Wednesday in the Week Per Annum 10

I Kings 18.20-39; Ps 15; Matthew 5.17-19

King Ahab’s father had achieved domestic security for Israel by means of a marriage alliance with the Sidonians, and Ahab had married Jezebel, daughter of the King of Sidon and priestess of the cult of Baal, the Canaanite god responsible for rain, thunder, lightning and dew.   Jezebel had brought her native religion into Israel.  Elijah (whose name means ‘the Lord is God’) set his face against this syncretism, insisting that only the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob should be worshipped in Israel.

Elijah challenged the priests of Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel to establish which God held power in Israel. Dramatically, in the midst of a drought, he drenched a sacrificial bull with drums full of water and prayed that God would send fire from heaven to ignite the sacrifice.

Elijah’s triumph was capped by the appearance of rain. [I Kings 18.41-46] Elijah captured the priests of Baal—450 of them! [18.22]—and slaughtered them, in retaliation for Jezebel’s butchering of the prophets of the Lord. [18.4] Jezebel would shortly threaten Elijah’s own life. [19.2] Elijah’s prayer had succeeded powerfully. [James 5.16-18] But the battle for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wasn’t yet won.  The hearts of Israel that had so readily apostatised had still to be won back to the Lord.

Posted in Daily Reflection.