July 7, 2019

The Contest on Mt. Carmel, part 1

Passage: 1 Kings 18:17-40

We now come to what has to be one of the most famous stories in the whole Bible—the contest on Mt. Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

The northern kingdom of Israel had for the most part turned away from the Lord and was serving Baal. Jezebel had been trying to stamp out the worship of the Lord by killing the Lord’s prophets. But God had not forsaken his people even though they had largely forsaken him. God wanted to bring the people out of Baal worship and back to loyalty to him.

The 3½-year drought (James 5:17) had shown that Baal could not control the weather or guarantee good crops, and now God was about to show that Baal had no power at all. God controls the weather, and God was about to demonstrate his power dramatically just before he ended the drought.

The contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel was really a contest between the God/gods these prophets represented. Elijah is a spokesman for the true and living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The prophets of Baal represent a regional fertility god. It’s not really a fair contest, because there is no other God than the God of the Bible. But people construct false gods when they reject the true God; that is still true today. This story shows the error of following any god but the true and living God of Israel.

The story also shows the influence of one bold person who is dedicated to God. Elijah stood alone against powerful forces and overcame them because of his trust in God. The world needs people like Elijah who will stand up against the forces of evil. The church needs people like Elijah who are not fearful to stand alone. The church needs leaders who are intent on turning the hearts of the people back to the Lord (.37).

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