We are not fighting the good fight of faith alone, although it can sometimes feel like it. There are more for us than against us. We may need to encourage ourselves in the Lord with scripture. We may need to ask God to open our eyes as Elisha did for his servant, who felt surrounded by the enemy.

But today, I am not asking God to open our eyes to those we can’t see but those we can see but may have written off.

We love stories of the bold and beautiful. We love the lone wolf. We love the lone hero who can defeat a hundred men to one. We love our American heroes like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Chuck Noris—one man against an army. We also have heroes in the Bible, David defeating Goliath, Samson defeating the Philistines, and the one I want to talk about today, Elijah defeating the prophets of Baal and Asherah.

In 1 Kings 18 and 19, we find Elijah looking for Ahab to challenge his army of prophets to a fight at Mount Carmel. Elijah first meets with Obadiah, who tells Elijah that Jezebel is killing all the prophets and that he has hidden a hundred prophets in caves by the fifties.

Obadiah arranges the meeting between Ahab and Elijah. And Ahab is up for the contest. I guess Jezebel wasn’t in the loop that day. So, Ahab, Elijah, the prophets, and Israel show up for the contest. Elijah makes an announcement and follows it with, “I, the last prophet of God in Israel, only me, will battle 450 prophets of Baal, all alone, by myself, with no help from below only by the help from above, the one true God. That was my paraphrase of an overly self-important prophet named Elijah.

Did Elijah forget what Obadiah told him about the hundred prophets hidden in caves by the fifties? I don’t think so. I believe Elijah passed judgment on the silent majority hiding in caves. We will revisit this a little later.

Elijah does quite a show of mocking the false God of these false prophets as they try everything to call fire down from the sky. Elijah continues his mockery as he pours water on the altar before he calls fire down from the sky. Have you heard the adage, if that doesn’t light your fire, your wood is wet! Well, Elijah wanted to give home advantage to the enemies of God so no one could claim a technical knockout. There would be no need for a rematch. Everyone would know who the one true God is after this contest.

Elijah calls down the fire. The sacrifice is received, the altar is burned up, and every drop of water is licked up. The people fell on their faces and declared the one true God. Elijah then turned his face to the false prophets of Baal and Asherah and had them slaughtered before him and Ahab.

Then we go into the story of Elijah praying down rain after a drought. The rain comes, and Ahab comes down the mountain and tells Jezebel everything that has happened that day. And word gets back to Elijah that Jezebel is coming for his life.

We then see Elijah in total despair under a tree wishing to die. An angel brings him food and water and sends him away.

Next, we find Elijah hiding in a cave. Hmm. And the word of the Lord came to Elijah asking, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah responds with how zealous he is for the Lord! Israel has forsaken God, and he alone is the last remaining prophet! Now they want to kill me!

Hmm. Again, we have Elijah claiming he is the only remaining prophet. God tells Elijah to come out of the cave while He passes by. Climate change happens outside the cave, but God isn’t in it. And again, God asks Elijah why he is hiding in a cave. And again, Elijah rehearses his self-importance as the only zealous Israelite and last prophet.

God proceeds to give Elijah a task list to finish. Then corrects his self-importance. Elijah, I have seven thousand people that have not bowed their knees to Baal nor compromised or kissed him.

This is important to those of us who think we are zealous for God and the only ones left standing. Elijah knew there were prophets of the fifties hidden in caves, but maybe he thought they weren’t zealous or bold enough to be called prophets. And seven thousand others were in hiding but had not bowed or compromised the truth. But Elijah judged their heart and lifted himself to a height he couldn’t maintain.

Next, we find Elijah hiding in a cave claiming to be zealous for the Lord. Be careful how you judge, or you might find yourself in the same cave as the silent majority. It is God who gives grace and not of ourselves. If we are bold as lions with faces set like flint, it is only because God has graced us to do so.

Next week we will learn why the silent majority are in hiding. And again, we will learn from another story that we are not the only ones standing.

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