Why does Elijah battle the “prophets of Baal”? Because Baal never puts in an appearance.
Now God told Elijah that the time to go and show himself to king Ahab. Elijah does this by telling God’s faithful servant Obadiah, who was the governor of Ahab’s house at the time: to go and tell his master that the prophet had come and wanted to meet him face to face.
Obadiah delivered the message to Ahab. The king immediately set out to go and meet with the prophet Elijah.
Upon arrival, Ahab immediately blamed Elijah for the hardship that Israel had been going through for the last three years: “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” Ahab called out.
Elijah replied: “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.”
Ahab’s father was king Omri and information about him can be read at (1 Kings 16:21-28), the Scriptures states that he did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him. Omri had built the city of Samaria, made it his capital and reigned for twelve years. His son Ahab was following in his father’s footsteps and doing more evil than all before him including his father.
Elijah tells Ahab to go and summon the people from throughout the land of Israel and meet him at Mount Carmel. The prophet made sure to specify that the king was to bring the four hundred and fifty prophets that served under the storm god Baal; and the four hundred prophets that served under the goddess Asherah.
After hearing Elijah’s demands, king Ahab sent word throughout all the lands and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. Possibly Ahab fulfilled Elijah’s demands because he may have felt that the prophet would be able to bring an end to the drought that devastated the land of Samaria for so long.
Then Elijah called for two bulls that would be used for sacrifices, one would be offered to God and the other would be offered to Baal. These offerings would be cut into pieces and set on the wood altars that were dedicated, one to Baal, and the other to God. Then the two parties would call on their deities and the one that answered by setting the offering on fire would be considered the true God.
The people believed that Baal was the god of rain and fertility of the field. Now this is very interesting since for the last three years they had beeen no rain and the fields had dried up. So where was their god Baal? Here you have God coming into Baal’s territory and causing havoc and yet Baal was nowhere to be found!
Now Elijah told the assembled prophets to call upon their storm god Baal to set fire to the offering that was on the wood altar before him. So they proceeded to call on the Baal. Picture the scene: four hundred and fifty prophets calling out to Baal at the top of their voices.
They kept calling out his name over and over again and yet there was no answer. Then the prophets proceeded to dance around the altar, leaping and jumping all over the place and yet, Baal was nowhere to be found. (Many charismatic worship teams are like this: they seem to think that they can get God’s by loud singing, drumming and blaring music, with dancing and leaping before God.)
When he saw this, 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.”
Hearing Elijah’s taunts, the prophets of Baal began to shout louder and started slashing themselves with their swords until blood began to flow from their bodies (many religions seem to think that by self-flagellation they will be demonstrating their earnestness more effectively and God will surely answer!) They did these things from the morning and right into the evening and yet, there was still no answer from their god.
Now Elijah called the people that were watching over to his area. He began by repairing an old altar to the Lord which was in ruins: he did this by using twelve uncut stones. Each stone would represent one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
After doing that, he proceeded to dig a three-foot wide trench around the altar. This trench would be able to hold twelve barrels of sea water. Next he would arrange the wood and the offering and had the people pour four large jars of water onto the wood and the offering.
He would have the people pour four more large jars of water onto the wood and offering twice more so that the water flowed down around the altar and filled the trench. Then Elijah began to pray:
“O Lord, 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 of these things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Immediately fire fell from the heavens and brunt up the offering and the wood along with the twelve stones and water that had surrounded the altar. After seeing this, the people fell on their knees and proclaimed that Elijah’s God is the one true God! Then Elijah told the people to have every prophet of Baal seized. He then had them taken down to the Kishon Valley so they could be executed.
WhileElijah executing the prophets of Baal may seem cruel to some, keep in mind that Jezebel had already slaughtered many of God’s very own prophets of whom only one hundred were spared, thanks to Obadiah. Also keep in mind, that Elijah was not acting own his own, he was lead by the Spirit of the Lord with everything he did.
- Micaiah’s answer to Ahab. 1 Kings 22:15
He told him exactly what he wanted to hear.
He knew he would not listen, no matter what he said.
- Isaiah showed up the people as fools. Isa. 44:15-18
- Amos 4:4 — Amos really didn’t want the people to do this, but he wanted to show them what they were doing.
- God would make Ezekiel’s forehead like flint stone. Ezekiel 3:8-9 Sometimes, we need to be stubborn when it comes to truth.
Matt 16:4 – They did not have the faintest idea what the sign of Jonah represented.
If they had followed Jesus, they could have seen many signs. Jesus would not work miracles just to please these unrighteous and hypocritical people.
Matt. 21:23-27 – They came to expose Jesus to the people as one having no authority.However, they demonstrated they were unworthy of judging regarding authority because they couldn’t answer a simple question regarding the authority of John.