• What Might Change


Don’t be misled; remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it: a man will always reap just the kind of crop he sows!  If he sows to please his own wrong desires, he will be planting seeds of evil and he will surely reap a harvest of spiritual decay and death; but if he plants the good things of the Spirit, he will reap the everlasting life that the Holy Spirit gives him. —Galatians 6:7-8 TLB
READ: 1 Kings 18; 1 Kings 19:1-3; 1 Kings 21:5-16

Queen Jezebel could hardly contain her anger. As she rested in her summer palace in Jezreel, she listened intently to the report of her husband, who had just returned from a trip to Mount Carmel.

“You should have seen what Elijah did,” King Ahab said, shaking his head. His wife had been expecting a different beginning to the tale of what happened when Elijah challenged the priests of the god Baal to measure their strength against the strength of his God. This story should not be about Elijah!

Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, whose people lived in the country north of Israel. Her father was not merely a king over his people—he was also a priest of Baal.

After Jezebel married King Ahab, she introduced the worship of Baal into Israel. This religion—crude and inhuman—was known for its child sacrifices. Because of Jezebel’s influence, her husband surpassed everyone else in doing what was wrong in the sight of God. She “encouraged him to do every sort of evil.” She was firmly dedicated to the worship of idols.

Ahab, a weak man, became a willing instrument in Jezebel’s hands and offended the Lord God more than any king before him. The worst of his many sins was his marriage to the idol-loving Jezebel. He, an Israelite king, began serving Baal—because of her and with her.

How do you respond when others try to exert influence over your faith or speak strongly about different beliefs?
Through Ahab’s influence, Baal then took over the place of the living God in the Israelites’ hearts. But Jezebel was not satisfied; she undermined the Hebrew religion till nearly all the people accepted Baal as their god. The queen began to exercise more and more power over her husband, till finally she ruled the people.

Perhaps Jezebel herself gave the order to kill all the prophets of the God of Israel. But Obadiah, the foreman of Ahab’s household, saved the lives of a hundred prophets by hiding them in a cave at the risk of his own life.

Jezebel, however, continued to encourage the worship of Baal. She supported the prophets of Baal personally, feeding four hundred of them every day at her own table.

In Jezebel’s thinking, the God of Israel was equal to Baal. She considered Yahweh to be a local god who carried a message just for the Israelites. She was pleased that Israel’s God had seemingly been unable to keep pace with her god, Baal, within His supposedly chosen nation. So when Elijah put forth the challenge to the priests of Baal, she was sure Baal would be victorious. Were her priests not in the majority? So 450 priests of Baal were matched against one lone prophet of the true God of Israel.

Do you ever feel as though God is silent while the “gods” of this world are winning the day? What does this story teach you?
According to plan, two altars were built. One was for the Lord God, the other for Baal. The true God had to prove Himself by sending fire to light the wood. No human being was allowed to kindle the fire.

The priests of Baal began their ceremonies first, shouting until their throats were hoarse. When they hadn’t received a reply by noon—no fire had come down on their altar—they wounded themselves terribly with knives and swords until blood gushed out. Although they continued to rave all afternoon, their god remained silent. He was a lifeless god, incapable of giving an answer even when 450 of his servants called on him in ecstasy.

Then Elijah started repairing the altar of his God, the living God, which had been torn down. He worked alone, calmly stacking twelve stones, each of which represented on of the twelve tribes of Israel.

To mark the contrast and at the same time to testify to his faith openly, he dug a trench around the altar about three feet wide. Then he arranged the wood and laid a bull on top. Four barrels of water were then poured over the sacrificial carcass and the wood. That ritual was repeated three times, clearly putting Elijah’s God at a disadvantage.

After he finished all the preparations, Elijah walked up to the altar and pleaded, “Answer me, Lord, answer me, so that these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.

That very moment fire flashed down from heaven and completely burned up the sacrifice, wood, water, stones, and even the dust. It was a breathtaking and awesome event.

There was no doubt who the true God was. The Israelite people who had glided away to idolatry came to their senses. Those who had shown no preference at the beginning of the contest were now convinced.

How do our lives manifest our belief in a powerful God? What might change in how you approach a difficult situation if you dwelt on God’s power before responding?

Read the rest of Jezebel’s story in Wanderers by Gien Karssen—and in the Old Testament in 1 Kings.

Gien Karssen was married for only six weeks when her husband was interned in a concentration camp during the Nazi Holocaust, where he died. She lived the rest of her days avidly mentoring women as part of The Navigators in Europe.

Taken from Wanderers: Lessons from Women of Stubborn Hearts. Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of NavPress in alliance with Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All Rights Reserved.