August 30, 2009

Elijah and the Prophets of Baal

1 Kings 18:1-4

Welcome everybody to Battle of the Prophets! I’m Mort Kiddo…

And I’m Nate Johnson.

Well, Nate, we’re about to see the final event in the cross-town rivalry between the Prophets of the Most High God and the Prophets of Baal. It’s a clear morning here at Mount Carmel; no chance of rain, so we are definitely on for a major display of divine power. It’s been a dry season for the Israelite league, in more ways than one. In fact, it’s been really dry for three years now, and well, the playing field has seen better days.

That’s right, Mort, it’s a hot one. The whole countryside is brown, dead grass as far as you can see. The scorched-earth policy of the Most High’s has really hit Israel hard. The prophets of Baal are going to be after blood today, for sure.

We can see the field that the teams will be playing on just great. Mount Carmel rises up magnificently, providing an unparalleled view of the spectacle. The fans attending here today should see all the action even from the cheap seats. The odds-on favorite is, of course, Baal. There has been some doubt whether the Prophets of the Most High will even be able to field enough prophets for a game today, Mort, so we might see a forfeit. They’ve been plagued with injuries for the last three seasons, and their captain has spent the last three years in the foreign leagues. With him out of the picture, the Baals and Asherites here have dominated the northern leagues, coming back with a vengeance from humiliating defeats in the Kidron Valley competition some years back.

Nate, in fact we have the owner of the Prophets of Baal right here in the booth, now, for an interview. I’d like to welcome King Ahab of Israel. King Ahab, you’ve had a pretty good year, other than the drought, and your Prophets of Baal have been undefeated for the last three years. With all the injuries suffered by the Most High’s, do you think they can even field a team?

Well, Mort, I know they have one prophet left, but I don’t know what good it will do them. You know, they haven’t just had injuries, we’ve really slaughtered them these last few seasons. My queen, Jezebel, has been working with our boys as well as with her own favorites, the Asherites. They’ve torn into the Prophets of the Most High like wild animals, and as far as I know, their captain, Elijah, is the only one still prophesying. So he comes to me, last week, and challenges us to a winner-take-all grudge match, and here we are!

Your majesty, we’ve all seen the reports in the press about some pretty nasty things being said by the Prophets of the Most High about your management of the kingdom. Would you like to send a message to any fans of the Most High’s that might be left?

Mort, there’s not much for me to say. My boys will say it all on the mount today, and I guess you could say that I expect to be king of the hill! But seriously, I don’t expect much of a show out there. It almost seems silly to suit up the whole team, but if time allows, maybe we’ll put on an exhibition game just for the fans.

You’re a sport, Ahab! Thank you for taking time to talk to us. As the king heads down to his royal box, we’d like to take some time to remind you that Queen Jezebel’s Cosmetics are now being sold just about everywhere in Israel. In fact, the first round in our competition today is brought to you by Queen Jezebel’s Cosmetics. Remember, “Don’t be a dog, buy Queen Jezebel’s Cosmetics.” Available at a temple near you.

Mort, I can just see the Prophets of Baal in the distance. The crowd sees them now, and listen to them roar! Wow, there’s a lot of them! They’re trotting down the road now, ten, no twelve across, and the line just seems to go on and on. It looks like they’ve fielded both the Prophets of Baal and the Asherite farm team, too!

I’ve just been handed a scroll here, that says that Ahab has decided to pit his entire roster against all comers from the Prophets of the Most High. That stacks up to 950 players, 400 from the Baal team and 450 from the farm team. Very impressive! I can’t remember anything like this happening before, can you Nate?

I can think of one time, back when Gideon captained the Ophrah Manassites and they played against the Midian and Kedemite teams, but this is the biggest team I’ve actually seen fielded.

Well, this is a sight! The Baals are resplendent in their white robes, green sashes, and golden sandals. The fans are parting for them to pass through. It’s quite a crowd here today, looks like thousands at least, braving the heat. The Prophets have reached the hill now, and are splitting off in formations to circle it. King Ahab sure knows how to impress the fans, a winning team in glittering uniforms doing smart field drills. They should put on a great half time show!

By the way, Mort, did you know that each Prophet of Baal team member has their own dresser and personal trainer? Mort?

