King Ahab and Jezebel, Part 5
We ended last time toward the middle of 1 Kings 18, with Elijah’s conversation with Obadiah and Elijah’s assurance that he would not disappear, naturally or supernaturally if Obadiah told Ahab that he had located Elijah. Elijah had been hiding out for some time as God fed him first with ravens sent from heaven and then he stayed with a widow. During that time, her flour and oil was never used up. There was always enough to make the next meal. During his stay, Elijah also prayed that life would be restored to the widow’s son who had simply stopped breathing due to a short illness.
Following this, Elijah was moved of the Lord to go to Ahab. As he did, he met Obadiah, a contemporary prophet on the way. Since Elijah knew that Obadiah was in charge of certain responsibilities in the palace, Elijah told him to let Ahab know that he wanted to speak with him. At first, Obadiah was concerned that after he did this, God would secret Elijah away and Obadiah would be killed, with the king thinking Obadiah had simply tricked him. After Elijah assured him that he was not going to disappear, Obadiah told King Ahab about Elijah.
What happens next is very interesting and it reminds us of how many within the political field are quick to blame anyone but themselves for conditions that exist in society during their “watch” so to speak. When Elijah meets with King Ahab, the king is very quick to acknowledge that there are problems in Israel, but he is just as quick to point the finger of blame in Elijah’s direction.
Is it really you, the one who brings disaster on Israel? (1 Kings 18:17b)
Isn’t that like a politician? May God forbid that in this case, King Ahab accept blame for the terrible conditions in Israel. Of course, in Ahab’s mind, it was Elijah who pronounced that no rain would fall or dew would seep up from the ground to water plants and vegetation. In that sense then, yes, Elijah is to “blame,” however, Elijah would not have made that pronouncement unless the Lord had directed him to do that and it is clear that Elijah made that pronouncement because Israel, under King Ahab’s guidance, had turned away from the Living God to worship his wife favorite false god, Baal.
As an Israelite himself, King Ahab certainly should have known better, but he was far more interested in doing things his way and part of that meant keeping Jezebel happy so that her father from a neighboring kingdom would not hear of any malcontent attitude coming from her. Ahab wanted to keep the peace. He also obviously had no real concerns about worshiping Baal. To him, it all likely meant nothing anyway.
But now Elijah stands before King Ahab and is roundly blamed for the drought that all of Israel was experiencing. Elijah’s retort was quick and to the point in verses 18 and 19.
I have not brought disaster on Israel. But you and your father’s dynasty have, by abandoning the Lord’s commandments and following the Baals. Now send out messengers and assemble all Israel before me at Mount Carmel, as well as the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah whom Jezebel supports.
Since King Ahab wasn’t backing down, it was time to show all of Israel who the real deity was and it certainly wasn’t Baal. Elijah was out to prove that point once and for all. I think he may have even hoped that once the victory was achieved, there might even be a national repentance in Israel leading to a renewal of worship of the one, true God in Yahweh. Unfortunately, as we’ll see, this was not the outcome for which Elijah hoped. But first things first.
In verses 20 through 24, Elijah lays down the parameters for the upcoming contest between Baal and Jehovah. Before he does that, Elijah has a scolding for the people of Israel because of their continued waywardness. I find it interesting that King Ahab declined to be at Mt. Carmel personally (v. 1). He simply sent the 450 prophets and sent out a message to all Israelites for them show up at Mt. Carmel.
Upon looking at the gathered crowd of Israelites and prophets, Elijah spoke.
‘How long are you going to be paralyzed by indecision? If the Lord is the true God, then follow him, but if Baal is, follow him!’ But the people did not say a word. ‘I am the only prophet of the Lord who is left, but there are 450 prophets of Baal. Let them bring us two bulls. Let them choose one of the bulls for themselves, cut it up into pieces, and place it on the wood. But they must not set it on fire. I will do the same to the other bull and place it on the wood. But I will not set it on fire. Then you will invoke the name of your god, and I will invoke the name of the Lord. The god who responds with fire will demonstrate that he is the true God.’
Elijah is drawing a line in the sand, an unmistakable line that would be impossible to not see or ignore. It seems the Israelites, for the most part, had been trying to live in two worlds. They were either worshiping Baal only or trying to worship Baal and Jehovah, an impossibility. Elijah zeroes in on the problem by forcing them to realize it was their indecision that had them paralyzed. It’s too bad they hadn’t feared Jehovah enough to keep them from compromising their worship of the one, true Living God. Elijah calls them on it.
