Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Why Elijah Defeated the Baal Priests



Why Elijah Defeated the Baal Priests
Thomas Allen

    Why was Elijah able to defeat Baal’s priests in his duel with them (1 Kings, chapter 18)? The traditional explanation is that Jehovah or Yahweh or YHWH is the supreme God or that He is the only true God.[1] Naturally, Baal apologists object to Jehovah being the supreme god, much less being the true god.
    Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it shall be given you.” As many prayers go unanswered, prayer apologists have come up with excuses for unanswered prayers. Baal apologists can easily use these excuses to explain Elijah’s victory over Baal’s priests. Some of the favorite and most popular excuses of the prayer apologists for unanswered prayers follow.
    Doubt. God does not answer prayer because of doubt, i.e., the prayer has some doubt that God would answer the prayer. Thus, doubt is more powerful than God. How much doubt is necessary is not usually stated other than if the prayer has one iota of doubt, his prayer will not be answered. According to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they had some doubt that Baal would answer their prayers. Therefore, Baal did not answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win.
    Lack of Faith. God does not answer prayer because of a lack of faith, i.e., the prayer does not have enough faith. Presumably if the prayer is answered, the prayer has enough faith. If it is not answered, the prayer does not have enough faith. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not have enough faith that Baal would answer their prayers. Therefore, Baal did not answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win.
    Serious and Earnest. God only answers prayers when the prayer begs seriously and earnestly. Otherwise, He ignores the prayer. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not beg seriously and earnestly enough. Therefore, Baal did not answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win.
    Not God’s Will. God does not answer the prayers of His people unless He so desires, i.e., it is His will to answer them, or the prayer is consistent with His will. Presumably, His refusal to answer serves some higher and usually hidden purpose and is not whimsical. Moreover, as God’s will always prevails, presumably, His will is going to be executed even if no one ever prays. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because Baal’s will was that they lose. Therefore, Baal did not answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win.
    God Answers Those Who Seek His Will. If what the prayer is seeking with his prayer is God’s will, God answers the prayer. If the prayer’s prayer is contrary to God’s will, God does not answer the prayer or answers it in the negative or ignores it.  Again, as God’s will always prevails, presumably, His will is going to be executed even if no one ever prays. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they were not seeking Baal’s will when they asked him to defeat Elijah. Therefore, Baal allowed Elijah to win.
    Gives Things Asked for That He is Willing to Grant. The prayers must ask for things that they know that God is willing to grant. This excuse leads to much groping around in the dark, for who knows the mind of God. Thus, prayer is mostly a trail and error thing with the prayer searching for what God will grant. Even then, he does not know if it is answered prayer or coincidence. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not ask for that which Baal was willing to grant when they asked him to defeat Elijah. Therefore, Baal allowed Elijah to win.
    God Answers But the Answer Is “No.” God answers all prayer. Sometimes He grants the prayer what he asks for, and sometimes He does not. How this is to be distinguished from random events and coincidence is not adequately explained — especially, when compared to nonprayed for events. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because Baal answered his priests in the negative. Therefore, Baal did answer their prayers, and his answer, contrary to their petition, was to allow Elijah to win.
    The Answer Is Not What Was Expected. God answers all prayers. However, the answer is frequently not what the prayer wanted or expected. Again, how this is to be distinguished from random events and coincidence is not adequately explained. Baal did answer the prayers of his priests. However, the answer was not what they expected. They expected Baal to give them victory over Elijah. Baal decided to answer their prayers by giving Elijah victory over them. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because Baal answered his priests in a way that was not expected.
    Has Something Better. God answers all prayers, but He often answers by giving the prayer something better than what he asks. Evidently, this is true even, and especially, when the prayer never perceives the thing received as better than what was requested. Apparently, the “something better” for Baal’s priests was defeat, humiliation, and death. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; Baal gave his priests something better than victory over Elijah: defeat, humiliation, and death.
    Gives What Is Needed, Not What Is Wanted. God answers prayers by giving the prayer what he needs instead of what he wants. A corollary of this excuse is that God does not answer prayers for wants; He only answers prayers for needs. What does God do when the request is for something that is both needed and wanted? Does He grant the request because it is needed? Does He withhold answering because it is wanted? Or does He only partially answers it? Obviously, Baals priests merely wanted victory over Elijah. What they really needed was defeat, humiliation, and death. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; Baal gave his priests what they needed (defeat, humiliation, and death) instead of what they wanted (victory).