Nate, I think I see someone coming from the North. Yes, someone is definitely on the road. I can’t believe it! It looks like Elijah the Tishbite, the captain of the Prophets of the Most High! I don’t see anyone else; it may be that he is all they could put up. He may actually be the last Prophet of the Most High! Still, the old boy may have something up his sleeve…

Actually, Mort, I’ve heard rumors that the Most High’s are keeping 400 of their own prophets in reserve, but I don’t know why…

They should have brought them out today, instead of sending just one burned out old prophet, Nate. Let’s see if our field commentator, Obie, can get to him for an interview before the first bull is sacrificed. Obie, can you see Elijah from where you are?

Yes, Mort, I can just see him, I’m running down there now, I’ve just got to get through these crowds, there’s an opening… Okay, I guess (huff, huff) I don’t need to run anymore, no one else seems to want to talk to him, anyway. I’m almost to him now. You know, for an old guy, he can really move! Elijah, can you tell us what your game plan is today? Where is the rest of your team?

Ah, Obie, I remember you! I really appreciate the help you gave our team against the Jezebel Asherites last year! Great coverage. They’re still recovering at those caves you recommended. I alone am left, at least on the active roster. Can you tie into the P.A.? I’d like to go live in case I have any fans left, since I’ve been away for so long.

Sure, Eli. Mort, can you take care of it?

The engineer’s on it now, Obie. Got it? Okay, Obie, we’ve got the connection, go ahead.

This is the voice of Mort Kiddo, the voice of the Israelite league and we have a field interview for you today with Elijah the Tishbite, back from the bush league! Go ahead, Obie!

Elijah, you’ve been away for a long time, are you sure you’re up for this?

Well, Obie, we’ll see, but I have stayed in practice. The Most High has kept me busy, even up there in Zarephath.

Elijah, that’s Gentile country, what on Earth were you doing there?

Mostly staying alive, Obie. We took a pretty severe beating from Jezebel’s boys here, and I really needed a break. Frankly, I was stressed, and a major victim of prophetic burnout. I hung out at a nice widow’s house, slept on the roof at night, looked at the stars, you know, just a nice kick back vacation, with a little work here and there. But now, I figure it’s time to get back in action, and start kicking some serious pagan…

Elijah, the crowds are getting restless, and I know you have to get going, I just wanted you to know that no matter how this turns out, I really am one of your biggest fans. Do you have a message for any other of your fans in the crowd today, not that they would admit it… Could everyone please quiet down so we can hear Elijah?

Sure, Obie. I’d just like to say that I owe everything to my God. He has stayed with me and saved my life. I’d also like to give the following message to everyone, if I can get some silence. That is, if everyone would please be quiet… Excuse me. Could I get some QUIET PLEASE?!!

That’s better. I would just like to say, that everyone had better decide if they want to be fans of Baal (cheers), or of the MOST HIGH GOD! (silence, some boos). Let the sacrifices begin!

Thank you very much, Elijah, and best to you. I’ll bet you still have some surprises in store for the Baals. I think Nate was going to give us an update on the rules for today’s showdown, right Mort?

That’s right, Obie, coming up next, and thanks for the interview. You really an Elijah fan?

Well, yes, Mort, I guess I’ve always rooted for the underdog, and after all, I don’t worship Baal.

To each his own, I always say. Here’s Nate with the rules…

Mort, owing to the poor numbers for the Prophets of the Most High, here are today’s rules for a limited field, according to the Prophet, Judge and Seer Rule Book of 551. Of course, that’s 551 years since Israel was founded. What we are going to see here today is a simple sacrifice of two bulls, one by each side. What makes it tricky, though is that neither side gets any fire! That’s right, they put all the wood, oil, or whatever on the sacrifice that they want to, but they can’t light it. Whoever gets their sacrifice to be consumed by divine fire first wins.

Nate, let me get this straight: the Prophets of Baal have 450 and the Prophet of the Most High has one. Not much of a contest is it? Can I see that book?

Sure, Mort. But remember, “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the valiant.”

