1 Kings 18:30-39 (NRSV)
30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come closer to me”; and all the people came closer to him. First he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down; 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name”; 32 with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. Then he made a trench around the altar, large enough to contain two measures of seed. 33 Next he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it a second time”; and they did it a second time. Again he said, “Do it a third time”; and they did it a third time, 35 so that the water ran all around the altar, and filled the trench also with water. 36 At the time of the offering of the oblation, the prophet Elijah came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and even licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God.”
In this text, the prophet Elijah is setting up a showdown between GOD and the 450 prophets of Baal, the 400 prophets of Asherah, and their “god.” In those days the King of Israel, Ahab, had married an outsider, Jezebel. The people of Israel began to worship other “gods” and their relationship with THE GOD suffered. Elijah is sent by God to call the people of Israel to return to God. Elijah approaches this contest knowing the other gods will not show up, because there is only one God. He sets up the altar and then has the people soak it with water three times, to make the miracle he knew was to come even more spectacular. The fire of God comes down and consumes everything…it is all gone. The people saw it and fell on their faces and recognized that the God of Israel is the one GOD. Can you imagine having the courage Elijah displayed to stand up to almost 1,000 people who were against him?
In this passage, God showed up in a big way. But the truth is, it was the people of Israel who had quit seeing God, quit following God, quit worshipping God, and chose to worship other things. In this instance God did something spectacular to call them back to him.
Often in our life we find ourselves asking, “Where is God?” In the middle of a pandemic, or job loss, or illness, or difficult times, we can feel like God has left us. But the truth is that God is always with us, even when we don’t feel it. God is a God who loves you, who walks with you, laughs with and cries with you. God is with you no matter how far away he may seem.
God is working through those around you, and even through total strangers. God is with you. My question for you today is, will you see where God is showing up in your life? It may not look like a giant rush of fire coming from heaven to consume everything, but God will be with you today. Will you see it?
God of grace, God of love, I know that you are with me always, but sometimes I fail to see or feel your presence in my life. Help me to see all of the ways that you show up for me. Help me to see all of the places that you have guided me or comforted me. Use me today to show someone else how you are working in their life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.