Against all Odds
CHARACTER IN A TIME OF CRISIS Day 9
22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. (1 Kings 18:22 ESV
On Sunday morning, God willing we will be looking at Psalm 27. This psalm could have been written for Elijah and especially for the contest on Mount Carmel. In the beautiful metrical version of this psalm, we read in verses 1- 3
1The Lord’s my light and saving health, who shall make me dismay’d? My life’s strength is the Lord, of whom then shall I be afraid? 2When as mine enemies and foes, most wicked persons all, To eat my flesh against me rose, they stumbled and did fall. 3Against me though an host encamp, my heart yet fearless is: Though war against me rise, I will be confident in this.
This was High Noon for Elijah, the showdown on Mount Carmel was about to begin. The people might have had nothing to say by way of response to Elijah’s comment that they were halting between two opinions ( verse 21), but I am sure they were thinking plenty! It must have seemed to everyone watching that the odds were uneven and that Elijah was on a hiding to nothing. He is on his own, however, the prophet’s of Baal are 450 strong. By any account, this is long odds against Elijah. He tells the people ( verse 24) that if God is proved to be God, then they must follow him, and on the other hand if Baal, then they should follow him.
When has it ever been a fair fight for the Christian? On a human and purely physical level, the odds are stacked against the Christian believer in many ways today. The people of God have over the years found themselves facing the superpowers of firstly Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Rome, with no means of defence except God. In scripture we see the people of God constantly outnumbered against the Midianites and Amalekites ( Judges 7:110. Hezekiah and Jerusalem were besieged by Sennacherib of Assyria’s huge army ( Isaiah 37). And in 2 Chronicles 20, a vast coalition of Moabites, Ammonites and the tribes of Mount Seir come to destroy Jehoshaphat and the little kingdom of Judah. Jehoshaphat’s prayer is so appropriate in our day too.
“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NIV)
There are two basic points we can think of from this statement of Elijah in verse 22.
1. In the first place, Elijah might have been physically alone, but that did not mean that he was without spiritual support. It was to be the unseen hand of God that would secure victory for Elijah, and let’s remember for you and me as well. In every instance quoted above, when the people of God have found themselves up against overwhelming odds, the result has been victory with God’s intervention. Elijah’s successor Elisha was able to show his servant
“Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16 NKJV)
The lives of both Elijah and Elisha show the reality of the spiritual conflict around us. Their lives also show God intervening to bring victory to his people and the glory of his name.
2. It is also worth remembering that a while later Elijah was to be shown how wrong he was to make this statement, he was not the only prophet of the Lord left ( 1 Kings 19:18 ) which is interestingly referred to by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:14). There were others God had kept in reserve unbeknownst to Elijah. God never leaves Himself without a witness, that is a comforting thought to you today if you are in any way feeling, isolated, alone or discouraged. Although we go through seasons when we feel most alone, God is never idle and is working out His purpose and plan through His people.
The words of another psalm echo the prayers of Gideon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and many others who looked to God for help;
“Oh, grant us help against the foe,for vain is the salvation of man!
With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes” (Psalms 60:11-12 ESV)