Uh, right, Nate. You should write that one down. It says here that they are to cut the bulls up at the same time, and put them on stone altars, with firewood. Divine fire has to consume them. I’m not sure if either team can pull this one off, but I’ll go with big numbers any day. At least it’s not the usual locusts, gnats, sticks changing into snakes and such. It’ll be great to see if they can do it. Hey, Elijah is asking for a conference with the captain of the Prophets of Baal and the referee. Looks like he wants a coin toss… No, I guess not. Wait, Obie, can you get over there? What’s happening? The Prophets of Baal look confused. Now they’re cheering. What’s going on? Obie?

Mort, you’re not going to believe this, but Elijah has said that since the Prophets of Baal have the home team advantage, plus they’ve fielded so many players, he is going to let them go first!

Obie, can you say again, we didn’t catch that. The crowd is going wild. It sounded like you said that Elijah wants to let Baal go first!

That’s what I said, Nate. The Prophets of Baal will go first; Elijah promises to give them until past noon. He must know what he’s doing, but I’ve never seen this happen before.

If that’s the case, it’s one for the record books.

Elijah’s made a stupendous blunder this time, Nate. Obie, try to get in close enough to get us some coverage of the plays. Nate, I’d say Elijah’s history, ancient history. He hasn’t got a prayer. Nothing about this in the rule books, right Nate?

That’s the truth, Mort. It looks like the Prophets of Baal won’t need the Asherites today. The usual ceremony calls for some chanting, singing, hopping around the altar, you know, pretty much the usual stuff for Baal worship. Elijah must have a plan though, I guess desperate times call for desperate plays…

While we’re waiting for Jezebel to throw in the first kid goat, Nate, I’d like to remind everyone again that this match today between the mighty Prophets of Baal and the Prophets (make that Prophet) of the Most High is being brought to you by Queen Jezebel’s Cosmetics, and also by Baasha Chariots, makers of the finest chariots silver can buy. King Ahab, by the way, arrived today in his Baasha Chariot, customized especially for his Highness. Baasha says, “Can we build one for you?” Now let’s get back to our competition. It looks like the Prophets of Baal are ready for the big blaze-off. Obie, see if you can get in closer.

Mort, I think you can probably hear the Prophets of Baal chanting now. (Answer us Baal! Answer us Baal!) That’s right, they’re all yelling “Answer us Baal!”, 450 of them, what a racket! It’s kind of stirring though, I have to admit. Okay, they’ve stopped now, and are waiting for the fire to appear…

(long pause)

Obie, I don’t see any smoke or anything. Can you see anything down there?

Sorry, Nate, not a thing. Looks like the Prophets of Baal are going to go at it again. Wow, it looks like they all have pogo sticks the way they hop around.

Obie, I think their traditional practice is to hop around some, then wait for something to happen, then hop some more. That’s about it. It won’t get exciting unless nothing happens for a long while.

Well, Nate, at least the hopping is quieter. Obie, I think Elijah is trying to get some attention, can you get to him? While Obie is doing that, I’d like to comment on the fine products being sold here today in the crowd. It’s a colorful sight here with the vendors hawking Jezebel statues, sacred poles, and dirt from the high places. We can hear some of them up here. (Get your sacred poles, increase your offspring!, Get your Jezebels, Jezebels for half a shekel! Half a shekel for Jezebel!) Looks like Obie has gotten over to Elijah, let’s see what he has to say.

Mort, it looks like Elijah is trying to be helpful, no wait, no, he is taunting them! He is really pressing his luck today! Here he is:

Prophets of Baal: call louder to Baal, maybe he’s meditating! Maybe he is away on a trip! Maybe you will get his answering machine! Maybe he is taking a nap, you’d better wake him if he is oversleeping!

Elijah, aren’t you afraid you’ll motivate them by teasing so much? It looks like the Prophets of Baal are getting frantic!

Who cares, Obie? It’s not like there is any real Baal to hear them. I just like to bug them to see how far they’ll go. They’ve got numbers, but they’re not very bright. Hey, guys, maybe Baal retired! I hope you paid his pension! You know, Obadiah, sometimes I just love this job!

Back to you, Mort, something’s going on but I don’t think I want to get too close.

Good idea, Obie! The Prophets of Baal appear to be gashing themselves with swords and spears, ouch, that’s gotta hurt. What’s the point, Nate?

