Far and away, one of my favorite stories in the Old Testament is found in 1 Kings 18:20-40.
I’d love for you to read it for yourself, starting in 1 Kings 18:1 and reading down through verse 40. Â If you prefer, you can click here and read it on Biblegateway. Â When you’re done, meet me back here. Â I won’t go anywhere (I’m feeling very patient today).
Yahweh Showed Baal To Be A Figment Of Imagination.
The general background is that God brought a severe drought and famine upon the people of Israel because their king had turned away from God (1 Ki. 18:18).Â So, Elijah, a man of God, and Ahab, Israel’s wicked king (1 Ki. 16:33), “had words,” as we sometimes say in the South, over which man had actually brought harm upon Israel, and, ultimately, which god was the solution to the problem: Yahweh or Baal.
Determined to settle the matter, Elijah told Ahab to gather together the entire nation of Israel for a showdown between Elijah (and, ultimately, Yahweh) and the 450 prophets of Baal (and, ultimately, Baal) to see which god was the true God. Â And the nature of the showdown was simple. Elijah would prepare a bull (i.e., kill it and cut it into pieces… not my idea of a good time) and place it on an alter, and the prophets of Baal would do the same. Â Once both alters were prepared, both Elijah and the prophets of Baal would call for their respective gods to consume the sacrifices with fire.
When each had finished preparing their sacrifices, Elijah allowed the prophets of Baal to try first. So, beginning in the morning, they called out to Baal, pleading with him to consume their offering with fire. But nothing happened. Â At noon, Elijah began mocking the prophets, saying, “Maybe Baal is deep in thought. Or perhaps he’s using the restroom. Â Or he could be out of town. Â Or maybe he’s asleep. Should we wake him up?” Â But the prophets of Baal kept crying out, limping around, cutting themselves to the point that blood was “gushing out,” and raving around the alter, hoping Baal would respond, but he never answered them or paid attention.
But Elijah’s experience calling out to Yahweh was quite different. Â When the prophets of Baal had finally given up, Elijah made but one request for his God to consume the offering he had prepared. Â And at Elijah’s request, “the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. Â And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, ‘The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God'” (1 Ki. 38-39). Â The one true God had demonstrated His reality and power in utterly convincing fashion.
Have Anti-Theists Shown Yahweh To Be A Figment Of Imagination?
I love that story. But have you ever wondered why God doesn’t seem to show Himself like that anymore? Â Popular anti-theist website, Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?, argues that Yahweh essentially functions like Baal, in part because He doesn’t appear to perform public miracles (the healing of amputees, for example). Â Their conclusion, of course, is that the Bible is, in essence a fable, and the God of the Bible is as real and potent as Baal. Â In full agreement, self-proclaimed anti-theists Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and others have likened belief in the God of the Bible to belief in make-believe deities like the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” or legends like the tooth fairy.
The Most Miraculous Event In Recorded History Actually Happened.
But even if a person rejects God, it is plainly absurd to argue that belief in Yahweh is on par with belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or the tooth fairy. And there are hosts of compelling reasons for this (i.e., the discoveries of archaeology, the overwhelming evidence demonstrating the reliability of the biblical manuscripts, recorded Jewish history, etc., etc.), but there is one miracle, in particular, that demonstrates the reality and power of God arguably better than any other (yes, even better than Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal), and is one that has stellar historical and reasonable credence: the Resurrection of Christ.
Justin Holcomb wrote some fantastic posts that demonstrate both the historicity and reasonableness (not the reasonableness of people raising from death, as resurrection is not reasonable but miraculous, but of the reasonableness of believing the event actually happened) of the Resurrection, and I recommend you read it, whether you’re a Christian wanting encouragement or a skeptic wanting a challenge. And since Holcomb makes excellent arguments for the reality or the Resurrection, I want to spend my time addressing the ramifications of the Resurrection.
The Resurrection Sets Jesus Apart From The Flying Spaghetti Monster (And Every Other god).
To the writers of Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? and to the likes of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, the question is, “If belief in Jesus is on par with belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, what evidence exists that supports in overwhelming fashion the resurrection of the Flying Spaghetti Monster from death?” For that matter, about what other god in history may it be said, “The evidence suggests that he/she actually overcame death?” The answer, of course, is, “None.”
It is true that God demonstrated both His reality and His power when He consumed the bull and the alter and dried up the river in front of Elijah and the entire northern kingdom of Israel, but His power was demonstrated much more clearly in the Resurrection of the ultimate sacrifice, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Â Given that the evidence suggests that Jesus died and came back to life, it may just be that God doesn’t perform miracles as frequently as He once did because He has all ready performed the one miracle that demonstrates His reality and power most clearly, the miracle that should alleviate all doubt: the conquering of death itself.
A Creative Catalyst For Worship.
I’d like to conclude with a little ditty (okay, it’s a rap song, but stay with me) calledÂ Jesus Is Alive by Shai Linne, which points to the wonder and “setting-apartness” of the Resurrection of Jesus. Admittedly, the video is no Hollywood production, but somewhat poor video editing is currently the price one must pay to conveniently read the lyrics as the song plays. I hope you enjoy the song, but my great hope in writing this post is that you walk away making a big deal out of the risen “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29).