Example 2 - The Prophet Elijah On Mount Carmel
The Living God Destroys A Lifeless Pagan God
In the reign of king Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel (874-853 B.C.), the Israelites apostatized after pagan gods called the Baal and Asherah (Baal’s consort), and left the living God of their ancestors.
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other”
(Matthew 6: 24a).
The Lord God worked out a great miracle through his prophet Elijah to restore the Israelites back to him.
“Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him,
‘Is that you, O troubler of Israel?’
And he answered,
‘I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father's house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals. Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table.’
So Ahab sent for all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together on Mount Carmel. And Elijah came to all the people, and said,
‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’
But the people answered him not a word. Then Elijah said to the people,
‘I alone am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.’
So all the people answered and said,
‘It is well spoken.’
Now Elijah said to the prophets of Baal,
‘Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.’
So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying,
‘O Baal, hear us!’
But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made. And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said,
‘Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.’
So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people,
‘Come near to me.’
So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying,
‘Israel shall be your name.’
Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said,
‘Fill four water pots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.’
Then he said,
‘Do it a second time,’
and they did it a second time; and he said,
‘Do it a third time,’
and they did it a third time. So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water. And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said,
‘LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.’
Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said,
‘The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’
And Elijah said to them,
‘Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!’
So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.”
(1 Kings 18: 17-40).
Mount Carmel is an 1,800 feet high mountain ridge jutting into the Mediterranean Sea below the bay of Haifa. Places of worship to Baal were located on Mount Carmel. The prophet Elijah defeated the Baal in its own territory. Baal was the principal god of the Canaanite pagan religion, which used ritual prostitution in its cultic worship practices believing that it may achieve the fertility of the land. The Baal both owned and fertilized the land. The Israelites committed the sin of trying to combine the worship of their true living God with that of the Baal, the Canaanite false god. Consequently, the Lord God withheld both dew and rain from the Land three years and six months (1 Kings 17: 1; 18: 18; Luke 4: 25; James 5: 17).
Elijah ordered 12 jars of water be poured out to soak the wood of the stone altar that he built, wet the ground around it, and fill the trench around it in order to leave no doubt about the truth and power of the miracle about to happen. The 450 prophets of the Baal had kept up their rituals for the good part of the day, and ended up with dead silence from the false god who could not answer. Elijah’s prayer lasted only less than a minute, but produced a powerful visible response from the true and only living God.
This convinced the Israelites of the one true God. After their repentance and return to the Lord God, He sent lots of rain on their thirsty drought stricken land (1 Kings 18: 41-46). At the end, Elijah commanded that the prophets of the Baal be seized and executed for their wicked crimes against man and God.