Well, Mort, this is definitely a desperation play by the Baals. The custom is to get really wild if nothing happens, and it usually doesn’t. An interesting side note here is that the Prophets of the Most High never have self-inflicted injuries, but the Prophets of Baal lose some of their best players that way. As you can see, they are really a mess now; they sure are going to be sorry in the morning. They’ll be in a world of hurt!

That’s quite a prophetic state they’ve got themselves into, Nate. They sure put out the effort, but it looks like the first half is about over, and no divine fire. They sure put on a good show, though. Let’s see what King Ahab is going to do for a half time show. I’m hoping for elephants this time, I’m just sick of dancers, aren’t you Nate?

Oh, I don’t know, Mort, I… Wait a minute, Elijah is saying something. I don’t think he is going to wait for half time. Obie, what’s up? Why is the crowd moving? Mort, it looks like the crowd is going to attack Elijah! He must have said something to set them off! Obie, we can’t see you in the crowd anymore! Can you get to Elijah?

Nate, I’ve got Elijah right here! The crowd isn’t attacking: he called them. And I mean he really called them! I don’t think I could have stayed where I was if I wanted to! I don’t know if you can see it, but he is repairing the old altar of the Most High God that was used years ago. He is doing something… saying something about twelve stones, and he’s asking for a shovel! Someone ran off to get one. Elijah, can you tell us what the shovel is for?

Sure, no problem. I’m going to dig a ditch. Ah, here comes the shovel now. Excuse me. (whistling) The Lord is God, the Lord is God. (whistling) The Lord is God, the Lord is God.

Mort, Nate, I don’t know if you can see this, but Elijah is digging a trench around the altar of stones, and wait, now he’s asking for water! I don’t know what’s going on. He wants four jars of water.

Obie, this is Mort. Do you think the old boy has just flipped? Nate, anything about jars of water in the book?

Mort, we might as well toss the book now. Elijah is sure up to something, and I’ve got a bad feeling about this one. Maybe…

Okay, everybody, Elijah has got the water jars. Can you see from the booth? People are helping Elijah put the bull on the altar, and oh, no!

Obie, what’s going on? Oh no, we can see it from here! Folks, Elijah is going for the extra point! He might have had it sewn up, but he got greedy. He is pouring water on the sacrifice! No one can pull this off! What a shame, it looked for a minute like something might happen, but now Elijah is out of it; I repeat, Elijah has watered the sacrifice! He is outta there! Obie, see if you can get some last words before the crowd gets him!

I’ll try, Mort. Elijah, any last words? You couldn’t light that wood with a torch when it’s that wet, it sure isn’t gonna burn now!

Stand back, son. Everybody, STAND BACK!

Elijah, what’s going on? Mort can you hear this?

Yeah, Obie, everybody is moving back, and we can see everything now, the altar, the sacrifice, the water in the trench around the altar, Elijah, you… We can see it all. Can you get closer so we can hear? Wait, we can hear him now!

Answer me, LORD, so the people may know that you are God!!!

Whoa! What the… Folks, we could feel that clear up here in our air-conditioned booth! Divine fire has just come down and about burned off our eyebrows even from this distance! I can’t see! Obie, are you down there? Can you tell us what happened?

Mort, I was right next to Elijah. He must be fireproof! I hope I never see something like that again! Something like lightning just consumed the sacrifice, the water and the sticks. The Lord must be God! Whoa! The stones have been consumed, too! The dirt even looks burned! Can you hear the crowd? The crowd is chanting, “The Lord is God, the Lord is God!” Can you see now?

I can see better now, Obie. Everywhere we look, people are falling down in worship and fear in a circle around Elijah. We are down behind the desk, but we can see the Prophets of Baal standing off to the side. They look very confused. King Ahab is running for his chariot. Elijah is pointing to the Prophets of Baal, the people are getting up, they’re running toward them. It doesn’t look good for the Prophets of Baal. The crowd is on them, robes and sandals are flying everywhere as this playoff goes into real “sudden death!” You heard it here first, the Prophet of the Most High has defeated the Prophets of Baal in a shutout victory with extra points! The Lord truly is God!

We’d better get going Nate, it looks like rain. Nate… Nate?

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