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Elijah and the big contest

Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest.
Contributed by Jack Foster
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Ahab was a very bad king ... and his wife, Jezebel, was even worse! She was a worshiper of Baal, a pagan god of fire and fertility. God was very angry with king Ahab and Jezebel for leading people astray and sent a prophet named Elijah with a message. <br/>‘As surely as the Lord God of Israel lives, the God whom I worship and serve, there will be no rain during the next few years until I give the word.’ – Slide 1
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King Ahab and Jezebel were furious. God told Elijah to get out of there quick and hide near a brook. ‘Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you. For I have commanded them to bring you food.’ <br/>So Elijah camped near the brook and drank from it. – Slide 2
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Ravens brought him bread and meat every morning and every evening. <br/>But because there was no rainfall in the land, the brook that Elijah was drinking from began to dry up. – Slide 3
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Then the Lord said to Elijah, ‘Go and live in the city of Zarephath. There is a widow there who will feed you.’ So Elijah went to Zarephath. <br/>When Elijah arrived at the city gate, he saw a widow gathering sticks and asked her to bring him some water and bread. She explained that she only had enough oil and flour for one last meal for her and her son. <br/>Elijah promised her, ‘The Lord our God says that there will always be flour in your bin and oil in your jar until He allows it to rain again!’ And from then on no matter how much oil and flour the widow used she always had enough. – Slide 4
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Some time later, the widow's son got very sick, and then he died. The widow cried out to Elijah. ‘Why did this happen? Did you come here to punish me for my sins by killing my son?’ <br/>‘Give me your son.’ Elijah said. Then he laid the boy out on the bed in the upper room. Elijah began to pray over the boy. Three times he did this and on the third time, the boy's life returned to him! Elijah brought the boy downstairs, gave him to his mother. <br/>The woman fell on her knees and said. ‘Now I know that you are a man of God and He speaks through you!’ – Slide 5
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The drought in Israel was in its third year. People were starving and dying of thirst. God told Elijah, ‘The time for the drought is nearing its end. Go and present yourself to King Ahab.’ <br/>So Elijah headed south back into Israel. – Slide 6
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In the meantime King Ahab had sent a man called Obadiah out to search for pastures and water for his horses. While he was searching he found Elijah.  ‘Go tell and tell King Ahab that I am here,’ Elijah told him. – Slide 7
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King Ahab went out to meet Elijah. <br/>‘So Israel's great troublemaker has returned,’ Ahab snarled. <br/>God had another message from God for Elijah to give the disobedient king. ‘Go and bring the 450 prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel, along with 400 prophets of Asherah. Then summon all the people of Israel. It is time for a contest of the gods!’ – Slide 8
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So messengers were sent out to summon the priests of the false gods and the people of Israel to gather on Mount Carmel. – Slide 9
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So 850 false prophets and a vast crowd gathered on Mount Carmel in the North of Israel. – Slide 10
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Elijah addressed the large crowd of onlookers. ‘How long will you waver between two gods? You cannot be loyal to both! Today is the day that you will choose one or the other. If Baal is god ... choose him, but if the one true God of Israel is God ... then worship only Him!’ – Slide 11
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Then, at God's command. Elijah began to direct the set-up for the contest. ‘Bring me two bulls and some wood. The prophets of Baal get first choice. Let them choose a bull, prepare it and lay it on the wood on their altar.’ Elijah continued. ‘I will prepare the other bull on the other altar. Then call on the name of your god. I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by setting fire to the wood is the one true God.’ And all the people agreed. – Slide 12
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So the prophets of Baal prepared the bull and began to call on the name of Baal all morning, shouting, ‘Oh Baal answer us!’ But there was no answer. They began to dance wildly and chant around the altar they had made ... but still not a hint of a reply. – Slide 13
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By afternoon Elijah started to have fun with the situation and began to taunt the prophets. ‘Maybe your god is away on a business trip, or perhaps he is sleeping. Maybe he is in the bathroom or deep in thought. I think you have to call a little louder!’ – Slide 14
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So they shouted louder and even began to cut themselves, thinking that would get Baal's attention ... but still nothing. – Slide 15
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After the prophets of Baal spent all morning and most of the afternoon trying to get their god to answer them, there was no response. The false prophets collapsed on the ground in exhaustion. it was now Elijah’s turn. – Slide 16
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Elijah took 12 stones, one to represent each of the tribes of Israel to repair the altar of God. Then he dug a trench around the altar. <br/>He had the bull laid on the wood on the altar and requested that 4 large jars of water be poured over the bull, the wood and the altar. – Slide 17
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So they did as Elijah requested. Then he told them to do it a second time and they did. Finally he asked for a third drenching and they did it again. By this time, the trenches that were dug around the altar were overflowing. – Slide 18
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The people looked on in disbelief, as the altar was soaked in water. How could this altar be set on fire? – Slide 19
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It was evening by now and Elijah went to the altar and prayed. ‘Oh Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, prove today that you are God in Israel. I am your servant and I have done all that you commanded. Oh Lord answer me so that these people will know that you are the one true God.’ – Slide 20
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Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the bull, the wood, the stones and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench! The people were in awe. They began to cry out ‘The Lord is God! The Lord is God!’ – Slide 21
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Then they chased after the prophets of Baal and put the false pagan prophets to death. – Slide 22
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Elijah turned to Ahab. ‘It hasn't rained for 3 years, but I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!’ <br/>Then he went up the mountain with his servant to pray for rain. Six times as he prayed he sent his servant to look out over the sea and report what he saw. <br/>Six times he returned to say the there was not a cloud in the sky. – Slide 23
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Elijah kept praying. The seventh time the servant went and looked he returned to report, ‘I see a cloud rising from the sea. But it is no larger than a man's hand.’ <br/>‘Hurry to Ahab!’ Elijah told his servant. ‘And tell him to climb into his chariot and race back home. If he doesn’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’ – Slide 24
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Ahab quickly left for his home in Jezreel. The winds were kicking up and the skies were getting darker and darker. Ahab had his horses pulling his chariot as fast as they could go! ‘Faster, faster!’ He shouted. Heavy rain began to fall. Now the Lord gave special strength to Elijah. He tucked his cloak into his belt and ran faster than the horses pulling Ahab's chariot! Elijah beat Ahab to the entrance gate in Jezreel! – Slide 25
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