As we consider Elijah and his courageous stand atop Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), I believe there to be several observations which needs to be made by modern man. After all, these things of old were recorded for our learning (Romans 15:4) and admonition (1 Corinthians 10:11).
First Observation – Ahab, and not Elijah, was the troublemaker. The wicked King Ahab tried to implicate Elijah as the cause of Israel’s plight when he said unto Elijah, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). However, this dearth had come not because of Elijah, but because of Ahab`s rebellion against God. Notice the response by Elijah – “I have not troubled Israel, but you, and your father’s house, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed the Baals.” (1 Kings 18:18).
Modern Application – Like Elijah, many faithful brethren are being labeled “troublemakers.” They are being blamed for causing unrest in the body of Christ. However, brethren, the real troublemakers are not those who expose the error, but those who practice error, forsaking the commandments of the Lord (1 Kings 18:18). I am reminded of the words of Marshall Keeble, who put it this way, “I’m serving a warrant on you, trying to get you to yield to the Great Judge before it’s too late. Don’t get mad at the man who serves the warrant – he’s just trying to do his job. He is simply telling you that you’re in trouble.” The Apostle Paul once asked, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). May we recognize that the true troublemaker is the one that walks contrary to the doctrine of Christ, and the true friend is the one who attempts to turn such a one from his error, (Galatians 6:1; James 5:20).
Second Observation – While Elijah was in conflict with 450 false prophets of Baal, the people remained silent, not even being willing to state whose side they were on (1 Kings 18:20). Many, no doubt, were silent and did not answer, because they had not yet decided the matter in their own minds. But, I just wonder if there were not at least some who knew what was right and true, yet were too cowardly and spineless to speak. This has been the situation on other occasions (John 12:42-43).
Modern Application – Today, as many preachers and elders are upon the proverbial Mount Carmel facing a salvo of false doctrine and opposition, how many knowledgeable members of the Lord’s church sit in silence? When their support is so needed, they will not take a stand. Brethren, how things could be different, how much good could be done, if all who believe the truth would stand united for truth.
Third Observation – Debate is not contrary to the will of God. This was a debate, a great debate. The propositions become clear by reading verse 21. Elijah was affirming Jehovah to be the one true God. He was denying the deity of Baal. He was confronting error and defending the truth.
Modern Application – Even today truth is to be defended and error exposed. In Philippians 1:17, Paul said that he was “appointed for the defense of the gospel.” Paul encouraged Timothy to “convince, rebuke, (and) exhort” (2 Timothy 4:2). Ephesians 5:11 says, “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” We are instructed in Jude 3 to “contend earnestly for the faith.” Brother Guy N. Woods says in regard to Jude 3, “To ‘contend earnestly’ (epagonizesthai) is literally ‘to wrestle,’ and as here figuratively used denotes the extreme efforts which are to characterize the faithful in their defense of the Truth, however, formidable and numerous its enemies may be” (Commentary on Jude). In Acts 9:29, we are told that Saul (Paul) “spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Hellenists.” The point is that it is not wrong to expose error for what it is – error; and, it is right to defend the Truth. In fact, we are supposed to do so.
Fourth Observation – Evidence was provided to substantiate Truth. In this case, “the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones, and the dust and it licked up the water that was in the trench” (1 Kings 18:38). Notice, Elijah did not offer as evidence subjective feelings, or a testimonial saying, “I know that Jehovah is God for I just feel Him in my bones.” No, he didn’t do such. Instead, he offered evidence, true evidence, objective evidence to believe.
Modern Application – Though, we live outside the era of the miraculous, still we should provide in our preaching compelling objective evidence for belief. The people deserve such (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Fifth Observation – Elijah was right with God. Really this is all that matters, isn’t it? Even though multitudes refused to stand with Elijah (1 Kings 18:22). Elijah was ultimately received up (2 Kings 2:1-12). He was accepted by God. He appeared with Jesus during the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3; Mark 9:2-4; Luke 9:29-31) John the baptizer was said to have come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). A huge, but wrongful, compliment is given him in Matthew 16:14, when we are told that some thought Jesus to be Elijah. Who was Elijah? It is easy to think of men like Elijah as Supermen, or some how different than we are. However, he was a man with a nature like ours (James 5:17). He was a righteous man (James 5:16-17). He chose to be such.
Modern Application – While today’s society exalts entertainers who can sing or act and ball players who can play ball, Elijah should stand out as a true hero. Every parent should help their children recognize a true hero. A true hero is a man, or woman, with the conviction and courage to stand up for what is right, and with the determination to be upon God’s side regardless of what the rest of society does. Moreover, they should teach them that such a one will also be received up in eternal glory one day.