Just like my post on John 8:1-11, this is story is fiction. With that being said, this story was inspired by God. I simply typed it up for him, although he most certainly could have done it himself.
Joab had just sat down at the morning meal when his father came into the room.
“I cannot find my staff! Have you any idea where it might be?” he asked, sounding defeated.
“No, Father, I don’t,” Joab replied while rubbing his temples.
“Well I didn’t think I was being rude about it…”
“No, no, you weren’t. I just… I’m tired. I’m stressed. The business isn’t going well, Micah’s not grown an inch in two years, the baby-”
“Now,” his father interrupted, “I understand you’re stressed about the business. Any man would be. But fear over your son, that’s nonsense!”
“He has a stutter too.”
“So what? He’ll just be awkward for a few years. You have got to have faith, unlike the rest of ‘God’s Chosen People’,” he said with a smirk. “I swear, any day now I expect God Almighty to wipe us clean off the face of this earth for all the evil we’ve taken up. We deserve it.”
“They deserve it,” Joab said with frustration.
“No, I think we’re guilty also, of not trying to persuade them back to the truth. That is sin in itself.”
“Well, go buy yourself a ram and get in line for a sacrifice. Actually, there probably won’t even be a line,” Joab joked.
Their conversation was stopped short by the sound of Joab’s infant daughter crying.
“Oh my! I’ve got my hands full. Jo, could you help me?” Joab’s wife hollered from the back room.
“Yes,” he said to her. Then to his father, “Did I mention my daughter being near death ever since she left the womb? How am I to have faith?”
He meant it. He meant it so much he felt his eyes smart with tears. Turning down the hall, Joab muttered to himself,” Actually, my headache might go away if God did decide to do away with us.”
David was sure his son didn’t think he had heard his half-hearted comment. I may not always hear, my son, but rest assured that the Lord does. He took a moment to lift his son up in prayer before resuming the search for his staff. He would need it if he was to go walking the pastures with Micah today.
Just as he was about to look outside for his staff, David heard a knock at the door and shouting outside. He slowly made his way to the door before opening it and peering out. Some of Ahab’s men were making a ruckus, saying something about everyone going back with them to Mount Carmel. He listened a bit longer before one of the men came to his door and confirmed all he had heard. The man said that all of the men of every household were ordered to come. Never being one to question authority, David agreed and went inside to find his son and his staff, for he would surely need it now.
Bending down to lay his daughter back in her crib, Joab prayed she would not wake up again. No more crying. He just couldn’t take it anymore. He laid his Tirzah on top of the old blanket and slowly removed his hands from her backside. He stood there for a moment, not moving, making sure she was asleep. Breathing a sigh of relief that she was, He turned to go. Just as he was making his way out, the door swung wide open, his father on the opposite side, eyes wide and mouth open.
“I’m so sorry! I completely forgot,” he whispered.
But it was too late. Tirzah had already woken up. There was no way she was going to get a nap in before the noon meal now. Taking a deep breath and pressing his lips together, Joab bent down to pick up the baby.
“No,” his father said,” let Jerosheba get her. King Ahab has ordered all the men go up to Mount Carmel immediately.”
“What reasoning does he have for that?” Joab questioned while the baby continued to scream.
“Does it really matter?” David asked.
“Goodness, does no one hear Tirzah raising the roof with her screams?” Jerosheba cried, walking in the room from the hall. Joab saw her look of confusion when she saw both men in a dominant stance. She probably thought they were arguing. Then she looked at him as if to say, “The baby is right beside you. What’s the matter with you, deaf man?” So he calmly explained.
“King Ahab has ordered all the men to go to Mount Carmel immediately.”
“Why?” she asked, not understanding.
“I’m not sure,” he replied, looking at his father.
Along the way to Mount Carmel, Joab and David met up with a few of their cousins and uncles, and they discussed the absurdity of the situation as they walked. When they finally arrived and were standing, awaiting further instruction, Joab took in the amount of people there. Well over 1,000 people, he’d guess.
Then a man’s voice rose higher than all the rest. He was asking them to choose between Baal and God. “So that is what this is about,” Joab thought as he rolled his eyes.
“That’s Elijah talking,” his father whispered.
“Mhmmm,” he mused to himself.
“Get two bulls for us,” Elijah was saying, “Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God."
Joab surprised himself by being somewhat interested in the “competition” soon to take place. In his mind, he knew the Lord would come out victorious. In his heart, however, he wasn’t as sure.
The people answered Elijah with nods of their heads and, from those more interested, a hearty, “What you say is good.”
Joab and his father moved aside, away from the gathering crowd, as the prophets of Baal and Asherah chose their bull. They prepared it and then waited for a while before they started beseeching their god out loud! Joab felt an uncomfortable tingling inside of him at the name of some foreign god being called upon in such a holy manner. The prophets carried on till noon. Then they started dancing to get the attention of their god.
