1 Kings 18:[17-19] 20-39 Elijah at Mount Carmel
We have here the classic battle between power and faith. Elijah, that most famous of prophets, it facing off against Ahab, who accuses Elijah of troubling Israel, when Ahab has followed Baal. This is the introduction of Jezebel who gets the short end of the stick historically and in the Biblical tale.
While we have typically read this as the foreign woman who led the Israelite king off after other gods, let’s be honest, she’s following her god. Nothing says the king has to follow her god too. Solomon set a really bad precedent in the family line by marrying and worshiping as many foreign wives and their gods as he could.
Ultimately, this is a simple story. It is about a king who pursued power, his own power, rather than faithful service. It is a story of a leader who pledged his loyalty to that which would enhance him, rather than remembering where his loyalties should lie. Ahab accuses Elijah of being unfaithful to Israel. Elijah counter accuses.
So there must be a test. A final debate of sorts between the powers that be, to see which god will rule the day, and which power is greater – the power of the moment or the power of covenant. And that is the drama of the day, a calling for fire from heaven to consume an offering. Elijah ups the ante, and rocks the 450 priests of Baal.
And so we have the answer. It is the answer we knew. It is the answer we expected. But we’re still not done chasing other gods for the short term reward, are we?