1 Kings 18
After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.
Now the famine was severe in Samaria, and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the Lord. While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.” So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.
As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”
“Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”
“What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? As surely as the Lord your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ I don’t know where the Spirit of the Lord may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the Lord since my youth. Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”
Elijah said, “As the Lord Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”
So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
“I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets 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.”
Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” So they took the bull given them and prepared it.
Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.
At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down. Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” With the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs(about 24 Lbs) of seed. He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”
“Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.
“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the 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, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”
Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.
“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the Lord came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Looking at 1 Kings 18, we read that Elijah was about to challenge the prophets of Baal on their turf, to see who was the real God. See, there was confusion among the people of Israel because their present king had married a woman (Jezebel) who had introduced him to the Baals. And so, as Israel’s king, he not only worshiped them himself, but also threatened everyone’s life if they too did not worship the Baals.
So we come to Elijah, who is not only one of the most famous prophets of God of all time, but who also believed that he was the only prophet left, since Jezebel was killing them all off. However, unknowingly to Elijah, Obadiah, a man who was in charge of the palace, revered the Lord greatly, and he hid and cared for 100 of the Lord’s prophets from Jezebel (2 caves, 50 in each).
So we know of Elijah as God’s prophet. But God also called hundreds more as prophets whom we do not know! That’s amazing!
Have you ever had a passion or ability to do something, and wondered if you were the only one who had this passion? Or maybe you’re a specialist at something, and (as far as you know), you’re the top person to call when such a job is needed. But what if there are actually more that you didn’t know about, and not as a threat to your position, but as a means of encouragement that if there is a job that’s too big for you alone, there are many more who could be called to help?
In 1 Kings 18, we know Elijah by name. And all throughout the other prophetic books, we hear about the lives of particular prophets. But here, we learn that these “main ones” are not the “only ones”, for the Lord has called many.
When the Lord called me into ministry, I had never heard of “youth ministry” or certain types of Pastors. I know it sounds odd, but it’s true. I just knew that the Lord had put it onto my heart and called me to minister to youth (share the Bible with them, introduce them to Jesus, disciple and mentor them, as one who has also been through a lot). So when I began attending Seminary, I actually didn’t know there would be others there for youth, also. Seriously! But as time continued, I had learned that there were actually many who were called to “youth ministry”, as it was called. I had no idea! I actually thought my calling was unique, and it still may have been, but it was overwhelming to learn that in this calling, “I’m not alone”, for the Lord had also called others. And this wasn’t a threat to me, but an overwhelming encouragement because it assured me that I’m not a 1-man army; God called a whole army for this mission, and knowing this took the weight off my shoulders, and filled me with great awe for God’s plans to come!
In Matthew 10, Jesus sent out the 12, then He continued His ministry. In other places, Jesus also sent out 70 or 72. In the Epistles, as Paul and the 12 were spreading the Good News, we also read of others who joined in the mission. Even today, in my own trials and struggles in the ministry, it is always encouraging when I remember that there are more who have not bowed to the ‘gods’ of this world…I’m not the only one.
And sure, Elijah endured many trials in his ministry, as have we all, but when he was really down, he thought he was the only one, the only one who followed the Lord, left. But the Lord encouraged him by informing him of the other 100 prophets who Obadiah had hidden in caves. It had to feel like the Calvary, or the great army that suddenly showed up in Star Wars “The Clone Wars”. You didn’t know there were so many fighting with you, and many even by your side.
And to top it off, in 1 kings 19:18, the Lord tells Elijah that in addition to the 100 prophets being hidden in caves, another 7000 in Israel are on the Lord’s side. Like God saying, “Dude, you’re not alone in this ministry! I’ve got your back, and it’s not just you, but over 7000 others!”
I mean, think about it for a moment. Say God called you to become a firefighter. Once you get to the station, you meet a whole bunch of others who were called to the same thing. And if the Lord had not called so many more to do the same, then who would have gone when 9-1-1 happened? Thank God that He called all those thousands of men and women into the service, trained them, gave them the hearts and passions to help people, then called them to New York when they were most needed. Thank God they were not the only ones! In the same way, thank God for calling many others to the mission field and the ministry. Thank God for putting the passion of introducing people to Jesus into the hearts of so many, for when you look at how many in the world still do not know Him, thank God that the few of us reading this are not the only ones that He has called! I have to think it was only a relief to Elijah to hear that he wasn’t the only one after all! Wow, Lord, 7000? That’s amazing! And 100 other prophets? That’s awesome! Thank you God!