A fictional account of 1 Kings 18
Hello folks. I’m Zohar. I’m here to share my life’s best experience.
I am an Israelite from the tribe of Judah. As a Jew, I attended a Rabbinic school where I was taught about God from religious scrolls like the Torah and the prophetic books. The Torah contains laws on literally every aspect of life, and my strict teachers instructed me to follow it word by word. My parents, who were devout Jews, prayed regularly and read the Torah every single day. So, even at home, I was accustomed to follow the Torah and live in an orthodox Jewish lifestyle.
I knew God from the lessons that I’d learnt but had not experienced him in my personal life. Therefore, following the laws, praying the prayers, offering sacrifices, and obeying the unending rules felt very burdensome. I wanted to run out of my strict family because I felt suffocated by the religious obligations. I longed for freedom from such meaningless and traditional rituals.
One day, as I wandered into the marketplace, my thoughts preoccupied in planning to escape this boring and caged life, I bumped into a sturdy young man named Hadad. I had a little chat with him and immediately befriended him. He did not seem strict and it felt easy for me to pour out my thoughts to him. He was very welcoming and took me to some of his friends, who, just like Hadad, spoke freely and did anything they wanted to, without once considering any rule or obligation. I felt like a free bird that had just been released from its cage. I slowly moved out of home, after a painful argument with my parents. I could finally walk in my own way, put out my anger by cussing or beating people up, play around and have unlimited fun, and not care about this so-called God from the Torah. I realised Hadad and his gang were prophets of Baal – a god that even King Ahab and Queen Jezebel worshiped. Some of his other friends worshiped another god named Asherah. These prophets ate at the queen’s table. Hadad and his friends had everything they desired, and being their friend made me feel secure because I could get everything I wanted. I started going to their temples and watched them offer sacrifices. It was cool to think that they could see the sculpture that they worshiped. After every sacrifice, the Queen would grant them gifts – expensive clothes, beautiful ornaments, fancy accessories, and good food. I was loving this life. I’d push away the warnings that would strike my conscience every now and then. This is what I had longed for – freedom and riches. So, I’d decided not to trade it back for some law in the Torah. I was enjoying the company of Hadad and his friends and taking pleasure in all the gifts they gave me, while secretly pushing away the thought of the existence of a real God.
Once, as we were sitting by the palace, gossiping about some of the “righteous men” of Israel, a watchman informed Hadad that Obadiah had told King Ahab about Elijah’s whereabouts, and that upon the King’s meeting with Elijah, he had ordered all the prophets of Baal and the prophets of Asherah to gather at Mount Carmel. Well, Obadiah was in charge of the palace and was a devout Jew. He had once hidden my parents and several others in caves when King Ahab had planned on killing the Lord’s prophets. Though I’d thought he was stupid to take that risk, I was genuinely thankful that he’d protected my family. As for Elijah, he was a prophet and a very devout worshiper of the God of Israel. He, I’d heard, had prayed that there would be no rain in our land and the land had faced famine thereafter. He was in hiding ever since – because the King had planned on killing him – and had appeared to the King after meeting Obadiah.
Hadad, listening to the King’s orders, hurriedly called his prophet friends and rushed to Mount Carmel. I slowly followed them since I was curious to know what would happen. Would the King kill Elijah? Would Elijah pray another prayer? I was eager to know. Around 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah had gathered there. Prophet Elijah stood up on the mountain and told the prophets not to waver between gods but to find out the real God and worship Him. He put a challenge to know the real God, by saying, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire – he is God”.
Fair play, I thought. Offering sacrifices and preparing an altar was not new to either of them. The only difference here was that the fire was expected to come from heaven – like it would actually happen! I saw the prophets of Baal and Asherah beginning to set an altar to their gods. I’d seen them offer sacrifices before – they were very genuine and honest worshipers. They began to pray from morning to noon. There was no response. They then danced around the altar. Still no reply. Prophet Elijah began to taunt them. They frantically continued their prayers and rituals. They beat themselves up and began to cry out loud. I saw blood streaming down from Hadad’s body and tears rolling down his eyes. There was no reply, no sign of a fire from heaven. That’s when a scripture from a psalm of David came to my mind – “They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, nor is there breath in their mouths”. Their gods could not hear them, they were only statues made of stone. My heart moved for Hadad as I watched him beating and falling on the ground.
At evening, Elijah stood up and called them. He prepared an altar by placing 12 stones and making a trench, placing chopped bull on the wood, and following all those rules from the Torah. He asked someone to pour water on the altar – twelve full large jars of water! Even if fire came from heaven – which is a rare possibility, it would soon die because of the water, I thought. He then knelt down and prayed, “O LORD, God of Abraham , Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again”. He stopped and looked up to the sky. “That’s it?” I thought. After all the prayers to Baal and Asherah, there was no response. How is Elijah so confident? Why did he stop praying? My eyes followed his eyes and I keenly looked at the sky, and to my utter astonishment, a bright yellow mass just fell from the sky. Fire really did come from heaven. It fell exactly on the altar that Elijah had prepared and burnt the offering and even licked up the water. Before I could come to my senses, the fire had turned the altar into ashes! I couldn’t help but fall on my knees and worship the one true God. The God I was taught about, the God my parents worshiped, the God I had forsaken for mere riches and fake freedom – this God was the one true God. I decided then that I would not turn back but follow this God for all the days of my life!
Here’s what I want to tell you from this experience – do not reject the true God for a happiness that may last for a few moments or for freedom that is not real.
Do not forsake God to earn acceptance from your friends or to keep up with the media’s trend.
Know the true God for real. Experience him in your everyday life, and I can assure you, you will enjoy real freedom and joy!