BLAME WHERE BLAME IS DUE: The backstory is that God through Elijah has called down a three-year-long drought at this point. Why? Because the people had followed King Ahab in following his witch-wife Jezebel in worshipping Baal. And for three years, Elijah had been a virtual ghost while Israel suffered. Now he had returned, and this king that supposedly believed in the fertility god who wasn't being very fertile, his first words to Elijah were, "Is that really you, the troublemaker of Israel?" So, instead of recognizing the true factors of the drought- the power of God and the sinfulness of man, Ahab blamed it all on the man who pointed that truth OUT to him. Thus is the battle with atheists and agnostics today.
A good friend (who may or may not read Sunday Message, IDK) recently liked a meme that purported to show the one-to-one correlation between "the world's least religious countries" and "the world's least violent countries". While I could dispute the veracity of the data, I really don't need to. It is always easier to defeat these ideas by pointing out that the "logic" they so love to apply they refuse to apply to the concept of God. In this case, if you logically look at what the existence of God WOULD mean, one thing it would mean is Satan wouldn't have to work so hard where there is no faith. Thus proving the point they seek to overthrow. The same way, Ahab blamed the man who served a God he no longer believed in for causing his problems. If Baal were god and God is not, then why the drought?
SO, WHAT CONSTITUTES A GOD? I have often had the discussion of "If there IS a God, then why..." with unbelievers. And whatever it takes as its form, right down to "I can't believe in a god that demands faith without proof", it rolls downhill to one concept- they cannot conceive a being so far above them that they cannot apply their motivations to Him. They think God should be like Elijah teased the prophets that Baal was. "And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." " God does not think, or react, or judge, as I do- therefore he cannot exist, so their excuses go. But God is BIGGER than us- a LOT bigger. A paraphrase of a John Adams quote says that it is not only foolishness but wickedness for "ants" like us to contemplate all that God is. Now a moody, lustful, adulterous god like Zeus- or Baal- is better for them because a) he's "just like us" thus easy to understand, and b) he does all the sinful crap that WE do, and thus wouldn't DREAM of judging us.
THEN HOW SHOULD WE DEAL WITH GOD? Well, when you strip down Elijah's actions, he: 1- depended on God's protection- he wasn't found for three years, but was provided for in Zarephath all that time;
2- was obedient, coming to the people when God deemed the time was right;
3- was sacrificial in a way that TRULY was a sacrifice- at a time when water was worth more than gold, he had 12 barrels of it dumped upon the altar of God, knowing God would soon replace it;
4- was prayerful- praying intently SEVEN times for the ending of the drought.
BUT THEN, ELIJAH HAD TO RUN AWAY, RIGHT? WHERE WAS GOD THEN? Ask rather, where was Elijah then? You see, Elijah had such faith in God, he stood in a battle that was 450-to-one against him as if he were not alone- and he was right. But after, perhaps he listened to his sound bites a bit too much and within a few days was praying, " With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away." Oh, alone, were you? God answered him, "But I still have 7,000 people in Israel whose knees have not knelt to worship Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him." When Elijah thought he was outnumbered 450-to-1, he actually outnumbered them about 96-to-1. Lesson here, you are NEVER outnumbered with God, and you should act in acknowledgement of that fact. Thus it was that the writer of Hebrews said,
Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.
In other words, don't fight the battle as if you are alone, fight it as if an army stands beside you- because it does.
Finally, there is a song I have been trying to get on the M10 that just hasn't quite fought its way in yet, that goes as a perfect ending to this.