Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Today's readings can be found: [HERE]
Today we witness a powerful event in the life and ministry of Elijah. First of all, his very name is revealing, and expresses the essence of what Elijah is all about. His name means: My God is the LORD [YHWH]. It's a fitting name, as Elijah is the last prophet of the the Lord. There is only One God, and this God has one last remaining prophet.
Contrast this with the "government approved" priests who ate at the table of Jezebel, who had sought the blood of the prophets of the Lord. Among those ranks were four hundred and fifty prophets of Ba'al and four hundred prophets of Ashe'rah.
After three years of drought and famine, Elijah emerges from that domestic scene at Zarephath to do battle for the Lord. I encourage everyone to read that particular scene [1 Kings 18]. Even if it is one versus eight hundred and fifty, numbers do not matter once the Lord enters into the battle. The Lord ensures victory even for the one.
As it was in those days, we see a similar pattern today. Many Israelites half-heartedly "followed" the Lord while they otherwise worshipped other gods and enjoyed the favors and way of life given to them by Jezebel. Likewise, today, there are Christians who may believe in Jesus in a half-hearted manner, while otherwise embracing modern day idols and false gods.
There does come a time when one must no longer straddle the issue and choose sides definitively. "How long will you limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Ba'al, then follow him." That was Elijah's challenge to the Israelites: to be honest with themselves and with God. It seems like a relevant challenge today.
As somewhat of an aside, I find it quite beautiful that Elijah gathered the people around him and rebuilt the altar of the LORD with twelve stones. The gathering of people calls to mind a horizontal element; and the rebuilding of the altar a vertical element. How can one not envision a cross when considering these two elements? Further, the twelve stones signified the twelve tribes. A beautiful tribute to a once holy nation that had lost its way.
But only for a time.
Elijah destroying the messengers of Ahaziah (illustration by Gustave Doré from the 1866 La Sainte Bible) [Wikimedia]