He makes things easy for the people of Israel. Elijah essentially says that if God is the one, true God, then worship Him. If it is Baal, then he should be worshiped. Which was it? Elijah went about setting up this now-famous contest on Mt. Carmel to provide the answer for the Israelites once and for all. Seeing the results of this contest should bring every man, woman, and child throughout Israel to their knees in repentance and re-commitment to the Lord.
Elijah defines how the contest will take place. It will be with two bulls. The 450 prophets of Baal would choose one bull, cut it into pieces and then place it on the wood. They should hold off and not light the sacrifice on fire. Elijah would do the same, exactly the same way. The contest would not be between prophets necessarily but between Baal and Jehovah. The one who sent fire from heaven and consumed the sacrifice utterly would be declared the “winner.”
To this, the people replied, “This will be a fair test.” Yes, in fact, it would be more than a fair test. Did Satan have the ability to send fire to consume the sacrifice? I’m fairly certain if he could manipulate weather to create a tornado as he did in the book of Job (vv. 18-19), or what a messenger considered to be “fire from God” (v. 16), or caused the Chaldeans to send raiding parties on Job’s ranch and livestock, I don’t think he would have any difficulty sending fire from the sky to consume the contents of the sacrificial altar laid out by the prophets of Baal.
So, why was Baal silent? We know that Baal, Moloch, and other false gods in the Bible are merely representatives of Satan himself. He is the power behind them when their power is shown. Why was Satan completely silent as the 450 prophets of Baal danced around, yelled, and cut themselves? Simply because God forbade Satan to respond in any way, shape, or form. Just as God limited what Satan could do with Job (see Job 1), God put Satan in time out where he could neither do or say anything to give even a hint that Baal had any power behind it. I’m sure it galled Satan to have to remain silent, but these things are reminders not only for humanity but for Satan and those spiritual beings who follow him that he (Satan) answers to another and his fate is ultimately determined by another. That “other” is Jehovah Himself, as we know and as Elijah knew.
Elijah laid down the parameters for the contest between Baal and Jehovah. Once it was agreed to, verses 25 through 29 show us the antics that the prophets of Baal went through in their attempt to get any type of response from Baal. It was fruitless. There was nothing. They danced, they yelled, they cut themselves and by the way this is reminiscent of an Islamic ceremony that is considered high and holy in commemorating “the death of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson, Imam Husayn, in 680 AD, during the Battle of Karbala.” (The link highlights graphic content, so do not click on it unless you mean to do so.)
In these types of rituals, these barbarous, brutal, and bloody acts are done to impress the gods, whether Baal or Allah. Since both are false gods, the source (Satan) is the same.
During the event at Mt. Carmel, Elijah allows himself a moment or two to even poke fun at the prophets. On one hand, we can understand his sarcasm (v. 27; where Elijah “mocks” the prophets), yet on the other hand, this may have ultimately caused problems for Elijah within himself. Sarcasm at its root, is a form of arrogance. I must admit that I myself have had to deal with this within. In times past, I have been cutting to the bone and have gone for the proverbial jugular during a disagreement. I have been guilty of doing the exact opposite of what the Scriptures in many places tell us how to respond, where a soft answer would have turned away anger, my sarcasm simply made things worse. I’ve had to apologize to people because of it.
In this case, I think Elijah may have allowed the situation to make him feel as though he had the power, not Jehovah. Please understand that I want to be extremely careful here in not condemning or judging Elijah. After all, as far as he was concerned, he was the only person in all of Israel who still followed and was committed to the Lord. Of course, he learned later that this was not the case, but the pressure he must have felt and then to know that Baal was powerless before Jehovah was probably too much for him. So, Elijah took time out to mock. I personally believe it led to what occurred after the victory at Mt. Carmel. I certainly don’t want to be hard on Elijah as we are all human. I’m simply pointing out what occurred and possibly why.
We will talk more about all of this next time, so please join me then.
Entry filed under: Cultural Marxism, Demonic, devil worship, Emotional virtue, eternity, Islam, israel, Judaism, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Politics, Radical Islam, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology. Tags: 1 kings 18, ashurah, elijah, mt. carmel, prophets of baal.