The Irony of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal
Reading some of the Old Testament prophets and their ministry against the sins towards God should remind us of our own ministry given us at baptism. Perhaps most people pass over these chapters of unknown or seldom mentioned prophets. Their direct guidance from God’s direction to influence our current understanding of his plan to redeem us is essential for our own salvation.
We know the prophetic scenario that says; “Those who forget their past are condemned to repeat it.” This not only can become a directive for everyone, it has been an actual thought throughout history. Too often many will laugh at this idea but in reality they will become the very obstacles of finding a disastrous outcome in many wrong choices. Look at wars throughout the 20th century and see that very phenomenon repeated over and over. Alexander the Great, Hitler, Sudaam Husein, and others followed the same scenario; and they all failed.
When Elijah was sent to bring salvation to Israel and after the fall of those who worshiped the false god Baal, the people who were on the fence as to who to worship became very clear. Move ahead in history to our present day adherence to another god(s). The materialistic gods are to be seen everywhere in our present greed to find pleasure, control of wealth, and the humanistic desire of me first. In the time when Elijah was attempting to get the people who were on a fence and not knowing which way to choose, so those in our current society are riding a fence of a moral decision. Unfortunately too many are leaning towards moral decay and the attraction has blinded them to what their Christian belief has taught them. After the challenge from Elijah proved there is a God in heaven, the many prophets of Baal were slain. The followers of greed and moral decay in today’s society will not be slain, but will fall from grace all because of their own sinfulness of rejecting God. (cf 1 Kgs 18:1 ff).
Our present world that refuses to believe in what Elijah was sent to eradicate through God’s power will also come to an end we should want to escape from. History does repeat itself in too many areas that blinds the common sense of believers as well as non-believers. The old story of chicken little who went through the city proclaiming the sky was about to fall is synonymous with a long line of prophecies today of the moral decline in our world. It has gone on for many years and is about to come to fruition, maybe in our own time. However, it is predicted in Old Testament books and is very prominent in Matthew’s eschatology discourse. (Mt 24: 25 - 46).
As we open our minds and hearts to what we have received through the Holy Spirit as God’s overwhelming grace let us remember how Elijah also received the promise of God. “As he stood at the entrance to the cave a strong wind was crushing rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.” He found what each of us is looking for as well. Peace, a gentle belief that when we find God it will be in the gentle touch of what Christ died for; our salvation. (1 Kgs 19: 11 - 13).
Ralph B. Hathaway