Day 10

The Ministry of Elijah

from the 1 & 2 Kings reading plan


1 Kings 17:1-24, 1 Kings 18:1-46, 1 Kings 19:1-21, Joshua 6:26-27

BY Guest Writer

Cue the following: a wicked king, a brave prophet, provisions delivered by ravens, a showdown between heavenly powers, and divine fire and rain. Oh, and pass the popcorn, please.

No, this is not the plot summary of a Hollywood blockbuster. It’s a battle between idolatry and faithfulness found in 1 Kings. This account certainly doesn’t lack drama. The prophet Elijah has been called by God to confront King Ahab. Idolatry had infiltrated Israel as this unfaithful king promoted the worship of Baal, a pagan god of fertility and rain.

God chose Elijah, whose name means “Yahweh is my God,” to be His mouthpiece to His people. But Elijah’s name was also a heads-up, a signal to His uncompromising message: there is only one God, Yahweh, and only He should be worshiped.

A clear line is drawn as the showdown reaches its climax. Two altars piled high with wood are assembled, and a sacrificial, slaughtered bull is placed atop each altar. One is presented to Baal and the other to Yahweh. Elijah instructs, “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The God who answers by fire, he is God” (1 Kings 18:24). The false prophets of Baal call out to their god, shouting, dancing, and working themselves into a frenzy—but not a peep nor a spark comes from Baal.

Then, to further prove his point, Elijah has his altar drenched with water three times before he humbly prays that God would answer and turn the hearts of the people back to Himself (1 Kings 18:37). Of course, the fire of the Lord does fall, completely incinerating the offering and its altar. But God does more than answer with intense fire; He releases a heavy rain, ending years of drought. The one, true God is revealed. At the same time, the false god of fertility is exposed as impotent, and the false god of storms is all washed up.

What a picture of mercy! After their rejection of Him, God could have brought punishment, but instead He shows compassion. His people had turned from Him, forgotten His love and provision, and abandoned His commands. Yet, God doesn’t turn away, nor is He is silent or indifferent to them. He answers and gathers His people back to Himself.

If I’m honest, I can relate; I, too, can work myself into a frenzy seeking action from false, futile gods. I may not dance for Baal, but how often do I bow down to money, image, achievement, reputation, health, or people pleasing? Any and all things can function as an idol, if we place them ahead of God. But don’t be fooled: every idol demands worship, and in the end delivers nothing. God alone should be our source of identity and worth, safety and hope.

I’m ashamed to admit that in the morning, before my feet even hit the floor, my mind spins with what I think I must accomplish. My anxiety about managing my world revs up. Ignoring God and depending solely on myself is as tempting as hitting the snooze button. I so easily forget God and His commands, promises, and provision. Is it any wonder that my efforts can seem impotent and my plans washed up?

But God doesn’t leave me with my head hanging down in shame. Instead of rejecting or abandoning me, He rains down mercy as He speaks to me through His Word and gently turns my face back toward Him. God is not silent, and He does not turn away.

Patti Sauls lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and daughters, Abby and Ellie, where they serve alongside the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. Prior to living in Nashville, the Sauls planted churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis and served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A trained speech therapist, Patti also enjoys serving behind the scenes, hiking with friends, and reading good books.

Post Comments (16)

16 thoughts on "The Ministry of Elijah"

  1. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I love this devotional today. It really hits hone with idols in our own lives.

  2. Dana Cabela says:

    Such a powerful few chapters and message!!

  3. Amanda FutchOgle says:

    I can relate so much to Elijah’s emotional and spiritual exhaustion when he runs away from Jezebel. He had followed God and done exactly what he should and yet here’s another threat. It can get so tiring being consistently faithful and getting so much push back from the world around you. I am so thankful that God didn’t snub his nose at Elijah. He nourished him. He knew exactly how to encourage his heart once again. He didn’t strike Elijah down! He came along side him and fed him and encouraged his heart with gentle whispering and gave him the courage to step out on his next mission. What a gift that we serve a God who is willing to take a tired mother’s heart and encourage it like He encouraged a prophet: presence, spiritual food, and gentle whispers.

  4. Taylor says:

    I like to follow a day behind the daily reading so I can see everyone’s comments and encouragements. They are such a blessing to me and my study of the Word! I had a dream last night that I was surrounded by a group of people I did not know, yet I knew some were believers and some not. I prayed to God to send rain and immediately it began to rain. Then I prayed he would stop the rain and it immediately stopped. I was praising God with my hands lifted to Heaven for showing up not only to me, but to those non-believers around me. In my dream I was praying to demonstrate that God is real, He hears our prayers, and to encourage the non-believers in the group to believe. When I woke up I thought to myself, what a strange dream. Then read the story of the fire and Elijah sending rain over Israel and was blown away with how closely my dream paralleled these reading! I wonder what God is trying to tell me through this? Maybe to be more open with my friends who I know are non-believers about my faith and how our God is the one true God.

  5. Laura Theobald says:

    I feel like the reminder about idols is important for me this week. I am taking the LSAT on Monday to get into law school, and I’ve been working hard studying and stressing about getting the score I want. I have to remember that I am not defined by my LSAT score or what law school I get into or even if I become a lawyer. At the end of the day, it is all in God’s hands and my role is to go where I am called and do what I am called to do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *