May 18, 2018

Fire and a Call for Decision

1 Kings 18:16-39

When all the people saw [the fire of the Lord], they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

—  1 Kings 18:39

Fire can be destructive, but it can also illuminate. The prophet Elijah on Mount Carmel stands as God’s representative before people who worship other gods and people from Israel who can’t seem to choose. Elijah calls them to decide between the Lord, the one true God, and Baal, the false god.

Before any decision is made, a contest is played out between Elijah and the prophets of Baal as to who can bring fire from heaven down on a sacrifice. The prophets of Baal prepare their sacrifice and cry out for Baal’s attention, going so far as to cut themselves and bleed. But there is no response, because Baal does not exist.

Then Elijah pours water over the sacrifice he has prepared. The sacrifice is totally drenched, and water also fills a trench around the altar. Then Elijah prays to God. In response, the Lord sends fire so intense that it burns up the sacrifice and the wood, stones, and soil and evaporates the water in the trench. In this battle, it is clear who has won. The people no longer waver. They cry out and acknowledge the Lord as God.

We serve the one true God, who hears us. We serve the God who is not silent. We serve the God who was even willing to send his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, securing our salvation. This God also turns to us and calls us to follow him.

Dear God, forgive us when we waver or even flirt with other gods like the god of self, or power, or status, or materialism. May we cry out and acknowledge you day by day. Amen.

About the author — Julius T. Medenblik

Rev. Jul Medenblik is a former attorney who was called to pastoral ministry and became the founding pastor of a church in New Lenox, Illinois. He is currently serving as president of Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jul and his wife, Jackie, are blessed with a son, Joshua, and a daughter, Julianne.

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