Elijah enters into his final confrontation with Ahab, they and the people ascend Mount Carmel for the battle of the God’s. It’s a showdown between Ahab and Elijah, Baal and the one true God. A contest is announced and all agree to the rules. Two altars are to be erected, and two calves slaughtered, wood placed atop the altar and sacrifice atop the wood. The God that provides the fire is the designated victor. All agree and the prophets of Baal are up first. Sacrifice prepared, prophets call out, scream and command. Their god is a no-show. The ritual turns bloody, the calls louder but to no avail; they fail to ignite the fire. Taunted and prompted by Elijah, the only thing ablaze was their anger.
Next, comes Elijah. Twelve altar stones for the twelve tribes. Certainly the people recall those tribes led by their God, led from the slavery of Egypt. Water poured three times, the ritual of purification, the crossing of the sea and the river Jordan. Then a prayer, not a rant or a show, but a prayer that talked to God in a familiar way. It was not anger ablaze, but hearts; and to a heart a True God always listens. The flames appear, so similar to the flames of Pentecost. With that the people return to their God, a God that never deserted them.1 Kgs 18:20-39
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
They multiply their sorrows
who court other gods.
Blood libations to them I will not pour out,
nor will I take their names upon my lips.
R. Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope. Ps 16
In the gospel Jesus says that He does not come to abandon the law, but to fulfill it. Certainly the people were familiar with the law, but maybe they saw it as ritual. Programmed chants and gyrations devoid of emotion. Manipulated and corrupted and profaned by the likes of Ahab. They became laws that lacked passion. Jesus did not come to abandon the law but to fulfill it, just as He said. His was not so much about the letter of the law, but about the author. It was a change in perspective, away from man and back to God. His was not the fear of enforcement, but a zeal for compliance, and that compliance came with an understanding that the law was a benefit and not a curse. They guided one to a rich pasture and not bankruptcy. The law was for the person’s benefit and not their detriment. A benefit for those that followed, and not those that enforced. Not written on a tablet, or in a scroll; but in a heart. With the laws there the Holy Spirit can descend with tongues of fire, just as on Elijah’s altar.Mt 5:17-19 The flames appear, so similar to the flames of Pentecost.