1 Kings 18:27—Why was Elijah blessed for ridiculing the prophets of Baal when the Bible urges us to use kind words to our enemies?
Problem: The Bible says here that “Elijah mocked them” and suggested that their god was “meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” However, the Scriptures teach in other places to “love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44), “bless and do not curse” (Rom. 12:14), and “let your speech always be with grace” (Col. 4:6). Elijah’s conduct hardly seems exemplar of these truths.
Solution: First, it should be pointed out that the text does not specifically commend every word Elijah uttered. It simply says that God answered his prayer to vindicate him by sending fire to consume the sacrifice and the prophets of Baal (v. 38).
Further, it can be argued that Elijah did not violate any of these scriptural exhortations. Nowhere does the Bible say Elijah hated the prophets of Baal or cursed them. As for Elijah’s alleged ridicule, it was no doubt cutting, but not outside the limits of a forceful but legitimate use of irony. The same passage that exhorts us to always speak with “grace” also notes that it can be “seasoned with salt.” This was perhaps an example of a more salty remark. In any event, there is no indication that Elijah did it with malice. Ultimately, his act was benevolent in that it saved the lives of those who were witnesses of this marvelous intervention of God.
See All Problems
This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.