We begin today with a proclamation of faith from a prophet who enters the scene.
I serve the LORD. He is the God of Israel. You can be sure that he lives.1 Kings 17:1
Think about it; if you had to put who you are, who God is and your relationship one to the other, could you do it in three simple sentences?
Elijah appears on the scene full and sure of faith in God and sure of his identity. Was he born into a family of faith? Taught at his parents' knees? What did it take to produce this surety?
Elijah is hearing from God. Another faithful man is serving God by preserving God's prophets. Elijah has a task for him. Obadiah is frightened. Obadiah is not sure. What does it take for Obadiah to trust the word of the LORD from Elijah?
The people of Israel are under an idolatrous king, Ahab. They have followed the king instead of the LORD. Elijah stages a contest. As the drama unfolds, the people of Israel observe passively. The Baal prophets are in a frenzy with no results. Elijah prays and fire comes from heaven. Elijah kills all the Baal prophets. Is this kind of sign, miraculous and dramatic, what it takes to develop belief and faithfulness from a people?
Ahab and Jezebel respond with anger and revenge. They are plotting to kill the prophets of God. What would it have taken for their hearts to soften and bow to the LORD?
It seems, many times, over and over, the prophets, the people and the rulers of the land expect God to "perform" for them in order to respond in faith. But even when God bursts into history and meets people face to face in truth, in fire, in provision, faith and loyalty to God are not born.
What does it take?
Even after a dramatic day of God's activity, Elijah, the bold, articulate prophet of God wavers.
I wonder how that makes God feel...
I wonder if God in frustration declares, "What does it take, my Creation? When will you believe? When will you have faith? When will you be faithful?"
God comes and dwells with the people. God heals. God provides. God blesses. God clears the path. God dies. God rises from the dead.
And still the Baals have power...we give them power.
What will it take?