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Elijah and the prophets of Baal

1 Kings 18
Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal with a contest on Mount Carmel.
Contributed by Richard Gunther
1
After telling King Ahab that God was going to stop rain falling in the land of Israel because of the people’s disobedience, Elijah hid in a ravine and was fed by ravens. When the water dried up God told Him to go to the town of Zarephath in Sidon where God looked after him along with a widow and her son who had shared their food with Elisha. – Slide 1
2
After three years without rain, the Lord told Elijah, ‘Go and meet King Ahab. I will soon send rain.’ – Slide 2
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So Elijah set off to meet Ahab. – Slide 3
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The ground was dusty and dry. People were starving and desperate for food. – Slide 4
5
By this time there was no food in Samaria. So King Ahab sent for Obadiah who was in charge of the king’s palace. Obadiah was a true follower of the Lord, who had secretly hidden 100 prophets of God in two caves to spare their lives. ‘Let’s look at every spring and search every valley for grass,’ King Ahab ordered. ‘Otherwise our animals will die’. Ahab went to search in one direction. Obadiah went in another direction. – Slide 5
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Obadiah searched high and low for water or pasture for the animals. – Slide 6
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But the ground was parched, the rivers were dry and the springs were not flowing. – Slide 7
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As Obadiah was searching he suddenly saw Elijah. – Slide 8
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Obadiah bowed down to the ground before Elijah. ‘Elijah? Is it really you, master?’ he asked. <br/>‘Yes,’ Elijah replied. ‘Go tell King Ahab that I am here.’ – Slide 9
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Obadiah was afraid. ‘If I tell King Ahab you are here, but when he arrives you have gone, he will kill me. – Slide 10
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‘He has his men and leaders of other countries searching for you.’ – Slide 11
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Elijah answered, ‘I serve the Lord of heaven’s armies. I promise I will stand before Ahab today.’ – Slide 12
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So Obadiah went to Ahab and told him where Elijah was. Then Ahab went to meet Elijah. – Slide 13
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When King Ahab saw Elijah, he was angry. – Slide 14
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‘Is it you - the biggest troublemaker in Israel?’ he fumed. – Slide 15
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‘I’m not the one causing trouble,’ Elijah replied. ‘You and your father’s family have caused all this trouble. You have not obeyed the Lord’s commands. You have followed the false god Baal and other idols. – Slide 16
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‘This is what you must do. Summon all Israel to meet me at Mount Carmel. Bring the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah with you.’ – Slide 17
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So Ahab called all the Israelites and those prophets to Mount Carmel. – Slide 18
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Elijah stood before the large crowd. – Slide 19
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‘How long will you try to serve both Baal and the Lord? If the Lord is the true God, follow Him. But if Baal is the true God, follow him!’ <br/>The people remained silent. – Slide 20
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Elijah continued, ‘I am the only prophet of the Lord here. But there are 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. So bring two bulls. Let the prophets of Baal kill one bull, cut it into pieces and put the meat on the wood. But they are not to set fire to it. – Slide 21
22
‘Then I will do the same with the other bull. And I will put it on the wood. But I will not set fire to it. You prophets of Baal, pray to your god. And I will pray to the Lord. The god who answers and sets fire to his wood - he is the true God.’ Everyone agreed that this was a good idea. – Slide 22
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Elijah told the prophets of Baal to go first. They prayed to Baal from morning until noon. – Slide 23
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They shouted, ‘Baal, answer us!’ But there was no sound. No one answered. They danced around the altar they had built. – Slide 24
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Elijah began to make fun of them. ‘Pray louder!’ he shouted. ‘Maybe Baal is thinking. Or maybe he is busy or traveling! Maybe he is sleeping so you will have to wake him!’ – Slide 25
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So the prophets prayed louder and cut themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed to get Baal to listen to them. The afternoon passed, and the prophets continued to act wildly. They continued until it was time for the evening sacrifice. But no voice was heard. Baal did not answer. No one paid attention. – Slide 26
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Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Gather round.’ Elijah rebuilt the altar of the Lord because that had been torn down. He rebuilt it using 12 stones, one for each of the 12 tribes. – Slide 27
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‘Fill four jars with water and pour the water on the meat and on the wood,’ Elijah ordered. It was a strange request but they did it. – Slide 28
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Then Elijah said, “Do it again.” So they drenched the altar once more. <br/>Elijah ordered, ‘Do it a third time.’ The water ran off the altar and filled the ditch. – Slide 29
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It was time for the evening sacrifice. Elijah prayed, ‘Lord, I ask you now to prove that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant. Show these people that you, Lord, are God. Then they will know that you are bringing them back to you.’ – Slide 30
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Suddenly, fire from the Lord came down on the altar. – Slide 31
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It burned the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the ground around the altar. – Slide 32
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It also dried up the water in the ditch. – Slide 33
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When all the people saw this, they fell down to the ground. – Slide 34
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They cried, ‘The Lord is God! The Lord is God!’ <br/>Elijah ordered them to capture all the false prophets, take them down to Kishon Valley and execute them. – Slide 35
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Elijah then went to find King Ahab. – Slide 36
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‘Now, go, eat and drink. A heavy rain is coming.’ – Slide 37
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So King Ahab went to eat and drink. Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel with his servant. – Slide 38
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There he bent down to the ground with his head between his knees and prayed for rain. – Slide 39
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Then Elijah said to his servant, ‘Go and look toward the sea. Are there any clouds?’ – Slide 40
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The servant went and looked. He said, ‘I see nothing.’ <br/>Elijah prayed and told him to go and look again. – Slide 41
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This happened six more times. – Slide 42
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Each time the servant returned to report there was no rain on the horizon. <br/>‘Go and look a seventh time,’ Elijah told his servant. – Slide 43
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The seventh time, the servant said, ‘I see a small cloud. It’s the size of a man’s fist. It’s coming from the sea.’ <br/>Elijah told the servant, ‘Go to King Ahab, and warn him to get his chariot ready to return home immediately. If he doesn’t leave now, the rain will stop him.’ – Slide 44
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After a short time the sky was covered with dark clouds. – Slide 45
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The wind began to blow. Then a heavy rain began to fall. – Slide 46
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Ahab got in his chariot and started back to Jezreel. The Lord gave His power to Elijah, who tightened his clothes around him and ran ahead of King Ahab all the way to Jezreel. It was about the same distance as a marathon run. God had shown His mighty power through the prophet Elijah. – Slide 47
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Slide 48