    Not Yet. God answers all prayers, but He often delays in answering, even when the prayer is time sensitive. Once more, how this is to be distinguished from random events and coincidence is not adequately explained. Also, not explained is time running out without the prayer being answered. When was Baal going to answer the prayers of his priests? After Elijah defeated, humiliated, and killed them? According to the Baal apologists, Baal did answer the prayers of his priests. He just did not answer them in a timely manner. He delayed answering their prayers to some future date. Evidently, Baal plans to answer the prayers of his priests in the future when he has reincarnated or resurrected them and Elijah and has the duel between them reenacted. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because Baal decided to answer their prayers later.
    Unconfessed Sin. God does not answer prayer because the prayer has unconfused sin, i.e., the prayer has not confessed all his sin. Therefore, God will not answer the prayer. If this excuse is true, then God seldom answers many prayers as many prayers have unconfessed sin. Many people cannot even remember all their unconfessed sins, so their prayers are never answered. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they had some unconfessed sin. Therefore, Baal did not answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win.
    To all these explanations for Elijah’s victory over Baal’s priests, prayer apologists retort, “They did not pray in the name of Christ Jesus.” To which the Baal apologists rejoin, “Neither did Elijah.”
    In essence, prayer apologists are claiming that the Bible is written as a good shyster lawyer writes contracts and laws. Grandiose promises are simply and concisely stated up front. Then the promise is qualified into meaningless with the fine print.
    As shown above, the traditional explanation of Elijah’s victory over Baal’s priests may not be correct if the prayer apologists are correct. Prayer apologists need to find a better excuse for unanswered prayer. They need to find an excuse that the Baal apologists cannot possibly use to explain Elijah’s victory.
    Now let’s examine Jesus’ promise in Matthew 7:7. According to the verse, if the prayer has enough faith to ask, God will answer the prayer. If the prayer has enough faith to ask, he has overcome doubt at least long enough to ask. Also, according to the verse, God’s will is to give the prayer that for which he asks. Moreover, the verse implies that God is not going to answer in the negative or give the petitioner something that he is not seeking. Furthermore, no mention of unconfused sin is made. This verse implies that prayer will be answered in a timely manner; God will not delay in answering until the request becomes irrelevant. No distinction is made between wants and needs. As for seriousness and earnestness, if one asks, he has already displayed all the seriousness and earnestness contained in this verse. Taking as Jesus spoke it, this verse contradicts the above excuses offered by the prayer apologists.
     When the prayers for peace are considered, one must wonder why we have more war than peace. Is it because God gives more weight to the few who pray for war than He gives to the multitude who pray for peace? Is it because, as some critics claim, Jehovah is a god of war who relishes in war? Parts of the Old Testament seem to suggest such. Is it because some of the millions praying for peace have unconfessed sin, doubt or lack enough faith and because of those few, God ignores those who do not have unconfessed sin, doubt, or lack faith? Is it because the prayers are not serious and earnest in begging for peace? Conversely, is it because the prayers for war are more serious and earnest? Is it because peace is contrary to the will of God, i.e., God’s will is that man lives in a state of war instead of a state of peace? Is it because war is better for the prayers than peace? Has God answered these prayers for peace in the negative because He prefers war to peace? Is it because the prayers for peace merely want peace, but they really need war?
    A typical retort is that sin is the cause of war. True. Yet this argument also rests on making sin more powerful than prayer. Sin is more powerful than God Himself. It is so powerful that it prevents God from keeping the promise that His Son made in Matthew 7:7.
    To mask unanswered prayer, many pray for intangibles that cannot be measured, such as comfort or guidance. An exception is the prosperity preacher. His prayers or at least those of his followers can be measured. As many of these prayers are not answered, the prosperity preacher qualifies prayer and praying away to meaninglessness. The favorite excuses of the prosperity preacher for unanswered prayer are doubt and lack of faith. Thus, he does not really believe what Jesus said in Matthew 7:7. If his followers do not become wealthy, the followers doubted or lacked sufficient faith.
    Apparently, Jesus’ promise in Matthew 7:7 does not really mean what is so plainly stated. So, what does it really mean? Is the Bible written as a shyster lawyer writes a contract or law? Are the atheists right? Is it all coincidence? Was the little boy right when he said that faith is believing in what one knows is not true? Is all caprice?

