Showdown

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 11

imagesThe LORD sends Elijah to live east of the Jordan during the early part of the prophesied famine/drought. After the water from the brook Kerith dries up, the LORD hides Elijah from Ahab and Jezebel among Jezebel’s own people in Sidon (1 Kings 16:31; 17:9).

Elijah summons Ahab, the prophets of Baal and Asherah, and Israel to a showdown on Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal build an altar to Baal and call upon him to consume the bull on their altar. Elijah taunts their futile efforts, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened” (18:27-28). They cry out to Baal all day, but “there was no voice; no one answered; no one paid attention” (18:29).

Elijah repairs the altar of the LORD, arranges the wood, places the bull on the altar, and saturates both altar and sacrifice three times with water (a major act of faith after three years of drought). He calls upon the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, “Let it be known this day that you are God in Israel . . . hear Me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again” (18:36-37). Fire falls from heaven and consumes the sacrifice, the wood, the soil, and the water. The people of Israel fall prostrate before the LORD and declare that He is God. He will not be ignored by His people. He will not tolerate their idolatry; therefore, He distinguishes Himself from Baal and Asherah, so that Israel will know that He is God.

This scene offers several encouraging truths:

  • God hears the cry of the righteous. God doesn’t require self-mutilation and loud crying. He hears the simplest prayer offered according to His will and in faith.
  • God responds to the cry of the righteous. Elijah proves that there is no situation too hard for God to handle, by saturating the sacrifice and altar with water. Fire falls from heaven and consumes a very wet sacrifice. God doesn’t need “ripe” conditions in which to work.
  • Man may build the altar, offer a sacrifice, and pray in faith, but only God consumes the sacrifice. Pray that God will send the fire again.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (1 Kings 17:8-20:22):
Review Deuteronomy 28:15-24. What does the LORD’s withholding the rain reveal about Israel’s spiritual state?
What do the LORD’s instructions to Elijah require of him?
How does the LORD demonstrate His care for Elijah? What does this reveal about the LORD?
Why does God do what He does for the widow of Zarephath? What does this reveal about God? What does this demonstrate to Israel about their hardness toward Him?
What does Elijah’s fleeing from Jezebel reveal about Jezebel? Describe Ahab and Jezebel’s marriage. How does his marriage to a Sidonian woman impact his marriage, the LORD’s prophets, the nation of Israel?