|Elijah and the prophets of Baal in Mt. Carmel|
Some things don't change even with the passage of time. During the time of Elijah, human sacrifice was in vogue. Baal was a fertility god and sacrificing human lives went with the worship of this popular god. The Romans were no different. During Roman times, unwanted babies were taken outside the city walls and were left to die. Centuries later, we are no better. The following is an excerpt from the Book of 2 Kings:
"So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and the prophets of Baal to meet at Mount Carmel. Elijah went up to the people and said, "How much longer will it take you to make up your minds? If the LORD is God, worship him; but if Baal is God, worship him!" But the people didn't say a word. Then Elijah said, "I am the only prophet of the LORD still left, but there are 450 prophets of Baal. Bring two bulls; let the prophets of Baal take one, kill it, cut it in pieces, and put it on the wood--but don't light the fire. I will do the same with the other bull. Then let the prophets of Baal pray to their god, and I will pray to the LORD, and the god who answers by sending fire--he is God." The people shouted their approval. Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal. "Since there are so many of you, you take a bull and prepare it first. Pray to your god, but don't set fire to the wood." They took the bull that was brought to them, prepared it, and prayed to Baal until noon. They shouted. "Answer us. Baal!" and kept dancing around the altar they had built. But no answer came. At noon Elijah started making fun of them; "Pray louder! He is a god! Maybe he is day-dreaming or relieving himself, or perhaps he's gone off on a trip! Or maybe he's sleeping, and you've got to wake him up!" So the prophets prayed louder and cut themselves with knives and daggers, according to their ritual, until blood flowed. They kept on ranting and raving until the middle of the afternoon; but no answer came, not sound was heard. Then Elijah said to the people, "Come closer to me." and they all gathered around him. He set about repairing the altar of the LORD which had been torn down. He took twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes named for the sons of Jacob, the man to whom the LORD had given the name Israel With these stones he rebuilt the altar for the worship of the LORD. He dug a trench around it, large enough to hold about four gallons of water. Then he placed the wood on the altar, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, "Fill four jars with water and pour it on the offering and the wood." They did so, and the said, "Do it again"--and they did. "Do it once more," he said--and they did. The water ran down around the altar and filled the trench. At the hour of the afternoon sacrifice the prophet Elijah approached the altar and prayed, "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove now that you are the God of Israel. and that I am your servant and have done all this at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the LORD, are God and that you are bringing them back to yourself. The LORD sent fire down, and it burned up the sacrifice, the wood, and the stones, scorched the earth and dried up the water in the trench. When the people saw this, they threw themselves on the ground and exclaimed. "The LORD is God; the LORD alone is God!"
The Cause for Life requires courageous men and women who will once again voice the most critical question of our times: "How long shall we straddle the issue?"