While listening to a talk from General Conference, I thought of the lesson that I taught to my Primary children last Sunday. The lesson was about Elijah and the false prophets of Baal. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began his talk with this story that is found in the Old Testament.
Elijah lived in the time of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel and great wickedness. Ahab and Jezebel had led the Israelites away from Heavenly Father and to the worship of a false god, an idol by the name of Baal. Under the instructions of God, Elijah used the power of the priesthood to seal the heaven, causing a terrible drought. The drought caused a great famine in the land, and everyone had a difficult time finding water for their crops and animals.
At the end of three and a half years God told Elijah to go speak to Ahab, and he did. Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought, but Elijah told him that the worship of false gods had caused the drought. Elijah told Ahab to call all the people together at Mount Carmel as well as the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 other prophets. When the people were all gathered, Elijah asked them a question: “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” Elijah said that he alone was a prophet of God, but there were 450 prophets for Baal. He instructed the people to bring two bullocks for a test to see which God has power.
Let them [the people] therefore give us two bullocks; and let them [the false prophets] chose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken (1Kings 18: 23-24).
Elijah told the false prophets to choose their bullock, cut it in pieces, and put it on wood but not to light a fire. They did so, and then they started to call upon Baal to send fire from heaven to consume their offerings. They cried to Baal from morning until noon. They even leaped upon the altar for greater effect and cried to Baal until evening, but no voice answered.
Elijah called the people to him and repaired the altar with twelve stones – one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. He also had a trench dug around the altar. He prepared the wood, cut the bullock into pieces, and laid the meat on the wood. He then told the people:
… fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water
(1 Kings 18:33-35).
Elijah wanted the people to know that the power of God is the greatest power on earth. Everything was thoroughly soaked through by the time of the evening sacrifice. Elijah came near and began his prayer.
Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God (1 Kings 18:36-39).
The people were suitably impressed with the power of God, and the false prophets and idols were destroyed out of the land. After sharing this story of Elijah, Elder Christofferson said that Elijah might say the following to us today:
. Either God, our Heavenly Father, exists, or He does not, but if He exists, worship Him.
. Either Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the resurrected Redeemer of mankind, or He is not, but if He is, follow Him.
. Either the Book of Mormon is the word of God, or it is not, but if it is, then “get nearer to God by [studying and] abiding by its precepts.”
. Either Joseph Smith saw and conversed with the Father and the Son that spring day of 1820, or he did not, but if he did, then follow the prophetic mantle, including the keys of sealing that I, Elijah, bestowed upon him.
Elder Christofferson continued his talk by reminding us that we can know the true God by study and by faith. Through personal revelation we can know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church on earth. A witness borne by the Holy Ghost to one’s heart and mind becomes part of that person and can never be taken away. How long will you halt between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him!