It was the day of the big showdown. Think Old West—the OK Corral.
One man stood alone against the crowds of people who had blended the worship of Jehovah with the vile worship of Baal, the evil King Ahab, and the 450 prophets of Baal.
The challenge was made: build an altar and pray to your god. Whoever answers by fire will be declared Supreme.
It was a risky situation. King Ahab was completely whipped by the horrible Queen Jezebel. Just making a public appearance put Elijah’s life at risk.
Yet there he stood, one man, all alone, determined to stand and prove that Jehovah was the One True God and the ONLY God Who should be worshiped in Israel.
It sounds a little like a movie trailer, doesn’t it?
Yet, this isn’t a fictional plot. It is a historical event.
When reading heroic stories like this, it’s important to remember that the men and women, like Elijah, who lived these events, didn’t know what would happen. They were walking in faith, but they didn’t see the end of the story until they lived it.
Sometimes when I read a chapter like this, I wonder, “How did Elijah do it? What gave him the strength, the courage, the tenacity to stand all alone and meet the challenge?” Because I would be shaking in my sandals.
As we read the chapter, it doesn’t even appear that Elijah was afraid. Look at 1 Kings 18:25-27:
Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
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.”
Elijah wins my heart in these verses because rather than being afraid, he’s sarcastically taunting the prophets of Baal!!!
Then, when it’s his turn, he doesn’t just pray over the altar. No, he pours 12 large jars of water over his altar, making it virtually impossible for anything to catch fire!!! (1 Kings 18:30-35) You have to wonder what the people thought when Elijah wasted all that water during a drought.
Where did Elijah get this confidence to stand ALL ALONE against a nation who abandoned God and His ways to worship Baal?
He got it the same place all followers of Christ gain strength and courage when God asks them to stand alone for righteousness—from God.
You see, even though no other human stood with Elijah, Elijah knew he was never alone. Experience showed him that when he obeyed God’s call, God was always with him, protecting him and providing for him along the way.
God protected Elijah from King Ahab’s bloodthirsty search in 1 Kings 17.
God led Elijah to a brook where ravines gave him enough food to eat. (1 Kings 17:2-6)
When the brook dried up, God led Elijah to a widow who had nothing. Miraculously, God provided food for not just Elijah but the widow and her son as long as Elijah lived with them. (1 Kings 17:7-16)
Elijah saw God move in powerful ways throughout the drought—-even raising the widow’s son back to life through Elijah’s prayer. (1 Kings 17:17-24)
All this taught Elijah that he could depend on God.
Even when He stood alone, Elijah knew that God was with him.
He knew God sent him to King Ahab, God Who told him to initiate the challenge, and that same God would answer by fire to win back the hearts of His people.
I genuinely believe that one of the things that gave Elijah courage was that he knew this wasn’t his battle. Although he was the one God chose to stand for righteousness, the real struggle was between God and those who led God’s people astray. Knowing the battle was the Lord’s gave Elijah the strength to stand all alone on a mountainside, mock the prophets of Baal, pour water over his altar, and have confidence that God would be victorious.
Here’s why this matters to you and I: Just as God called Elijah to stand alone and speak truth to people who didn’t want to hear it, God is still calling His men and women to stand alone for truth and righteousness today.
No, we may not climb Mt. Carmel and challenge 450 prophets of Baal to make it rain.
However, He may call you to stand up to your child’s school board and say, “It’s wrong for children to read this book. My child won’t be reading it.”
God may ask you to be the only one who doesn’t attend the bachelorette party because the activities will go against the Bible.
You may be the only one in your family who doesn’t attend a same-sex wedding because you believe in Biblical marriage.
It can be hard to stand alone when facing these challenges or many more like them. You may wonder why God is asking you to be the lone voice against a noisy crowd saying, “Just let it go and blend in with the culture.”
In these instances, the same truths that gave Elijah courage are available to you.
Even when you seem alone, you’re not. God is always there for you.
The battle isn’t yours. The battle belongs to the Lord—you are just His representative. (2 Corinthians 20:15)
Just like He has done for many throughout history, in those moments, the Holy Spirit will give you the words to speak. (Luke 12:11-12)
He will give you the strength and boldness you need.
We always have the promise that he will never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)
Just like He has throughout history when we stand for God, He stands with us.
Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, we are never alone.
Knowing this gives you the strength to stand alone like Elijah, knowing that God will always be with you.
Adessa Holden is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God specializing in Women's Ministry. Together with her brother, Jamie, they manage 4One Ministries and travel the East Coast speaking, holding conferences, and producing Men's and Women's resources that provide practical Biblical teaching for everyday life.
When asked about herself, she'll tell you "I'm a women's minister, a sister, and a daughter. I love to laugh and spend time with people. My favorite things are chocolate, the ocean, sandals and white capris, anything purple, summertime and riding in the car listening to music. It is my absolute honor and privilege to serve Jesus and women through this ministry.