Steve Maltz looks at the life of Abraham and Elijah

Steve Maltz
Steve Maltz

Abraham was well into the second century of his life when God gave him a disturbing and challenging instruction. Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go and sacrifice him on a mountain as a burnt offering.

What must have been going through his mind at this point? It was counter to every instinct he had as a father, particularly to a son who was so loved and cherished, a son that God Himself had promised him even though his wife Sarah was way beyond her child-bearing years! What on earth was God asking him to do?

It was to be a test. It was a test of Abraham's faith. Would God really destroy the very son, to whom God had earlier promised a dynasty stretching through time?

Well, thankfully, we have to say that Abraham passed this test with flying colours, he even had the knife poised in his hand, ready to deal the fatal blow to his beloved son. God stopped him at the eleventh hour and Abraham could breathe again!

He had shown the most amazing faith in God here. He had been so sure of God's promises that he actually believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead, even though he had never witnessed such a deed before. This act of faith cemented Abraham into the great gallery of 'heroes of the faith', in fact he has since been known as the 'father of faith'.

Are you being challenged by God? Perhaps not in such a drastic way, but maybe God is asking you in some way to take a leap of faith? How are you going to respond? It may define the rest of your life!

Against all odds

It was one man against 450. He was happy to let them go first. He gave them from morning until evening to summon their 'god' to bring down fire from heaven and set light to the bull on the altar. They cried out for him, they danced, even slashed themselves with swords and spears. Nothing happened and the man, Elijah, mocked them as they went about their business. Perhaps your god, Baal, is asleep, or daydreaming? Perhaps you should shout louder? Perhaps he's on the toilet? As you can see, he had little respect for them or their god. He was a brave man, this Elijah, but was he a foolish one? After all, he was outnumbered 450 to 1!

All eyes turned to Elijah the prophet. Let's see if you can do any better, was the unspoken challenge. Because it was now his turn and his goading hadn't ceased. He turned the screw even tighter by having his wooden altar doused with water from twelve large jars until it was thoroughly soaked. He was either extremely foolish ... or he had the most extraordinary faith that his God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our God, could set light to a bull that was virtually underwater.

There was a hushed silence as they waited. Then, all of a sudden, God sent down the fire. It consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, even the water. Elijah's unswerving faith had demonstrated the power of the living God. Everyone who witnessed this fell down to the ground and acknowledged the victory of the one man over the 450.

"The Lord-he is God! The LORD-he is God!" they cried, as one."

What incredible faith! Do we share even a fraction of this faith? Perhaps it's time we stepped out.

(You can read the full Bible stories at Genesis 22:1-19 and 1 Kings 18:16-46). CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.