BIBLE STORIES FOR BIG PEOPLE
A Supernatural Overview
The Bible is a fascinating read for many people. Others see it as irrelevant and contradictory. Still others think they know what’s inside, but they’ve never opened the cover to find out for themselves. And then there are those who actually experience it daily.
My sincere hope is that my series, “Bible Stories for Big People,” will provide unexpected insight for all of the above, in a uniting kind of way. In a supernatural kind of way. — P.M.Y.
A personal note: Elijah’s plethora of emotions described in 1 Kings 18-19 is my favorite account of human behavior detailed in Scripture. I can identify with Elijah’s confidence as well as with his insecurities. I understand his defeatist attitude and the resulting fatigue. And I can relate to his totally human response to God’s instructions.
So now, let me tell you the story …
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Based on 1 Kings 17-19
Elijah was a true prophet who was sent by the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) to boldly challenge Ahab, the wicked king of Israel (869-850 BC), and his evil wife, Jezebel, concerning their worship of the false god, Baal.
Here’s how their conversation went …
So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
But the people said nothing. (1 Kings 18:16-21, New International Version)
So Ahab brought 850 “prophets” to respond to Elijah’s challenge: “If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” You can read the details in 1 Kings 18:22-40.
THE BOTTOM LINE: GOD SHOWED UP and proved to the people that Baal was a false god! Then Elijah commanded the people to slaughter the 850 false prophets! That was “Round One.”
ROUND TWO …
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:41-46)
A RECAP: God showed up at the “prophet showdown” AND answered Elijah’s prayer for rain, proving that Elijah was A TRUE PROPHET CHOSEN BY GOD. But Elijah’s humanity ultimately ruled and fear got the better of him. In his mind, he thought he was all alone in the world …
Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. (1 Kings 19:3-9, NIV)
Elijah had witnessed the Lord God’s power and faithfulness in ways that you and I only read about in Scripture. But he still experienced fear, hunger, weariness and a sense of defeat. Fortunately, he listened to the angel messenger and regained his strength by eating and drinking the supernatural food and water that was provided for him by his Creator. However, he chose to use that strength to keep running away from his perceived problems.
COMING NEXT: “What Are You Doing Here, Elijah?”
THINK ABOUT IT: In what ways can you relate to Elijah’s triumph and his troubles? Have you ever experienced (or know someone who has experienced) a time when God showed up? I’d love it if you would email me and tell me about it! (email@example.com)
Copyright 2015, Paula Meiners Yingst