Addendum
    After writing this booklet, I encountered several other excuses for unanswered prayer: dire need and not praying the correct way.
    Dire Need. God only answers prayers of people in dire need. When does a need become a dire need? What is a dire need? Cemeteries are full of people who thought that they had a dire need. Thus, according to the Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not have a dire need to win. Apparently, they had a dire need for defeat, humiliation, and death. Moreover, either prayers for peace do not have a dire need for peace or prayers for war do have a dire need for war.
    Not Praying the Correct Way. According to this excuse, one should pray as though God has already answered the prayer. If the prayer thanks God in advance for answering the prayer, God will grant the prayer’s request. That is, in order for God to give the prayer his request, the prayer must follow the correct formula for prayer. (This excuse sounds like Gnosticism in that a hidden formula for prayer exists. One only needs to be enlightened enough to find it.) Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not pray the correct way. Moreover, the reason that we have war instead of peace is that of the few who pray for war at least one follows the correct formula. Of the multitude who pray for peace, none use the correct formula. To the extent any formula for prayer is given in Matthew 7:7, it is simply to ask; then God will grant the request.
     Failing to Deal with the Spirit Behind the Problem. The prayer has one or more spirits causing the problem for which he is praying, and he has not dealt with these spirits. He must first rebuke, confess, acknowledge, and command these spirits to depart before his prayers are answered. (To the extent that this excuse has validity, the rebuking, confessing, acknowledging and commanding the departure of these spirits is implied in most prayers even if they are not explicitly stated. Often the prayer may not even be aware of such spirits.) Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not first rebuke, confess, acknowledge, and command the departure of the spirit behind Elijah’s challenge although their prayers did imply, if not explicitly command, etc., such departure. Moreover, the reason that we have war instead of peace is that of the few who pray for war at least one has rebuked, confessed, acknowledged, and commanded the departure of the spirit behind peace. Of the multitude who pray for peace, none has rebuked, confessed, acknowledged, and commanded the departure of the spirit behind war.
    Not Praying to the Right God. God will not answer one’s prayer if he prays to the wrong God. Presumably, the wrong God will not answer his prayers either even though the prayer prayed to him. Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priest did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they prayed to the wrong god. Therefore, Baal refused to answer their prayers. Moreover, the reason that we have war instead of peace is that out of the multitude of people praying for peace, none of them is praying to the right God. All are praying to the wrong God.
    Asking God to Perform Magic, Miracles. One should never pray for a miracle because that is asking God to perform magic. God does not do magic because that is interfering with the natural coarse of events, and God does not interfere with the natural coarse of events. Therefore, one should only pray for unmeasurable intangibles like courage and wisdom. One should never pray for measurable tangibles like curing someone of a disease or world peace. Apparently, people who use this excuse do not believe Jesus when he said, “Ask and it shall be given you” (Matt. 7:7). An unanswerable prayer for a measurable tangible shows that Jesus lied. A prayer for an unmeasurable intangible cannot be shown whether it is answered or not. Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they prayed for a miracle, i.e., they asked Baal to perform magic. However, Jehovah interfered with the natural coarse of events and performed an act of magic by lighting Elijah’s water-soaked wood (1 Kings 18:32-38). Therefore, proponents of this excuse must reject Jehovah as the true God because He performed magic. Baal apologists would add that since the true God does not do magic, since Baal did no magic, and since Jehovah did do magic, Baal must be the true God. Moreover, God refuses to answer prayers for peace because to do so requires magic, a miracle. War is the natural coarse of events.
    Lack of Fervor. According to this excuse, God only answers prayers of those who pray fervently. How much fervor does it take before a prayer is fervently prayed? Apparently the fervor displayed by Baal’s priests was not enough. For anyone to display more fervor as the Bible describes them doing (1 King 18:28-29) is hard to image. Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not pray fervently enough. Therefore, Baal refused to answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win. Moreover, the reason that we have war instead of peace is that out of the multitude of people praying for peace, none of them prays fervently enough. However, out of the few who pray for war, at least one prays fervently enough.
    Praying for the Wrong Thing. God does not answer prayers of people who do not pray for the right thing, i.e., they pray for the wrong thing. Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not pray for the right thing. He did not answer the prayers of his priest because they prayed for victory over Elijah; they prayed for the wrong thing. Presumably, they should have prayed for Elijah to win; then Baal would have answered their prayers because they would have prayed for the right thing. Likewise, the multitude who pray for peace prays for the wrong thing: peace. However, the warmongers pray for the right thing: war. Therefore, God answers the prayers of the warmongers and ignores the prayers of the peace lovers.
    Asking for Things Not Good for the Prayer. If a person prays for something that is not good for him, God will not answer the prayer. Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they prayed for something that was not good for them. He did not answer the prayers of his priest because they prayed for victory over Elijah, which was not good for them. Presumably, defeat was good for them. Likewise, God does not answer the prayers of those who pray for peace because peace is not good for them. Therefore, war must be good for them.
Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they did not pray fervently enough. Therefore, Baal refused to answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win.
   Sinner. God does not answer the prayers of sinners. If true, then God would never answer any prayers as everyone is a sinner. Possibly, the only exception is a prayer for salvation and that is iffy. So why did Jesus bother to promise that people would receive for whatever they prayed. Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they were sinners. Therefore, Baal refused to answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win. Moreover, every one of the multitude who pray for peace is a sinner. At least one prayer for war is not a sinner. Therefore, God answers the prayers of the nonsinning warmonger.
    Not a Christian. God only answers the prayers of Christians. This excuse is a good test for someone to use to determine if he is really a Christian. If God answers all his prayers, he is a real Christian. If God fails to answer at least one of his prayers, he is not a real Christian; he is a pseudo Christian. Thus, according to Baal apologists, Baal’s priests did not lose because Jehovah is mightier; they lost because they were not real Christians. Therefore, Baal refused to answer their prayers and allowed Elijah to win. Moreover, of the multitude who pray for peace, not one of them is a Christian. Of the few who pray for war, at least one is a Christian. Therefore, God answers the prayers of the warmongering Christian.

Endnote
1. If He is the only god, then the first of the commandments (“You shall have not other gods before me:”) is meaningless.

Copyright © 2013, 2015, 2016 by Thomas Coley Allen. 

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