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Fire from heaven
by Reverend Howard Ray Carey

In the 18th chapter of the First Book of Kings, in the Bible, we find a graphic description of a crucial contest between two opposed religious groups of that time. On the one hand we have Elijah, presented as a great prophet of the true God, the Yahweh (Jehovah) Deity of Israel. Opposed to him were said to be 450 prophets or priests of Baal. These were representatives of a fertility religion in which child sacrifice was practiced, as well as animal sacrifices. Both types of sacrifice were offered up to the Baals in order to ensure fertility of flocks and herds, and abundance of crops.

Such practices were vehemently opposed by such men as Elijah. Their tradition went back to Abraham, the original He-brew patriarch. According to the account in Genesis, Abraham was ready to slay his son Isaac, to satisfy what were thought to be the demands of Deity for sacrifice to him of what was most precious. At that crucial moment God provided a lamb in the thicket as a substitute for the child, and Isaac was spared. From that time on, supposedly, the Hebrew people were strongly against child sacrifice, but it did happen at times.

The setting of the contest portrayed in the First Book of Kings was this: Israel's king Ahab had established a political alliance with the neighboring king of Tyre. As part of the deal Ahab married a Phoenician princess, Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, priest-king of Tyre and Sidon. Jezebel is pictured as a scheming, evil woman of great power and cunning. (Perhaps a powerful first-ray personality? (1) In the Book of Revelation, written almost a thousand years later, the author refers to a woman in one of the churches of the time as ''that Jezebel teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality, and to eat food sacrificed to idols.'' And in our own day, to call a woman a Jezebel is to label her as the epitome of evil.

This Jezebel of Elijah's day was an ardent promoter of her native religion of Baal worship. She appeared to have the passive consent of king Ahab as she almost obliterated the leadership of Israel's worship of Yahweh. And she had gathered around her a cult of 450 prophet-priests of Baal.

Elijah, perhaps also a first-ray personality (1), could tolerate the situation no longer. Through king Ahab he challenged all the leaders of the Baal cult to meet him on Mount Carmel. There they were to prepare a burnt offering of a bull, to be offered up to their deity, Baal, and without lighting the wood on the altar were to call down fire from heaven to consume the offering. They cried long and loud to Baal to come and perform this miracle. They even slashed themselves to let their blood flow, indicating their commitment to self-sacrifice.

When nothing happened, Elijah ridiculed them. Then he prepared another bull for sacrifice on an altar dedicated to God (Yahweh). He had his assistants pour several buckets of water over the whole thing. Then he called on God to send fire from heaven, which came down and consumed the animal flesh, water, wood and stone. This is pictured as a great victory of true religion and complete defeat for the kind of base religion which would offer up children as burnt offerings to appease some deity.

We can make of this what we will. The Ageless Wisdom teachings, which come to us through people like Alice Bailey, Benjamin Creme and others, indicate that very high initiates have real power over nature, being able to control it in surprising ways ---- always for worthy purposes. Was Elijah such a high initiate? Did he have such powers as seem to be indicated in this account and as portrayed in other Old Testament accounts of him? Or was this narrative, written in its present form about a hundred years later, greatly exaggerated or largely symbolic?

It is not for me to try to determine for you whether to take this account literally or otherwise. But however we 'stack it' perhaps we can see an important parallel with the world crisis of our civilization today. The Baal worshippers of that day were materialists seeking a selfish abundance of crops and livestock for their own separative group or tribe. And they were willing to sacrifice even their own children for that end! Is not the same thing happening today?

Who are the priests and prophets of 'Baal' in our time? What about those who predict that if we will just raise the separative nationalistic walls of tariffs and armaments higher, we will have returning prosperity for ourselves ---- never mind the rest of the world. And do we not see child sacrifice in many places: in the slaughter of the innocents in Lebanon and many other places, and in the starving of millions of children in Africa and so many parts of Asia?

Some are deluded into thinking that nuclear bombs and war-heads provide the needed heavenly fire for today. But is it not evident that these are very earthly products, the means of selfish and foolhardy destruction?

Where are the modern counterparts of Elijah? Surely they are the high initiates, the Masters of Wisdom, and the World Teacher, who come with the true fire from 'heaven'. What then is this fire? We have learned that such fire is an important symbol of the power of the high mental (or heavenly) planes. These Great Ones are now bringing it down to earth ---- to the physical plane ---- to obliterate all our selfish, separative altars; where we so foolishly have been offering up our substance, our sons and daughters, and often ourselves! This we have done in a vain attempt to bring the 'fertility' of prosperity to our party or nation, at the expense of God's children on the other side of the fence we have erected.

It is for each of us to decide the particular way in which our own resources, our substance, our energy, our meditation, and our activities are to be offered in co-operation with the Great Ones. But let us be fully aware that our substance, our meditation, our energy and our service are urgently needed right now in co-operation with the Christ and the Masters. The need is so great that we had best beware. If we hang back and hesitate to enlist with them, in accordance with our best guidance and wisdom, then are we not unwittingly in league with the modern 'Baals' of our day?

That which Maitreya has called the sword of cleavage is cutting pretty deep today. The issue is the survival of humanity on this planet. And, beyond survival, the building of the way of sharing, love, justice and brotherhood for all God's children here on planet earth. Here where we still have to demonstrate in joyous, sacrificial living the meaning of the truth that we are indeed all one! What is the true meaning of this oneness? Only in united and joyous sharing, brotherhood and love will we find the puzzle solved. Each of us has to face the question: can God and humanity count on you and on me to exert all our weight ---- not as slight as imagined ---- on the side of the light, love and power which is the true fire from heaven?

In love, in trust and in knowing that, ''Life is ever Lord of death, and love can never lose its own,'' let us give ourselves gladly and fully. Then the living fire will ignite us as radiant torches of light, with power to dispel darkness, and to bring the long-awaited New Day. November 1982

1. Readers may be interested to learn the following ray structures, provided by Benjamin Creme's Master, of Elijah & Jezebel. Elijah ---- 2nd ray soul, 1st ray personality (well-integrated and infused), 1st ray mental body, 6th ray astral body, 1st ray physical body. Jezebel ---- 1st ray soul, 6th ray personality, 3rd ray mental body, 6th ray astral body, 3rd ray physical body.

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First published April 1999, Last modified: 15-Oct-2005