upon the altar. When noon came, and there was no sign that Baal heard his priests, the prophet Elijah began to mock them, saying, “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 !” The idol-worshippers grew frantic; they cried aloud, and cut themselves with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. So it went on until the evening, and still there was no fire from Baal, nor any sign of an answer.

It was now Elijah's turn. He called all the people round him, and then began by repairing the altar of the LORD, which had been broken down by the idolaters. For this purpose he took twelve stones, one for each tribe of Israel,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »