“About noontime Elijah began mocking them. “You’ll have to shout louder,” he scoffed, “for surely he is a god! Perhaps he is daydreaming, or is relieving himself. Or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!” – 1 Kings 18:27.
It often takes real character to be the lone man or woman, sticking out in a crowd. It takes courage to speak out when it’s easier to keep still. It takes courage to stand up when you’re standing alone. Daniel was willing to stand for God even when doing so could have real consequences: He ran the risk of being falsely labeled, being misunderstood and isolated. He also ran the risk of offending powerful people. His willingness to stick his neck out could have cost him his life.
There are many other examples in the Bible of people who choose to take a stand and often stood alone. One of those is the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal found in 1 Kings 18:20-40. After Israel had gone more than three years without rain as a judgment for their idolatry, the prophet Elijah confronts the evil king Ahab and challenges him to a spiritual showdown. The king was to have all Israel gather at Mt. Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of the false god Baal and the 400 prophets of the false goddess Asherah (verse 19).
I can only imagine what Elijah was thinking. Plan A could go badly and there was no plan B. He was probably thinking “What if I’m wrong?” “What if God doesn’t see fit to answer me the way I’m looking for?” But even though he probably had his misgivings, he still was willing to stand up and stand alone. And by standing alone, he was running many risks. We run the same risks when we stand alone. When we stand up for God at school, or work, or in our families, or in our social groups, even in our church, we risk standing alone. But Elijah was not alone, nor are we. God is with us.
On Mt. Carmel, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to prepare a bull as an offering for their god—Elijah would do the same—with one catch: they could light no fire on their altar. The God who answered with fire from the sky would be considered the true God (verses 22–25). The people agreed that this was a good plan, and the prophets of Baal went first. The pagan prophets cried out and danced around their altar from morning till noon. 1 Kings 18:29 summarizes the scene: “They raved all afternoon until the time of the evening sacrifice, but still there was no sound, no reply, no response.”
After he repaired the altar of the Lord. Elijah used twelve stones and dug a trench around the altar. He then placed wood on the altar and laid the cut pieces of the bull on it. Elijah then had the people douse the altar with twelve large jars of water. The water soaked the sacrifice and the wood and filled the trench (1 Kings 18:30–35). Once the sacrifice was ready, Elijah prayed and in verse 38 we read “Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!”
When you stand for God, you are not standing alone.
- Why is it so difficult to stand alone?
- What blessings can we expect when we faithfully follow and honor God?
- What can we do to remember God is with us when we are faced with difficulties?