1 Kings 18:38-39
In Elijah’s day, fire indicated judgment. In this story, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel not only arrives on the scene, but shows up in such a spectacular fashion as to remove any doubt about God’s omnipotence. The onlookers who are hoping for a supernatural intervention receive much more than they bargained for.
God’s fire differs from the normal flame that humans supplied to light a sacrifice; it is the opposite in every way. Rather than rising up from the wood, it falls upon the altar. These intense flames consume everything, including the stones. Even the dust is destroyed, as well as every drop of water filling the trench.
The contest is over, but the Israelites are not dancing in the end zone. When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD indeed is God; the LORD indeed is God” (v. 39).
They respond with an instinctive humility, always the authentic reaction of those who recognize they are standing in God’s presence.
What goes through the people’s minds in that moment? As they recognize God’s powerful presence, do they experience the pain of recalling all the ways they have failed their Maker? Surrounded by the heat of the flames, is their hope rekindled that God loves them enough to purify them, painful as that process is? Do they finally believe the words they say in worship, that The LORD indeed is God?
When have you been humbled by the reality of God’s presence? How did that experience change you?
God, thank you for pursuing us with your unfathomable love. Thank you for loving us enough to help us change. Teach us to be more like you. Amen.