Outnumbered, But That's OK
I know without any doubt in my mind, that if you are a child of God, sometimes you feel outnumbered. It seems like perhaps you are the only one in the crowd or the only one on the block or the only one at work, and without a doubt that makes it harder. But never forget, you are a child of the one and only living God, the only God that has any real power. Satan has incredible power, but compared to God, he has basically nothing and some day even that will be taken from him.
In 1 Kings Chapter 18, we read a story. The prophet Elijah on Mt. Carmel is talking to the children of Israel, and he's accused by them of being a trouble maker. He responds that he is not, but those who have abandon the Lord God's commands are the problem, as they are following the Baals. Now Baal was one of a number of Canaanite and Greek Phoenician deity, the son of the chief god El. Some of the things associated with Baal included child sacrifices and pig slaughters. The emblem the ancients usually associated with Baal was a bull or ram.
As the story continues, Elijah calls the people together to prove there is only one true and living God, and it's not Baal, and that he is a prophet of God Almighty. He intentionally points out that he is the only prophet left for God while Baal has 450 prophets. Elijah does this to remind them who God is, and who has the power. So it's one against 450 as the story shifts into high gear. When the people are assembled, Elijah has this to say, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” ... "But the people said nothing."
So Elijah outlines a plan to prove God once and for all to the people. He calls for two bulls to be brought forward, one for the prophets of Baal and calls for the prophets to cut theirs into pieces, and lay it out on an alter and arrange the wood. He then tells the 450 to call upon their god or gods to set fire to their alter, and says he will likewise call upon his one God, the "god who answers by fire--he is God." This suited everyone, sort of a "let's put this argument to rest once and for all" moment.
From morning till noon, the prophets of Baal called out, assured in themselves that he would answer them and light their fire. As no responses came, they even began to dance around their alter. About noon, Elijah began to taunt them, "shout louder"..."surely he is a god, but maybe he's traveling, or busy, or sleeping..." The Baal prophets shouted louder and even began to slash themselves with spears until they bled. By the time of the evening sacrifice, still no answer for their efforts.
Elijah then called all the people to himself, and in front of them, he repaired the alter of the Lord that had been torn down and abandon. He dug a trench around it, laid the wood and the pieces of the bull, and instructed the people to pour four large jars of water on the wood. After they did, he had them do it again, and then a 3rd time. The wood was soaked, the ground was soaked, and even the trench was full of water. Elijah then prayed to God, and God answered. "Then the fire of the Lord fell (from Heaven) and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench..."
Two things then happened:
1. "And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”
2. Elijah commanded, "“Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one escape!” So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there."
Out of a whole host of things we can derive from this story, I just want to mention three.
1. The Lord, He is God just like the people said when they came to their senses and remembered exactly who God is. God is all powerful, and He is the ONLY god who is. No other gods can compare. As Christians we know in reality that there are no other gods, yet we find so many people creating them and worshipping their creations. (Rom 1:25)
2. The consequences of the prophets of the false god Baal was death for all. Our following any other gods today, whether a religious symbol such as an idol, money, materialism, immorality, or any other thing that becomes our god will also result in death, but that death will be an eternal separation from God in Hell. (Rev 21:18)
3. Elijah was one against the establishment and everyone else. We may find ourselves in similar situations today, us and our God under attack from everything and everyone. Elijah prayed for God to put His power on display that day, but it wasn't Elijah that had the power, it was God. James 5:17 reminds us that "Elijah was a human being, even as we are." Put into our language today, we might say, "Elijah was a man just like us." It's not our power we depend on.
We can't lean on our own strength when it's us against everybody else. The same God that sent fire out of nowhere and consumed the water soaked wood on the alter, the bull, then the rocks of the alter, then dried up the water in the trench and then consumed the ashes and the ground around it is the same God we have on our side, we have His strength. He is the God we serve. We are merely mortal men and women, just like Elisha, but the power he called upon is the same power we can call upon.
God doesn't put His power on miraculous display these days like He did in times of old. Yet let us not forget for even a moment that a time in coming when we will see that power on display again, but on that day it will be too late for repentance. It will be too late to turn back to God. On that day will you be in the majority having stood with the prophets of Satan in this life, or will you be found on God's side even if you are standing with only a few other people. Are you ready for the day He shows His power again, when Christ is revealed in the clouds, when He comes to take His church home? Remember, that day could be today!