It is a time of great apostasy in the nation of Israel. This period of history was after the division of the kingdom into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The spiritual well being of Israel was deteriorating under the incredibly wicked reign of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel.
Most people had turned aside to worship Baalim. This was a pantheon of supposed gods which were reigned over by the false god Baal and his consort Asherah and included many lesser deities.
Most people in Israel had “bowed the knee” to Baal, nearly everyone, all but seven thousand individuals, 1 Kings 19:18.
Ahab was the seventh king of Israel. There were nineteen in total and all were wicked. He was worse than all his predecessors, 1 Kings 16:30-33. `His wife encouraged him in all his wickedness, 1 Kings 21:25-26.
Suddenly, Elijah bursts upon the scene serving a man on fire for the Lord, 1 Kings 17:1.
Little is known about who this man Elijah was. He is called a Tishbite which means he was from some place called Tishbeh. There is no other record of such a place thus, it must have been very small and unimportant.
His name is indicative of his mission and his faith. El which means Supreme God, Jah which means Jehovah. So his name Elijah, literally means, Jehovah is God!
Elijah is sent with word of God.
That is, Jehovah, the God of Israel liveth. He is the true and living God as compared to dead dumb idols which they were worshipping. Jehovah, said, there would be no dew, no rain. God would cause a drought upon the land, just as He had warned that He would, Deuteronomy 11:16-17.
During the time of the famine, God takes care of Elijah. He sent ravens to feed him in the wilderness. He provided the widow of Zarapheth to take care of him.
Three years later, Elijah comes out of seclusion and is sent back to Ahab, 1 Kings 18:1. Ahab asks, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel…?” 1 Kings 18:17.
Elijah points out that Ahab is the problem, 1 Kings 18:18. And then very boldly, Elijah Challenges Ahab and his god Baal.
"And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baal." - 1 Kings 18:18
He basically said, "Let’s see who really is God – Jehovah or Baal!"
Elijah the Prophet’s Challenge
- Elijah calls the people together and demands that they choose a side!
- If Jehovah is God follow Him!
- If Baal is God follow Him!
- Make a decision and live with the consequences!
- They answer not a word!
- Elijah (and God) challenge Baal and his 450 prophets, 1 Kings 18:22-24
The Prophets of Baal
- Baal gets first option, 1 Kings 18:25-29
- They call upon Baal from morning until noon.
- He doesn't answer.
- They are mocked by Elijah!
- They try harder!
- Baal is the god that does not answer.
Elijah the Prophet of Jehovah
1 Kings 18:30-38
- The Altar rebuilt. 1 Kgs 18:30-32
- An old altar to Jehovah had been there.
- Ahab destroyed many places like that. 1 Kgs 19:10
- 12 stones = 12 tribes
- Trench dug around the altar – like an irrigation ditch to hold water.
- The Altar and Offering flooded. 1 Kgs 18:33-25
- 4 barrels of water – 4 jars (ASV) poured 3x.
- Perhaps similar to the water pots where Jesus turned water to wine in John 2:6
- Each held b/w 2 and 3 firkins apiece – 16-24 gallons.
- If so, then 12 jars worth of water was poured on top of the wood and the offering (200-300 gallons of water!)
- Entire altar and everything soaked and probably sitting in the middle of a huge water puddle!
- Why was this done? To show that no fire could possibly be hidden somewhere in the altar! No one would be able to claim fraud!
- Elijah Calls upon Jehovah! 1 Kgs 18:36-37
- At the time of the evening sacrifice – 9th hour ~ 3pm.
- Lord God. (O Jehovah_ASV)
- Let it be known that thou are God. (Elohim – God supreme)
- Elijah = Jehovah is God.
- The Reason for the Challenge – that the people my know you and turn back to you!
- Whoosh!!!! Jehovah answereth by fire!1 Kgs 18:38
- The Fire of Jehovah!
- Consumed everything!
- The offering.
- The wood.
- The stones of the altar.
- Even the dust / ashes totally wiped out!
- Dried up all the water.
- Wow!!! Our Jehovah is a consuming Fire!
- The People’s Response. 1 Kgs 18:39-40.
- Fell on their faces!
- Jehovah is God! Jehovah is God!
- Captured the 450 prophets of Baal.
- Elijah kills them all! Deserved punishment.
The Prophet’s Prayer. 1 Kgs 18:41-46
- Elijah commanded Ahab to eat and because its gonna rain!
- Elijah goes up and bows down to pray for rain.
- Seven times he sends someone up to look for rain.
- On the seventh time – there was a distant cloud – like a man’s hand over the sea.
- He commands Ahab to hurry home ahead of the storm!
- There was a great rain!
- Sky became black with clouds.
- The winds blew!
- What we call a drought buster!
Lessons for Us.
- We cannot straddle the fence when it comes to serving God. Josh 24:15
- We either serve God or we are against Him. Matt 12:30
- God is a jealous God. Deut 4:23-24
- The Power of Prayer.
- Elijah prayed for a drought and the land dried up.
- He prayed for the fire of Jehovah on the offering and Whoosh!
- He prayed for rain and down it came!
- James 5:17-18
- Elijah’s Courage to stand alone.
- The forces of evil arrayed against him.
- 450 prophets of Baal
- 2 resentful monarchs
- A Nation (-7,000) of people.
- Elijah (+God).
- The forces of evil stood no chance!
- How does evil prevail? – when good men do nothing!
- Elijah took a STAND! Rom 8:31
- Elijah’s Faith.
- In Jehovah.
- In prayer.
- In recognizing that God was with him.
- In confidence that God would answer!
- Our God is a consuming fire! Heb 12:28-29
- Jehovah is His name!
- We had better be in a right relationship with him!
- Or, we like the prophets of Baal and the people of Israel, will be consumed by the fire of Jehovah!!
- The forces of evil arrayed against him.