Sermons

Summary: When God wants to get someone’s attention, He rarely shouts. Instead, He whispers by displaying to the world His "weakness" in Jesus’ death.

-I don’t know if you remember the perfume commercial from the 1980’s where the woman squirts on some perfume and says, “If you want to get someone’s attention – whisper”?

-Do you remember it?

-I used to get a kick out of commercials and imitate some of them

-I still use some of the lines from some of the funnier commercials from the 80’s – like today

-This is kind of what’s going on in our Old Testament lesson for today

-God wants to get Elijah’s attention – he doesn’t use thunder, lightning, earthquakes, fires, stiff winds – no, God uses a whisper of all things

-Why a gentle whisper?

-Because that’s the way God works

-Does that mean that God is not involved in the other “acts of nature” (as we refer to them)?

-Certainly not! God is involved in all that happens in the world. That’s kind of the definition of God

-I know this story provokes these and many more questions in your minds so let’s take a closer look at the story

-First, some background

-Elijah served as a prophet to the northern ten tribes called Israel in the mid-800’s B. C. during the reign of the evil king Ahab with his equally or maybe more evil queen Jezebel.

-Jezebel was a Phoenician princess who married Ahab and brought Ahab and the rest of Israel down with her by introducing the worship of the Phoenician god Baal

-Obviously, Jezebel has stuck in common parlance as a woman of loose morals – like the 1936 Bette Davis’ movie of the same name

-During the later chapters of 1 Kings, a war is being waged between the king and queen and the prophets of Baal on one side and the prophets of Yahweh, the true God on the other

-In chapter 18, Jezebel orders that all the prophets of Yahweh be killed. One of Elijah’s friends hid a hundred of them in two caves and provided food for them to save their lives.

-God then sends Elijah to King Ahab to throw down the gauntlet

-Elijah asks Ahab to summon all the people of Israel to Mount Carmel. He demands that all 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah, a Canaanite fertility goddess be brought along as well

-When the people assemble at Mount Carmel, Elijah sets out the challenge

-He asks the people how long they will be of two opinions. He was asking them how long they would attempt to worship two different gods – Yahweh and Baal.

-You could have heard a pin drop.

-He then suggests that two bulls be prepared as a sacrifice. The 450 prophets of Baal would prepare the one bull for a sacrifice to Baal and Elijah alone as the only prophet of Yahweh on the scene would prepare the other. They were both to cut up wood, ready to be set on fire to burn up the sacrifice to their gods but they were not to set it on fire. Each side would call on their god to deliver the fire to burn the sacrifice.

-The people nodded in agreement.

-What happens next is hilarious. The prophets of Baal call on Baal all morning until noon.

-Elijah begins to mock them because Baal obviously does not answer with fire

-Elijah says to them, “"Shout louder! Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened."

-Then it says, they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.

-Can you imagine this scene where Elijah is off to the side sitting down watching their frenetic activity, trying to get their god to act. It is almost comical.

-Then the text says, “Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.”

-Elijah then calls all the people assembled to him. He rebuilds an altar with twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. He prepares his bull for sacrifice and digs a trench around the sacrifice. He then orders the people to fill four large jars of water and has them pour them on the sacrifice not once, not twice but three times so that the water had not just drenched all the wood and the bull but filled the trench as well

-Elijah then prays that God would show that He is the God of Israel.

God answers by completely burning up the wood, the bull, the stones and the soil and evaporated all the water in the trench

-The people all fell down to worship God and cried out, “Yahweh is God.”

-Elijah orders the people to seize all the false prophets and kill them

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