May Fire Come Down
The vagabond reclining on top of the hill sure didn’t look like much. An unkempt beard flowed down onto a wrap that looked like it had been stripped off the back of some ram. Piercing eyes looked calmly onto the band of brutal warriors moving quickly in his direction. The implication of the hawk circling in the thermal overhead didn’t seem to faze him.
Nothing else betrayed the fact that he was the central figure in a power play between the political and spiritual authorities of the land. There were no storm clouds in the sky. No ominous presence hidden in the shadowed forest. The cobra sunning itself half way down the hill hardly hissed as the marching feet approached.
He wasn’t surprised by the show of force. After all, he was the one who had intercepted the king’s messengers and sent them back to the monarch with a rebuke. He was the one who had insulted the authority of the crippled king by telling them that because of his quest he would die.
This force was the consequence of shattered dignity.
Years before, during the reign of the last monarch, the vagabond had faced down the religious leaders of this alternative religion and proved beyond doubt that the true God alone deserved the loyalty of the people. He had watched his God move so powerfully in that moment.
His words bellowed with courage and confidence. His prayers flowed with power and authority. His energy filled him with the strength of youth as he danced with the joy of his Creator.
Then had come his humiliation. His depression. His fear. His time of isolation. That dark night. When his spirit felt smothered. His soul lost in shadows. His mind drowning in depths too deep to overcome. In the days when he felt like he was the only true follower left.
Even as he lay on this hill watching the captain of the troops start to ascend he thought back in his mind’s eye to that time when the flickering coal of faith caught fire again and allowed him to breath with hope and courage. It was on the top of the mountain that power was displayed. It was there he heard the whisper.
Now, there was hardly a trace of that other religious presence left in the land. The king sent his messengers to a neighbouring country to connect again with the hooded prophets of the secrets of Baal-Zebub. The prophet had no regrets regardless of this outcome.
The captain halted just a few sword lengths away. The man refused to rise. The hawk was hovering lower now.
“Man of God, the king says, ‘come down!’”
“If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!”
The sizzle was instantaneous. Just like it had been on the top of Mt. Carmel. Fifty-one ash heaps lay as evidence of where power pulsated without limit.
Still the king refused to quit. He sent another fifty. The new demand resulted in another sizzle and fifty-one more ash heaps a little further away from the reclining prophet. The hawk landed and inspected the offerings left behind.
Elijah was only slightly surprised at the arrogance of the Monarch when a third captain led his fifty men to the base of the hill. This captain was different, however. He approached without demand. He paused as he walked through the 102 ash piles which had been his former colleagues. Other hawks were now circling above.
The prophet stilled his tongue as the captain fell on his knees and begged for life. A heavenly whisper urged him to trust and he uncurled himself and nodded his assent for the journey ahead.
The message of the prophet rang off his tongue without hesitation as it had from every prophet’s tongue before and after. “Is it because there is no true God here that you consult other spiritual sources?”
In every generation the battle rages. Rarely do we see the reclining prophets facing down the raging captains and arrogant monarchs.
Rarely do we notice the circling hawks waiting for the next soul to be destroyed. Rarely do we notice the ash heaps as we march our path.
And yet the question rages at our soul when we feel overflowing with courage and power and when we tred the darkest of valleys. “Is there no true God here that you consult other spiritual sources?”
2 Kings 1
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