This story is not about Elijah. It is not about the persecution he faced and the vindication he may have felt at the end of the story when God brought fire down from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice. It isn’t a story about a king who led his people down the wrong path. It isn’t the story of false prophets, nor is it the story with the age-old “do good, get rewarded” message, because that would make it about us.
This is a story about God. It is a true story that causes the reader to fear God, worship God, and give one’s utmost to God. God is the one who chose to use Elijah to turn the hearts of his people, Israel, back to Him. God is the one who chose to use the rebellion of Ahab to draw the sharp contrast of the power of man to the power of God. It is all. about. God.
There are aspects of the story that we may relate with. In 1 Kings 18:7, earlier in the chapter, King Ahab addresses Elijah as a “troubler of Israel” because of the prophecies Elijah has foretold to Ahab. The prophecies are not good and include famine and no rain, so Elijah earned the nickname because he warned the people of the impending punishments if they did not return to God. After beseeching them to repent and still getting nowhere, Elijah basically has the chance to have an epic showdown in front of the Israelites to prove who is truly God: YHWH or Baal, the idol of Ahab.
In his genuine desire to see people repent; in his heart to see people worship the one true God and in his love for his people, Israel, and wanting to see them mercifully delivered from judgement, Elijah cries out to God in vs. 37:
” Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
God indeed answered Elijah with fire that burned up the sacrifice and consumed the water around the alter, and God was glorified and worshiped in Israel.
Through Jesus, all have the chance to become God’s children: saved, redeemed and continuously made new. All have the opportunity to worship God as He originally intended from the beginning of creation, with freedom and without shame. But human hearts wander at the first chance to lust or covet and are sidetracked by faces in the mirror and the pride of life. Humanity are nothing but idol-worshipers.
As followers of Jesus, God is using us, missionaries in our schools, to call to God and ask Him to send down the fire that will turn hearts back to Him. Notice Elijah doesn’t ask for the most eloquent words to persuade them to follow Jesus. He puts the battle for the hearts of men into the hands of the Creator of mankind and simply asks for God to speak. To show up. To do the miraculous.
And He does, because it’s His story, and we are placed in it to worship Him.