“Shout louder! Surely he is a god. Perhaps he’s deep in thought or busy. Maybe he’s sleeping and must be awakened.”
The taunts coming from Elijah amused him, and he found himself chuckling at their awkward dancing. But then the prophets started shouting even louder. Blood curdling screams that made Joab shudder. Goose bumps prickled his arm and the hair on the back of his neck stood up when he saw they were starting to cut themselves till they made themselves bleed. He no longer thought of this as a “friendly competition”. No, he was now acutely aware of everything going on around him. David was too.
David felt as if his heart were breaking in two as he watched the people cut themselves, dark red blood soon covering their clothes and sandals, marking the places they walked. Lord, please do something! Show these men the truth. Show them that they are lost without you. If this goes on much longer, they will be dead without you. Intervene!
Opening his eyes, David turned to face his son. Five or more feet away, he could clearly see the goose bumps on his skin. Father, show my son the truth, even though I’ve already taught it to him.
Joab suddenly grimaced and turned his head sharply, making David turn to see what had happened. Before him, thirty or so feet away (they had come closer to the crowd as the day grew longer), he saw a man crying out in pain. He saw him hold up his hand, blood streaming out of a hole where a finger used to be. God, this cannot go on much longer!
After a time had passed, when it was time for the evening sacrifices, the bleeding people started to calm down. They stopped cutting and dancing. Only a few continued to shout, although it could not be determined whether the shouts were pleas to their god or cries of pain. However it was clear that they were shouting at nothing. Nothing but air, maybe. There was no Baal, no Asherah, that responded or answered. No one that even paid attention.
Then Elijah called all the people to him. Out of twelve stones, he built an alter to the Lord. Next he dug a trench around the alter and arranged the wood and cut bull on top of the alter, preparing it for the sacrifice. When he was done, everything was quiet. Joab felt his stomach turn a flip at the smell of all the blood, animal and human. Elijah regained his attention when he said, “Fill four large jars with water and pour them on top of the offering and on the wood.”
Joab felt a quickening in his heart. Why, he did not know. What he did know, however, was that something great was about to happen.
David was confused at Elijah’s request. Water? The contest, so-to-speak, was to set the bull on fire, not drown it for heaven’s sake! He simply could not understand. He was confused even more so at the request for eight more jars be poured on the sacrifice. God, you are making no sense to me. How then do you expect to make sense to the Baal worshippers? They’re as dumbfounded as I am! David felt his heart sink. Oh, please forgive me, Lord. You have control over this, I know that. Teach me as you teach them.
Then stepping forward, Elijah began to pray to an all-seeing, unseen God.
"O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again."
Joab truly did want his heart turned back to the Lord. Why? He couldn’t explain why. He just felt this call of sorts, beckoning him to put everything on the line for something more important than he would ever know. He felt a calling to lay down his pride.
And then it got very hot.
All of a sudden, a surge of heat and light flew down from heaven and covered the the alter. In a matter of seconds it burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, and even licked up the water in the trench. Even though he felt as if his face were being burned as well, Joab did not turn away from the magnificent sight. He felt as if he couldn’t draw a breath when he heard a voice, unlike any he had heard before, speak to him:
Behold my glory. Feel the weight of who I am.
Trembling he fell, with everyone else present, and cried out, “The Lord- He is God!”
He fell before the Lord. His knees could no longer physically hold his weight. He fell and sobbed his repentance and gratitude.
“We’re back,” David said solemnly when they walked through the front door.
“Thank God! I have had a time here alone with these two children. Usually one of you is here to help me,” she called from the kitchen. “What did King Ahab want with everyone?” she asked hesitantly.
Instead of responding, Joab walked down the hall and into the kitchen. Standing in the door way, he looked at his son, sitting on the old wooden bench, and his daughter, playing in her pen. Then his gaze turned to Jerosheba, just now turning from her pot of boiling water to greet them. Gasping, she went to him and looked over his dirty clothes and puffy eyes, concern written on her face.
“What happened to you?” she whispered.
He only smiled before leaving her and walking over to his son.
“I know that you know I worry over you. Your height, your weight, your eyesight, and your stutter,” he began to tell his son, “but know that that is not important. What is important is that you love the Lord with all your heart and remain strong in your faith, even when everyone else has abandoned the truth.”
“Yes s-sir. I-I do love t-the Lord-d,” Micah said with a grin.
Turning back around, he faced Jerosheba, who had tears on her face. Going to her, he took her in his arms and kissed the top of her head.
“I love you,” he whispered.
“I love you,” she replied.
Later on that night, as Joab and Jerosheba were preparing for bed, Jerosheba got a puzzled look on her face.
“What?” he asked with a half-smile.
Tracing his eyebrow, she replied, “You never told me how you got so dirty today.”
Lying down on his back, looking up to the ceiling, he closed his eyes. He imagined fire coming down from heaven and smiled.