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On the day appointed a great crowd gathered on Mount Carmel (v. 20). Mount Carmel, which was agreed on by Ahab, was a fitting location since it lay between Israel and Phoenicia, the lands of the Gods in question. Also Mount Carmel was regarded by the Phoenicians as the sacred dwelling place of Baal. No doubt Ahab was highly pleased with this suggested site for the contest because it would have given the Baal prophets a definite advantage; but this did not worry Elijah. It was also a geographically prominent location and thus a good setting for Elijah’s contest. The 450 prophets of Baal were there with their king. Elijah stood alone as a prophet of the living God . He asked, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions” (vv. 21-22)? The crowd of people remained silent and Elijah issued his challenge again to the 450 prophets of Baal.
They took two animals for sacrifice and placed them on the altar (v. 23). Elijah told the Baal worshipers to go first and call fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice (vv. 24-25). They leaped and danced around the altar but there was no fire. All morning Baal’s prophets … called on their god and danced around his altar to arouse him to action. (v. 26). Baal did not respond to their six-hour chanting for lightning, though rain and lightning often come readily to the Carmel mountain range near the Mediterranean Sea. At noon Elijah began to mock them and told them to holler louder (v. 27-29). Baal’s prophets responded by increasing the fervor of their appeals, working themselves into a frenzy. They even took knives and cut themselves but nothing happened. This mutilation of their own bodies was the custom of pagan worshipers for many centuries.
The prophets of Baal cried and pleaded all morning to their gods and there was silence. The gods of power, status, appearance or material possessions that I may have are the same way. When I reach times of crisis and desperately call out to them there will only be silence.
So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, "I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God." And all the people answered, "It is well spoken." Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it." And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
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I Kings 15:1-8Abijah’s Evil Reign in Judah
I Kings 15:25-34Nadab’s Evil Reign in Israel
I Kings 16:1-20Baasha, Elah And Zimri Reigns in Israel
I Kings 16:21-34Omri And Ahab Reigns in Israel
I Kings 17:1-24Elijah Visits a Widow at Zarephath
I Kings 18:1-19Elijah’s Message to Ahab
I Kings 18:20-29Elijah’s Mt Carmel Victory
I Kings 18:30-46The Drought Ends
I Kings 19:1-7Elijah Flees From Jezebel
I Kings 19:8-21The Lord Appears to Elijah
I Kings 20:1-25Ahab Defeats The Assyrians
I Kings 20:26-43Ahab Condemned
I Kings 21:1-10Ahab Covets Naboth’s Vineyard
I Kings 21:11-29Jezebel’s Plot