Friday, January 30, 2015

One Of The Greatest Bible Super Bowls

There are many incredible battles recorded in the Bible that are of Super Bowl proportions. And just like there are Super Bowls in football, year after year, there are dozens of Super Bowl type battles in the Bible as well. The one I'm describing below may not be the Super Bowl of Super Bowls, that's described in the book of Revelation. But this one is certainly one of my favorite face offs of all time. 

The Super Bowl battle I'm talking about is a challenge between the home town favorites and the underdog. The good guys, or should I say, the 'good guy', verses the bad guys. It's a head to head contest - a showdown - a culmination of 2 powerful adversaries. It actually happened - a true story, although it was a long time ago - about 850BC.

Here's a little background on the 'bad guys'. They are led by King Ahab, king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and his wife, Jezebel. Ahab and Jezebel were evil in the sight of God. As far as King Ahab, he was more evil than any of the kings before him. And as far as Jezebel, she once tried to kill all the prophets of God.

Ahab and Jezebel rejected the God of Israel, and worshiped Baal. They led all the people to do the same. Ahab and Jezebel wanted to eradicate all the Jewish traditions and teachings. 

Now, here's a little background on the 'good guy'. He is the Elijah the prophet, one of the most famous and most powerful of all the prophets. Elijah was absolutely faithful to God. His miracles are some of the most amazing ones that were ever recorded.

At the height of King Ahab and Jezebel's successful reign, Elijah announced that there would be a 3 year drought. It came true. This made the king even more determined to search for Elijah and kill him. 

Eventually, they confronted each other, and Elijah challenged the king to a contest of great proportions. And as with any football pre-game hype, there was pre-battle hype between these two opponents. 

When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?” “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead. (1 Kings 18:17-18)

Elijah told Ahab to meet him on Mount Carmel with all the people of Israel along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel. For Elijah, the real purpose behind the challenge was not to see who was the greater power, but to persuade the people to follow the only one true God.

Elijah then said, "Now bring two bulls. The prophets of Baal may choose whichever one they wish and cut it into pieces and lay it on the wood of their altar, but without setting fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood on the altar, but not set fire to it. Then call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the true God!” And all the people agreed. (1 Kings 18:23-24)

Then came sort of the coin toss - who was to go first. The prophets of Baal received the kick off. They were first to choose the bull to sacrifice, to build the altar, to place the sacrifice on top of the wood, and to call on their God to light the fire. They called on the name of Baal from morning till noon, but there was no response.

Of course, in football games, there is always jeering and taunting from the sidelines. It was no different with Elijah. "At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” (1 Kings 18:26-27)

The prophets of Baal shouted even louder to their god, slashed themselves with swords and spears as was their custom, and continued frantically until evening, but with no success, no response. The fire still was not lit by their god. It was finally 4th down for them. They punted the ball to Elijah. Now it was his turn to try and score. 

1st down play:   Elijah built an altar, cut up the bull, and placed the sacrifice on top of the wood. Then he had them build a trench around the altar. "Then he said to them, 'Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.'” (1 Kings 18:33b)

2nd down play: “'Do it again,' he said, and they did it again." (1 Kings 18:34a)

3rd down play: “Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench. (1 Kings 18:34b-35)

4th and goal: "Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench." (1 Kings 18:38).   WINNING TOUCHDOWN!!!   

As with all touchdowns, especially the winning touchdown, the crowd goes wild. "When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, 'The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:39)

Final Score:  Elijah 7,  Prophets of Baal 0. 

Elijah won the battle and accomplished his goal - to show the people who was the real God. And to prove that Baal was a false god, a false idol. 

Thank you Elijah for standing up to the truth and for showing others who the one true God is. 

"And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life." (1 John 5:20)

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