During the time of 1 Kings 18, there was a huge drought for 3 years. After many days in the 3rd year of the drought, the Lord’s Word came to Elijah: “Go, present yourself to Ahab (the king), I will send rain.”
So when the evil king, Ahab, found Elijah, he met with him and ask, “Is it you, you trouble-maker of Israel?” Elijah responded, “You are the one who troubles Israel, and your father’s house. You’ve forsaken the Lord’s commandments and followed the Baals. Now therefore, have all Israel assemble for me at Mt. Carmel with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, all who eat at Jezebel’s table. Ahab obeyed Elijah’s command to assemble everybody.
When everybody arrived, Elijah addressed the people of Israel: “How long will you waver between 2 opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him. If Baal is God, follow him.” Nobody answered, they all kept quiet. Elijah revealed his thought that he was the only one left of God’s prophets, then said “You call your god, I’ll call the Lord, and the one who answer by fire is indeed God.”
All the people answered, “Well spoken!”
Not the most awesome dialogue, but Elijah got the point accross. Plus, the awesome part comes next:
Elijah allows the prophets of Baal to go 1st, saying, “Choose a bull and prepare it first, for you are many. Then call on the name of your god, but don’t put fire to it.”
So from the early morning until Noon, the prophets of Baal were yelling out, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no answer. They limped upon their alter (ritual dance), but there was nothing. Bored out of his mind, and completely restless and annoyed, Elijah begins mocking them:
- “Cry Louder! Surely he’s a god!”
- “Maybe he’s meditating, or has wandered off!”
- “Maybe he’s off relieving himself!” (because it was believed that Baal used what they knew then as a restroom)
- “Maybe he’s sleeping or relieving himself!” (because it was believed that Baal slept)
In response, they cried louder, and began cutting themselves with swords and spears, until their blood gushed out over them (common today among many cultic rituals and Islamic holidays).
By about 3pm, there was still no answer, no voice, and no response. So Elijah called the people closer (and they obeyed). He repaired one of the knocked down alters of the Lord, stacked 12 stones (for the 12 tribes of Israel), built an alter in the Lord’s name, made a huge trench around the alter, put the wood in order, cut the bull into pieces and laid it onto the wood. Then he told the people to fill 4 (large) jars with water and pour them on the offering and wood (3 times). Water ran all around the altar and filled the trench.
At the top of the hour of 3:00 pm, Elijah came near and said: “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Let it be known this day that You are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all this at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, Answer me, so that these people may know that You, or Lord are God and that You have turned their hearts back!”
Immediately, fire of the Lord fell from heaven and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, stones, dust, and the water in the trench!
When all the people saw it, they fell to their faces and cried out, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”
Elijah then commanded the people to seize the prophets of Baal. They obeyed, brought them down to the Wadi Kishon, and there, Elijah killed Baal’s prophets. Then Elijah told Ahab to go up and eat/drink, for there is a sound of rushing rain. And Ahab obeyed Elijah.
- Now therefore, have all Israel assemble for me at Mt. Carmel with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, all who eat at Jezebel’s table. Elijah addressed the people of Israel: “How long will you waver between 2 opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him. If Baal is God, follow him.” Nobody responded, all kept quiet. I think this is interesting, for you would think that God’s people, the race that God rescued from slavery in Egypt, led through the desert for 40 years, showed Himself to generation after generation, and who continued to speak to through prophets, would be vocal about who they consider to be God, I mean, at least one person. Unfortunately though, the king at the time, Ahab, was an evil king, and promoted the worship of the Baals, false gods that were introduced to Israel through Jezebel. So not only would they have probably been killed if anybody had mentioned the Lord, but they were probably also too confused to know which was in fact God. Unfortunately though, this is also a problem today. No we in the United States won’t get killed for naming the Lord as God, but we will receive a lot of flack for it. We may also be sued, fired, rejected, beaten up, or persecuted in some other fashion. So unfortunately, many today have resolved to being secret Christians, in that they keep their faith (to some extent), but neither say anything about Him nor admit it unless they believe it’s “safe” to do so. Another thing that many “Christians” today have become is lukewarm. Jesus mentioned in Revelation 3 that He would rather they be either hot or cold, so at least that way they would be declaring their stance. But instead, they’re lukewarm, in between, indecisive, just as many are today with their faith. They don’t stand for the Word of God, but promote secular/worldly compromises in order to avoid conflict. But such people, Jesus says, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth,” and in Mark 8, “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
- “If the Lord is God, follow Him. If Baal is God, then follow him.” Even today, there’s an issue of choosing your god. People may not always recognize other gods, but Jesus explained clearly in the Gospel of Matthew, that you cannot have 2 masters, especially if each master is in conflict with the other. In His example, Jesus refers to money as the god in conflict with the Lord. Let me explain: basically, if making and/or spending money is your focus in life, then you’ve placed it above God, and God is no longer your God, for your god is now your desire for money. So also as with Israel, God and Baal cannot coincide as their god, for if they raise up Baal, then God is no longer revered as the Supreme being (and yes, worship of God and worship of Baal conflict with one another). Only God is God. But if they can’t choose between them, then they should choose 1 and get on with it. But they can only choose one, for notice in Matthew 12, Jesus also said, “If you’re not with me, you’re against me.”
There’s no mutual-grounded fence. It’s the same here in 1 Kings 18. Choose 1 or the other…God or Baal. But you can’t have both. God requires extreme reactions, no fences: if you’re not for Him, then you can only be against Him.
So, if you were in the position of Israel in this great historic event, and you were asked to choose one god, what would you answer?