Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh

ilie-150x150Before the days of Saul (the 1st king) and David, the religious centre of Israel was located, for the most part, in the territory of Ephraim.

When Solomon built the temple, he moved the religious centre of Israel to Jerusalem. This eventually brought tribal rivalries to the breaking point. The division of the kingdom happened in 930 BC: 10 of Israel's 12 tribes followed Jeroboam and called their new nation Israel (the northern kingdom); the other 2 tribes remained loyal to Rehoboam an called their nation Judah ( the southern kingdom).

Ahab was a King of Israel. His evil wife, Jesebel came from the Phoenician city of Tyre where her father was a high priest of the god Baal. In order to please her, Ahab built a temple  and an altar for Baal, thus promoting idolatry and leading the entire nation into sin. Elijah was the first in a long line of important prophets God sent. Israel, the northern kindgom, had no faithful kings - each king was wicked, actually leading the people in worshiping  pagan gods. There were few priests left from the tribe of Levi, and the priests appointed by Israel's kings were corrupt and ineffective. With  no king or priests to bring God's word to the people, God called prophets to try to rescue Israel  from its moral and spiritual decline. For the next 300 years these men and  women would play vital roles in both nations, encouraging the  people and leaders to turn back to God.

Those who worshiped Baal belived he was the god who brought the rains and bountiful harvests. So when Elijah walked into the presence of this Baal- worshiping king and told him there would be no rain for several years, Ahab was shocked. Ahab built a strong military defense, but it would be no help against drought. He had many priests of Baal, but they could not bring rain. Elijah bravely confronted the man who led his people into evil, and he told of a power far greater than any pagan god - the Lord God of Israel.

Ahab brought 850 pagan prophets to Mount Carmel (1 Kings,18) to match wits and power with Elijah. Elijah challenged the people to take a stand - to follow whoever was the true God. Although the prophets of Baal raved all afternoon, no one answered them - their god was silent because it was not real. Elijah took 12 stones and build the altar;  this  was a silent reminder of the split between the tribes. God flashed fire from heavens for Elijah  and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

God will help us accomplish what he commands us to do. The proof may not be as dramatic in our lives as in Elijah', but God  will make resources available to us in creative ways to accomplish his purposes. He will give us the wisdom to raise a family, the courage to take a stand for truth, or the means to provide help for someone in need. We can have the faith that whatever God commands us to do, He will provide what we need to carry it through. (Zondervan)

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