It's a familiar and dramatic story.
There was Elijah, the only prophet left (to his knowledge) that served the one true God and then there were all the other guys, the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah.
The other guys had the numbers. They had the volume and all the attention as they chanted and danced. They had rituals as they cut themselves "as was their custom" (I Kings 18:28) They had perseverance as they continued their earnest pleading with their gods the entire day (I Kings 18: 28)
And all the people of Israel were watching.
On the one hand there is an old man, just standing there, insisting the God is the Lord.
On the other hand there are 800+ men praying and pleading and involved in all types of ritualistic behavior. I think the sheer showmanship of it all would have been very convincing.
I attended a Chris Tomlin concert at an area mega church. The concert was worshipful and God-honoring, but shortly thereafter I began getting emails from the church; emails that said for a generous donation to Pastor So and So's ministry I would receive books/tapes/sermons/secrets that would show me, guaranteed, how to get blessings from God...ugh.
It really is everywhere. All these people proclaiming what is not truth or perverting truth for their own gain, monetarily or for power.
And there are so very many.
So many preachers, and deceivers and authors ,that as one who believes the Bible is the Word of God and the highest authority and that following God does not mean I'll be healthy, wealthy and wise, I feel outnumbered. I have no great showmanship, or perseverance in engaging in ritualistic customs. I see what appear to be so few in this great endeavor of spreading the news of God and who could not possibly be heard over the din being made by all these false prophets.
It is then I need to remember the rest of the story.
At the usual time for offering the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet walked up to the altar and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant. Prove that I have done all this at your command. O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.”
Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!” I Kings 18:336-39
God sent the fire.
When God answered, it was beyond the request and all expectations.
When Elijah prayed for God to prove himself so that the people's hearts would be turned back to Him, God did so in a way that far surpassed what was going to be the "proof" of who was God
God didn't need the masses, or the rituals, or even earnest perseverance to answer. He only needed one,who desired for Him to be honored, to ask...
This is His work we are doing. And while we are his servants, He is still God. He only asks our faithful obedience even if we feel that we're the only one and that no one can possible hear us up against the quantity and quality of the others voices. And we have these assurances:
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:10-12
Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...one day everyone will know the truth.
Have you seen this video? http://www.tangle.com/view_video.php?viewkey=ecdf7b249b5bdc228e92 (really, go watch it now) I think it's amazing and it reminds me of this verse. One day, all the agendas will be over and all will be united, of one mind and purpose proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord.(as opposed to in a train station singing a Mary Poppins song as impressive as that was!)
And these false prophets that surround and outnumber us? Well...Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21,22
Father, reveal yourself in your power in the places we serve you so that the people's hearts will be turned to you...